BIODIVERSITYin SRI LANKA
Safeguarding biodiversity is integral to sustainable development, competitiveness, economic growth and
employment. Many of the services that biodiversity and ecosystems provide are currently severely threatened. In an attempt to address this issue, Biodiversity Sri Lanka (BSL) was initiated in August 2012 by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, IUCN – the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Dilmah Conservation. It was created to respond to a demand for the establishment of a facility where businesses can come together to share experiences and best practices, learn from their peers, and voice their needs and concerns, aiming to strengthen the link between the business sector and the conservation community. BSL aims to assist the private sector to make a paradigm shift in efforts to place true and realistic values on Sri Lanka’s natural heritage.
BSL is a member of the Global Partnership for Business and Biodiversity (GPBB) established under the Convention on Biological Diversity. For facilitating forums of dialogue with businesses, among Parties, Governments and other stakeholders, the Government of Sri Lanka has recognized BSL to play this role, as an independent, and autonomous platform. BSL has helped to establish National Business and Biodiversity Initiatives in Pakistan and Viet Nam. For increased collaboration between the state and the private sector, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed with the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL), through the Ministry of Environment, to use combined advantages for enhancing biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in the country.
Members and priority benefits
The membership of BSL is open to Sri Lanka-based businesses ranging from national to multinational companies, as well as small and medium enterprises. Currently, 40 leading corporates – all with high standards of environmental custodianship have backed BSL by becoming its invited Patron Members. BSL has also 38 General Members and its SME Members are growing. The United Nations Development Programme, the German Development Co-operation (GIZ) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) are Associate Members.
Membership benefits include access to a comprehensive technical database carrying information on expertise available in conservation related fields, priority seating in events hosted by the BSL Academy in which best practices are disseminated, use of an Online Project Bank setting out project ideas and recognition to resource efficiency pledges, A Biodiversity Projects Ranking Scheme awards Star Ranks and exclusive use of a dedicated logo aiding companies to improve the design and implementation of biodiversity conservation-related projects. An online repository www.lifecommitment.lk, maintains information on private sector contributions towards multiple national and international biodiversity commitments, assessing also hitherto unavailable financial investments made towards these initiatives over a determined period.
Awarding genuine efforts towards biodiversity conservation
In recognition of the positive work being carried out by companies, the ACCA and BSL collaborated in offering a joint award for excellence in environmental/biodiversity project implementation. Recognizing its relevance to current needs of the current job market, BSL provides technical assistance to the Department of Zoology and Environment Sciences, University of Colombo in the Honours Degree in Business & Environment, connecting the students and enabling industrial placements with eminent partners representing leading corporate entities in Sri Lanka.
Encouraging Public-private-community partnerships
Working with its members on public private community partnerships has been an integral part of BSL’s work. Joining hands with the Forest Department, IUCN Sri Lanka, and Patron Member – HSBC, BSL worked to conserve the Puwakpitiya Oya, to serve as a replicable model for mini watershed conservation and management. Through a science-driven, community-centric approach, the initiative resulted in substantial improvements in ecological functions, and improved living standards. Methodology, results, and best practices are documented for use in longer-term planning and learning. Together with contributions to SDGs and to national biodiversity priorities.
Tools for restoration
BSL’’s flagship project “LIFE” carried out in partnership with the Forest Department, IUCN Sri Lanka and eleven member companies, has developed a forest restoration plan for a degraded block within the Kanneliya Forest Reserve, restoring connectivity using scientific principles. Enhancement of habitat quality, species diversity and increased biodiversity and ecosystem services are monitored. As a first for Sri Lanka, working with experts both locally and internationally, a Biodiversity Credit Accrual System is being designed with the objective of assigning a unit value for enhanced biodiversity and ecosystem services, in par with international requirements and standards. The aim of the project is to support the development of policies and tools to utilize accrued credits sustainably.
Tackling the plastic menace
According to the Marine Environment Protection Authority of Sri Lanka, the country dumps 1 billion pounds of plastic and polythene a year and 4 million polythene bags alone each day. BSL together with the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce developed an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Roadmap to minimize plastic loadings into the coastal and marine environment. Building the capacity of stakeholders, to accelerate plastic waste management, using a participatory approach was an integral part of this initiative. To maximize sustainable utilization of our beaches, BSL’s Life to our Beaches campaign takes measures to keep our beaches clean and free of hazards allowing for public movement and recreation.
For showcasing hidden best practices in environmental conservation, initiated by the plantations and tourism sectors, two BSL publications enhance awareness and provides learning opportunities to others in the industry, on the benefits and value of engaging in environmental conservation efforts and in the enhancement of biodiversity. These are available for sale in leading bookshops.
Biodiversity Sri Lanka aims to assist the private sector to make a paradigm shift in efforts to place true and realistic values on Sri Lanka’s natural heritage, setting and then reaching new ambitious targets to value and conserve the fundamental riches of the life support systems and the wildlife and people that depend upon them.
A Board of Directors consisting of a permanent representative each from the three Initiating Partners and two representatives each from the Patron and General Members, together directs the activities of BSL. The board consist of Dilhan C. Fernando, Board Chair, Representative- Initiating Partner, Trustee, Dilmah Conservation Mr. Chandrarathne Vithanage, Representative – Initiating Partner, Senior Assistant Secretary General Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Ananda Mallawatantri, Representative – Initiating Partner, Country Representative, International Union for Conservation of Nature. Mr. Mahesh Nanayakkara, Representative – Patron Members, Chief Executive Officer, Citizens’ Development Business Finance PLC. Mr. Nandana Ekanayake, Representative Patron Members, Chairman, Siam. Mr. Shahid Mohomed Sangani, Representative, General Members – Director – Dynawash Ltd. Mr. Subramaniam Eassuwaren, Representative General Members – Deputy Chairman, Eswaran Brothers, Exports (Pvt.) Ltd. Mr. Anura Dissanayake, Expert in Business, Sustainability and the Environment / Secretary, Ministry of Irrigation and Former Secretary Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment. Mr. Prema Cooray, Chief Executive Officer, Chairman, Rainforest Ecolodge (Pvt.) Ltd.
BoardPAC certified one of Asia’s Best Workplaces by Great Place to Work
BoardPAC, the Sri Lanka-based multinational board meeting automation solutions company, reached another milestone recently when it was featured for the first time in the prestigious Best Workplaces in Asia 2021 list – Small and Medium category, published by Great Place to Work.
A company news release said this recognition came hot on the heels of BoardPAC being certified as a ‘Great Workplace’ by Great Place to Work in Sri Lanka for the third consecutive year in 2021.
“The internationally acclaimed list follows strict criteria in acknowledging the best of the best in terms of workplaces in the Asia region. BoardPAC’s recognition is based on extensive ratings provided by its employees in an anonymous survey and a culture assessment conducted by the Great Place to Work organisation, and upon having achieved the globally accredited cut-off scores,” the release added..
Commenting on being placed on this esteemed list, BoardPAC’s Chief Executive Officer, Ms Lakmini Wijesundera stated: “We are honored to be selected into the Asia’s Best Workplaces List. Our team’s happiness is key to our success. The well-crafted GPTW Survey helps us with an accurate analysis of employees’ sentiments. The emphasis by GPTW on Trust, Pride, Camaraderie, and Care has been valuable in our efforts to improve continuously. GPTW has become a hallmark of our positive work culture. A big thank you to our team for the contribution to this great culture.”
Great Place to Work provides the benchmarks, framework, and expertise needed to create, sustain, and recognise outstanding workplace cultures, and is the global authority on high-trust and high-performance workplace cultures. This process is carried out via proprietary assessment tools, advisory services, and certification programmes, including a list of best workplaces and workplace reviews. The Best Workplaces in Asia 2021 list can be viewed at
BoardPAC is recognised for driving simple, secure, sustainable, and experiential communications for Board and Executive members. BoardPAC serves a host of fortune 500 companies worldwide, with over 50,000 users globally and a presence in over 40 countries.
Leading Indian corporations such as the Bombay Stock Exchange, Power Grid Corporation of India, IDBI Bank, Container Corporation of India, and LIC Housing Finance Limited are already users of BoardPAC. It has also been deployed by some of the strongest brands across the world such as the Axiata Group of companies, Deloitte and Maxis among others. BoardPAC clientele span the largest banks and sector leaders in the Asia Pacific region such as Prudential, Petronas, Maybank, Hong Leong Group, MSIG, BSN, Bumi Armada, RHB Banking Group, Affin Bank, and Bursa Malaysia – the stock exchange of Malaysia.
In Sri Lanka over 150 of the top corporate entities including John Keells, SriLankan Airlines, MAS Holdings, Bank of Ceylon, Commercial Bank, Hemas, Carsons, Softlogic, Sri Lanka Telecom, Sampath Bank, National Savings Bank, Nations Trust Bank and Merchant Bank of Sri Lanka as well as the SEC and Colombo Stock Exchange use BoardPAC.
Sri Lanka Insurance holds “Minimuthulanthaya” for Children’s Day 2021
Sri Lanka Insurance holds “Minimuthulanthaya” an exclusive series of informative and entertaining sessions for children and their parents commemorating the World Children’s Day 2021. The programme was held from 01st to 3rd of October 2021 via Sri Lanka Insurance official Facebook page attracting thousands of enthusiastic children across the country.
The programme was conducted with the support of Sri Lanka Insurance Minimuthu Education Plans to inspire the younger generation to achieve their dreams. The Minimuthu Education Plan provides financial assistance for children to pursue their dreams setting a strong foundation for child’s future.
The first session of the series “Super Parents”, an informative discussion on child education, mental health and nutrition was held for parents on 1st of October with the participation of Ms.Christine Jayakody Psychologist, Mr.Upali Ginasekara former Principal of Royal College Colombo and Principal of Polymath College, Dr.Sujeewa Wickramasinghe Nutritionist and Mr.Amintha De Silva Visionary Guru. The programme was well received by parents participated and the programme was followed by a Q & A session where many important issues were discussed regarding the education, health and wellness of children.
The other sessions of Minimuthulanthaya was held during the weekend allowing children as well as their parents to enjoy a quality time together. “The Artist” session and “The Entertainer” session was conducted live in both Sinhala and Tamil mediums teaching and allowing children to express their talents in drawing and creativeness.
The Mastermind session was conducted to interact with masterminds with knowledge about mathematics, science, history, general knowledge and various other fields.
The Computer Wizard session was the main attraction of the whole series as many kids with avid interest towards computer programming joined the session to learn programming.
The sessions were concluded asking the participants to submit their own creative work to stand a chance to win valuable gifts from Sri Lanka Insurance and is receiving tremendous response in return.
UN-recognized pioneer leads Hayley’s Fabric’s greening thrust
Leonie Vaas, a chemical engineer who’s the Manager of Sustainability and Innovation at Hayley’s Fabrics made history last June when she was selected from thousands across the globe to be designated as one of just 10 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Pioneers by the United Nations (UN) Global Compact for 2021.
With an extensive range of experience in green house gas (GHG) reduction and ensuring carbon neutrality, life cycle perspective of products, plant and process improvements with sustainable technologies and textile chemical management, Leonie has paved the path for local sustainability champions to be recognized on a global platform, a news release from Hayley’s Fabrics said.
She primarily focuses on five key areas at Hayleys Fabric, including driving efforts in reducing GHG emissions, water preservation, improving efficiency with sustainable solutions for effluent treatment plants, building and training sustainability teams, as well as developing and applying new processes for ‘better and greener’ products, the release said.
Sustainable business starts with a sustainable culture
“I’ve always had a passion for the environment, and so from the start, I gravitated towards work in sustainability. Once I joined Hayleys Fabric, I was challenged and supported to link sustainability with innovation properly. Here, the opportunity to have a continuous learning experience, to be at the very forefront of sustainable innovation and part of shaping a greener future – is tremendous.
“We have a strong leadership commitment that all employees evenly match, and ultimately, that culture and enthusiasm to take the lead on sustainability are what drives our success. Sustainability at its core is driven by the higher management and we were able to come this far with the support and guidance of our CEO and Managing Director Rohan Goonetilleke. Because of this unique dynamic, we were able to rapidly commercialise our sustainable innovations, which gave me a chance to showcase what Hayleys and Sri Lanka have to offer the world. When you build the right culture, everything else flows from there,” Vaas said.
A team committed to sustainable innovation
True sustainability is about more than a single innovation. Leonie cites a host of extraordinary initiatives implemented by the Hayleys Fabric team collectively aimed at securing global leadership in sustainable textile manufacturing.
“We treat 100% of the water used for production to maintain strict compliance with certified and audited commitments on Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals. This standard is recognised globally, beyond Sri Lanka’s strict national regulations,” Leonie noted.
As a signatory to the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming at 1.5°C, Hayleys Fabric has already cut its carbon footprint by 15%. This was achieved by installing the largest private sector rooftop solar power system in Sri Lanka at the company’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Horana. With 9,000 solar panels installed across 18,000 square metres, the system has contributed 4.5 Mw to the National Grid since June 2021.
Leonie finds the company’s future focus on re-engineering its value chain truly inspirational. “Our team is looking at substituting production supplies with recycled polyester, organic cotton, and other bio-degradable materials as well as augmenting production capabilities to create textiles from yarn comprised of recycled plastic.”
The innovation team recently launched an app to enable end-to-end traceability for its recycled PET fabrics, mostly supplied locally to Sri Lanka’s largest apparel manufacturers. This will allow local producers and global retailers to tag individual pieces of clothing with a QR code, which customers can scan to learn exactly how many discarded PET bottles were used to create the item and exactly which part of Sri Lanka, the bottles were collected from.
Hayleys Fabric also connects employees with key sustainability issues through culture building, webinars, and training and awareness building workshops.
“Keeping key issues like waste segregation, pollution, and energy efficiency top of mind, ensures that the entire workforce stays engaged with the company’s quest to become a global leader in sustainable textile production. As local leaders, we must always continue to find ways to become global pioneers.”
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