Nick Nicolaou, CEO of HSBC Sri Lanka and Maldives exchanges the agreement with Dr. Ranjith Mahindapala, Country Representative of IUCN, while Chamira Wijetilleke, Head of Corporate Banking, HSBC, Sriyan Cooray, Chief Technology and Services Officer, HSBC and Shamen Vidanage of IUCN, looks on.
HSBC joined hands with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for the restoration of the Warawewa Village tank for livelihood development and enhancement of the ecosystem. The official agreement between HSBC and IUCN was signed by Nick Nicolaou, Chief Executive Officer, HSBC Sri Lanka and Maldives and Dr. Ranjith Mahindapala, Country Representative of IUCN on 14 February 2011, at the IUCN office situated at 53, Horton Place, Colombo 7.
Warawewa Reservoir situated in Chilaw, is in a state of disuse due to poor maintenance. With the restoration of the tank, it will provide the nearby communities access to water, with approximately 70 families benefiting. Also, the tank will support the production of around 50 acres of paddy within the surrounding areas, making livelihood's more sustainable.
Welcoming HSBC to IUCN, Dr Mahindapala remarked that as a globally well known bank, IUCN is privileged to be associated with it as a part of the Bank's Corporate Social Responsibility work. He recalled the work HSBC has done in the recent times in conservation work with the Department of Wildlife Conservation and in bringing the conservation message to the people, especially school children through its work at Sinharaja. Given the Bank's interest in community upliftment, he commented that the proposed work would be most appropriate in helping a poor, rural community in their day-to-day activities as well as improving the village environment.
Commenting on this new environmental initiative, Nicolaou said "We are very enthusiastic about this project as it aims to build an entire village and its ecosystem around the tank.
This will also help provide ample opportunities for the communities to be self sufficient. Therefore, we are pleased to have partnered with IUCN, the worlds oldest and largest global environment network in influencing, encouraging and assisting societies to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable."
The project, aiming to see its completion in two years, will de-silt the reservoir beds, strengthen the bund, repair other irrigation structures, improve irrigation channels leading to the paddy fields, restore the vegetation cover with the use of native species, reduce soil erosion and establish bio-diversity refuges to name a few.
In addition, the project will help improve the livelihood of surrounding communities, with the establishment of 40 home gardens, and training women from 10 families on reed based handicrafts. These initiatives will be aptly supported by the National Handicraft Board and the Wilpotha Women's Savings Effort.
HSBC has a long-standing commitment to protecting the environment and believes it is fundamental to a thriving society and sound economy upon which our business depends. To ensure the survival and sustainability of the business HSBC understands that it needs to protect and nourish the environment in which it operates. A tropical rain forest in Mahausankande and the clean up of 7 national parks are the two main environmental outreach programmes that the Bank has initiated.