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Tuesday February 27th, 2024

With criticism, Sri Lanka leader strongly pushes for CJF, investment in TB at COP28

ECONOMYNECT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe strongly pushed for a Climate Justice Forum (CJF) and investments in Tropical Belt and criticised the slow action against climate change-led disasters at the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) held in Dubai.

This year’s climate summit features a raft of issues for countries working to find common ground in tackling climate change, including whether to phase out fossil fuels and how to finance the energy transition in developing countries.

Wickremesinghe speaking on Friday said Sri Lankans are already feeling the impact.

“Sri Lanka is experiencing a palpable rise in ambient temperature; continuous gray skies; heavy rains that are not seasonal; lightning and thunderstorms; and as a consequence, flooding of riverbanks and earth slips in the mountains,” he told the gathering.

“Let me reiterate, each year, the costs of mitigating these recurring calamities in terms of lives, livelihoods, displacement destruction, rebuilding is an additional burden on our thinly-stretched economies.”

“Remember, the developing countries are both disproportionately vulnerable and disproportionately impacted – due to their lower adaptive capacity when it comes to investments in Finance, Technology and Climate.”

Here is the full text of Sri Lanka President Wickremesinghe’s speech at the COP 28: 

Mr. President

Excellencies

Esteemed Delegates

At the outset let me congratulate the Government of the United Arab Emirates for hosting COP28 and extend to you my gratitude for your warm hospitality.

It was in 1972 the world first focused on the environment -The UN Conference on Human Environment which enunciated the goal of defending and improving the environment for present and future generations.

50 years later, the Stockholm+50 Report concluded that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius requires rapid and large-scale reduction of carbon emissions.

The UNEP Report of 2023 “Broken Promises” warned that we are facing a 3 degree Celcius increase in global temperatures by the end of the century.

We are already feeling the impact. Sri Lanka is experiencing a palpable rise in ambient temperature; continuous gray skies; heavy rains that are not seasonal; lightning and thunderstorms; and as a consequence, flooding of riverbanks and earth slips in the mountains.

Let me reiterate, each year, the costs of mitigating these recurring calamities in terms of lives, livelihoods, displacement destruction, rebuilding is an additional burden on our thinly-stretched economies.

Remember, the developing countries are both disproportionately vulnerable and disproportionately impacted – due to their lower adaptive capacity when it comes to investments in Finance, Technology and Climate.

The Independent High-Level Expert Group Report on Climate Finance highlighted that at least a US$ Trillion per annum is required to combat climate change.

At the last COP held in Egypt, we agreed to establish the “Loss and Damages Fund”.

However, the Transitional Committee on the Operationalisation of Funding Arrangements in its Report of 4th November 2023 only calls for voluntary contributions.  

The Report makes no mention of the funds needed or who the contributors are. It is silent on the issue of global debt relief.

Nevertheless, four days later, the Technical Dialogue of the First Global Stocktake highlighted the requirements of a minimum of US$ trillion per annum. To arrive at a consensus not to take up a contentious issue is not a solution. Who are we fooling?

We are denied climate justice. In this background, Sri Lanka will propose a resolution for a Climate Justice Forum which was agreed upon at the 5th Forum of the Ministers of Environmental Authorities of Asia Pacific to be moved at the UN Environment Assembly of 6thFebruary 2024.

The Climate Justice Forum will provide us a platform for constructive and proactive engagements.

Since 1972, the Brussels Group has been fighting a rearguard action on climate change mitigation. This forum will give us an opportunity to address their genuine concerns.

To address the issue   of ensuring that the tax payers monies are not wasted.

As the Secretary General of the UN said, “the era of global boiling has arrived”.

The enemy is at the gates. We are still procrastinating. We are still forming our battalions to take the fight to the enemy.

Therefore, this fortnight is critical.

It will determine whether we are capable of providing leadership to mitigate climate crisis or not. Sri Lanka is committed to the 1.5 degree Celcius limit.

We must act immediately to find effective solutions. We must think outside of the box. We must Invest in the Tropical Belt to tackle the Triple Planetary Crisis.

The Tropical Belt constitutes 134 countries covering 44% of earth’s surface, and will by 2030s be home to roughly 50% of world’s population.

Most of the world’s remaining primary forests are tropical, along with its coral reef systems.

The rich biodiversity of the Tropical Belt enhances biological carbon sequestration andcan shield the world from instabilities inweather.

Furthermore, the energy generation potential from solar, wind and biomass are significantly higher in the tropics than that of other areas on the earth.

Yet, anthropogenic activities  

human activities that cause

pollution – in the Tropical Belt can easily lead to an imbalance in the equilibrium of this region.

So much so that some scientists predict that the  Tropical Rain Belt could shift away from the Equator by the 22nd Century.

Large scale investments in Renewable Energy, Pollution Control and Nature-based Solutions. Eg. Protection, restoration and improved management of forests, wetlands, grasslands etc. will lead to significant transformative changes in the entire world by enhancing carbon sequestration.

Therefore, Sri Lanka and other concerned parties will convene a panel to report on the Tropical Belt Initiative.

A multi sector plan distributed not only among the whole tropical region but the whole world.

As the current Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), Sri Lanka is focusing on the interdependence between the Indian Ocean and climate change.

A healthy ocean generates oxygen and absorbs the carbon and heat produced from global warming. Mangroves and seagrasses sink more carbon than land forests. However, rapid climate change is altering the marine environment with rising sea levels and temperatures, Ocean acidification, coral bleaching, habitat destruction and extreme weather patterns.

These phenomenon have a direct impact on human lives by disrupting ocean biodiversity, Ocean dependent food patterns, and coastal livelihoods.

Member states and partners of IORA will work towards ensuring a sustainable, inclusive and people-centered Blue Economy to secure the Indian Ocean for future generations.

The Tropical Belt and the Indian Ocean combined will form the largest global sink for carbon sequestration.

Addressing the climate change need, up to date scientific knowledge, and the effective use of these findings

Therefore, at COP27, I proposed to establish an International Climate Change University (ICCU) to  

concentrate on post graduate studies – The ICCU objectives are capacity building and advancing research – necessary to contribute to the crucial efforts to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The ICCU will also serve as a futuristic “Centre for Excellence” in policy dialogue and advocacy on climate change.

The ICCU is critical for generating knowledge on the trans-disciplinary issues that is crucial for Climate Change Mitigation. i.e. for the survival of our planet. (Colombo/Dec 1/2023)

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Sri Lanka police chief appointment against constitution: Opposition Leader

Samagi Jana Balavegaya leader Sajith Premadasa addresses the rally

ECONOMYNEXT – The appointment of Sri Lanka’s new police chief Deshbandu Tennakoon is against the constitution as the decision lacked required votes at the Constitutional Council, Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday (26) appointed Deshbandu Tennakoon as the 36th Inspector General of Police (IGP) of the country after the Constitutional Council (CC) cleared the official who along with three other police officers were asked by the Supreme Court to compensate 2 million rupees in a fundamental rights case last year.

“CC didn’t approve IGP’s appointment. Votes: 4 for; 2 against; 2 abstentions. At least 5 votes are required for a decision,” Premadasa said in his X (Twitter) platform.

“Speaker has a casting vote only in case of a tie. 4/2 is not a tie! Constitution is being blatantly violated for the second time. Shame on you speaker!”

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena was not reachable for a comment on the Opposition Leader’s claim.

The President Media Division (PMD) said the President appointed Tennakoon “as the IGP in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution”.

The island nation’s Supreme Court on December 14 ordered Tennakoon when he was the Acting IGP and three other officials to pay a compensation of 500,000 rupees each for the violation of the fundamental rights of an individual.

The Supreme Court also instructed the Police Commission to take disciplinary action against the said Police officers including Tennakoon after it considered the petition filed by W. Ranjith Sumangala who had accused the Police officers of violating his fundamental rights during his detention at Mirihana Police Station in 2011.

The Supreme Court held that the four police officers violated the fundamental rights of the petitioner by his illegal arrest, detention and subjection to torture at the Mirihana Police Station, which was under the supervision of Tennakoon at the time of the arrest. (Colombo/Feb 27/2024)

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All major party leaders Sri Lanka remained unpopular in January: poll

ECONOMYNEXT — All major party leaders in Sri Lanka continued to show negative favourability ratings in a January 2024 poll indicating continued unpopularity, with leftist leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake increasing his favourability by 12 points to -10.

The poll, run by the Institute for Health Policy (IHP), showed that favourability of opposition leader Sajith Premadasa declined by 9 points to -53 in January, while President Wickremesinghe’s also dropped by 9 points to -77.

The IHP said in a statement on February 22 that favourability estimates for each month are based on 100–500 interviews conducted during that month and during a few weeks before and afterward to ensure a minimum set of responses. The January 2024 estimates are based on 376 (Premadasa), 346 (Dissanayake), 361 (Wickremasinghe), and 121 (former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa) interviews.

According to the IHP, its Sri Lanka Opinion Tracker Survey (SLOTS) surveys a national sample of adults (ages 18 and over) reached by random digit dialling of mobile numbers, and others coming from a national panel of respondents who were previously recruited through random selection.

SLOTS tracks favourability by asking respondents if they have a favourable or unfavourable opinion of a public figure or institution: net favourability being the average of the positive (+100) and negative (-100) responses. All
estimates are weighted to match the national population with respect to age, sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sector, province and past voting preference. Monthly estimates are based on samples of 100+ interviews pooled from interviews in each month and from weeks before and afterwards. As the January update uses a more recent data set than the previous update, there are small changes in estimates of favourability ratings for previous months.

According to the institute, the SLOTS survey has previously been funded by the Neelan Tiruchelvam Trust, the UK National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), The Asia Foundation in Sri Lanka, and others.

“Current field work is financed by the IHP Public Interest Research Fund and others. The sponsors play no role in the study design, analysis, or interpretation of findings. Furthermore, the survey findings do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of past and present funders. Interested parties can contact IHP for more detailed data and results,” it said in the statement. (Colombo/Feb27/2024)

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Sri Lanka to seek private investments in water sector

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is looking to form public private partnerships in the water sector, specifically to focus on rural water supply, Minister of Water Supply and Estate Infrastructure Jeevan Thondaman has said.

“Not privatization, but public private partnerships,” Thondaman said at a press briefing on Monday. “When we enhance private sector participation, we create a more competitive industry with better quality and cheaper prices.”

A water tariff formula, which will be reviewed annually or bi-annually, has been formulated and will be submitted to the cabinet, parliament and COPE committee, he said.

“Once this is in place, we will be able to attract investors to come on board. The water sector till now has not had a PPP model. We want to bring in private public sector partnerships in rural communities’ water supply; we believe they will be able to work hand in hand with community-based organizations to provide water to those who need it.

“I can give you one example, when you look at the water bottle that is being manufactured by the Water Board, you will see it’s from the Hanthana Estate; but people in Hanthana Estate still don’t have drinking water. There has been a top to bottom approach. Now we want to go rural first.

Most projects in the water sector had stalled post-crisis, Thondaman said, and the priority now was to resume them before attracting further investment into the sector. The minister said that there had been discussions with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Asian Development Bank. (Colombo/Feb27/2024)

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