Sri Lanka
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Member State
  • Name: Sri Lanka
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Population (8 hits),

Full Submission


Rio+20 is expected to provide mechanisms and enabling environment to fulfill technological and financial needs for member countries to achieve their sustainable development targets and economic development goals. Mechanisms agreed should continue to strengthen the green growth options, low carbon climate resilient development, technology transfer, institutional strengthening, national and international level coordination and human capital.

Sri Lanka being a tropical island is prone to natural disasters and climate induced risks such as sea level rise, extended droughts, increased floods and landslides and changes in the biodiversity etc. Climatic induced extreme events can take away much of the development gains, quickly. Main climate induced challenges have been identified as food, water and energy security. Mainstreaming climate sensitivity and adaptation practices are primarily needed in agriculture, livestock, fisheries, health, water, energy and infrastructure sectors. Investment needs for climate change adaption measures are significant and it is expected that Rio+20 will improve the access to technical support and resources for adaptation.

Promotion of renewable energy sources as opposed to fossil fuel based energy is the better solution for the increasing energy demand and as a climate change mitigation measure. Potential for wind, biomass and solar energy development is significant in Sri Lanka. Energy efficiency is another area especially in new constructions, urban energy use and water pumping. It is necessary to develop the innovative investment plans to effectively develop potential renewable energy sources in the country. It is expected that Rio+20 will provide opportunities for increased investment on renewable energy development and use efficiency improvements.

The institutional architecture to support the sustainable development must be build to meet the challenges in design and implementation of development programs including support to low carbon growth. Improved skills and institutions are necessary to implement innovative financing systems and technologies to facilitate green growth. The national and international institutional systems should be strengthened to support three pillars of sustainable development, namely, social, economic and environmental.

Greening an economy involves integrated development in various sectors such as industry, agriculture, trading, transport, energy, infrastructure, and services such as health, education and telecommunications etc. Planning and coordination mechanism need to be established with the capacity to evaluate and decide on different growth options to suit the country requirement, while ensuring the growth is sustainable and resource efficient. This process requires improved in country capacity to compute and adopt environmental and ecosystem services into development planning and budgeting processes. It is expected that the Rio+20 will enable mechanisms and tools to improve integrated planning and coordination capacities including ecosystem based approaches.

Opportunity also exists to better coordinate the inputs and mechanisms of international agencies to minimize duplication and to meet country needs. Rio+20 could go beyond the Paris Declaration related approaches to harness international knowledge and resources in an efficiently coordinated manner. It should include the optimization of procedures to be adopted by Multilateral Implementing Agencies.



At the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit) held in Rio de Janeiro from 3rd to 14th June 1992, the full text of Agenda 21 which is an unprecedented global action plan for sustainable development was revealed. The number 21 refers to an agenda for the 21st century. It may also refer to the number on the UN's agenda at this particular summit. There are 40 chapters in the Agenda 21, divided into four main sections.

The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) or Earth Summit 2002 took place in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 26th August to 4th September 2002. It was convened to discuss the sustainable development by the United Nations. WSSD gathered a number of leaders from states, business and non-governmental organizations, 10 years after the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It was therefore also informally nicknamed "Rio+10".

In 2012 the United Nations will convene the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development', also known as Rio 2012 or "Rio+20", hosted by the Brazilian government in Rio de Janeiro, as a 20-year follow-up to the historic 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) that was held in the same city. The conference is organized by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

The objective of the Rio Conference is to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assess the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development, and address new and emerging challenges.

The ?Rio+0? Conference will focus on following two themes:

i. A green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication

ii. The institutional framework for sustainable development.

Status of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, with an area of about 65,610 km2 lies between 6oN and 10oN latitude and between 80oE and 82oE longitude. There is a significant temporal and spatial variation in the Island?s climate. The annual temperature in the coastal belt ranges from 26.0oC while in the central highlands it ranges from 15oC to 19oC. The total land area of Sri Lanka is divided based on the elevation as low country, mid country and up country. The highland (> 1000 m above mean sea level; amsl) constitutes 3% of the land mass. Based on the annual rainfall received, the island is divided into two zones, the dry zone and wet zone. The south-west part of the country, which receives an annual rainfall of 2500-5000 mm through the south-west monsoon, is called the wet zone. The north-east part, which receives an annual rainfall of less than 1900 mm through north-east monsoon, is called the dry zone. In between these two parts, there exists the intermediate/transition zone. The water received by Sri Lanka through annual precipitation amounts to approximately 40 million ha meters. The Central mountainous region, which rises to an elevation of 2524 metres, is the source of the country?s major rivers. A wide range of agro ecological region is distributed across the country, contributing to a rich bio-diversity. Ecosystems range from rain forest to grass land, rivers, wetlands, fresh water bodies, coastal and marine ecosystems.

Sri Lanka is a country having 21,283,913 number of Population which consist of 73.8% Sinhalese, 7.2% Sri Lankan Moors, 4.6% Indian Tamil, 3.9% Sri Lankan Tamil, 0.5% other and 10% unspecified. The Population growth rate of the country is 1.1%.

Sri Lanka has taken many initiatives in paving the path to a Green Economy of the country through sustainable development in different ways.

The Ministry of Environment initiated a new programme in 2009 named ?Haritha (Green) Lanka? with a view to integrate environmental aspects/issues in to the economic development process ensuring long term sustainability of human development. The programme includes establishment of a National Council for Sustainable Development (NCSD) and development of a National Action Plan for Haritha (Green) Lanka Programme aiming at greening the economic development within the framework of sustainable development. The National Action Plan under the Haritha Lanka Programme covers ten broader thrust areas namely: Clean Air ? Everywhere, Saving the Fauna, Flora and Ecosystems, Meeting the Challenges of Climate Change, Wise Use of the Land Resources, Responsible Use of the Land Resources, Doing Away with the Dumps, Water for All and Always, Green Cities for Health and Prosperity, Greening the Industries, Knowledge for Right Choices. This Action Plan is a product of the concerted efforts of all relevant ministries. During its preparation a high level participatory process was followed to ensure that sustainability would not just remain a concept but would translate into a practical reality. The Action Plan includes short term, medium term, and long term targets spanning from 2009 to 2016, with comprehensive, achievable and measurable eighty two (82) strategies and three hundred and seventy five (375) actions.

The National Council for Sustainable Development (NCSD) was established under the leadership of HE the President of Sri Lanka to obtain policy directions at the highest level and ensure integration of environmental concerns into the economic and social development processes throughout the country. The NCSD is chaired by HE the President of the country. The members of the Council are the Cabinet Ministers of major economic development related subjects. The Ministry of Environment acts as the secretariat to the NCSD.

Key Sectors of Sustainable Development

This report will provide Sri Lanka?s inputs and contribution in fulfilling the objectives of WSSD, key challenges, future priorities and commitment under the following sectors;



Water Land

Waste Management

Agriculture and Livestock Health




Urban Development

Fauna, Flora and Eco Systems Climate Change

Coastal and Marine Environment Energy

Energy is a highly significant sector in development. The main energy resources used in Sri Lanka are Biomass (47%), hydropower (8%) and petroleum (45%) with per-capita consumption about 0.4toe. Sir Lankan government moves to use alternative sources of energy such as coal and renewable sources. In year 2010, Sri Lanka produced 53.38% of the total electricity requirements from renewable energy sources. Ceylon Electricity Board has 16 large hydroelectric power plants of total capacity 1205MW and a wind power plant of 3MW.

Considering the need to address the sustainable development and climate change issues, Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority was established in 2007 with a view to promote environmental friendly energy production and consumption in the country by the Ministry of Power and Energy. Further, in order to facilitate conversion to renewable energy sources, the Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority was to realize the necessity of having an apex institution to drive Sri Lanka towards a new level of sustainability in energy generation and usage, through increasing indigenous energy and improving energy efficiency within the country. Further, its objective is to guide the nation in all its efforts to develop indigenous energy resources and conserve energy resources through exploration, facilitation, research & development and knowledge management in the journey of national development, paving the way for Sri Lanka to gain energy security by protecting natural, human and economic wealth by embracing best sustainability practices.

The Hiru Saviya project of the Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority aims at providing solar powered electricity for rural villages that have no access to the national grid. The first solar powered village was built in Galgamuwa of Monaragala district and was vested in the public by the Government of Sri Lanka in June 2009. This project has successfully provided electricity to over 260 houses and the village school and solar powered street lamps. The speciality of this project is that it has provided solar powered electricity to the indigenous Veddha community in Rathugala.


Transport system in Sri Lanka is intrinsically linked to the social and economic development of the country. Public transportation in Sri Lanka is mainly based on road network and railway network.

The Government of Sri Lanka had to address serious weaknesses in the infrastructure of transport system of the country such as weak institutional capacity at all levels, the inability of transport agencies to mobilize resources, and underdevelopment of private sector over their way to sustainable development in the transport system.

Ministry of Ports and Highways has implemented Conflict Affected Areas Rehabilitation Project which addresses the rehabilitation of essential economic and social infrastructure, thereby contributing to the restoration of community livelihoods in the conflict?affected areas; 8 districts (Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya, Mannar, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Ampara) that of the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of 32 Bridges were successfully completed by the Ministry of Ports and Highways on 04th April 2011. This project benefit to the every citizen of Sri Lanka by shorten the travel time, reduce the vehicle operating cost and decrease the traffic accidents and also it improve the quality of public transportation services and provide basic framework for regional economic growth by facilitating the improvement of passengers and freight between the region.

"Maga Neguma" Rural Road Development Programme was initiated in 2004 when His Excellency, the President was then Hon Prime Minister & the Hon Minister of Highways. Under this program, most of rural roads are being improved to motorable level through direct labour of RDA or with the participation of Community Based Organizations (CBOs) which would thereby uplift the living standards of rural community.


Fresh water is a precious resource in terms of sustainable development of the country. Annual water resource of Sri Lanka is estimated as 50 km3. Water withdrawals for agriculture, industry and domestic needs are estimated as 83%, 6% and 5% respectively. The government is aiming to provide safe drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities, ensure protection of water sources and environmental equality. Around 80% of the Population has access to safe drinking water of which 30% is through piped water supply systems of the National Water Supply & Drainage Board of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan government established a Ministry of Water Supply and Drainage separately for the subject area of water supply & drainage in 2007.

Ministry of Environment commenced a programme calls ?Clean River (Pavithra Ganga)? in 1998, to keep the water bodies clean in the country and one of major objectives of this Program is assisting relevant local authorities to keep the water quality of main water bodies of the country in acceptable conditions for human use. In the face of increasing urbanization, the downstream areas of rivers are getting seriously threatened. The river banks are being eroded and water quality is deteriorating. A multi stakeholder approach has been taken in achieving this objective and the owners of the project will be relevant local authorities.

Pavithra Ganga Program for the Western Province is implemented for Kelani River as a pilot project. Kelani River being the major drinking water source for the Western Province is getting high pollution loads making water unsustainable for human consumption. 26 water quality information display boards have been established along the river to disseminate information of the water quality among the general public. It is expected that this approach will enable public participation in keeping Kelani River away from being polluted.


Sri Lanka is a country having land area of 65,610 Km2. During past two decades, Sri Lanka has given highest attention for protection and proper management of land resources.

The government owns or controls about 80% of all land in the country under different agencies. The Ministry of Land and Land Development is responsible for identifying land suitability for development. The principle land uses for agriculture in the country are paddy, tea, rubber, coconut, sugarcane, horticultural crops, field crops and spice and other beverage crops.

The Soil Conservation Act of 1951 was amended in 1996 for better control of land use. Environment safeguards have been incorporated in several Acts and Ordinances such as Land Development Ordinance, State Lands Ordinance, Agrarian Services Act, Mahaweli Authority of Sri Lanka Act and National Environmental Act. Some of these legislations include mapping out state land for prevention of soil erosion, measures to prevent encroachments etc.

Sri Lanka ratified the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) on 09th December 1998. The Ministry of Environment serves as the focal point for UNCCD. National Action Programme for combating land degradation was prepared in 2002. Degraded catchment area restorations, rehabilitation of minor tanks in the Dry Zone and tree planting programmes have been implemented and continuing. Several donor-funded projects have been undertaken primarily to address issues of land degradation in the critical watersheds.

Waste Management

The issue of waste has become a major environmental issue. Solid waste management is an obligatory function of all local authorities in Sri Lanka. According to the available data, solid waste in Sri Lanka comprise 62% biodegradable waste, 6.5% of paper, 6% polythene and plastic, 6% of wood based products and 2% of glass.

The Central Environment Authority in its effort to resolve this problem has planned to take legal action against local bodies that fail to take proper steps to manage solid waste disposal.

Government of Sri Lanka has taken steps to ban polythene products- bags and sheets less than 20 microns in thickness.

Sri Lanka ratified the Basal Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal in 1992. To implement this Convention at country level Sri Lanka has developed and published guidelines for the implementation of hazardous waste management regulations, Ministry of Environment developed Harmonized System codes for Annex IX (List B) items under Basel Convention in collaboration with Department of Customs and developed a Guidance Manual for Safe and Effective Detection and Investigation of illegal Traffic and Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste and other Waste in Sri Lanka. Central Environment Authority in Sri Lanka has established a project titled 'Pilisaru Project' commencing from 2008 to solve solid waste problem with in the next 5 years. Under this Project waste management is done by adhering to reduction of waste generation by reuse, recycling and resource recovery to the maximum extent possible followed by appropriate treatment and finally the disposal of residual waste in an environmentally sound manner. National E-waste Management Programme was developed by the Central Environmental Authority, Sri Lanka with the active co-operation and assistance of some leading private companies involved in selling and assembling of Electronic equipments in Sri Lanka for collecting e-waste Island-wide in order to dispose of them in a proper manner was launched in year 2010.

The Mobile Waste (m-waste) Project was launched by a leading mobile service provider in Sri Lanka in 2007 to collect, transport and store Mobile waste within the country as an extended product responsibility of the company. The main objectives of the project were, creating awareness in consumers to return used handsets and batteries, to develop a dynamic take-back channel using Dialog?s established channel network and dispose of stockpiles responsibly and To operate a proactive and sustainable handset take-back programme at no cost to the customer supported by a robust communications campaign.

Regulations with respect to hazardous waste management were gazetted in 1996. Having identified the difficulties and draw backs and to facilitate the easy implementation, this regulation was further amended as National Environmental (Protection & Quality) regulation No.01 of 2008 by the extra ordinary Gazette notification in 2009.

Agriculture and Livestock

The agriculture sector is the cornerstone in the economy of Sri Lanka. It contributes about 18% of the Gross Domestic Product and 30% of employment. Sri Lankan government vision on agriculture is an agriculture sector contributing to regionally equitable economic growth, rural livelihood improvement, and food security through efficient production of commodities for consumption for agro-based industries and for exporting competitively to the world market.

Ministry of Agriculture has initiated many development activities for strengthening the agriculture industry of the country such as National Campaign to motivate domestic food production, promotion of production and use of organic fertilizer, and Community Based Seed Production Village Programme.

Ministry of Environment developed a National Policy and Strategy on Cleaner production for Agriculture Sector in 2010 to ensure standard quality and required quantities of food and other agricultural products, promote ecologically sound agriculture practices, enhance income and quality of the farming community and to promote efficient utilization of inputs and natural resources for economically viable food production.


Government mission on health sector in Sri Lanka is to contribute the social and economic development of Sri Lanka by achieving the highest attainable health status through promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative services of high quality made available and accessible to people of the country. The government of Sri Lanka is committed to provide free healthcare to the people in Sri Lanka. However the healthcare cost is on the increase due to Population growth, epidemiological and demographic transitions and advancement of science and technology in the areas of diagnosis and treatments. This is further aggravated by the increase demand on the natural resources leading to environmental degradation and pollution which adversely affected heath of the Population. In Sri Lanka, government expends 3.7% of GDP as the expenditure on health annually.

It is necessary that strategies and interventions are adopted to meet the challenges without compromising the free healthcare delivery system. Therefore, adoption of ?Cleaner production concept? has been identified as one of the interventions to address those concerns as it advocates environmental friendly practices, optimal use of resources and life cycle management of products and provisions of services. Accordingly, the Ministry of Healthcare and Nutrition in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment developed a National Policy and Strategy on Cleaner Production for Health Sector in 2007.

Sri Lanka ratified the Stockholm Convention of Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in 2005 to protect human health and the environment from persistent organic pollutants. Accordingly, Sri Lanka established a National Coordinating Committee for the implementation of the Stockholm Convention in Sri Lanka. Development of National Inventories for PCBs, Dioxins and Furans and Pesticides identifying existing situation of the country and future trends, Development of a National Implementation Plan for the implementation of the Stockholm Convention and development of a website and an information system for POPs were done to implement the protocol at country level.

Sri Lanka ratified the Rotterdam Convention in 2006 to promote shared responsibility and cooperative efforts among parties in the international trade of certain hazardous chemicals in order to protect human health and the environment from potential harm, to contribute to the environmentally sound use of those hazardous chemicals by facilitating information exchange about their characteristics, by providing for a national decision-making process on their import and export and by disseminating these decisions to Parties.

To provide leadership, guidance and facilitation to manage the air resource by mitigating the air pollution in order to enhance the health and well being of public and the quality of the environment, an Air Resource Management Center (Air MAC) was established under the Ministry of Environment in 2007. As a strategy of improving the quality of ambient air in Sri Lanka, Vehiculer Emission Testing (VET) program was officially commenced in 2008 as a Pilot Project in the Western Province. The VET programme is conducted under the supervision of the Air-MAC of the Ministry of Environment. Vehicle Emission Testing centers were established with the private partnerships in island-wide to issue emission certificates for owners when they become mandatory to obtain the annual revenue licenses and the testing centers to issue emission certificates will be accredited by the Commissioner of Motor traffic, Department of Motor Traffic.


Industry sector is the most significant sector that is interlinked with many other sectors in economic development and environment management. Transforming the country towards a green economy needs environmental friendly (green) employment, environmental friendly technologies, and behaviors in economic and social development activities. The goal is to maintain a healthy environment throughout the country.

Sri Lanka is a member country of a regional project for production of Green Job opportunities and produce low carbon, climate resilient and environmental friendly development of the country. This project is implemented by the Ministry of Labour and Labour Relations and Ministry of Productivity Promotion in Sri Lanka in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The Ministry of Environment established a Green Job Awards programme in 2008 to recognize and reward the individuals and organizations who are engaging in green jobs related to environmental friendly technologies/activities. Green Job Awards are offered annually on the World Environment Day (5th June).

Meeting the challenges of sustainable development is needed the innovative approaches in today's context. Nationally appropriate frameworks are necessary to promote such innovation in all socio-economic sectors of the country. Establishment of a National Green Reporting System is an important framework that can be used to promote reporting of sustainability performance in industry and services sectors. It enhances the capacity of these sectors to exert positive changes on the state of country's economic, environmental and social conditions.

The guidelines of the National Green Reporting System were initially developed with the technical assistance of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce through the SWITCH-Asia Programme funded by the European Union and finalized in collaboration with the key stakeholders. This programme will facilitate to the manufacturing and service sector organizations to be recognized, appreciated and rewarded based on their sustainability performance.

The institutional setup for the National Green Reporting System of Sri Lanka comprises with the Governing Council and a National Green Reporting Steering Committee. The Governing Council provides policy directions and guidance to ensure that organizations' activities are aligning with Sustainable Development. The Governing Council includes government entities responsible to setting policy guidelines for the Sri Lankan manufacturing and services sector. A cross section of all stakeholders including department and authorities, civil society organizations, standard setting organization and private and government sector industries shall be the members of the National Green Reporting Steering Committee will monitor the performance of the system and make arrangements to improve the efficiency of the performance of the system continuously.

National Cleaner Production Centre (NCPC) was established under the Ministry of Industries in Sri Lanka in 1998 for Cleaner Production (CP) promotion and capacity building in the country. The National Cleaner Production Centre will be instrumental in promoting of dissemination of CP in the country and as well as capacity building for the successful application of CP in industries.


Sri Lanka is a country that having a high literacy rate of 91% and providing the education for it?s all the citizens in free of charge. School children are being educated about the environment in hope that they will transfer the knowledge to elder family members and people in the country so to raise awareness and make change in behavioral patterns as much as possible.

The first Environmental Pioneer Brigade was established under the direct supervision of the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) in 1986. The programme was expanded in 6500 schools throughout the island as at year 2010. The Environmental Pioneer Brigade Programme believes that if children have been made aware of environmental problems and how to overcome the problems or be preventative so that the problems would not occur, they would change their behavior to be more environmental friendly.

Objectives of establishing the Environmental Pioneer Brigades Programme in Schools are Promoting environmental awareness and motivating school children to participate in environmental activities, broadening the knowledge on environmental protection and management, carrying the environmental message to their elders at home, building a new generation of environmentally concerned and changing the children behavioral patterns and attitudes to be more environmentally friendly. An ?Environmental Diary 2010? was developed by the Ministry of Environment with a view to promote student?s attitudes towards the environment and teaching them early, how to be friendly and live in harmony with the environment.

A communication model was developed to promote eco-habits in the purpose of changing attitudes of general public towards sustainable consumption practices. This awareness material consists of 12 habits for prompting efficiency use of natural resources and prevents the environment pollution.

Existing curricular of Universities and Technical Collages were reviewed and curriculum based principle subject areas were identified relating to sustainable development for grade 6-13 in Science subjects and environmental education for sustainable development have been incorporated to the current syllabi of school education.

A study was done to identification of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and constraints of environmental education system in Sri Lanka, to develop a comprehensive National Strategy and an Action Plan to integrate environmental aspects in to the education system in Sri Lanka and to identify the priority programs to be implemented.


Sri Lanka is very rich in biodiversity. Sri Lanka has been identified by the environment activist group Conservation International (CI) as one of 25 biodiversity hot spots in the world. A noteworthy feature of Sri Lanka's biodiversity is the remarkable high proportion of endemic species among its flora and fauna: 23% of the flowering plants and 16% of the mammals in the island are endemic. Sri Lanka has a wide range of topographic and climatic variation and this contributes to the special features of its biodiversity.

Biodiversity Secretariat was established in 1998 under the Ministry of Environment. The Biodiversity Secretariat provides leadership to the nation in managing country's biodiversity without depletion of natural resources and environment while ensuring the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity to ensure national commitment for sustainable development. In order to achieve this objective, Biodiversity Division in the Ministry of Environment involves in providing policy directives towards the conservation of biodiversity. Sri Lanka signed the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety on 24th May 2000, during the fifth meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nairobi, Kenya, when it was first open for signatories. The country ratified Cartagena Protocol on 28th April 2004 and consequently the Protocol has entered into force in country on 28th July 2004.

Sri Lanka ratified the United Nations Convention of Biological Diversity in 1994 and conducted many activities to implement the Convention at country level such as preparation of a Biodiversity Conservation Action Plan, strengthen the key institutes in the forestry, wildlife, agriculture and coastal sector, setting up the implementing mechanism for coordinating Biodiversity activities in the Ministry of Environment, in-country capacity assessment for biodiversity conservation and carried out a capacity assessment under the National Capacity needs Self Assessment for Global Environmental Project to implement the Rio Convention and preparation of a Capacity Development Action Plan (2005-2007)

Ministry of Environment has taken actions to facilitate sustainable use of biodiversity through benefit sharing mechanisms by developing databases on Marine shells and data updating due to the on-going identification of marine shells activities and on faunal observation and the information input by the island wide surveys.

National Science and Technology Policy formulated in 2008 by the National Science and Technology Commission for the Ministry of Science and Technology, has involved several initiatives for scientific investigations on biodiversity conservation.

Fauna, Flora and Eco Systems

Sri Lanka is featured of its high degree of endemism, which is observed in several taxonomic groups. Even more interesting is distribution of endemics. A large proportion is found in the wet zone in the south western region of the island. 23% of the flowering plants are endemic and most of them are confined to the wet evergreen and wet montane forests of the central and southwest part of the country. The fauna of Sri Lanka is also as diverse as the flora. While sharing common features with the neighboring subcontinent, the fauna exhibits very high endemism among less mobile groups. For endemic species, the distribution patterns are similar to the flora: the wet zone has many more endemic species than the dry zone. In terms of mammals, birds and fishes, the three major groups that are well studies in Sri Lanka, each group has a different distribution pattern.

There is a wide range of ecosystem diversity in the country. The major natural ecosystems in the country are forests, grasslands, inland wetlands, coastal and marine ecosystems. Marine ecosystems include sea-grass beds, coral reefs, estuaries, lagoons and mangrove swamps.

Climate Change

In order to address the cross sectoral nature of major environmental challenges caused by climate change, the Ministry of Environment, which is the National Focal Point for the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol has taken the initiatives to establish a Climate Change Secretariat under its preview.

The Climate Change Secretariat in the Ministry of Environment adopts a comprehensive national approach to address climate change challenges that as these concerns categorize as an environmental concern, which is also a development issue of Sri Lanka.

The Ministry of Environment established Sri Lanka Carbon Fund (SLCF) to actively participate in the carbon trading business. The SLCF was established in 2008 (Reg.No. PV63181) by a Cabinet decision as a company registered under the Companies Act No. 7 of 2007. The fund is a private company, which will facilitate CDM project development within the country and will facilitate the potential CDM project developers in project development, facilitate financing and other related matters. It will also participate in Carbon market scheme and to obtain maximum benefit to the country via carbon trading. Objectives of establishing SLCF are to provide technical and financial assistance to the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Project developers for the preparation of project documentations, to facilitate bundling of small CDM projects, to facilitate access to capital funding for CDM projects through commercial banks, to provide investment capital for CDM projects, to engage in Carbon Trading through purchasing and subsequent sale for carbon credits.

Ministers of Environment of all the eight nations of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) have adopted a three-year Action Plan on Climate Change at the SAARC Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change, held in Dhaka from 1st to 2nd July 2008. The Action Plan, covering 2009-2011, and focuses on seven thematic areas - from adaptation of Climate Change to regional stance for international negotiations. The Cabinet of Ministers in Sri Lanka granted the approval to implement the national obligations under the SAARC Action Plan on Climate Change in collaboration with relevant line Ministries and other agencies. The year 2009 Action Plan was prepared and submitted to the SAARC Secretariat and 2010 - 2011 Action Plans were prepared in collaboration with the line Ministries and Agencies. Commitments under the Thimphu Statement agreed to be implemented in the 10th SAARC Summit were communicated to the relevant line agencies.

Sri Lanka ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by a cabinet decision in November 1993 and is among the first 50 countries that have ratified it. As an obligation of the UNFCCC, Sri Lanka is required to prepare the National Communication on Climate Change periodically. Accordingly, the Initial National Communication on Climate Change has been prepared and submitted to the UNFCCC in 2000 and the Second National Communication report has been completed and is about to be submitted.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) supported the Government of Sri Lanka?s initiative to focus on climate change adaptation through the provision of a technical assistance (TA) grant titled ?Strengthening Capacity for Climate Change Adaptation. The assistance was provided to develop a National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and to formulate Public Information and Awareness Strategy.

Accordingly, National Climate Change adaptation strategy was prepared for year 2011 ? 2016. The sector vulnerable profiles (SVPs) were prepared for Agriculture and Fisheries, Water, Human Health, Urban Development Human Settlements and Economic Infrastructure, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services sectors based on the consultation of stakeholders

Costal and Marine Environment

Coastal regions are homes to a large and growing Population in Sri Lanka. The term coastal zone is legally defined in the Coastal Conservation Act 57 of 1981 as a narrow strip 300m landwards of the mean high water line and 2km seawards of the mean low water line, with the primary focus of regulating all development activity within this zone. The high concentration of Population have produced many economic benefits from the coastal resources, in particular from fishing, tourism, and maritime activities, while having improved transportation links, developed industrial and urban centers, and modified physical nature in the coastal zone. Eventually the increasing beneficiaries cause for degrading the natural coastal environment. Hence Engineering and Management of Coastal Zone is vital for the sustainability of Coastal Resources. Sri Lanka?s mission of coastal resources is to achieve prominence as a country with the sustainable management of coastal resources in the Asian Region.

Coastal and marine environmental degradation includes sea erosion, coastal pollution and threats of oil spills to the sustainability of coastal habitats.

Sri Lanka ratified the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships and Protocol in 1997 to preserve the marine environment by achieving complete elimination of international pollution by oil and other harmful substances and the minimization of accidental discharge of such substances.

To protect the economic, environmental, and national security concerns of coastal states, Strengthen the state sovereignty over the enforcement of environmental regulations up to 200 miles offshore and to protect the marine environment, promote the maintenance of international peace and security, protect the freedom of navigation on the high seas as well as the right of innocent passage, including non-wartime activities of military ships, Sri Lanka ratified with United Nations Convention of the Law of Seas in 1994.

Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) was established under the Marine Pollution Prevention Act No. 59 of 1981 empowering to give effect to international conventions for the prevention of pollution of the Sri Lanka waters as one of its key responsibilities. According to the provision of section 13 of Marine Pollution Prevention Act, the MEPA is responsible in facilitating reception facilities within or outside any port in Sri Lanka on behalf of the State enabling ships to discharge or deposit oil residues or other pollutants. At present the MEPA has made arrangements to collect shipboard waste through private sector service providers in Colombo, Galle and Trincomalee ports. The MEPA plans to have in place a proper reception and disposal system with no adverse effect on marine and terrestrial environment.


Sustainable Human Development Index

Considering the present multiple global crises it is evident that such indices are essential for the county to evaluate human development and take decision. Human Development Index (HDI) developed by UNDP provides a better assessment of human wellbeing than the broadly used indices such as GDP. However, HDI also ignores the distributional aspects of income, the quality of life of human beings and the detrimental impacts on the environment with the rapid economic development.

The Ministry of Environment developed a Sustainable Human Development Index (SHDI) in 2008 by considering few additional parameters to HDI to reflect SHDI than HDI itself adding environmental aspects and quality of the life such as 'carbon emission', 'bio capacity', 'ecological footprint' and 'poverty'.

National Green Accounting Mechanism

Sri Lanka is endowed with a rich profile of natural resources, which is consisted of numerous productive physical and biological assets. Recent attempts to achieve a higher rate of economic growth have brought this heritage of environmental resources under constant stress. The country at present faces a numerous environmental problems that include various forms of land degradation, deforestation, loss of bio diversity, indoor and outdoor air pollution, pollution of water sources, mismanagement of solid waste, and over-exploitation of biological resources. Failure to incorporate the role of natural capital in the System of National Accounts (SNA) has led to neglect environmental resources by policy makers, thereby it is resulting in further degradation of environmental and natural resources. Therefore, achieving the sustainable development goals of the country demands formulation and implementation of wise policies that can positively contribute to the economy as well as the environment of the country.

Ministry of Environment of Sri Lanka has taken necessary steps to develop a green accounting mechanism for Sri Lanka with the collaboration of other relevant stakeholders in the country. Initially, it has been started to value the forestry sector contribution to the National Economy.

Sri Lanka Strategy for Sustainable Development

As an emerging economy, the challenge for Sri Lanka is to achieve sustainable high economic growth with greater equity, whilst integrating into the process of globalization, achieving permanent peace and rehabilitating and reconstructing the war affected areas. A sustainable high level of economic growth must be ensured without causing irreversible damage to the environment. Macro-economic policies for sustainable development must be developed through an environmentally sensitive macroeconomic framework. Sri Lanka vision for sustainable development is ?Achieving sustained economic growth that is socially equitable and ecologically sound, with peace and stability?.

Sri Lanka needs to accelerate economic growth in order to meet the rising expectations of a growing Population, about a quarter of which is still below the poverty line, and there is a need to be judicious in resource use in view of the alarming rate at which the resource base is being depleted. Therefore, an appropriate and commonly agreed national sustainable development strategy is an urgent requirement for Sri Lanka.

The ministry of environment in Sri Lanka developed The Sri Lanka Strategy for Sustainable Development in 2008 to meet the country?s various development needs as well as its development challenges, and to mainstream environmental considerations in policy-making and policy implementation. The system should enable the setting up of national level priorities in order that the country is able to select and act on those actions that support poverty reduction, economic development and environmental protection.


Though, Sri Lanka is a middle income country, it reveals almost all the characters of a developing country where the socio economic development and poverty alleviation are paramount important in the global economic context. Therefore, alleviating poverty of the people, ensuring the food security without assuring further land and water degradation, supplying clean water and provide sanitation, supplying adequate energy for basic needs, and providing access to electricity, providing a healthy environment for people who are exposed to dangerous levels of outdoor pollution and indoor air pollution and vector-borne diseases, providing safe shelter for those who are vulnerable to natural disasters are the urgent needs to be addressed today.

In this context, various obstacles and challenges are being featured by the country to meet the incremental cost of meeting the transition phase of greening the economy. Hence the country needs the external assistance for technical, financial and skilled human capital for country driven priorities to integrate the various development scenarios, social and environment related concerns together in the country.

During the past two decades, better institutional framework was established to mange the environment and natural resources, sound national polices were developed and therefore it is an opportunity for implementation of regional and local level projects to uplift the living standards of the people and conserve the environment and natural resources in the country. Further it is highly supported to the increased awareness on sustainable consumption and production practices among the general public for a paradigm shift from brown to green Economy.
Copyright (c) United Nations 2011 | Terms of Use | Privacy Notice | Contact | Site Map | New