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A National Partnership With Busineses For Biodiversity

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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.

Forging linkages

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.

Publications

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.



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Pan Asia Bank posts steady performance during FY 2023 –

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Aravinda Perera- Chairman & Naleen Edirisinghe - Director CEO of Pan Asia Bank

Profit before Tax increases by 258% amidst external challenges

Pan Asia Banking Corporation PLC reflected a steady performance amidst multitude of adversities emerging from challenging macro-economic conditions as the Bank reported its financial performance during 2023, which showed judicious portfolio management and prudency exercised in dealing with possible fallout on its asset quality in challenging times.

The Bank reported a Pre-tax Profit of Rs. 2,328 Mn for the year ended 31st December 2023, which is 258% increase compared to corresponding period last year, supported by improved net interest income, increased trading gains from government securities and reduced exchange losses.

The Sri Lankan economy has experienced some positive signs of gradual economic recovery and a measure of stability in macro-economic factors compared to the previous year, with the appreciation of LKR against USD and the IMF bailout followed by the Domestic Debt Optimization (DDO) announcement. The multiple economic scenario models used regarding collective impairment in 2022 were continued in 2023 to ensure that adequate buffers were in place to absorb any potential credit risk that could arise in the future. The allowance for overlays applied in previous year was continued and maintained during 2023 too. Meanwhile, the Bank managed to end the year with healthy credit quality matrices due to improved credit underwriting standards and concerted collection & recovery efforts despite the contraction in the loan book during 2023 which impacted the Bank’s Stage 3 Loan Ratio adversely.

Furthermore, the Bank increased impairment provision buffers held regarding investments in International Sovereign Bonds of Government of Sri Lanka (SLISBs) further during 2023 with the expectation of possible adverse outcomes of the on-going government External Debt Restructuring (EDR) programme. The Bank recognised an impairment charge of nearly Rs. 2 Bn regarding International Sovereign Bonds during 2023.

The interest income for the year 2023 rose by 39% due to the high interest rates that prevailed during the period under review compared to corresponding period of the last year and the re-pricing effect of facilities in response to the market conditions. Further, the growth in interest income was supported by the increased interest income from Rupee denominated securities of the Government of Sri Lanka (T-Bills & Bonds) due to increased investments and high interest rates offered on such new investments compared to the previous year. Consequently, the net interest income increased by 9% in 2023 compared to the last year. (Pan Asia Bank)

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SLT-MOBITEL celebrates the season of love with exciting giveaways

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SLT-MOBITEL, the National ICT Solutions Provider, celebrated Valentine’s Day with a series of heartwarming promotions and networking activities, spreading love and joy for customers across the country.

Connecting hearts from all around the world on social media, SLT-MOBITEL invited participants to share their loving memories for a chance to win movie tickets. Customers were also given the opportunity to dedicate romantic ringing tones to their loved ones by dialling special codes.

As part of the Valentine’s Day celebrations, SLT-MOBITEL also offered a special promotion, providing a special screening for the glamorous movie ‘Sihinayeki Adarey’, powered by SLT-MOBITEL. Furthermore, customers were treated to a surprise bonus of 10GB of free data upon recharging their SLT-MOBITEL mobile numbers with Rs. 500 or more through any banking app.

Taking love to the hill country, in a special engagement event at the Kandy City Centre, fans were able to participate in activities and interact with the ‘Sihinayeki Adarey’ cast including Hemal Ranasinghe, Sheshadri Priyasad, and many others.

Through these exciting promotions, SLT-MOBITEL helped spread love and joy this season while enhancing the customer experience with exclusive activities.

To discover more of SLT-MOBITEL’s Valentine’s Day promotions, visit https://www.facebook.com/SLTMobitel.

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Call for Proposals: Saman Kelegama Memorial Research Grant 2024

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The Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS) is inviting proposals for the Saman Kelegama Memorial Research Grant 2024. The grant is an annual, merit-based grant awarded to an outstanding undergraduate studying in a Sri Lankan university. It aims to promote policy entrepreneurs among undergraduates by encouraging policy-relevant, rigorous and innovative socio-economic research.

The grant was established in 2018 to honour Dr. Saman Kelegama’s legacy of independent research and public policy engagement in socio-economic development in Sri Lanka and the wider South Asian region. Dr. Kelegama was the Executive Director of the IPS from 1995 to 2017.

Fourth-year undergraduates studying economics or a related subject in a University Grants Commission approved university or higher education institution in Sri Lanka are eligible to apply. Proposals must be written according to the guidelines provided and emailed to tharakam@ips.lk on or before the submission deadline of 30 April 2024.

HOW WILL THE WINNER BE CHOSEN? The quality of the proposals will be judged for its policy relevance, feasibility, originality and creativity. Three finalists will be chosen and invited to present their proposals at the IPS, where the award recipient will be selected.

OUTCOMES OF THE GRANTS – The recipient will be expected to produce a Policy Discussion Brief within six months of receiving the grant. The research report can be written individually or jointly with an IPS senior researcher.

BENEFITS OF THE GRANT – The beneficiary will be awarded a one-time research grant of LKR 200,000 to carry out the proposed research and a three-month internship at the IPS. The recipient will be able to seek guidance from senior researchers and benefit from IPS resources to complete the proposed study during the internship. To enable students from all over Sri Lanka to benefit from this opportunity, the terms of the internship will be flexible. The internship can either be a fully in-house internship at IPS, or it can be an in-house plus online internship. In the case of the second option, the in-house component of the internship should be at least six weeks. To encourage research dissemination, an additional subsidy will be provided for presenting the research findings at local conferences and workshops.

Important Dates

30 April 2024 – Deadline for Submission of Proposals

01 June 2024 – Announcement of Finalists

23 June 2024 – Announcement of the Winner

Further information is available at: https://www.ips.lk/saman-kelegama-memorial-research-grant/

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