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It’s a matter of urgency to include young people in climate change policy: British Council report

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* 75 percent of young people around the world report having skills to deal with climate change in their communities – but 69 percent have never participated in climate action.

* Concern that voices of women and minority groups overlooked in current climate change policy.

* 67 percent of young people feel leaders cannot address climate change alone.

* Consistent call for young people to be included in policy decisions.

Young people around the world unanimously consider climate change to be the biggest threat facing the planet but many struggle to engage in meaningful action and have their voices heard, a British Council report published recently (on 9th September) has revealed.

The Global Youth Letter Report used a mixed methodology approach including crowdsourcing to garner the views, experiences and aspirations of 8,000 young people aged 18-35 across 23 countries – including Brazil, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka and the UK – about their perspectives on climate change. It found a strong, unanimous voice of young people on climate change across all 23 countries.

This research is part of the British Council’s Climate Connection programme, which aims to bring people around the world together to address the challenges of climate change. Research for the report was carried out between January and March 2021.

The findings from the report have been used to write a Global Youth Letter, a plan of action setting out young people’s aspirations and recommendations around climate change. The letter directly addresses the policymakers and world leaders who will attend the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in November.

25 percent of the young people surveyed globally, came from rural areas, which can be harder to reach, and 75 percent from urban areas. 55 percent of respondents were female. The report also heard from traditionally overlooked groups such as young people with disabilities, and those belonging to minority groups and indigenous communities.

67 percent of young people felt that their country leaders could not address climate change on their own. They raised concerns that the voices of women and minority groups were not reflected in current climate change policy.

The report found a consistent call for young people to be included in policy decisions. Young people felt that their involvement would ensure more innovative ideas for tackling climate change and would have a wider, more effective reach. The findings emphasised a clear need for policymakers to channel the passion and enthusiasm of young people in more practical and structured ways.

The report found that whilst young people are willing and keen to make meaningful contributions, many lack the opportunities to do so. 75 percent of young people reported that they had the skills to deal with climate issues in their communities and 63 percent said that they knew about the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26). However, 69 percent said they had never participated in climate change action.

Some of the barriers to youth participation in climate action include limited digital access, hierarchical social cultures that exclude young people, and a lack of access to training and skills development.

The report also highlighted the role and potential of digital channels as a tool for young people to tackle climate change, although acknowledged that the ‘digital divide’ that sees some people excluded from accessing the internet must be taken into consideration.

Young people unanimously viewed social media as an important platform to share messages about climate change with their peers, countering disinformation and influencing those around them. For young people in remote areas without internet access, television and radio can provide them with information about climate change instead.

Young people are encouraged to sign the letter and pledge to tackle climate change, adding their own recommendations to be considered. The letter can be signed here: www.britishcouncil.org/climate-connection/get-involved/global-youth-letter

The Global Youth Letter was launched at a virtual event recently (on 9th September). Insights from the Global Youth Letter will inform ongoing discussions with policymakers in the run up to and during COP26.

The Global Youth Letter includes youth voices from Sri Lanka extracted from the ‘Perceptions of Young People on Climate Change and Action’ research study that was conducted with over 1000 respondents. In relation to youth perceptions, youth in Sri Lanka are generally aware of climate change but the majority does not have a technical understanding and detailed knowledge of it.

There is a significant interest among youth to learn more about climate change, and the majority believes to some degree that their opinions and actions on climate change will matter in the future. When it comes to making this change and engaging in climate action, emphasis was placed on education and showcasing successful practices as a tangible way to inspire and facilitate action. Sri Lanka’s youth believe in collective action for climate change and see it as a public responsibility, not an individual issue, highlighting the need for systemic changes and large-scale actions.

In both urban and rural contexts lack of access to knowledge resources, lack of tutoring and low engagement with government action were highlighted as barriers for youth engagement.

The British Council Sri Lanka has a number of projects planned as part of the Climate Connection programme. Youth engagement and our youth leadership programme will continue to remain the main vehicle for addressing climate change issues at the community level, bringing positive change to society at large. Through our overall scope of work in Sri Lanka in the Arts and culture, English, and education strands we aim to actively contribute to the National Action Plan for climate action at a policy level.

British Council Sri Lanka Country Director, Maarya Rehman said: “The climate emergency is the biggest crisis facing our planet so it’s no surprise that British Council research has found it’s the number one priority for young people the world over. I’m proud of the Sri Lankan young people that have put their signatures to our Global Youth Letter so far, calling on world leaders for urgent action. I hope that this sends a strong message about the importance of including youth voices in the climate change conversation.”

Kate Ewart-Biggs, British Council Deputy Chief Executive, said: “Our report reveals the untapped potential of young people around the world to contribute towards action on climate change. Young people are the leaders and influencers of tomorrow and it’s essential that we provide opportunities for their voices to reach government leaders and involve them in the policy decisions that will impact their futures. Through the British Council’s Climate Connection campaign, we are drawing on our expertise in education, the arts, cultural exchange, and the English language to help young people find innovative solutions to the biggest global emergency we face.”

The UK will host COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, from 1 to 12 November. The British Council is supporting the UK government’s ambition for COP26 to be the most inclusive ever by using its global networks to inspire millions of people around the world to take action against climate change.

The Global Youth Letter on Climate Action is a call for action from young people globally, directly addressing the leaders attending COP26 – the 26th UN Climate Change Conference, in Glasgow, November 2021.

It is the result of a large-scale research exercise between the British Council and not for profit social enterprise Catalyst in Communities, who used a mixed methodology approach including crowdsourcing to garner the views, experiences, and aspirations of 8,000 young people across 23 countries.

Aiming to be as representative as possible in terms of gender, background, location and socio-economic status, the research team worked through global COVID-19 restrictions to amplify the unheard voice of the climate debate: today’s young people. Research for the report was carried out between January and March 2021.

The Global Youth Letter on Climate Action, and accompanying 8,000 Rising campaign, is part of the British Council’s Climate Connection programme, a global platform for dialogue, cooperation, and action, connecting millions of people through shared solutions to the climate crisis.

Young people are at the centre of this collaborative approach, as we support them to raise their voices, and gain the skills and networks to participate in meaningful dialogue and bring about real change for our planet.



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Post-war reconciliation: Lanka ready to accept support of int’l partners

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UN-Prez tells UNGA

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday (22) declared his readiness to engage all domestic stakeholders, and to obtain the support of international partners and the United Nations, in the post-war reconciliation process.

Addressing the 76th UNGA, President Rajapaksa said that it was his government’s firm intention to build a prosperous, stable and secure future for all Sri Lankans, regardless of ethnicity, religion, or gender. “However, history has shown that lasting results can only be achieved through home-grown institutions reflecting the aspirations of the people.

The following is the full text of President’s speech: “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on humanity. I sympathise deeply with all who have lost their loved ones during the pandemic. I thank frontline healthcare and essential workers around the world for their dedication and commend the World Health Organisation for its crisis response.

I also greatly appreciate the rapid advances made by the scientific and medical communities in devising vaccines and treatment protocols to combat the virus.

At the same time, we must recognise that the challenges surrounding production, distribution, deployment and acceptance of vaccines must be overcome urgently if the spread of dangerous new virus strains is to be prevented.

Ensuring that everyone, everywhere, is vaccinated is the best way out of the pandemic.

Although still a developing nation, Sri Lanka has been very successful in its vaccination programme.

We have already fully vaccinated nearly all those above the age of 30.

Everyone over the age of 20 will be fully vaccinated by the end of October.

We will start vaccinating children over 15 years of age in the near future.

The rapid progress of vaccinations was enabled by coordinated efforts between healthcare workers, Armed Forces and Police personnel, Government servants, and elected officials.

In collaboration with the WHO, Sri Lanka is establishing a Regional Knowledge Hub to facilitate exchange of lessons learnt from COVID-19 and support countries to recover better.

Sri Lanka also benefitted greatly from financial and material support provided by bilateral and multilateral donors to manage the pandemic.

I thank these nations and institutions for their generosity.

The increased global cooperation visible during this ongoing crisis is greatly encouraging.

However, there is still more to be done.

Mr. President,

The economic impact of the pandemic has been especially severe on developing countries.

This has placed the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals at considerable risk.

It is vital that more initiatives including development financing and debt relief be adopted through international mechanisms to support developing nations and help them emerge from this uncertain situation.

Sri Lanka too has suffered greatly due to the pandemic.

In addition to the tragic loss of life, our economy has been deeply affected.

The lockdowns, together with general movement restrictions, reduced international travel, and slower global growth have affected nearly all sectors of our economy.

Tourism, one of Sri Lanka’s highest foreign exchange earners and a sector that supports nearly 14% of the population, has been devastated.

This industry, together with small and medium businesses in many other sectors, received Government support through interest moratoriums and other financial sector interventions.

Daily wage earners and low-income groups were also supported through grants of cash and dry rations during lockdowns, adding significantly to state expenditure.

In addition to their immediate impact, these economic repercussions of the pandemic have limited the fiscal space available to implement our development programmes.

Mr. President,

As devastating as the consequences of the pandemic have been to humanity, the world faces the even greater challenge of climate change in the decades to come.

As emphasised in the recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the unprecedented effect of human activity on the health of the planet is deeply worrying.

Addressing the grave threats posed by climate change and the loss of biodiversity requires decisive and urgent multilateral action.

As a climate-vulnerable country, Sri Lanka is deeply aware of the dangers of climate change.

Sri Lanka’s philosophical heritage, deeply rooted in Lord Buddha’s teachings, also emphasises the vitality of preserving environmental integrity.

It is in these contexts that Sri Lanka is a Commonwealth Blue Charter Champion and leads the Action Group on Mangrove Restoration.

Through the adoption of the Colombo Declaration on Sustainable Nitrogen Management, which seeks to halve nitrogen waste by 2030, Sri Lanka has also contributed to global efforts to reduce environmental pollution.

Having participated virtually in the Pre-Summit held in April, I trust that the United Nations Food Summit later this month will result in actionable outcomes to promote healthier, more sustainable, and equitable food systems globally.

Such outcomes will be crucial to human health as well as to the health of our planet.

Sustainability is a cornerstone of Sri Lanka’s national policy framework.

Because of its impact on soil fertility, biodiversity, waterways and health, my Government completely banned the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, and weedicides earlier this year.

Production and adoption of organic fertiliser, as well as investments into organic agriculture, are being incentivised.

I appreciate the encouragement received from many global institutions and nations for our efforts to create a more sustainable agriculture in Sri Lanka.

The conservation of our environment is one of our key national priorities.

We aim to increase forest cover significantly in the coming decades.

We are also working to clean and restore over 100 rivers countrywide, and to combat river and maritime pollution.

We have also banned single use plastics to support ecological conservation.

Sri Lanka recognises the urgent need to reduce use of fossil fuels and support decarbonisation.

Our energy policy seeks to increase the contribution of renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydropower to 70% of our national energy needs by 2030.

Mr. President,

Sri Lanka welcomes the support of the international community as it engages in the task of reviving its economy and carrying out its national development programme.

We intend to make full use of geostrategic location and our robust institutions, strong social infrastructure, and skilled workforce, to attract investment and broaden trade relationships.

My Government is focusing on extensive legal, regulatory, administrative and educational reforms to facilitate this, and to deliver prosperity to all our people.

Sri Lanka has enjoyed universal adult franchise since pre-Independence.

The democratic tradition is an integral part of our way of life.

My election in 2019 and the Parliamentary election in 2020 saw Sri Lankan voters grant an emphatic mandate to my Government to build a prosperous and stable country, and uphold national security and sovereignty.

In 2019, Sri Lanka experienced the devastation wrought by extremist religious terrorists in the Easter Sunday attacks.

Before that, until 2009, it had suffered from a separatist terrorist war for 30 years.

Terrorism is a global challenge that requires international cooperation, especially on matters such as intelligence sharing, if it is to be overcome.

Violence robbed Sri Lanka of thousands of lives and decades of prosperity in the past half century.

My Government is committed to ensuring that such violence never takes place in Sri Lanka again.

We are therefore acting to address the core issues behind it.

Fostering greater accountability, restorative justice, and meaningful reconciliation through domestic institutions is essential to achieve lasting peace.

So too is ensuring more equitable participation in the fruits of economic development.

It is my Government’s firm intention to build a prosperous, stable and secure future for all Sri Lankans, regardless of ethnicity, religion, or gender.

We are ready to engage with all domestic stakeholders, and to obtain the support of our international partners and the United Nations, in this process.

However, history has shown that lasting results can only be achieved through home-grown institutions reflecting the aspirations of the people.

Sri Lanka’s Parliament, Judiciary and its range of independent statutory bodies should have unrestricted scope to exercise their functions and responsibilities.

Mr. President, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates.

If, in keeping with the theme of our General Debate today, we are to truly build resilience through hope, we must all strive towards the common good.

It is the role of the United Nations to facilitate this by treating all sovereign states, irrespective of size or strength, equitably, and with due respect for their institutions and their heritage.

I request the United Nations and the international community to ensure the protection of the Buddhist heritage of Afghanistan.

I call on the member states of this august Assembly to work together in a spirit of true cooperation, generosity, goodwill, and mutual respect to foster a better and more sustainable future for all humanity.”

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Sri Lanka a dumping ground for toxic burnt oil from ship engines !

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By Ifham Nizam

Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera has questioned some Central Environmental Authority (CEA) officials for permitting more than 20 individuals to collect waste burnt out oil from ships without having facilities to purify it.

However, it was claimed that most of those individuals were backed by some senior politicians and the Authority didn’t have any say.

The Minister has decided to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the toxic waste oil racket through the Presidential Special Investigation Division.

Amaraweera said the racket had been going on for a long time. “This racket is causing a huge amount of foreign exchange loss to the country and causing huge environmental damage,” he added.

Accordingly, steps would be taken by the Presidential Investigation Division to stop the racket and investigate the huge amount of money that has changed hands, the Minister said.

“After the President returns from his visit to New York, I will hold discussions with him and submit a factual report on the amount of money lost to the country in dollars through this racket,” Minister Amaraweera said.

The CEA has so far issued 27 permits for the disposal of waste fuel oil. However, only four companies have the facility to refine it. About 20,000 to 25,000 tonnes of burnt out waste oil are shipped into the country annually. But the country has capacity to refine only 4,800 tonnes a year by licensed companies. It is not clear what happens to the remaining 15,200 tons of waste oil.

The Minister said that issuing licences to companies and individuals who did not have fuel refining facilities was wrong.

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Acquisition of Yugadanavi power plant and right to build new LNG terminal: US firm says agreement finalised

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US based energy firm, New Fortress Energy Inc. on Tuesday (21) announced that it had executed a definitive agreement with the Sri Lankan government for New Fortress’ investment in West Coast Power Limited, the owner of the 310 MW Yugadanavi Power Plant based in Colombo, along with the rights to develop a new LNG Terminal off the coast of Colombo.

Issuing a press release, New Fortress Energy Inc., said as a part of the transaction, New Fortress will have gas supply rights to the Kerawalapitya Power Complex, where 310 MW of power is operational and an additional 700 MW scheduled to be built, of which 350 MW is scheduled to be operational by 2023.

Given below is the statement: “New Fortress will acquire a 40% ownership stake in WCP and plans to build an offshore liquified natural gas (LNG) receiving, storage and regasification terminal located off the coast of Colombo. New Fortress will initially provide the equivalent of an estimated 1.2 million gallons of LNG (~35,000 MMBtu) per day to the GOSL, with the expectation of significant growth as new power plants become operational.

“The 310 MW Yugadanavi Power Plant currently has a long-term power purchase agreement to provide electricity to the national grid that extends through 2035. This power plant consists of General Electric turbines and is configured to run on natural gas in a combined cycle.

“”This is a significant milestone for Sri Lanka’s transition to cleaner fuels and more reliable, affordable power,” said Wes Edens, Chairman and CEO of New Fortress Energy. “We are pleased to partner with Sri Lanka by investing in modern energy infrastructure that will support sustainable economic development and environmental gains.”

“The Kerawalapitya Power Complex is the foundation of the baseload power that serves the country’s population of 22 million people. Delivering cleaner and cheaper fuels to Sri Lanka will support the country’s growth for years to come.”

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