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Excerpts from SJB’s National Green Initiative



We acknowledge that human beings are only a part of the natural world, and we respect the specific values of all forms of life, including non-human species. We acknowledge the wisdom of the indigenous people of the world, as custodians of the land and its resources. We acknowledge that human society depends on the ecological resources of the planet, and must ensure the integrity of ecosystems and conserve biodiversity and the resilience of life supporting systems.

We recognize that there are limitations to material expansion of human society within the biosphere, and the need to conserve biodiversity through sustainable use of renewable resources and responsible use of non-renewable resources. We believe that to achieve ecological sustainability, and in order to provide for the needs of present and future generations within the finite resources of the earth, continuing growth in global consumption, population and material inequity must be halted and reversed.

We recognize that sustainability will not be possible as long as poverty persists. Political Leadership in Environmental Sustainability We recognise the significance of providing necessary political leadership and requisite political commitment. Through the National Green Initiative leadership will be provided for a new political culture in Sri Lanka to mainstream environmental sustainability into the National Development Agenda to boost the country’s ability to provide sustainable ecosystem services for its development.

Participatory Environmental Conservation: We strive for a democracy in which all citizens have the right to express their views, and are able to directly participate in the environmental, economic, social and political decisions which affect their lives; so that power and responsibility are devolved to local and regional communities, with ascent to higher tiers of government only where essential.

Preamble : We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future holds great peril and great promise, at the same time. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny.

We must join to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations. The choice is ours: form a global partnership to care for Earth and one another or risk the destruction of ourselves and the diversity of life.

Fundamental changes are needed in our values, institutions, and ways of living. We must realize that when basic needs have been met, human development is primarily about being more, not having more. We have the knowledge and technology to provide for all, while reducing our impact on the environment. The emergence of a global civil society is creating new opportunities to build a democratic and humane world. Our environmental, economic, political, social, and spiritual challenges are interconnected, and together we can forge inclusive solutions.

People need Nature. Nature is essential for every aspect of human living. It enhances our lives, helps us feel better, has positive impacts on our social skills and therefore lays the launch pad for us to become environmentally responsible citizens. It gives us all food, air and water that we need to survive. But we are taking more from nature than it can provide, and we are putting our own lives on the line. Nature “needs” People. We live on a planet of finite resources. We can’t continue to consume our stocks of natural capital because there will be nothing left for our grandchildren. So while people need nature, increasingly, nature needs people. Nature has to be nurtured and protected so that the benefits we get from it continue to flow. For that people and nature must work as players in the same team.

Policy on Environment, Biodiversity Conservation and Climate Change: Not only do we live on an island with finite resources, but we live on a planet with finite resources. Therefore, we can’t continue to consume our stocks of natural assets in an unsustainable manner because there will be nothing left for our future generations. We have an expanding human population and a declining natural resource base within a finite land area. It is obvious that this model cannot be sustained in the long term.

The country is currently confronted with the serious degradation of its ecosystems and the biodiversity they host. This will no doubt have a detrimental effect on the provision of ecosystem services. It is well established that a reduction in ecosystem service provision will adversely impact economic development. Reversing the current trend of ecosystem degradation should be a priority for every Sri Lankan regardless of our political affiliations.

SJB as the first ever officially declared green political party will ensure that environmentally sustainable development will be the central goal of our future Government’s policy. We are fully committed to mainstreaming the principles of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals throughout the decision making and operational processes so that development under a future SJB led Government will truly be sustainable.

Reversing the Trend of Biodiversity Loss: Despite decades of conservation efforts, deforestation, forest degradation and biodiversity loss continues. Considering that biodiversity influences the quality of ecosystems services, which in turn affects the country’s development and human well being, conservation of biodiversity including the ecological processes that sustain ecosystem services will be a priority under a future SJB led Government .

National Priority on Environment, Biodiversity Conservation and Climate Change Environment, biodiversity conservation and climate change were a national priority under the Environmental Charter placed before the public by me as the presidential Candidate in 2019. This was the first time in Sri Lanka that any presidential candidate had placed an Environmental Charter before the public. As the leader of the SJB, I have commenced a process of consultation with environmental experts to update the Environmental Charter to address the unprecedented threats posed to Sri Lanka’s natural resources from the misguided and short sighted decisions made over the last two years.

The Environmental Charter will be revised to take pragmatic action to address the current threats and to accommodate the “new normal” conditions resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic. Considering the crucial role Sri Lanka’s natural assets play in the country’s development, our future Government will consider proper management of the environment, biodiversity conservation and climate change as a national priority. With an outcome oriented program with tangible targets.

The first step will be to end the fragmentation of institutional mandates and eliminate conflicting responsibilities by introducing an effective institutional mechanism for inter-ministerial coordination to mainstream conservation into the development process. National priority programs on Environment, Biodiversity Conservation and Climate Change under our future government will have clearly defined outcomes and targeted goals to be achieved. An effective, new mechanism for timely follow-up and monitoring of implementation progress of the proposed national priority programs will be introduced to ensure the timely achievement of outcomes.

Our future Government will ensure that the country’s development pathway is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. Sri Lanka joined all UN member states in 2015 to adopt the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals which are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. The SDGs will form the cornerstone of our national sustainable development program, but we will be taking a pragmatic approach to ensure that Sri Lanka’s development is sustainable.

National priority will be given for Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation & Mitigation of the Human Elephant Conflict. Our Government is committed to the long term conservation of keystone (flagship) species. Special emphasis will be given to long term conservation of three keystone (flagship) species, the Sri Lankan elephant, Sri Lankan leopard and blue whale Focused conservation and management programs will be initiated.

The Government will give special focus to plastic waste management and waste management in urban areas. Measures will be taken to mitigate per capita plastic consumption to protect what mother nature has given us. Forest Conservation & Reforestation Forests are the lungs of our land. The national goal of Sri Lanka should be to have one third of the total land area of the country under forest and tree cover. Maintaining environmental stability through preservation and restoration of the ecological balance where needed, is a priority for the government. A comprehensive program for reforestation will be initiated, while taking all possible measures to mitigate deforestation.

The Government will initiate a special mechanism to investigate and resolve all problems related to unauthorized deforestation issues and ensure strict law enforcement. The Government will introduce a National Policy on Land Utilization which will rationalize the use of land. Emphasis will be given to protect critical ecosystems so that the country’s economic development will benefit from much needed ecosystem services. We hope that this platform will enable us to develop a sincere and fruitful partnership between the nongovernmental conservation organizations and our Government, to promote a genuine conservation agenda in Sri Lanka and ensure that the country’s development is truly sustainable.

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Overtime gravy train for public sector back



Govt. MPs make contradictory statements on state of economy

By Shamindra Ferdinando

UNP National List MP Wajira Abeywardena on Sunday (26) disclosed the issuance of a circular by the Finance Ministry to restore overtime and other payments in the public sector.

The declaration was made in Galle soon after Transport and Media Minister Bandula Gunawardane lamented that the government was short of billions of rupees to pay public sector salaries, pensions, Samurdhi payments and meet recurrent expenditure.

Minister Gunawardena and UNP National List MP Abeywardena addressed the local media after the handing over of several buses to the Galle SLTB depot.

Cabinet Spokesman Gunawardena said that the government needed as much as Rs 196 bn before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and its projected revenue was Rs 173 bn. In addition to that Rs 500 mn was required to settle what Minister Gunawardena called bilateral debt.

Minister Gunawardane said that a part of the first tranche of USD 333 mn from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would be utilised to pay public sector salaries.

Of the USD 333 mn received so far, USD 121 had been used to pay the first installment of USD 1 bn credit line secured from India early last year, according to State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya.

Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera in the second week of August last year revealed as much as Rs 3 bn had been paid as overtime to Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) workers for several months. This disclosure was made in response to a query raised by Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella.

One of the major demands of the public sector trade unions on the warpath over the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government’s new tax formula is the restoration of overtime.

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Now, Opposition wants Finance Secy. hauled up before Privileges Committee



Prof G L Peris

Prof. G. L. Peiris yesterday (27) urged Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to act speedily on the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) request to summon Finance Secretary Mahinda Siriwardena before the parliamentary Committee on Ethics and Privileges.

Addressing the media on behalf of the Freedom People’s Alliance, the former External Affairs Minister said that the Treasury Secretary had challenged the parliament by withholding funds allocated in the budget 2023 to the Election Commission thereby sabotaging the election.

Prof. Peiris said that there couldn’t be a far worse violation of parliamentary privileges than a government official undermining Parliament.

Instead of appreciating the intervention made by the Supreme Court to facilitate the delayed Local Government polls, the ruling party had sought to challenge the apex court, Prof. Peiris said, urging Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to fulfill his obligations.

Prof. Pieris said that if the government lacked funds, just one percent of USS 333 mn received from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was sufficient to conduct the election.

The ex-minister said that the IMF wouldn’t oppose the utilisation of a fraction of the first tranche of USD 2.9 bn loan facility provided over a period of four years to guarantee the constitutional rights of the Sri Lankan electorate. (SF)

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Cabinet nod for fuel distribution by three foreign companies



By Rathindra Kuruwita

Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera announced yesterday that the Cabinet of Ministers has granted approval for allowing China’s Sinopec, Australia’s United Petroleum and RM Parks of the USA, in collaboration with multinational Oil and Gas Company – Shell plc, to enter the fuel retail market in Sri Lanka.

The minister said that each of the three companies would be given 150 dealer operated fuel stations, which are currently operated by Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC). A further 50 fuel stations at new locations will be established by each selected company, he said.

They will be granted licences to operate for 20 years to import, store, distribute and sell petroleum products in Sri Lanka, the minister tweeted.

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