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COP26 regional ambassador at the Colombo Development Dialogues



Speakers and Panelists at Session 4 of CDD on Green Development

The Colombo Development Dialogues on Green Development, an initiative of the Ministry of Environment, together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka, and other co-convening partners, successfully concluded recently.

A UNDP has said: Building on rich discussions, spread over two weeks, the final two sessions, held on Oct 21 and 22, sought to explore green financing possibilities and frame a multistakeholder approach to green development.

With a special address from the UK government’s COP26 Regional Ambassador to Asia-Pacific and South Asia, Ken O’Flaherty, highlighted the importance of countries adopting greener growth trajectory to avoid a spike in greenhouse gas emissions as well as how Government, private sector, and others, including the general public, have a vested interest in pursuing climate action. The COP26 summit, currently taking place in Glasgow until mid-November, will convene a broad spectrum of stakeholders to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. This year’s summit is expected to be decisive– with many stakeholders believing this year’s event to be the final global opportunity to agree on climate change controls and the ramifications of planetary pressures caused by unsustainable development practices.

The session on green financing, featuring prominent government stakeholders such as, T.M.J.Y.P. Fernando, Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Sri Lanka, who spoke on the role and contribution of the finance sector towards leveraging green finance for development, and Central Bank’s commitments for sustainable financing. This was discussed in the context of a ‘Roadmap for Sustainable Finance in Sri Lanka’ launched by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka with the financial assistance of the Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) of UNDP along with technical assistance of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), in consultation with multiple other key stakeholders.

Thomas Beloe, Chief of Programme, UNDP Finance Sector Hub, emphasised the need to bridge the SDG financing gap and the inefficient allocations of resources such as through continuous investments in carbon-intensive sectors, thus stressing the need for a systemic change to incorporate sustainable development at its core.

In addressing the need for a multistakeholder approach to green development, Sanjaya Mohottala, Chairman, Board of Investment of Sri Lanka, outlined the aim and vision of the Government as well as opportunities from and challenges to green financing and green investment through collaboration. Bringing in a private sector perspective, Manjula De Silva, Secretary General and CEO, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, stressed upon the importance of monetary incentives and concessionary financing for a sustainable transition of traditional business practices to develop better corporate citizens.

The government’s commitment and drive to take this initiative forward was further emphasised by Dr. Anil Jasinghe, Secretary to the Ministry of Environment and the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on ‘Creating a Green Sri Lanka with Sustainable Solutions to Climate Change’ at the closing session, who spoke to how this multistakeholder Mobilisation Platform will facilitate not only the overall implementation of a National Framework for Green Development in Sri Lanka, but will also support to the realization of other specific plans of action, including the Nationally Determined Contributions and the National Environment Action Plan, among others yet to be developed by the PTF.

The final two sessions also featured Mr. Reda Souirgi, Country Director, French Development Agency; Jonathan Drew, Managing Director, ESG Solutions, Global Banking, HSBC; Hajar Alafifi, Chairperson and Managing Director, Unilever Sri Lanka Limited; Dr. Hong-Sang Jung, Director, K-Water in Daejeon, Republic of Korea; Bettina Heller, Programme Officer, Consumption and Production Unit, UNEP; and Robert Juhkam, Resident Representative, UNDP Sri Lanka.

Panelists also included Dr. Dushni Weerakoon, Executive Director, the Institute of Policy Studies; Gulshan Vashistha, Regional Investment Lead – Asia-Pacific, Global Green Growth Institute; Ranga Pallawala, National Climate Finance Advisor, Commonwealth Secretariat; Victor Antonypillai, Country Officer, International Finance Corporation (IFC), Stuart Rogers, Interim Chief Executive Officer, HSBC; Dr. Kokila Konasinghe, Director, Centre for Environmental Justice; Mushtaq Memon, Regional Coordinator for Resource Efficiency, Asia-Pacific office, UNEP; Dr. A. Sivakumar, General Manager, Regulatory Affairs South Asia, Unilever; Kumudini Vidyalankara, Director, Climate Change Secretariat, Ministry of Environment; and Dr. Rene Van Berkel, Representative of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation for Sri Lanka, Bhutan, India, Maldives, and Nepal.

The Colombo Development Dialogues on Green Development brought together 20+ partners and close to 40 speakers joining from nearly 10 countries across four days. The dialogues aimed to reaffirm Sri Lanka’s climate and environmental commitments, by encouraging policymakers to consider bringing cohesion to diverse green initiatives and creating a multistakeholder platform to support the positioning of green development in the country as an urgent and all-encompassing priority.

Aligned with the foci of the Sustainable Development Goals, the dialogues helped frame narratives on innovative policy making, sustainable financing, and multi-stakeholder collaboration that will allow key stakeholders to articulate policy underpinnings to support the formulation of a National Framework for Green Development in Sri Lanka.

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MPs urged to defeat move to conduct Law College exams only in English medium



Ali Sabry responds to accusations

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Opposition MP Gevindu Cumaratunga yesterday (19) alleged that the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government was going ahead with a project launched by former Justice Minister Ali Sabry with the backing of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to conduct Law College examinations only in the English medium, much to the disadvantage of Sinhala and Tamil students.

Addressing the media at Sri Sambuddhathwa Jayanthi Mandiraya at Thunmulla, the leader of civil society group Yuthukama urged all political parties, regardless of whatever differences, to vote against extraordinary gazette notification of 2020 Dec 30 No 22018/13 to be submitted to Parliament by Sabry’s successor, Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, tomorrow (21).

The SLPP National List MP said that those who represented the interests of the South, the North as well as the Upcountry could reach a consensus on the issue at hand quite easily.

Responding to The Island query, lawmaker Cumaratunga said that Uththara Lanka Sabhagaya, consisting of a section of rebel SLPP MPs, backed the campaign to protect the language rights of Sinhala and Tamil communities. The first-time entrant to Parliament said that MPs with a conscience couldn’t back this move, under any circumstances, whichever the party they represented.

At the onset of the media briefing, MP Cumaratunga said that the denial of language rights of current and future students was a grave violation of the Constitution-Article 12 and Article 18. In terms of Article 12, no one should be discriminated against on the basis of language whereas Article 18 recognized Sinhala and Tamil as National Languages with English being the linking language.

Alleging that the previous Gotabaya Rajapaksa goverenment planned to implement the controversial law even without securing parliamentary approval, lawmaker Cumaratunga appreciated Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakse’s decision to place it before parliament.

The civil society activist said that this despicable move should be examined against the backdrop of growing external interventions as the country struggled to cope up with the developing political-economic-social crisis. The passage of the new law could cause further deterioration of parliament, MP Cumaratunga said, adding that the House faced a serious credibility issue.

“How could elected MPs whichever party they represented back a move that directly affected the concerned communities,”? Lawmaker Cumaratunga asked.

Referring to a recent call by the Justice Minister to discuss the issue at hand, MP Cumaratunga said that among those present on the occasion were Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam, PC, and Dr. Athula Pathinayake, Principal of Law College. “Those who opposed this move asked Dr. Athula Pathinayake what he really intended to achieve by conducting Law College examinations in English, only. However, the Law College Principal failed to provide a plausible response,” the MP said.

Responding to strong criticism of their stand, MP Cumaratunga stressed that the importance of English as a language couldn’t be underestimated. But, ongoing efforts to promote English shouldn’t be at the expense of Sinhala and Tamil, MP Cumaratunga said, questioning lawmakers’ right to deprive Sinhala and Tamil communities of basic rights.

Ratnapura District SLPP MP Gamini Waleboda said that an influential section of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) was behind this move. In a note dated March 17, addressed to all members of parliament urged them to defeat the contemptible move.

Lawmaker Waleboda said that there was no prohibition for those who wanted to sit law examinations in English. There was absolutely no issue over that but the bid to deny the language rights of those who wanted to sit examinations in Sinhala and Tamil was not acceptable under any circumstances. According to him, the BASL hadn’t consulted its membership regarding this move.

MP Cumaratunga also questioned the failure on the part of the apex court to make available to Parliament its interpretations in Sinhala. The Supreme Court continues to provide such clarifications in English only.

Responding to MP Cumaratunga’s allegation that he with the backing of the then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa resorted to action to make English compulsory for those studying at the Law College, incumbent Foreign Minister Sabry said: “That’s not correct. It is the council of legal education which formulates regulations.  The council consists of CJ, two senior SC judges, AG, SG, Secretary Justice and six senior lawyers of vast knowledge and experience.

 In terms of the constitution all higher education institutions can decide the language of studies and education. That’s how medical faculty, engineering faculty, IT faculty and management faculty conduct studies in English. Already Peradeniya and Jaffna universities do legal studies in English. It is good to do it, that’s how they become competitive. Even in India all legal faculties are in English. “

The President’s Counsel alleged that the kith and kin of certain people articulating this position received their education in English. The minister questioned why politicians get involved in this issue if the council of legal education made the relevant suggestion.

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No power cuts due to N’cholai unit failure – Minister



By Ifham Nizam

The breakdown of the Unit Three of the First Coal Fired Power Plant Complex in Norochcholai 270 MW intake of the 300MW will cost an additional Rs. 20 a unit due to thermal power generation, says the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB).  “It will cost the CEB Rs. 96 million extra a day while the Norochcholai machine is out of order,” a senior Electrical Engineer told The Island.

Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera yesterday said Unit 3 of the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant had failed. He said the CEB had informed him of the breakdown, but he said there would be no power cuts.

“The Unit 3 was due to undergo major overhaul maintenance in April. To ensure an uninterrupted power supply, the CEB-owned Diesel and Fuel Oil Power plants will be used,” the minister said.

The Norochcholai Power Plant has experienced breakdowns several times on previous occasions as well.The first generator at the power plant was shut down on December 23, last year to manage the coal stocks and for maintenance purposes.

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CBSL chief expresses optimism



Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe told the media, on Sunday, that the country’s dollar crisis could be managed as the IMF was set to approve a 2.9 billion-dollar bailout package on Monday. He said that Sri Lanka now had adequate foreign reserves for imports for essential sectors.

Dr. Weerasinghe added that the IMF package would boost investor confidence and enhance the country’s access to more foreign funds and investments.

The IMF package would include budgetary support, which was a new element in IMF lending, he said. Sri Lanka started negotiations with the IMF, in 2022, following the onset of the current economic crisis.

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