Experts from the government, private sector, UN agencies, think tanks, and other development partners, came together at this week’s kick starter sessions of the Colombo Development Dialogues on Green Development, held on 12 and 14 October 2021.
With over 450 participants joining in virtually, they sought to come to a common understanding of a localized, Sri Lankan narrative of green development and explore the role of innovation, stewardship, and human agency to catalyze action towards a holistic approach to green development.
The Colombo Development Dialogues on Green Development, an initiative of the Ministry of Environment together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka, and other co-convening partners started this week, bringing together 20+ partners and close to 40 speakers joining from nearly 10 countries across 4 days.
The dialogues aim to reaffirm Sri Lanka’s climate and environmental commitments, by encouraging policymakers to consider bringing diverse green initiatives to a unified manifesto and creating a multi-stakeholder platform to support the positioning of green development in the country as an urgent and bipartisan priority.
Featuring prominent government stakeholders such as Minister Mahinda Amaraweera, Minister of Environment and Chair of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on ‘Creating a Green Sri Lanka with Sustainable Solutions to Climate Change’ and Dr. Anil Jasinghe, Secretary to the Ministry of Environment, the role and commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka towards pursuing a green development trajectory was strongly communicated.
A strong private sector point of view was brought forward by Dilhan Fernando, CEO of Dilmah Tea, Chairman of the UN Global Compact Network Sri Lanka, and Chair & Initiating Partner of Biodiversity Sri Lanka, who highlighted the importance of understanding and localising international best practices to build momentum and cohesion at a national level.
Other prominent speakers include Denis Chaibi, Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, and Ms. Kanni Wignaraja, Assistant Secretary-General to the UN, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific for UNDP, who spoke to the opportunities and untapped potential for Sri Lanka to re-align its development trajectory to enable a post-pandemic Green Recovery.
Further reflecting on the human element of green development, Dr. Sabina Alkire, Director at the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, University of Oxford emphasized the importance of identifying and addressing the intersections between human and environmental deprivations to enhance equity and advance social justice in working towards green development.
The first two sessions also featured Dullas Alahapperuma, Minister of Mass Media; Shehan Semasinghe, State Minister of Samurdhi, Household Economy, Microfinance, Self-Employment, Business Development and Underutilized State Resources Development; Michael Appleton, New Zealand’s first Resident High Commissioner to Sri Lanka; Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, the UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka; Dr. Harsha Aturupane, Lead Economist and Program Leader for Human Development for Sri Lanka and the Maldives at the World Bank; and Robert Juhkam, Resident Representative, UNDP in Sri Lanka.
Panelists also included Ms. Chamindry Saparamadu, Director-General, Sustainable Development Council of Sri Lanka; R. M. P. Rathnayake, Deputy Secretary to the Treasury, Ministry of Finance; Prof. Hemanthi Ranasinghe, Senior Professor in Forestry and Environmental Sciences, University of Sri Jayewardenepura; Heminda Jayaweera, Serial Innovator and Entrepreneur, and Co-Founder, Thuru; Benjamin Kumpf, Head of Innovation for Development, OECD Development Co-operation Directorate; Ms. Emma Brigham, Deputy Representative, UNICEF Sri Lanka; Ms. Karin Fernando, Team Leader, Sustainable Development, Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA); and Benno Boer, Programme Specialist, Natural Sciences Unit, UNESCO.
The next session will take place on Thursday, 21st October, titled ‘Sourcing Alternatives: Leveraging Green Financing for Development’, while the closing session of the series will take place on Friday, 22nd October, titled ‘Towards a Multistakeholder Approach to Green Development’ also featuring the UK government’s COP26 Regional Ambassador to Asia-Pacific and South Asia.