Regional Workshop on Identifying and Addressing Policy Gaps and Needs for Climate Action and Achieving Sustainable Development

September 20, 2019

On September 17th and 18th, the Climate Change Secretariat of the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, SLYCAN Trust, Prakriti Resources Centre, ICCCAD, and the Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research organised a two day regional stakeholder workshop at Galle Face Hotel, Colombo. The workshop focused on addressing policy gaps and needs in the implementation of National Determined Contributions (NDCs) at the national and regional level. It also focused on building synergies between NDCs, National Adaptation Plan (NAP) processes, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

(Mr. Anura Disanayake, Secretary to the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment speaking at the event)

Speaking on the importance of NDCs to address climate change and achieve sustainable development, the Secretary to the Ministry of Mahaweli Development, Mr. Anura Dissanayake, said that “NDCs could provide avenues for developing multilateral actions among countries of the region, based on priority sectors for development, and common climate risks. Regional research and knowledge sharing platforms also facilitate identifying these entry points, where we could work together to combat adverse impacts of climate change.”

He further highlighted that climate change impacts are not stand-alone and have collective and socio-economic impacts as well. “Climate change is seen by many in Sri Lanka as something that has created an inconvenience to their daily life. The main impact is the change of the rain which impacts key economic sectors such as agriculture. This forces people to either give up their livelihoods in agriculture or move away where possible. In the dry zone, there are schools that were built to cater to 1,250 students but in fact, the number of students has reduced to 250. Climate change impacts have created challenges to access education as well,” he added. 

Dr. Sunimal Jayathunga, Director Climate Change Secretariat, also spoke of Sri Lanka’s commitment to achieving the Paris Agreement’s goals and elaborated actions that Sri Lanka has taken to address them. “Sri Lanka has prepared and is implementing a three-year Readiness Plan for the Implementation of NDCs from 2017-2019. Through initial consultations for the NDC review, we have identified many gaps for the implementation of NDCs. Among these are legal and policy gaps, institutional gaps, finance gaps, capacity gaps, technology gaps, and research gaps,” said Dr. Jayathunga.

SDGs and climate action go hand in hand, and Sri Lanka has set up the Sustainable Development Council to ensure that we are on the correct pathway to achieving environment- and climate-friendly development. Dr. Sugath Yalegama announced at the event that the Cabinet of Sri Lanka has taken key steps to ensuring that all ministries of the government work towards a vision which focuses on sustainable development.

 “Sri Lanka has made strides in taking action to achieve SDGs. The Cabinet has approved actions by all ministries to achieve a common vision towards a sustainable Sri Lanka. Through a common vision based on sustainable development which connects all ministries, Sri Lanka will be able to move towards achieving the targets set under the SDGs,” Dr. Yalegama said. He also stressed the need for ensuring that strong mandates are present to implement the policies and targets.

Prof. Munasinghe, CEO of MIND, Chairman of the Presidential Expert Committee on Sustainable Sri Lanka 2030, and one of the keynote speakers of the event, highlighted the need for engaging multiple stakeholders.

“Using new means for spreading awareness and engaging key stakeholders is important to achieving sustainable development. This applies especially to stakeholders such as youth, private sector, and the civil society which are essential to achieve SDGs,” He added. 

(Prof. Mohan Munasinghe explaining interlinkages between taking actions to address climate change and achieving SDGs)

He also stressed the importance of connecting climate action and sustainable development in South Asia to create a global eco-civilization. 

Among the key focuses of the workshop was the need for research, capacity building, and knowledge sharing. Ms. Vositha Wijenayake, Executive Director of SLYCAN Trust and lead researcher of the regional research project, highlighted actions taken to address these needs, and the steps set up to sustain such efforts.

“As part of the regional initiative supported by APN, we have engaged in conducting knowledge sharing activities, which are online as well as on the ground. There have also been consultations conducted focusing on capacity building and assisting legal and policy research, which will contribute to provide science-based evidence for addressing gaps and needs in policies and laws for the implementation of NDCs in the country,” she said. 

(Ms. Vositha Wijenayake presenting the regional research findings)

SLYCAN Trust and other project partners also launched the Adaptation and Resilience Knowledge Hub to share lessons learnt and knowledge products which will contribute to addressing climate risks, enhancing adaptation action, and building resilience of vulnerable communities and ecosystems to address the adverse impacts of climate change.

Over the course of the two day workshop, representatives from the government of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, including secretaries and additional secretaries of line ministries related to the implementation of NDCs, SDGs, Sendai Framework, as well as various other national and international organizations such as ICCCAD, Prakriti Resources Centre, IISD, UNDP, ILO, UN-Habitat, IUCN, and many others attended and contributed to the event.

For further information kindly contact Ms. Sajani Ranasinghe on 0117 446 238 or via email at [email protected].

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About the Author

SLYCAN Trust is a non-profit think tank. It has been a registered legal entity in the form of a trust since 2016, and a guarantee limited company since 2019. The entities focus on the thematic areas of climate change, adaptation and resilience, sustainable development, environmental conservation and restoration, social justice, and animal welfare. SLYCAN Trust’s activities include legal and policy research, education and awareness creation, capacity building and training, and implementation of ground level action. SLYCAN Trust aims to facilitate and contribute to multi-stakeholder driven, inclusive and participatory actions for a sustainable and resilient future for all.