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.
‘Rekindle Happiness with New Experiences’ this Season with Nations Trust Bank American Express
The season of joy comes early for Nations Trust Bank American Express Cardmembers, with the ‘Rekindle Happiness with New Experiences’ campaign. Cardmembers will receive amazing benefits and savings from over 300 merchants island-wide, across all categories online and offline, all the way to 31st December 2021.
The time spent with loved ones during this season of togetherness and sharing will be a gift in itself. Nations Trust Bank American Express launched the seasonal campaign with the hope of bringing new life to the season of happiness and merriment. With the countless benefits and privileges, the campaign will allow loyal Cardmembers to celebrate this season in style with memories for the ages.
The offers for Cardmembers come from a wide range of categories including but not limited to Clothing, Gifting, Hampers, Dining, Hotel stays, Supermarkets, and Automobiles. Niluka Gunatilake, Head of Cards at Nations Trust Bank stated, “It’s that time of the year when everybody looks forward to the year-end cheer and festivities. Particularly, after coming out of several lockdowns, we are all excited for the upcoming festive season. Nations Trust Bank American Express is delighted to present seasonal benefits and privileges for our Cardmembers to celebrate this season of giving, sharing and joy! They can look forward to a rewarding season with a plethora of offers as we partner with leading retail establishments, dining partners, hotels & resorts. We invite our Cardmembers make use of the benefits and privileges and have a wonderful season to rekindle happiness with new experiences.”
Nations Trust Bank American Express invites cardmembers to enjoy the festivities and find out more about the benefits and privileges offered this season by visiting www.americanexpress.lk. The Bank strongly advises Cardmembers to adhere to all health and safety guidelines issued by the Government whilst they enjoy their seasonal shopping, dining and lodging.
Nations Trust Bank PLC is among the top 15 business establishments in Sri Lanka as ranked by Business Today. Stemming from its vision of “helping people and businesses by providing financial services and information to achieve their goals and aspirations in a sustainable way”, the Bank serves a diverse range of customers across both individual and corporate, with an enviable portfolio of banking and financial products and services. Strongly focused on digital empowerment through cutting-edge digital banking technologies, the Bank is a pioneer in many innovative customer centric banking solutions such as extended banking hours, and FriMi – Sri Lanka’s first digital banking experience. Delivering premium value, service and connecting its Card Members to rewarding experiences and opportunities Nations Trust Bank PLC is an issuer and sole acquirer of American Express Cards in Sri Lanka. The Bank operates 96 branches across the country and has an ATM network covering 127 locations and 48 Cash Deposit & Withdrawal Machines, plus more than 3,700 ATMs on the Lanka Pay Network.
Airtel’s network expansion to amplify island-wide 4G coverage
Airtel Lanka, a subsidiary of international telecom giant Bharti Airtel Limited, recently revealed its plans to strategically expand its new 4G network across the island.
As such, over 400 new 4G sites are being commissioned across the country, which is in addition to the 2,000 plus 4G sites Airtel added during the launch of its 4G.
The new 4G sites are mapped out to ensure enhanced capacity in highly populated areas and coverage penetration into rural regions. Airtel’s 4G network is built on a triple layer network, which gives it a solid combination of coverage and capacity to deliver a superior experience with drastically improved indoor coverage with stronger signal penetration.
Having already completed over a third of the newly planned 4G sites, the finished sites are estimated to cover over an additional one million of the population. A prominent cause for the company to expedite its expansion drive was the two-fold increase in data usage since the pandemic brought along a new normal.
“I am certain that our rapid expansion strategy will directly benefit our consumers across the island, giving them a refreshed and enhanced network experience through our world-class 4G capabilities. Until adequate or even excess coverage is obtained, we will continue our 4G expansion drive, with every location also being 5G-ready to seamlessly accommodate the next generation of network when the time comes,” commented Airtel Lanka CEO/MD Ashish Chandra.
Through this drive, Airtel users will be given the opportunity to enjoy a network experience unlike ever before. As Airtel is also equipped with a refreshed prepaid and postpaid model with the recent launch of ‘Freedom Packs’, the launch of Airtel 4G is the telco’s single largest investment in Sri Lanka since its entry into the island in 2009. The purpose-built 4G network promises users a superior user experience including 99% buffer-free streaming, noticeably quicker loading times and improved indoor coverage with 4G signals that never fail.
From online learning to work-from-home to virtual socialising, every user from children to adults will be able to benefit from not having to face any more call drops, interruptions or coverage issues.
In addition to the company led expansion of amplifying coverage island wide, Airtel’s joint venture with the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka’s (TRCSL) Gamata Sanniwedanaya aims to achieve 100% island wide coverage by 2022 by bridging the digital gap in rural districts with poor network coverage, by providing equal access to mobile connectivity for all Sri Lankans.
HNB hails Sri Lanka Paralympic heroes as an inspiration to new generation of athletes
Sri Lanka’s very first Olympic Gold Medallist together with the Bronze medallist and participant delegation to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, resonated a vibrant and inspirational example to new generation athletes and youth of the country, at a felicitation ceremony organized by the country’s leading private bank, HNB.
Recognising their outstanding performances – which included securing Gold and Bronze medals and establishing a new world record – HNB’s Sustainability Foundation presented plaques and cash rewards to the award winning athletes, coaches and officials who were part of the delegation.
The felicitation ceremony, held at HNB Towers, the Bank’s head office was attended by HNB Managing Director /CEO – Jonathan Alles, Chief Transformation Officer/DGM – L Chiranthi Cooray, Deputy General Manager –Retail & SME Banking – Sanjay Wijemanne and HNB Sports Club President/AGM Hisham Ally, as well as National Paralympic Committee (NPC) of Sri Lanka Honorary President, Lieutenant Colonel Deepal Herath and other officials.
“You have scaled mountains that others only dream of conquering,” HNB Managing Director/CEO, Jonathan Alles said, congratulating the members of the delegation. “We, at HNB draw inspiration from your achievements and hope that the country’s youth and new generation of athletes too will do the same. Sports can help develop qualities which are essential for organizations, particularly teamwork and the country will benefit from youth taking a greater interest in sports activities.”
The highlight of the event was the felicitation of Dinesh Herath – who won Gold in Men’s Javelin Throw F46 – and Samitha Dulan Kodithuwakku – the Bronze medallist in the Men’s Javelin Throw F64. Herath is also the first Sri Lankan to win an Olympic or Paralympic Gold and set a new world record in his event.
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