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SL moves up by 34 positions in new Planetary Pressures-Adjusted Human Development Index



Retains its position as the lead for SA region

Sri Lanka has retained its position as the lead for the South Asian region and moved up the rank by 34 positions in the new Planetary Pressures-Adjusted Human Development Index (PHDI) from among 169 countries and territories in the world, which takes into account countries’ carbon dioxide emissions and material footprint.

The PHDI was included as a new experimental index in the Global Human Development Report (HDR) which was launched on January 6 by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Sri Lanka bringing together a wide range of high-level participation from the Government, Public and Private sector, Development partners and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).

The 30th anniversary edition of the HDR 2020, was titled ‘The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene’.

In the Human Development Index (HDI), Sri Lanka is positioned at 72 out of 189 countries and territories, with ‘High Human Development’ with an HDI value of 0.782. Yet there is no time for complacency.  Because, Sri Lanka is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change ranking 6th on the Climate Risk Index; the country is at crossroads with a choice to exercise – of choosing a development trajectory that progresses human development while easing pressure on the planet, the UNDP said.

“Human development has historically taken place at the cost of the land and environment around us. The COVID-19 pandemic is the latest crisis facing the world, but unless humans release their grip on nature, it won’t be the last, according to the recently launched HDR”, it noted.

Receiving the report at the virtual launch in Sri Lanka, Dullas Alahapperuma, Minister of Power stated, “the Government of Sri Lanka aims to build a Green Economy that will generate new industries by local entrepreneurs. Through renewable energy, we can create low-cost, low-carbon energy. A Green Economy will improve energy security, improve environmental and public health, and create better and more jobs. And with the vision of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, we commit to ensure that the environment is protected in all our development plans. It is with great pleasure that we welcome UNDPs coordinated support to ushering in aspects of a Green Economy”.

 Speaking at the event, Robert Juhkam, Resident Representative of UNDP in Sri Lanka said, “UNDP stands committed in supporting Sri Lanka to define and operationalize its national development plan in a way that is underpinned by Green Development thinking, with consideration for socio-economic impacts of COVID-19. UNDP commits to helping establish a platform for all partners and stakeholders to come together in achieving a Green development pathway:  government, private sector, civil society, academia, development partners, and our sister UN agencies.”

Also speaking at the launch, Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Sri Lanka stated, “given the deep interconnection of planetary and social imbalances noted in the Report, I want to emphasize today the importance of ensuring justice, equality and human rights as part of this process. Seeing as no country anywhere in the world has yet achieved the ideal combination of high human development and low planetary pressure, we need such an inclusive and participatory approach where all voices are heard. Only in this way can we address the enormously complex challenge ahead of us.”

The next frontier for human development will require working with and not against nature, while transforming social norms, values, and government and financial incentives, the report argues. In her remarks, H.E Sarah Hulton, British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka emphasized that, “climate action is extremely tangible and relevant to Sri Lanka, with its rich biodiversity, climate vulnerability, reliance on nature and environment for many livelihoods whether through agriculture, fishing or tourism. In fact, maintaining the environment and protecting biodiversity through nature-based solutions is one of the key shared objectives for many of us working here in Sri Lanka including the UK and UN, in supporting the people and Government of Sri Lanka on this.”  

According to the report, easing planetary pressures in a way that enables all people to flourish in this new age requires dismantling the gross imbalances of power and opportunity that stand in the way of transformation. Highlighting this through an interactive talk, Hiran Cooray, Chairman – Jetwing Symphony stated, “we need to change the way we think if we are really focused on human development and switching to a green economy. Greater collaboration and encouragement to Sri Lankans across the country who really want to make a difference is essential.”

The launch was followed by a moderated conversation on ‘A New Social Compact: Human Development with Reduced Planetary Pressures’ and was moderated by Raashid Riza, Policy and Engagement Analyst, UNDP in Sri Lanka. The panel comprised of Ms. Savera Weerasinghe, Founder, Ananta Sustainables; Dr. Ravi Fernando, Chairman/CEO, Global Strategic Corporate Sustainability; Thorsten Bargfrede, Deputy Head of Mission, Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives; and Hemantha Withanage, Executive Director/ Senior Environmental Scientist, Centre for Environmental Justice. Furthermore, Ms. Shabiya Ali Ahlam, Senior Journalist – National English Daily; Ms. Kanchana Weerakoon, Founder/President, Eco-Friendly Volunteers; and Dr. Ganeshamoorthy Murugesu, Senior Lecturer – Department of Economics, University of Colombo shared their expertise as discussants.

The virtual launch event was one engagement part of a broader series of interventions led by UNDP in Sri Lanka, working in collaboration with all stakeholders to further the conversation around the findings of the HDR 2020.

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Covid-19 vaccination programme: MPs not in priority group; President, armed forces chiefs in ‘third category’ 



By Shamindra Ferdinando

State Minister for Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle yesterday (25) said that members of Parliament were not among those categorised as priority groups expected to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. Fernandopulle said so in response to The Island query whether parliamentarians would receive the vaccine scheduled to be delivered by India this week. Asked to explain, Dr. Fernandopulle said that health workers, armed forces and law enforcement personnel engaged in Covid-19 prevention operations would be given priority.

“Lawmakers haven’t been listed under priority groups. However, some members may get the vaccine if they are accommodated in the over 60 years category and those suffering from diabetes, heart disease, cancer et al,” the State minister said.

In addition to State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera, several lawmakers, representing both the government and the Opposition had been afflicted over the past several weeks. SLPP lawmaker Wasantha Yapa Bandara (Kandy district) is the latest victim. Health minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchi was among over half a dozen lawmakers tested positive.

Army Commander General Shavendra Silva told Derana yesterday morning Sri Lanka would receive approximately 500,000 to 600,000 doses from India. Responding to a spate of questions from Derana anchor Sanka Amarjith, Gen. Silva explained the measures taken by the government to ensure a smooth vaccination programme. The Army Chief who also functions as the Chief of Defence Staff revealed India had paid for the consignment obtained from the UK.

Later in the day, The Island sought an explanation from the Army Chief regarding the President, Service Commanders, Secretary Defence given the vaccination along with frontline health workers et al, the celebrated battlefield commander said: “Will be in third priority group.”

Asked whether the student population would be accommodated at an early stage of the vaccination programme, Dr. Fernandopulle said that those under 18 years of age, pregnant and lactating mothers wouldn’t be included at all as such groups hadn’t been subjected to trials. Education Secretary Prof. Kapila Perera wasn’t available for comment.

Dr. Fernandopulle emphasized the pivotal importance of following health guidelines strictly in spite of the launch of the vaccination programme. “We shouldn’t lower our guard under any circumstances,” Dr. Fernandopulle said, urging the population to be mindful of those unable to receive the vaccination due to no fault of theirs. As those under 18 years of age had been left out of the vaccination programme, a substantial section of the population would be denied the protection, the State Minister said.

Sri Lanka is also expected to procure vaccines from China and Russia in addition to the doses from India. Health Secretary Maj. Gen. Sanjeewa Munasinghe wasn’t available for comment.

Sri Lanka launches the vaccination programme with the total number of positive cases nearing 60,000 with nearly 50,000 recoveries. The government recently re-opened the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) following a pilot programme that brought over 1,200 Ukrainians in dozen flights through the Mattala International Airport.

Dr. Fernandopulle said that the government was ready to launch the vaccination programme as soon as the first consignment arrived from India.

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Tennis balls filled with drugs thrown into Kandakadu Covid-19 treatment centre



By Norman Palihawadane

Two tennis balls filled with drugs had been thrown into the Covid-19 treatment centre at Kandakadu, Police Spokesperson DIG Ajith Rohana said.

The contraband was found on Saturday by the Army officers attached to the facility.

DIG Rohana said the two tennis balls containing cannabis, heroin and tobacco, had been handed over to the Welikanda Police.

A special investigation has been launched into the incident, the Police Spokesperson said. Such incidents had been previously reported from Welikada, Negombo and other prisons, but it was the first time contraband containing narcotics had been thrown into a Covid-19 treatment centre, he added.

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All cargo clearances at Colombo port now through electronic payments




The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) has introduced a system where payment for imports could be made via the Internet. This allows port users to make payments from their homes or offices to clear goods from the Port of Colombo.

The SLPA has said in a media statement that the new special facility will enable port users to make their port payments easily without hassle.

At present, all terminals of the Port of Colombo are run according to a strategic crisis management plan.


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