Climate Change and Development Context
A developing island nation subject to tropical climate patterns, Sri Lanka is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts. The projected impacts of climate change are likely to increase the frequency and intensity of disasters, especially drought and flooding, and significantly affect agriculture, water resources, energy, environment, and fisheries. Due to high vulnerability, Sri Lanka prioritizes adaptive measures, but is also involved in efforts to minimize greenhouse gas emissions within the framework of sustainable development under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol.
Sri Lanka’s economic growth has been primarily driven by the Colombo Metropolitan Region, which generates 45 percent of the country’s GDP. A core component of the government’s development agenda is the creation of a network of well-connected and environmentally sustainable cities, fostering economic growth in urban centers outside of Colombo, for more balanced distribution of economic opportunities. Efforts are underway to upgrade transport infrastructure across the country and public transport in cities.
Key National Institutions, Policies and Initiatives
Key institutions: Sri Lanka established the National Council for Sustainable Development (NCSD) in 2009. The NCSD is chaired by the President to ensure political commitment at the highest level to harmonize economic growth and environmental sustainability. The Ministry of Environment and Renewable Energy serves as Secretariat to the NCSD.
The Ministry of Environment also serves as the national focal point for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol. The Climate Change Secretariat, under the Ministry, provides a platform to address climate change issues at the national level. Secretariat responsibilities include development of relevant policies and programs, liaising with sectoral agencies to identify priorities and implementation mechanisms, and monitoring impacts of national responses. A National Advisory Committee on Climate Change provides guidance to formulate strategies, and ensures that climate change policies and programs are consistent with national development priorities.
The Sri Lanka Carbon Fund, a state-owned private company established in 2008, provides technical and financial assistance for emission reduction projects across sectors.
Policies and initiatives: The Haritha (Green) Lanka Programme, led by the NCSD, developed the National Action Plan for Haritha (Green) Lanka Programme (2009) to be implemented 2009-2016. The plan includes 82 strategies and 375 activities under its ten environmental missions, and includes measurable indicators for achievements. The plan is integrated with Sri Lanka’s national development agenda, “Mahinda Chinthanaya – Vision for the Future.”
The National Climate Change Policy of Sri Lanka (2011) aims to recognize and address climate change vulnerabilities through adaptation and mitigation measures, sustainable consumption and production, enhancing knowledge and capacity of stakeholders to make prudent choices, and mainstreaming climate change issues in the national development process. Adaptation measures focus on food production, conservation of water resources, land use planning and urban development, and infrastructure design. Mitigation measures include demand side management and fiscal policy incentives for energy efficiency, utilization of clean and renewable energy, integrated transport systems and improved fuel efficiency, green reporting by industry, and promotion of appropriate technologies for waste management and agriculture practices. The policy guides that “precautionary principles shall be followed in the absence of scientific based evidences in decision making.”
Supporting sectoral policies include: National Green Reporting System (2011) for industry and service sectors, Green Rating System developed by the Green Building Council of Sri Lanka (2012) for the built environment, and National Energy Policy to target 10 percent natural renewable energy supplied to the grid by 2015.
Additional programs and initiatives have also been introduced to support low emission development in urban areas, including:
– Vehicular Emission Testing (VET) Programme. Vehicular emissions are the major source of rising air pollution in urban areas. Regulations set standards for maximum permissible levels of emission for different vehicle categories. The VET program is designed as a public-private partnership; it is a centralized system with two large private sector companies contracted to issue mandatory VET certificates.
– City Beautification Programme. This program was inaugurated in 2008 to provide leadership and guidance to local authorities and stakeholder agencies in creating environmental friendly and clean cities. Cities are selected for beautification and receive support from central ministries to become more earth-friendly, less toxic, and to generate less waste.
– Colombo Green Growth Programme. This program is funded through a World Bank grant and will protect marshy areas in the metro region, enhance biodiversity parks, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve the eco-friendly nature of the city.
World Bank Data – Sri Lanka (accessed 20 Nov 2013). http://data.worldbank.org/country/sri-lanka
United Nations Statistics Division World Statistics Pocketbook (accessed 20 Nov 2013). http://data.un.org/CountryProfile.aspx?crName=Sri%20Lanka
World Bank Data – Sri Lanka (accessed 20 Nov 2013).
National Climate Change Policy of Sri Lanka (accessed 20 Nov 2013). http://www.climatechange.lk/Documents/Climate_Change_Policy/Climate_Change_Policy_English.pdf
World Bank Group Country Program Snapshot – Sri Lanka (September 2013). http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2013/10/09/000333037_20131009141825/Rendered/PDF/817170WP0Sri0L0Box0379842B00PUBLIC0.pdf
National Climate Change Policy of Sri Lanka (accessed 20 Nov 2013).
World Bank Group Country Program Snapshot – Sri Lanka (September 2013).
Climate Change Secretariat Sri Lanka website (accessed 20 Nov 2013). http://www.climatechange.lk/About_us.html
H.E. Prasad Kariyawasam. Green Growth and Development Quarterly, Vol. 2, Issue 1, October 2013. The Energy and Resources Institute.
L. Padmini Batuwitage Ph.D. Adopting Green Growth Strategies in Sri Lanka. (Hon. Advisor to the Ministry of Environment, Sri Lanka, and Former Additional Secretary (Environment and Policy), Ministry of Environment, Sri Lanka)
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