By Aisha Wahab
SLYCAN Trust hosted a workshop on multi-actor partnership for climate and disaster risk financing and preparedness in the tourism sector. The workshop, held on 21 November, hosted a variety of stakeholders ranging from hoteliers, bankers and Government agencies to academics and multiple private sector entities. Among key areas of focus were changing climate patterns affecting the tourist inflow into the country, the need for multi-stakeholder engagement, and Sri Lanka’s vulnerability to climate change.
“The multi-actor partnership on climate and disaster risk management and finance aims to bring together key actors for capacity building, exchange, knowledge transfer, needs assessments, and collaboration towards a more resilient and climate-friendly tourism sector,” said SLYCAN Trust Director, Research & Knowledge Management, Dennis Mombauer.
“We are building on our work on climate and disaster risk management and finance over the last three years, which led to the establishment of a national partnership with more than 80 institutional members. With today’s event, we are expanding this multi-actor partnership to the tourism sector, which is a key source of income and employment for Sri Lanka but also vulnerable to the impacts of climate change,” he elaborated. Addressing the gathering, Secretary to the Prime Minister Anura Dissanayake highlighted the need for building climate resilience, as well as the importance of solutions that interlink climate risk management and economic empowerment.
“Sri Lanka is one of the more vulnerable countries to climate risk and we need to address the link between poverty and climate change. The tourism sector creates a large number of job opportunities at a large, small, and medium scale and Sri Lanka needs a multi-dimensional approach to poverty,” Dissanayake asserted.
“Sri Lanka is one of the more vulnerable countries to climate risk and we need to address the link between poverty and climate change. The tourism sector creates a large number of job opportunities at a large, small, and medium scale and Sri Lanka needs a multi-dimensional approach to addressing poverty,” Secretary to the Prime Minister, Mr. D.M. Anura Dissanayake.
Concerns for the tourism sector
The tourism sector is a key economic sector for countries across the world and the rising impacts of climate change on the sector are threatening the economy of vulnerable countries such as Sri Lanka. Threats to the sector are diverse and include direct and indirect climate impacts, including more extreme weather events, pollution, water shortages, biodiversity loss, and damage to assets and attractions at destinations. Enhancing climate action and resilience building in the tourism sector is therefore of utmost importance for the sector’s survival and success. Speaking at the opening panel of the event, Advisor to the President on Environment, Climate Change, and Green Finance Dr. Ananda Mallawatantri shared the plans the President’s Office has in place to approach the effects of climate change in Sri Lanka.
“We have two approaches to addressing climate change; climate prosperity, to grow in a way that we breed climate resilience, and climate justice, to support vulnerable groups and people with proper distribution of benefits,” Dr. Mallawatantri stated. He acknowledged that under the IMF process, they were seeking to enhance climate justice in Sri Lanka with a focus on gender and geographical distribution.
Speakers representing the hotel industry shared their efforts in implementing sustainable practices within their hotel chains at the workshop. They presented examples of actions such as reduction of the use of plastic, sourcing local products to reduce their carbon footprint, and engagement with local communities.
“Existing weather patterns have caused impacts on tourism, such as El Nino, and torrential rains have brought higher prevalence of diseases such as dengue, which have affected our staff and their families, and do not portray a good image of Sri Lanka to tourists who want to visit,” said Mount Lavinia Hotel Managing Director, Saakya Ukwatte.
“The multi-actor partnership on climate and disaster risk management and finance aims to bring together key actors for capacity building, exchange, knowledge transfer, needs assessments, and collaboration towards a more resilient and climate-friendly tourism sector,” SLYCAN Trust Director: Research & Knowledge Management, Mr. Dennis Mombauer.
Findings from the workshop
The participants of the workshop identified key actions for engagement for developing long-term climate resilience, as well as economic empowerment through holistic risk management in the tourism sector, and highlighted the high impacts of climate risks on tourism, including the recent experiences due to heavy showers and risk of tourist arrivals dropping due to bad weather. The participants also highlighted the need for continued support needed with regard to creating an enabling environment for the adoption of climate-friendly practices in the tourism sector, such as policy support for enhancing renewable energy, sustainable practices, and building long-term climate resilience.
SLYCAN Trust is a non-profit think tank working on climate change, sustainable development, biodiversity and ecosystem conservation, entrepreneurship and innovation, and social justice, including gender and youth empowerment. SLYCAN Trust’s work spans the national, regional, and global level from policy analysis and evidence-based research to implementation on the ground across Asia and Africa. Ethical, sustainable, and climate-friendly food systems and food entrepreneurship form key components of the work of SLYCAN Trust’s Food Systems Work Programme. For further information on SLYCAN Trust and its initiatives, please contact [email protected]