ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka, which is struggling to get rid of an unprecedented economic crisis is trying to initiate a Climate Justice Forum at an upcoming Asia Pacific regional forum to bargain with developed nations to cut off some debts due to climate vulnerabilities, a cabinet minister said.
Leaders from poor countries at the last Climate Change Conference or COP27 held in Egypt in November 2022 criticized wealthy nations and oil companies for driving global warming and demanded to pay up for damages being inflicted on their economies.
Small island states already buffeted by increasingly violent ocean storms and sea-level rise called on oil companies to shell out some of their huge recent profits, while developing African states called for more international funds for adaptation.
Sri Lanka has been facing frequent droughts and often floods in the recent past, resulting human and property losses along with hit on the food production.
The island nation has declared bankruptcy in April last year and it has to pay above $41 billion external loans when it starts repayments after its debt restructuring.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe government which is hosting the fifth Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of Asia Pacific jointly with the United Nations Environmental Programme is working hard to establish Climate Justice Forum in a remedial measure to reduce some of its debt.
“This is something a new concept Sri Lanka is going to initiate,” Environment Minister Nazeer Ahamed told reporters at a media briefing on Monday.
“We are trying to bring many affected countries, climate-vulnerable countries to join hands with this concept. So that we all will have one voice at the COP28. So, the voice will be heard loudly. Sri Lanka is trying to lead this.”
President Wickremesinghe since becoming to power in July last year has been pushing for measures to protect from the climate change.
“The objective is to reduce the debt burden,” Environment Minister Ahamed said without elaborating.
“The 2016 floods cost close to $680 million loss and 2017 floods forced us to lose $400 million plus 212 deaths. There are so many droughts, there are so many floods. Our people have got affected, but so far not much has been done by the developed countries,” he said.
“What we are trying to propose is to address the debt burden as against the climate vulnerabilities. We are finalizing a resolution.”
Sri Lanka government has earmarked 65 million rupees for the conference while UNEP will provide $20,0000, the minister said.
Over 300 delegates including from 41 member countries will visit Colombo for the summit scheduled to be held from October 3-5. (Colombo/September 25/2023)