Transforming Sri Lanka’s resilience in climate and disaster risk management

September 26, 2023

As a climate-vulnerable developing country, managing climate and disaster risks as well as mobilising risk finance is a critical need for Sri Lanka. 

SLYCAN Trust’s initiative of developing a Multi-Actor Partnership on Climate and Disaster Risk Management and Finance launched into a new phase on 19 September at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Colombo, with the participation of key stakeholders from the agriculture, tourism, fashion, and SME sectors. 

The key focus of the session was on collaborations, partnerships, and exchanges between different actors and stakeholder groups that could enhance opportunities related to accessing climate and disaster risk finance, strengthen existing mechanisms, harness synergies, and increase mid- and long-term economic resilience.

Opening the event, SLYCAN Executive Director, Attorney-at-Law Vositha Wijenayake highlighted the importance of focusing on climate and disaster risk management for building long-term resilience. 

“Climate change is a key factor that impacts today’s development. It is important that climate risks and impacts are considered and addressed in planning local and national level economic empowerment as well as resilience-building guided by inclusive and participatory processes,” she said. 

Importance of climate and disaster risk management and multi-actor partnerships

Speaking at the event, SLYCAN Trust Director of Research & Knowledge Management Dennis Mombauer explained the work conducted in the first phase of the programme.

“We have established this multi-actor partnership with a focus on Sri Lanka’s food systems to identify opportunities for enhancing and building on existing risk management and transfer mechanisms and accessing climate and risk finance. 

“Moving into this new phase, we aim to formalise the partnership and expand it to additional sectors – tourism and trade, fashion and apparel – that are climate-vulnerable but also have the potential to empower entrepreneurs, communities, and youth, as well as‌ contribute to building overall resilience and prosperity,” he explained.

As an output for the discussion on short- and medium-term goal setting for climate and disaster risk management, the stakeholders from the tourism sector identified the need for better risk mapping and risk transfer processes for the sector, including possible risk pooling through collective funding processes being set up.

Additionally, it was further highlighted that it would be important to focus on the climate risks that are threatening the industry, while also identifying solutions through awareness and enhancing information sharing amongst key stakeholders in the industry. 

Climate resilience and innovation across diverse sectors

The stakeholders representing the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) sector highlighted the need to focus on the sector as a priority in the conversations on climate adaptability and capacity building. 

The need for innovating the business models used by the SME sector to match global trends on sustainable innovation was identified as a tool to build resilience, while entrepreneurship skills development to adapt to climate change was recognised as a cross-cutting theme for all the sectors from national to local level.

Under the discussions on the food systems-related sector, the participants highlighted that research and development was a key aspect in scaling-up climate change adaptation action. 

Among other points highlighted were Public-Private Partnerships; partnerships for knowledge and evidence sharing and scaling-up research related to the sector; and innovative technologies and technology transfer; as well as the importance of urgent measures for addressing climate-induced loss and damage in food systems. The participants also emphasised on the need for climate risk management in aquaculture. 

Diverse stakeholder participation

In addition to the tourism and SME sector representatives, the event also saw participation of representatives from the finance, banking, and insurance sectors, who contributed to the discussion in providing solutions and approaches to be generated in climate and disaster risk finance options for Sri Lanka. 

This included key stakeholders of agriculture, SME, tourism, and fashion and garment sector who represented Government ministries and departments, academia, private-owned businesses, and Government and private-owned finance and insurance sector organisations, as well as social entrepreneurs.

SLYCAN Trust is a non-profit think tank working on climate change, sustainable development, biodiversity and eco-system conservation, animal welfare, and social justice, including gender and youth empowerment. The organisation's work spans national, regional, and global level, from policy analysis and evidence-based research to implementation on the ground across Asia and Africa.

For further information on SLYCAN Trust and its initiatives, please contact [email protected].

Note: This press release has been published on Sunday Observer and is available here.

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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.