The World Environment Day is the biggest international day for the environment. Led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and held annually since 1973, it has grown to be the largest global platform for environmental outreach.
It is marked by millions of people across the world. The World Environment Day 2023 is hosted by the West African Country Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and supported by the Netherlands and the theme focused on solutions to plastic pollution under the campaign #BeatPlasticPollution.
It is a reminder that people’s actions on plastic pollution matters. The steps governments and businesses are taking to tackle plastic pollution are the consequence of this action. From Today (November 30) to December 12, the UN Conference of Parties (COP28) is being held in the United Arab Emirates’ capital of Dubai, and thankfully Sri Lanka is playing a major role and giving high priority to the issues relating to climate change.
A high-level delegation led by President Ranil Wickremesinghe and consisting of as many as 80 delegates, including Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Sabry, Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera, Environment Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, Climate Change Presidential Advisor Ruwan Wijewardene, Foreign Affairs Advisor Dinouk Colombage, and four Parliamentarians, have gone to Dubai for the COP28 summit.
The technical delegation comprises 15 negotiators and Ministry officials. The overflow delegation, consisting of private sector organisations and one of Sri Lanka’s biggest-ever contingents of 20 youth delegates, forms the largest part of the representation at the climate summit, the Sunday Times reported.
Sri Lanka will host its first-ever pavilion at COP28, where multiple climate-related policies and lobbies are set to be spearheaded by Sri Lanka. “We are focusing on three main initiatives: the Tropical Belt Initiative, the Climate Justice Forum, and the International Climate Change University,” Presidential Climate Change Advisor Ruwan Wijewardene told the Sunday Times.
Sri Lanka would launch the “Climate Justice Forum” and the “Tropical Belt Initiative” with a focus on the triple planetary crisis and continue to work on the Climate Change University at COP28 this year, he said. The International Climate University would also focus on more research on protecting the tropical belt and other climate initiatives.
Mr Wijewardene noted that the Climate Prosperity Plan, which was launched at COP27 with the Maldives, would also come into play as it would list out green initiatives and projects for the global north to invest in tropical belt countries. Explaining their interlinkage, Mr Wijewardene noted that the Tropical Belt Initiative would be used to press developed countries to invest in more green initiatives like renewable energy and green technology for countries in the tropical belt.
“The tropical belt has the countries that are most vulnerable but are also struggling with poverty and are debt-ridden,” Mr Wijewardene noted. He added that this was where the Climate Justice Forum would help by seeking to reduce the debt burdens by appealing to the creditors of these countries to offset and cut part of the debt.
“We have taken leaps this time in terms of our representation at COP28,” Environment Ministry Secretary Dr Anil Jasinghe told the Sunday Times as he delved into the inner workings that pushed for these focus initiatives in particular.
The question of responsibility in terms of mitigation, the reduction of greenhouse gases, and combating climate change has shifted from developed countries since the 1992 Earth Summit, which established the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, to all party countries thanks to the Paris Agreement.
“But different countries have responsibilities in different proportions, which still means developed countries have to take the lead in mitigation,” said Dr Jasinghe, who held that the responsibility that developed countries accepted in 1992 was somewhat diluted in 2015.
Acknowledging that the battle for climate justice has been going on for decades in various forms, the Ministry Secretary noted that Sri Lanka was championing global solutions as one of the countries that are most vulnerable to climate change impacts.
The Paris Agreement clauses for the “means of implementation” form the crux of climate action, according to Dr Jasinghe. He noted that it essentially calls on developed countries to support developing countries in three areas: finance, technology development and transfer, and capacity building.
According to CNN, there are 326 million trillion gallons of water on the Earth. This water is in a constant cycle — it evaporates from the ocean, travels through the air, rains down on the land and then flows back to the ocean.