Emphasis on climate action and international collaboration
A progress review meeting on climate change initiatives was held at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday morning (23), underscoring Sri Lanka’s commitment to climate action and international collaboration.
The meeting, presided over by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, brought together key advisors and experts to discuss strategies to strengthen the nation’s response to climate change.
Addressing the meeting, President Wickremesinghe stressed the importance of resilience on both local and global fronts. “We must be formidable in our actions, both domestically and internationally,” he declared, noting the critical role finance plays in supporting climate initiatives. He said that finance is the lifeblood of any endeavour, and the country needs to build substantial strength in this arena.
The President’s call for action was backed by his observation that while numerous climate change initiatives are proposed, limited attention is given to the vital matter of financing. He said Sri Lanka’s expertise in international economics, especially in climate financing linked to debt management, positions Sri Lanka uniquely.
President Wickremesinghe also proposed the establishment of a National Consultative Committee with the involvement of private and public sector agencies.
“There will be a national consultative committee that includes every agency involved in the public or private sector. This committee may consist of about 100 to 150 members. However, this committee should be the one consulted at least once every six months to discuss the progress being made. If you can establish a structure like this, it could be the desired outcome. I believe that all of you, especially foreign ministries, will need to collaborate with the environment ministry regarding international aspects. Additionally, I think we all need to contribute, including a focus on international finance. We could align this with our Institute of Economics and Trade, positioning Sri Lanka as a hub for global financial activities. Therefore, we will work on this to consolidate the concept.”
The President also highlighted alignment with international agendas, including those of the UN Secretary General and President Biden. He proposed the establishment of an International Climate Change University as a global research hub and a testament to Sri Lanka’s dedication.
Mr. Ruwan Wijewardane, Senior Advisor to the President on Climate Change, informed the President about discussions with prominent universities, including those in the US and Cambridge, regarding the establishment of the Climate Change University.
Key highlights for the upcoming COP28 were also revealed during the meeting, encompassing the Climate Justice Forum, International Climate Change University, Climate Prosperity Plan launch, and the Tropical Red initiative. The importance of showcasing Sri Lanka’s best practices through a pavilion and hosting discussions was also emphasized.
Advisor to the President on Environment, Climate, and Green Finance, Mr. Ananda Mallawatantri, presented a comprehensive proposal for collaborations with international universities, highlighting Georgetown’s agreement for collaboration and opportunities with Yale. He also detailed plans for collaborations with institutions in the EU, aiming to exchange expertise and promote sustainable practices.
In the realm of green finance, the President Appointed Green Financing Committee has been working on a roadmap for Sustainable Finance, with support from UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), UNDP, and the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI). The committee is actively engaging in initiatives like Debt for Nature Swaps and presenting a project on the Kelani River Basin.
The meeting’s outcomes echoed President Wickremesinghe’s vision of a sustainable future, marked by international collaboration, cutting-edge research, and strategic climate action. The commitment to environmental preservation alongside economic progress underpins Sri Lanka’s endeavours as it steps onto the global stage in addressing climate change.
The meeting was attended by Minister of Environment Naseer Ahamed, Mr. Ruwan Wijewardane, Senior Advisor to the President on Climate Change, President’s Senior Economic Adviser Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga, Secretary to the Ministry of Finance Mr. K M Mahinda Siriwardana, Secretary to the Ministry of Environment Dr. Anil Jasinghe and other officials.