The Voice of Civil Society

Dr. Ranil Senanayake's Top Ten Priorities For the Next Government to Consider

By Dr. Ranil Senananyake

1. Commit to a non fossil mode of development.

2.Human health is non negotiable ( no development or security process can justify its erosion)

3. Quality of food must be maintained

4, The Life Support System (Ecosystem Services) must not erode

5. The Shallow aquifer must be maintained as potable

6. Ensure that the Biodiversity/Biomass ratio is high

7. River sediment loads must be reduced by 50%

8. Toxin free agriculture and forestry

9. Education systems that dovetail with the international systems

10. Carbon taxes has to be levied on a mandatory basis

Environmental Priorities that the next Government Should Focus on

Population Pressure and mitigating resource stress

Control the unbridled increase in populations of any one religious, ethnic or caste, usually vying for political advantage in the democratic system with no consideration for sustainability.

Zonal basis and Jurisdictions for sustainability prioritized Management

Zone according to watersheds the whole of Sri Lanka giving priority to the islands theory of bio-geography and animal migration patterns, and zone altitude contours and micro climatic zones within each watershed to maximize mist catchment potential.

Trans boundary pollution effects and Food security

Eliminate the effects of fossil fuel burning driven loss of biodiversity in all bio-tic system, particularly montane mist catchment rain-forest species like calophyllum walkeri on the Horton plains severely affected by photo-chemical smog blown inland and up-slope from the western Province.

Development of Indicators for biodiversity conservation through commerce

Establish a complex of databases to monitor biodiversity and physical environmental parameters and certify organic products and green endeavors by integrating an environmental education curriculum and an university degree product into schools and universities.

Develop a board of Eminent guides to steer long term sustainability and development goals

Give unrestricted access to all data held on government and NGO GIS to develop a management tool for demonstrating and validating suggestions visions and projects aimed at greening up.

Decree Sri Lanka as an Organic Hotspot

Create the conducive environment for trade in high quality organic products within and outside Sri Lanka that encourage multi-cropping, soil runoff prevention and biodiversity enhancing management practices.

Create a green accounting system and value every leaf

Establish a comprehensive green capital inventory, quantifying ecosystem services, bio-tic carbon and photosynthetic biomass stocks. Mist catchment, infiltration, cooling to protect groundwater and other non direct ecosystem services proxies, such as Oxygen production also need urgent valuations and intelligent management to optimize the physical quality of life.

Protect and sustain-ably Utilize our post-fossil fuel era resources to create a better world

Sri Lanka is blessed with both Biotic and mineral resources on land and at sea. Account ably extract, process and turn into the end products such as Structural materials, Energy, Superconductivity and create green certified end products for all the other high technology, op-to-electronic properties of the Lanthanides without plundering the ecosystem and keeping equitable resource sharing and inter-generational equity in mind.

International Exposure on Standards and physical quality of life guarantee to all sentient beings

Develop with un-stinted international cooperation OTEC and the Liquid Thorium Floride Reactor for Power and develop a superconducting, magnetically levitated rail network for Sri Lanka and of practical significance to a catastrophe proof global network of clean global transportation for the future.

Develop Ethno-botanical drugs for an ailing planet utilizing our rich cultural heritage

Sustainable development must be included as a cross cutting theme across all development plans if we are to adapt to global development trends, climate change, and continue to benefit from the natural resources we are blessed with.

Why are current election manifesto’s inconsistent with global trends and knowledge on sustainable development? Ensure that future development projects are planned, with transparent Environmental Impact Assessments conducted by independent, expert assessors prior to the commencement of these projects.

The National Physical Plan presently comes under the purview of the Treasury and has no environmental representation on it. This serious lapse needs to be addressed.

Strategic Environmental Assessments must be carried out at District Level and should include ecological as well as spatial analyses.

How will encroachment of protected areas and their buffer zones be stopped? Boundaries are not properly marked causing confusion and leaving valuable land vulnerable to destruction and encroachment.

There are a number of Government departments and agencies that are tasked with protecting our environment. Most environmental issues are overlapping in terms of jurisdiction and oversight. Better coordination, communication and empowerment are required between government departments and agencies that are mandated with enforcing environmental legislation. What will be done about this?

Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) should be under the Ministry of Environment (MoE) as it is responsible for protection and management of environmental resources and valuable eco-system services such as mangroves, watersheds, bio-diversity rich eco-systems.

Knowledge and capacity at the ground level for Government officers tasked with implementing environmental laws are weak. A mechanism is required for them to interpret language in legislation and to be informed of legislation in order to practically implement them.

What will be done about increasing the capacity of ground level officers tasked with protecting our environment? Strict and stringent enforcement of FFPO, National Environmental Act, and other environmental legislation: Natural resource protection can be achieved effectively only if strict and stringent enforcement of relevant legislation is carried out.

Environmental policies require matching legislation in order to be enforced in a manner consistent with those policies. What will be done about this disconnect between policy and legislation?

Not enough emphasis is being given to Marine Conservation e.g. there is continued dynamiting of the remaining reefs in the Kalpitiya area. Carcasses of dolphins are increasingly being washed ashore in the area. The powers of the relevant authorities must be used for the protection of this vital habitat.

Pollution: How is our soil, air, and water protected from the pollution caused by toxic chemicals (industry and agriculture), heavy metals, and other source point polluting industries?

Climate change: How are we preparing to address climate change not as a phenomena that affects only developed countries but also local effects such as increased drought, increased precipitation, and more extreme weather events?

Waste management: How are we going to make waste a value generating output rather than an expensive problem to the environment and humans? Why are technologies such as plasma gasification not being utilized?

How will National Parks be managed to cope with increasing demand by visitors and increasing pressure on wildlife?

The Central Budget allocation for the maintenance of the National Parks is woefully inadequate for their proper Management. At least 50% of the income made from the visitation of the Parks should be ploughed back into the administration and management of the National Parks.

Vehicle entry into the National Parks must be controlled, and seasonal closures of the Parks, particularly during the drought, strictly adhered to.

Illegal grazing of domestic cattle and buffalo is causing serious habitat damage to the National Parks e.g. Uda Walawe where the elephants have insufficient food. The laws must be strictly adhered to and these animals removed from within the Park boundaries.

When will the DWC confiscate the remaining baby elephants that are being held illegally by individuals?

When will the Customs Department be allowed to destroy the blood ivory confiscated in May of 2012?

Please Vote Using the Environment as Your Yardstick to Judge Candidates on the 17th

By Chris Dharmakirti

I would like to call upon all my Sri Lankan friends to choose wisely on August 17th, and vote for candidates and a party that has caused the least damage to the environment and wildlife and do not elect anyone who has encouraged industries or individuals who have poisoned and polluted our soils, our rivers,

our skies with their actions, and watch out for those who have captured animals from the forest for captivity or killed for their meat.Beware of those who have damaged national parks and protected areas and occupied forcibly forests and cut trees for both timber and for idiotic projects like mono culture plantations.

Look out for those who have supported coal power projects and other health damaging initiatives that should have never being allowed on our fragile island.

Don't be fooled by big development ideas if they are not sustainable and would not stress our limited resources on this tiny island.

Be careful about your choice, as the next five years is going to be crucial for not just Sri Lanka's future survival but the survival of the planet itself, as we have reached a critical tipping point.

So be wary of those who rejected electric and hybrid vehicles and want us to be choking with diesel fumes and industrial pollution, all because they have no clue about how to develop an ecologically sensitive green economic model that could leverage the collective strength of our rich biodiversity and abundant natural resources and the beautiful fauna and flora of Sri Lanka.

Vote using the environment as your yardstick.

To my mind, environmental crimes and ecological corruption is far worse a crime than mere stealing money from physical projects, as the damage they cause is irreversible. Do choose wisely.

Your vote on the 17th would decide what you and your children and the unborn future generations would be left with on this precious island of ours, as some of these politicians vying for your vote don't care two hoots about the environment or other sentient beings, and they would clear cut our forests and pollute our rivers and clog up our roads with big gas guzzling vehicles and pocket commissions to unleash poisons on our soil and ignore the chronic kidney diseases that the unsuspecting farmers are dying from, so long as their bank balances keep rising.

Read the manifestos of these politicians and their parties and judge for yourself. As we can never trust promises made by politicians...look at their track record and also how they lead their personal lives and how they and their friends and family interact with our precious island resources, and then decide for yourself whether they are worthy of your vote.

Also beware of candidates who pay lip service to the environmental causes. We hope and pray that the President would choose his next cabinet by considering the track record of individual politicians on a 360 degree review of their past actions, and also their voting record in parliament and what they had proposed for approval to Cabinet.

We really must scrutinize their policy perspective and their personal lifestyles to find candidates with a good conscience and a heart that is with the environment.

It is our duty to ensure that we elect a Parliament filled with individuals with integrity, ethics, values, and a commitment to protect and preserve our ecological assets and ensure that our environment is not polluted and set in motion sustainable development initiatives that balance the ecological and economic linkage as one symbiotic relationship.

10 Key Priority Suggestions by the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society

By Ravi Corea

1. BasicResearch: There should be a definite government policy as well as incentives to support basic research. Basic research is the foundation for good knowledge, technological innovation and true sustainable development. Currently there is a dearth of basic research. In addition many government institutions such as the Department of Wildlife Conservation

2. Appointmentof Institutional Heads: The existing policies in regard to the appointment of institutional heads especially to science and technology driven institutions are vested with the minister of these line ministries. This had lead to ministers’ appointing unsuitable candidates. For example two institutions that have suffered as a result are the Department of Wildlife Conservation and the National Zoological Department. The current Zoo director has openly claimed he knows nothing about administering a zoo which is to the detriment of the unfortunate animals. Vacancies of the director positions in these institutions should be open for all qualified citizens to apply.

3. Establish Public Private Policy Dialogue: There should be clearly outlined Policies for the public sector to engage with the private sector and vice versa. Currently the public sector looks at the private sector as if they are enemies rather than allies that could actively help in the development of the country.

4. Outsource Specialized Services: There should be policies for government departments that lack the necessary resources to be able to outsource to the private sector. For example research, veterinary care, project development and management,animal welfare, husbandry and nutrition.

5. Establish Competent Authority: A competent authority has to be established to look into the, conservation, welfare,husbandry, veterinary care and management of wild and captive elephants.

6. Regulations for Elephants in Captivity: Aset of strict regulations on how captive elephants must be treated, managed, and taken care off has to be created and implemented through the above mentioned competent authority.

7. Encourage & Empower Conservation Initiatives: There should be policies allowing local stakeholders to become active participants in the conservation measures that are beneficial to their own livelihoods and welfare. An example is how a dive shop owner based in Hikkaduwa was not allowed by the DWC to establish a coral replanting project. Local stakeholders taking ownership of such efforts can have a positive rippling effect encouraging other local stakeholders to undertake projects that conserve natural resources that are vital for their own survival.

8. Establish ex-situ facilities: There should be contingency plans to safeguard our biodiversity from future and potential catastrophes. Need to establish ex-situ facilities that would act as reservoirs by keeping representative collections of our endemic, critically endangered and threatened species. These facilities will be committed to research,behavioral studies, propagation, and breeding of these species as a safeguard against population crashes due to climate change, disease, habitat loss, destruction of ecosystems or wanton destruction such as what is happening to the African elephant due to the current ivory poaching.

9. Include Environment as a School Subject: Environmental education should be accredited subjects in primary and secondary curricular.

10. Encourage Proactive initiatives from Private Citizens and Groups: Rather than encourage policies that obstruct, harass and disparage the private sector in their efforts,the state should develop policies that would encourage and welcome the private sector to be active partners, investors, and collaborators in Sri Lanka’s sustainable development agenda, and its efforts to conserve its’ biodiversity, natural heritage and legacy.

Suggestion on reforestation targets for Sri Lanka by Rohan de Soysa

By Rohan de Soysa

"For the past many thousands of years until the Colonial era we had forest cover of about 75 to 80%. At Independence in 1948 we had forest cover of about 60%. Due SOLELY to this reason we had, until recently,

Underground waterways that developed gradually, which fed water to wells, streams and rivers throughout the land as the tree roots enabled percolation to good depth;

Low soil erosion as the trees delayed impact of water on the ground and reduced landslides;

High biodiversity and variety of plants including medicinal, which developed over time in suitable conditions;

Relatively stable climate.

Now, since the forest cover has been reduced to less than 20% this process has perhaps been fatally interrupted. The above four benefits will gradually but inevitably cease, which will cause hardship especially to rural people but also townfolk, as roadways and concrete jungles cannot achieve the above.

Therefore it is vital to increase the forest cover to at least 50% or so in order to enable future generations to enjoy adequate free water, fertile soil, good biodiversity and stable environment.

As a side comment I wish to add that this is not impossible. Costa Rica, a country on the other side of the world, had less than 20% forest cover in 1948, Due to the enlightened policies of their leaders they now have about 55 to 60% forest cover. Although not a Buddhist country, they seem to have followed a truly enlightened and compassionate path.

7 suggestions from the Wildlife & Nature Protection Society of Sri Lanka

By Rohan Wijesinghe

Wilpattu Case - Investigate if the Forest Department did give permission for the clearing of the land inside Wilpattu. If they did, why was a EIA not done as 1, 500 acres have been cleared and an EIA is a must for such large scale deforestation. Legislation must also be enforced to prevent such ad hoc developments taking place.

Uda Walawe - Action needs to be taken to reduce the number of cattle and buffalo - at least the feral one which are more than half the estimated number of 30, 000. In addition, other remedial measures necessary for which WNPS is available to provide a full report to the Government.

Blood Ivory - Despite many assurances from the Governments, this continues to be left intact. If there is no intention to destroy in Sri Lanka, as per the CITES Convention, give back to the parent country, Kenya, who regularly do so.

Pollution - Sri Lanka has now been identified as the 5th worst plastics polluter in the World! This needs to be brought to the attention of the policy makers.

Park Funding - 50% of the Park income must be re-invested back into the development of the Parks. This can be deducted from the budget allocation. WNPS can provide the next Government with a policy proposal. Government must be reminded that the suggestions were made during the ADB project but never implemented.

Carrying Capacity of Parks - Vehicle entry to the Parks, especially Yala, must be restricted.

Marine Conservation - There is continued dynamiting of the remaining reefs in the Kalpitiya area. Carcasses of dolphins are increasingly being washed ashore in the area. Not enough attention being paid to marine conservation.

Civil Society Has to Participate in Creating Our Future. We cannot leave it to the Politicians to do it alone.

By Ranil Senanayake

We have emerged, as a nation that is maturing politically and can determine its future in a participatory, democratic manner. Now that the process of lying out of our future has begun, the vision should never again be left to a few individuals,

but discussed widely and embarked upon with the widest consensus. We all have to imagine, the future that we want, for us, our children and their country. For without any well-considered goals, there will be a perpetual journey with no direction. Thus, a public debate as to the direction of ‘growth’ and ‘development’ must become a national obligation.

We are told that we need to invest such that economic indices such as the GDP show growth. Development in this context is to move society to activity that increases these indices. The current paradigm would have us dependent on consumption as the driving factor. The more one consumes the better the GDP. But to consume more, one must crave more, a particular worldview driven by a pecuniary philosophy that is replacing the more conservative spiritual philosophies the world over. It has nothing to do with contentment, health or awareness. It is driven by greed, desire and fear, the same values that created the problems that we face, in the first place.

Economic development comes in many forms. The consumption patterns may be renewable, in which case they are sustainable or non-renewable in which case they are unsustainable. Development that relies on fossil fuel is certainly short term and a very dangerous path. Sadly, the growth of fossil fuel consumption has been long cherished desire among some powerful bureaucrats with vested interests in the supply of fossil fuels to Sri Lanka. They have even created a myth that development can only be achieved through the consumption of fossil fuels and sold this myth to the politicians. It is this myth of ‘development’ that has brought us to the energy-addicted state of today and it is this same myth that drives the ‘economic development’ vision for ourtomorrow.

It was our great hope that the ‘ silly season’ of borrowing money to construct fossil profligate projects such as Coal fired power plants; roads to nowhere and pointless airports will be over with the dismissal of the poorly informed. But now rumors swirl that the new lot might not be much better. Now we hear of megapolises, bridges and energy guzzling urban infrastructure. We are being are asked to perceive a future, like Singapore or Dubai. Simplistic, ill-considered proposals by people who have never understood the nature of this nation. Locked away in air-conditioned cocoons in tall buildings or in chummy networks of bankers and businessmen, such proposals may seem practical and perhaps for the short-term gain of money it might be so. But they are neurotic decisions, made with no reference to reality and will wind up hurting us all. The German Psychologist Carl Jung, sums the situation well, “those who know nothing about nature” he states “ are of course neurotic, because they are not adapted to reality”. The more such decision makers move away from reality by abstracting nature, the more dangerous their decisions are to us.

But let us take the fossil carbon cost of Dubai and Singapore as examples and consider what reaching for such a goal will mean to us; the current consumption of electricity in Singapore (43.23 billion kWh), Dubai (85.1 billion kWh) and Sri Lanka (8.927 billion kWh). Where will this energy come from ? Has this proposed ‘development’ scenario that seeks to make us a city-state to rival Singapore or Dubai even considered such fundamental realities?

Whatever flows of money such an urban project is supposed to attract, it looks like suicide in terms of climate change, not to mention becoming a totally irresponsible member of the global community. The fossil carbon cost of such a project attains even further staggering proportions when the fossil carbon dioxide cost of cement (fifteen times more than oil) is brought into the equation.

We have been a nation of wanabee’s for quite some time now. We wannabe like Singapore, we wannabe like Dubai, why are we not satisfied with who and what we are? The current wannabe development processes, only wants us to be rich (in a monetary sense), not understanding the truth of the saying “money cannot be eaten”. The cost to the individual, in terms of personal health, social health and community stability of these mad schemes are not considered.

The monetary system, as pointed out by innumerable people, is merely a creation of our imagination and there is nothing that can validate it except for a total faith in that system. Of course, the same can be said for religion, the major difference being, that while piety drives one, greed drives the other.

It is to this system then, that we are asked to place our faith in. The tragedy of today is that total faith in the values of monetary system (greed) is rapidly replacing faith in the religious (piety) and it is the handmaidens of the monetary system who seem to control the entire dialogue on ‘development’.

Is it not time to question this vision of ‘development’, so that the consequences of that we are asked to place our faith in, become clearer and we become part of the dialogue?

Sri Lankan parents should encourage their children to obtain GREEN MBA's - Click Here to Read Article

By Chris Dharmakirti

Business and environmentalism do not have to fight each other, they can peacefully go hand in hand. In a world beset by economic woes as well as environmental problems-from the scarcity of natural resources to climate change--sustainability represents one of the few potential bright spots in an otherwise dismal recruiting environment.

The educational programs that will be training the next generations of business men and women have taken notice, and made alterations accordingly.

As a result many green MBA programs have sprung up, even among some of the most prestigious schools. (Of course, is it also a little greener to do an online MBA and telecommute picking up those MBA business tips, in order avoid all the environmental effects of moving and commuting.)

Sri Lanka needs to train the next generation to be equipped with the expertise to manage our ecological assets and the green economy. Thus we should encourage our parents with means to send their children to study sustainable management and obtain GREEN MBA's from the best of the schools abroad. Obviously, our local universities should also change their curriculum to include degree programs that these overseas universities are offering. Having worked and lived in the Silicon Valley, my top choice is the two schools in Northern California, Presidio and Stanford, but also Bainbridge in Seattle and Yale have great programs. In fact many of the studies that are quoted by UNEP is initiated by Yale. Here is the list:

.1. Presidio Graduate School

Offering a dual MBA and MPA in Sustainable Management, the Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco has built a curriculum based around three central concepts: sustainable systems, leadership, and business foundations. John Lehnert, a consultant for Expansion Media who began an MBA program at Presidio earlier this year, gave me his firsthand account of the green MBA degree and curriculum:

"The great reward of this program - with the mindshare of systems thinking - is the regularity with which my old assumptions are disrupted, as I learn how much fundamental change is needed to get the planet healthy again... Does that all sound squishy for b-school? Maybe at first glance, but it's what will work for companies in it for the long haul: looking as systems for impacts and influences, working with stakeholders and not just shareholders, and managing products and services even after they leave the factory or office. It's the only way we'll have the future we want. I'm loving the journey to get there."

2. Stanford University

A university as renowned as Stanford has a strong reputation in many fields, and so it is no surprise to see that it is offering a strong MBA program. Its Graduate School of Business now offers a twist, though, in the form of a Business Strategies for Environmental Sustainability program. The program covers a range of issues related to sustainable business, and "explore[s] what it means to turn sustainable business practices into competitive advantage."

3. The University of Michigan

The Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan is attempting to be green both within its core curriculum and the very architectural structure in which classes take place. It considers itself one of the world leaders in research and academic programming relating to sustainable enterprise, and uses its building as a demonstration of their commitment to the field.

The Ross building incorporates energy efficient and environmentally responsible features, such as energy efficient lighting, occupation sensors, skylights, three green roofs to insulate the building, and water saving mechanisms.

4. Bainbridge Graduate Institute

With a motto like "Changing Business for Good", you know that the Bainbridge Graduate Institute in Seattle means business. (Check out the video clip here to get a feeling for the school and the pro Green business, that is. The institute has taken a different approach, not merely "greenifying" a conventional MBA program, but constructing a specific MBA in Sustainable Business. The goal of the program is to "prepare graduates to create and manage successful, dynamic enterprises that build a better world."

5. Yale University School of Management

Located on the east coast (unlike many of the green MBA programs in California), the somewhat conventional business school at Yale has been infusing its MBA program with a more sustainable agenda. It has incorporated partnerships between the Yale Center for Business and the Environment and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, hoping to create opportunities for greater strides in both fields. The program hopes to teach students to view business in a broader context - one that includes, among other things, the environment.

Of course, besides a GREEN MBA, there are numerous tertiary education options for students wanting to study the science of environment and also the management aspects of the environment.

An environmental management degree is a broad degree which invites numerous career options for those who pursue it. Employees specializing in the environmental sciences are in high demand as more and more focus is placed on the earth and its resources. Positions are numerous and varied, and the job sector is only expanding. An environmental management degree allows you to work within any aspect of this field as it is broad enough to be applicable to any career or specialty while still ensuring that you get the optimum knowledge needed to thrive in your field.

With an environmental management degree, any individual who is concerned with the environment and its resources will be able to find employment that is engaging, fulfilling, and important to the world at large. If you are more concerned with the political side of things, you can work with environmental policy and analysis. Should your passion be for more sustainable sources of food and energy, you might opt to go into green business. Perhaps what drives you is the chance to educate others? If so, you could obtain a position with a non-profit or a local education center. With these choices and more, the possibilities are endless.

In order to work in the field of environmental management, you must obtain a degree. Your journey would start with a Bachelor's Degree, taking about four years to complete; this degree could also be in environmental management, or it could be in another related field. However, most jobs within the field will require a minimum of a Master's Degree. This program should last two or three years. To obtain the highest paying and highest ranking jobs within the field, a PhD will be needed, taking between two and six additional years to complete, depending on the program and the approach you take.

The tuition for an environmental management program can range from $12,000 a year to $45,000 a year, depending on the school, your housing situation, and the level of the program you are pursuing.

There are a variety of universities offering environmental management programs. Before you start applying, it is important that you take the time to research them. To begin your process, you should consider what it is that you are looking for in a program. How much time do you want to spend on campus versus out in the field getting real life experience? Are the quality of the laboratories and laboratory time important to you? How far are you willing to travel and are you willing to relocate? Do you need day or evening classes? All of these answers, and more, will determine what university and program work best for you.

Once you obtain your degree or masters or a phd, it is important that you also slot yourself into the correct career path. Thus understanding what the job opportunities are in the Green Economy is a pre-requisite prior to you starting your studies. You need to make the distinction between green businesses and clean tech businesses. In very simplistic terms they are:

• A green business is a business or real estate development that is managed in a way that minimizes adverse environmental impacts, regardless of the products and services that the business offers.

• A clean tech Business is a business that produces an environmental product and/or service.

Sri Lanka, like every other country in the world would need to transition at some point into a green economy. Now you might ask why. Let me try to put it this way.

For Sri Lanka or any country, undertaking a sustainable economic development strategy is based on the premise that a sustainability revolution is taking place – from an old economy that is high pollution, waste intensive, high carbon, and ecologically disruptive, to a new economy that is low pollution, energy/resource efficient, low carbon, and ecologically supportive.

Businesses, cities, communities, and regions that lead this revolution will prosper, because, over the long run, the new economy will tend to outperform the old one. Businesses, cities, communities, and regions that lag are in danger of being left behind.

It is important that you also factor that our economy operates within design limits inherent in the natural environment. If the economy disrupts the environment it disrupts itself, at great financial cost to society and to individual businesses.

Historically corporations have often treated natural capital like a “free” asset to be exploited on a first come, first serve basis. As a result, enormous resources have been lost that were once, in fact, provided for free by intact ecosystems.

Conversely, the sustainability revolution recognizes the economy’s dependence on the environment for fresh air, clean water, climate stability, renewable energy, and a thriving eco-system. Businesses need to derive value from the eco-system without disrupting it. In fact, the human economy is really a subset of the natural “economy” rather than vice-versa.

As the sustainability revolution proceeds, true cost pricing and true cost accounting that value the major contributions of the natural world are emerging.

The Green Economy at present has many flourishing sectors within it. The most obvious one is renewable energy sector and the clean tech sector. This green jobs sector focuses on the creation of renewable energy such as energy produced from wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and hydro-power. It also includes non-renewable energy creation from sources such as oil, coal and gas though the sources must be undergoing large scale eco-friendly modifications.

The energy efficiency green jobs sector focuses on utilizing energy more effectively, reducing air and water pollution while reducing waste. Examples of energy efficient activities include the building of Smart Grids, implementation of energy audits and making energy demand response more effective. When green or traditional energy is produced it may not always be consumed at the same time, thus a requirement to store that energy is created. This green job sector focuses on the storage of energy and capture of associated carbon emissions.

Separately, there is another sector known as environmental management services. Environmental protections are the focus of this green job sector, from how to prevent environmental damage to how to repair it. Examples of environment protection include reducing air pollution and enhancing air quality as well as water conservation and natural resource management.

Those interested in architecture and construction industry, there is LEEDS standard sustainable architecture side of studies to the associated construction industry that enables it. With the focus on sustainable construction methods, this sector focuses on the key areas of building or retro fitting buildings to optimize for human and environmental health, sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, renewable materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

Those with a penchant for wanting to be in finance and the "wall street" investment banking world, from become triple bottom line accountants, to analysts, to green economists, the job market is wide open. Futures trading is one of the most common opportunities. Energy trading careers focus on the financial services surrounding the buying and selling of energy as a commodity on the open market. It is within this sector that carbon trading initiatives, renewable energy certificates and offsets are also covered.

The transportation sector is another huge job market opportunity for anyone with green educational competencies. Transportation is critical in moving goods and people from point to point. The green job sector of transportation focuses on lessening the environmental impact and increasing efficiency of the different types of transportation such as trucking, shipping, mass transit, air and rail.

Of course, recyling and waste management is very much in the news in Colombo these days with the Government giving the green light for a private sector company to process the many millions of tons of garbage that is piling up. This green jobs sector focuses on the activities surrounding solid waste and wastewater management, treatment and reduction. It also covers recycling and recycling support jobs, which are careers that focus on converting what was once waste into a usable material.

The agriculture and forestry side, is the green job sector that focuses on the great outdoors. Activities such as efficient land management and organic or green farming will fall within this sector as well. Lastly, aquaculture and the creation and utilization of natural pesticides will be found under agriculture and forestry jobs.

If you prefer a career in the public service or with a regulatory authority, or with the UN or World Bank, or ADB or any of the development related agencies, the job market is huge. Green careers in this sector will focus on activities from both private and public organizations associated with pollution control, enforcement of regulations, policy creation and analysis along with advocacy for new or modified regulations. Jobs with entities like the EPA, Forestry Service and other would be covered here.

There are lot of opportunities for consultants too. This green career sector places the focus on indirect jobs of the green economy. These careers would include activities such as green business services, energy consulting and research jobs that focus on creating new solutions for a sustainable lifestyle.

As you can surmise...the job market for those qualified with green educational credentials is going to be very good, everywhere in the world. So preparing for that opportunity is the most prudent investment you can make in both time and money.

Questions That Should Be Posed to Our Politicians to Expose Hypocrisy

By Donald A. Brown

Questions That Should Be Asked of Opponents of Climate Change Policies, Including Politicians, To Help Expose the Ethical, Moral, and Justice Problems with Their Positions

Given that climate change is a profound global justice, ethical, and moral problem, the paper identifies questions that should be asked of opponents of needed climate change policies. The paper begins with a brief description of unique features of climate change that lead to an understanding that this enormous global threat must be understood fundamentally and essentially as a moral, ethical, and justice problem. This is followed by questions designed to assure that opponents of climate change policies are required to expressly respond to ethical problems with the most frequent arguments made against climate change policies. These questions are organized according to the most frequent arguments made against climate change policies which are that climate change policies: (a) will impose unacceptable costs on a national economy or specific industries, (b) should not be adopted because of scientific uncertainty about climate change impacts, or (c) are both unfair and ineffective as long as high emitting nations such as China and India do adopt meaningful ghg emissions reduction policies.

A. Why climate change must be understood as an ethical, moral, and justice problem.

Climate change must be understood and responded to as a profound problem of global justice, ethics, and morality. This is so because:

(a) it is a problem mostly caused by some nations and people emitting high-levels of greenhouse gases (ghg) in one part of the world who are harming or threatening tens of millions of living people and countless numbers of future generations throughout the world who include some of the world’s poorest people who have done little to cause the problem, (b) the harms to many of the world’s most vulnerable victims of climate change are potentially catastrophic, (c) many people most at risk from climate change often can’t protect themselves by petitioning their governments; their best hope is that those causing the problem will see that justice requires them to greatly lower their ghg emissions, (d) to protect the world’s most vulnerable people nations must limit their ghg emissions to levels that constitute their fair share of safe global emissions, and, (e) climate change is preventing some people from enjoying the most basic human rights including rights to life and security among others. Because climate change is a profound problem of ethics and justice those causing the problem may not use self-interest alone as justification for their policy responses to human-induced warming, they must respond in ways consistent with their responsibilities and duties to others. In light of this the following questions should be asked of those who oppose national action on climate change on the basis of scientific uncertainty or excessive costs to the national economy.

B. Questions to be asked of those opposing government action on climate change on the basis of cost to the economy, cost to specific industries, or job destruction.

When you argue that governments should not adopt policies to reduce ghg emissions to their fair share of safe global emissions on the basis that climate policies will impose unacceptable costs on national economies, destroy specific industries, or kill jobs:

1. Do you deny high-emitting nations not only have economic interests but also duties and obligations to nations and people most vulnerable to climate impacts to limit their ghg emissions to their fair share of safe global emissions?

2. Do you deny that a high emitting nation needs to take responsibility for the harms to human health and ecological systems on which life depends which the nation is causing in other nations?

3. Do you deny the applicability of the well-established international norm that polluters should pay for consequences of their pollution?

4. Do you agree that a nation’s climate change policy is implicitly a position on how high atmospheric concentrations of ghgs should be allowed to rise?

5. Do you agree that a national ghg emissions target must be understood as implicitly a position on a global emissions reduction pathway necessary to stabilize atmospheric ghg concentrations at safe levels?

6. Do you agree that no nation has a right kill other people or destroy the ecological systems on which life depends simply because reducing ghg emissions will impose costs on the high-emitting nation?

7. Do you agree that nations which emit ghgs at levels beyond their fair share of safe global emissions have a duty to help pay for reasonable adaptation needs and unavoidable damages of low-emitting vulnerable countries and individuals who have done little to cause climate change?

8. Do you agree that the costs of inaction on climate change must be considered by nations who refuse to reduce their ghg emissions to their fair share of safe global emissions on the basis of cost to them?

9. Given that the United States has for over twenty-five years failed to adequately respond to climate change because of alleged unacceptable costs to it and that due to delay ghg emissions reductions now needed to avoid potentially catastrophic climate change are much steeper and costly than what would be required if the United States acted twenty five years ago, is it just for the United States to now defend further inaction on climate change on the basis of cost to it?

C. Questions to be asked of those opposing national action on climate change on the basis of scientific uncertainty.

When you argue that nations such as the United States or states, regional, or local governments, businesses, organizations, or individuals that emit high levels of greenhouse gases (ghg) need not reduce their ghg emissions to their fair share of safe global emission because of scientific uncertainty about adverse climate change impacts:

1. On what specific basis do you disregard the conclusions of the United States Academy of Sciences and over a hundred of the most prestigious scientific organizations whose membership includes those with expertise relevant to the science of climate change, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, the American Institute of Physics, the American Meteorological Society, the Royal Meteorological Society, and the Royal Society of the UK and according to the American Academy of Sciences 97 percent of scientists who actually do peer-reviewed research on climate change which conclusions holds that the Earth is warming, that the warming is mostly human caused, and that harsh impacts from warming are already being experienced in parts of the world, and that the international community is running out of time to prevent catastrophic warming.

2. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that there are some remaining scientific uncertainties about climate change impacts, are you arguing that no action of climate change should be taken until all scientific uncertainties are resolved given that waiting to resolve uncertainties before action is taken will virtually guarantee that it will too late to prevent catastrophic human-induced climate change harms to people and ecological systems around the world?

3. Given that waiting until uncertainties are resolved will make climate change harms worse and the scale of reductions needed to prevent dangerous climate change much more daunting, do you deny that those who are most vulnerable to climate change’s harshest potential impacts have a right to participate in any decision about whether a nation should wait to act to reduce the threat of climate change because of scientific uncertainty?

4. Should a nation like the United States which has much higher historical and per capita emissions than other nations be able to justify its refusal to reduce its ghg emissions to its fair share of safe global emissions on the basis of scientific uncertainty, given that if the mainstream science is correct, the world is rapidly running out of time to prevent warming above 2.Oo C, a temperature limit which if exceeded may cause rapid, non-linear climate change.

5. If you claim that there is no evidence of human causation of climate change are you aware that there are multiple “fingerprint” studies and “attribution” studies which point to human causation of observed warming?

6. When you claim that the United States or other nations emitting high levels of ghgs need not adopt climate change policies because adverse climate change impacts have not yet been proven, are you claiming that climate change skeptics have proven in peer reviewed scientific literature that human-induced climate change will not create harsh adverse impacts to the human health and the ecological systems of others on which their life often depends and if so what is that proof?

7. If you concede that climate skeptics have not proven in peer-reviewed journals that human-induced warming is not a very serious threat to human health and ecological systems, given that human-induced warming could create catastrophic warming the longer the human community waits to respond to reduce the threat of climate change and the more difficult it will be to prevent dangerous warming, do you agree that those responsible for rising atmospheric ghg concentrations have a duty to demonstrate that their ghg emissions are safe?

8. Given that in ratifying the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) the United States in 1992 agreed under Article 3 of that treaty to not use scientific uncertainty as an excuse for postponing climate change policies, do you believe the United States is now free to ignore this promise by refusing to take action on climate change on the basis of scientific uncertainty? Article 3 states: The Parties should take precautionary measures to anticipate, prevent or minimize the causes of climate change and mitigate its adverse effects. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing such measures, taking into account that policies and measures to deal with climate change should be cost-effective so as to ensure global benefits at the lowest possible cost. (UNFCCC, Art 3)

9. If a nation such as the United States which emits high-levels of ghgs refuses to reduce its emissions to its fair share of safe global emissions on the basis that there is too much scientific uncertainty to warrant action, if it turns out that human-induced climate change actually seriously harms the health of tens of millions of others and ecological systems on which their life depends, should the nation be responsible for the harms that could have been avoided if preventative action had been taken earlier?

10. Do you agree that if a government is warned by some of the most prestigious scientific institutions in the world that activities within its jurisdiction are causing great harm to and gravely threatening hundreds of millions of people outside their government’s jurisdiction, government officials who could take steps to assure that activities of their citizens do not harm or threaten others should not be able escape responsibility for preventing harm caused by simply declaring that they are not scientists?

D. Questions to be asked of those opposing government action climate change on the basis that other nations such as China and India have not reduced their ghg emissions.

When you argue that nations such as the United States need not reduce their ghg emissions to their fair share of safe global emission because other nations such as China have not taken action,

1. Are you claiming that no nation has a duty to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to its fair share of safe global emissions until all other nations reduce their greenhouse gas emissions accordingly?

2. If you claim that the US has no duty to act on climate change until China acts, do you agree that economic competitors such has China have no duty to reduce their emissions until the United States does so?

3. Are you aware that as long as the United States continues to emit ghgs above its fair share of safe global emissions, atmospheric concentrations of ghgs continue to rise even if China or India does not reduce their ghg emissions?

4. Are you aware that the claim frequently made by opponents of US action on climate change that if the United States reduces its ghg emissions and China dose not it will make no difference because climate change will still happen is not true because US ghg emissions at current levels are responsible for rising atmospheric concentrations of ghgs?

5. Are you aware that the United States agreed when it ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992 to adopt policies and measures to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system on the basis of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and that developed nations agreed to take the lead in reducing the threat of climate change?

6. Are you aware that all nations have a duty under customary international law to prevent harm by ensuring that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction?

7. Are you aware that the United States is much more responsible for elevated atmospheric ghg concentrations than any other country including China because of US historical and per capita emissions?

Donald A. Brown Scholar In Residence and Professor Sustainability Ethics and Law Widener Commonwealth University Law School

Earth Security Index provides us guide to the environmental risk factors that we must manage

By Chris Dharmakirti

If you were to ask any of our local experts or any environmental activist or journalist who have been involved in tackling various challenges and threats to our fragile island ecosystem, they would all tell you that some of our politicians and businessmen,

in cahoots with certain corrupt officials, have ignored the laws of our land, and ignored the assessment reports issued by the regulatory authorities to push for projects that have devastated our environment.

Development at any cost seems to be the business as usual plan for Sri Lanka.

They literally bulldoze their way past the protests by environmentalists and grab our resources by destroying what can never ever be replaced in our lifetime. Thus, with a sub optimum set of politicians at both the national level and the provincial level, our island is perhaps facing the greatest threat of all time. It is greater than the threat of violence from the LTTE. Standing up to this threat is going to be the most courageous thing anyone who loves this precious island of ours can do.

The ammunition that we have to fight this would be the ground data from baseline surveys and scientific data and facts gleaned from the locations. It is by using that information to feed the global monitoring indices that we can save our island from total destruction. Of course, the bigger threat is from mother nature and the harm from any natural disaster can become worse, if the land has been denuded and destroyed by poor land management practices.

So let me draw your attention to that point. As you know, as the intensity and frequency of natural catastrophes caused by global warming and mismanagement of natural resources continue to increase, it becomes increasingly important for businesses, governments, and civil society to have constructive dialogues about environmental management.

Perhaps the most effective way to do this is by assessing the full breadth of the myriad risks to political and economic stability posed by breaches of ecological limits.

The Earth Security Index (ESI) was created in 2013 with the goal of assessing these risks. According to its founder Alejandro Litovsky, the ESI seeks to ,“educate, build capacity, and align action between businesses, investors, and governments to address resource risks.” The ESI measures the vulnerability of countries against 24 indicators across 8 areas: land governance, water security, climate security, crop performance, population growth, food security, fiscal stability, and energy security.

The ESI risk dashboard uses a systems approach to frame the interrelatedness of climate-related risks. The index recognizes that adequately addressing such complex issues necessitates coordinated action and integrated solutions from across sectors and sovereignties. Its findings and methods make resource limits and associated risks relevant across the geopolitical space, engaging diplomacy, government ministries of developed nations and emerging economies, as well as industry and financial institutions.

The ESI aggregates data from a number of indices, including the Environmental Performance Index, to calculate thresholds for each country. Using the lowest and highest scores of the sample of 200 countries, the ESI normalizes each country’ score on a scale of 0-100. It is unclear how the eight dimensions are weighted against each other. The dashboard, which draws its visual inspiration from the Planetary Boundaries project of the Stockholm Resilience Center, allows users to clearly see how particular countries are doing in all categories relative to others.

In its first offering, the Earth Security Group applied its framework to 17 of the 200 countries in its database. These countries were chosen for their “significance to the global resources security agenda” Notably, the US was not selected, which might cause problems for both fans and detractors of the US. The ESI plans to change the countries it examines in each edition, in order to most accurately capture the changing importance of countries’ impacts to the global issues of natural resource management. It is not clear what methodology is used to determine which countries are chosen.

For each selected country, the report highlights key developing risks. It also offers recommendations for where investors and policymakers can begin to take preventative actions.

Sri Lanka is ranked at # 80 in the Energy Sustainability Index

By Chris Dharmakirti

Lamentably, in Sri Lanka, It's easy for policy discussions to take place in a vacuum, especially if they draw on the kinds of specialized knowledge and technical know-how that energy strategy often calls for.

However, seeing outside of traditional silos is crucial to finding durable solutions to these kinds of challenges. That's the premise that informs the World Energy Council's (WEC) Energy Sustainability Index, which ranked energy security, equity, and sustainability, to broaden the context of policy conversations.

In the overall trillema rankings, Sri Lanka was placed at 80. In the sub categories, we were placed as follows: Energy Security: 77, Energy Equity: 83; Environmental Sustainability: 49.

It is important that the next set of politicians who would govern us and take decisions on our behalf, know that we would be holding them accountable by tracking their performance against the aforementioned benchmarked rankings.

They cannot dismiss the environment as some esoteric subject that is the sole preserve of the minister of environmental affairs. They should be told that every ministry, as with all sectors, have an impact on our environment, and therefore the sustainability of their actions is something they have to be responsible for. Be it transport, sports, even telecommunications and even finance are closely related to the subject of sustainability as much agriculture, water, wildlife and forests. They need to realize that the impact their respective ministries have on the environment is what matters. Therefore monitoring those impacts, especially the energy sustainability is crucial.

Please help your elected Parliamentarian to get familiar with The WEC’s Energy Sustainability Index that focuses on the connections between different facets of energy use, sweeping a broad context into its rankings. The Index scores 129 nations according to their performance on energy security, energy equity, and environmental sustainability. A balancing score also ranks how well nations juggle this “trilemma” of energy needs.

The Index identifies best practices that emerge from nations that might be otherwise overlooked, and calls attention to weak spots in high-scoring countries.

Views of the Sunday Leader Columnist on the Environment

There can be no economy when there is no efficiency -Benjamin Disraeli-Letters This column dedicated to the notion of fulfilling the aspirations of Sri Lankan society turns its spotlight on the protection of the environment in Sri Lanka while engaging in sustainable development that will fulfill the aspirations of all Sri Lankans thereby ensuring preservation of the environment in our land.

Environmental concerns in Sri Lanka include deforestation; soil erosion; wildlife populations threatened by poaching and urbanization; coastal degradation from mining activities and increased pollution; freshwater resources being polluted by industrial waste and sewage runoff; waste disposal; and air pollution in Colombo and other cities due to emissions from motor vehicles and factories and other industrial establishments.

The forests in Sri Lanka have been removed to make way for agricultural land and plantations and to provide fuel and timber. The sale of timber is a part of the national economy to raise revenue. The country is a major producer of tea and the land required for tea plantations is substantial. Population pressure is also a significant factor as is the removal of forested areas to make way for irrigation networks which were a major process in the 1980s. Apart from the environmental implications deforestation in Sri Lanka has caused ill effects such as flooding, landslides and soil erosion from exposure of the deforested areas. It is also the primary threat to the survival of Sri Lanka’s biodiversity. Sri Lanka has 751 known species of amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles of which 21.7 percent are endemic, and over 3314 species of vascular plants, of which 26.9 percent are endemic.

One of the main threats to the sustainability of Sri Lanka’s forests is government development policies in relation to the demand for timber and fuel and also the need to create plantations to raise revenue. Government policies are focused primarily on timber production and tree plantations. The Sri Lankan government working in conjunction with multi-national institutions has seen a major change in timber harvesting in Sri Lanka for the cause of sustainable development. Commercial plantations have gradually been brought under management system in Sri Lanka to produce wood in an economically efficient and sustainable way.

The harvesting, processing and the sale of wood products from state forests is conducted by the state owned State Timber Corporation. In the 1980s the cause progressed significantly with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) funding the Community Forestry Project (CFP) which concentrated on the development of fuelwood plantations and agro-forestry in 5 of the 25 districts of Sri Lanka. While illegal logging in Sri Lanka is not a major problem as it is in many countries, deforestation has still affected the lives of every day people in some parts of Sri Lanka where removal of forests has resulted in greater time and energy being spent gathering firewood typically by women who have to travel relatively long distances, affecting their health and well-being. Deforestation is one of the most serious environmental issues in Sri Lanka. In the 1920s, the island had a 49 percent forest cover but by 2005 this had fallen by approximately 20 percent. Between 1990 and 2000, Sri Lanka lost an average of 26,800 hectares of forests per year. This amounts to 1.14 percent of average annual deforestation rate. Between 2000 and 2005 the rate accelerated to 1.43 percent per annum.

However with a long history of policy and laws towards environmental protection, deforestation rates of primary cover have actually decreased to 35 percent since the end of the 1990s due to a strong history of conservation measures. The problem of deforestation in Sri Lanka is not as significant in the southern mountainous regions as it is in northern Sri Lanka, largely due to the nature of environmental protection.

The government and international environmental organizations have taken several steps to address the problem over the years, establishing national parks, reserves and sanctuaries, which now cover as much as 15 percent of the island’s total area as at 2007. The Sinharaja Forest Reserve, which was established in 1978 to protect the nearly extinct tropical lowland rain forest, was flagged as a World Heritage Site in 1988.

The history of environmental policy and law in Sri Lanka however goes back much further in history. In 1848, the Timber Ordinance No. 24 was signed for the reservation of forests, largely for timber production. In 1873, Hooker advocated the protection of natural forests above 5000 feet as climatic reserves and in 1938 a law was passed prohibiting the removal of forest above 5000 feet. In 1885, the Forest Ordinance No. 10 for the Conservation of Forests saw some protection of forests primarily for sustainable wood production but also some protection of wildlife in sanctuaries.

This was developed further in 1907 with Forest Ordinance No. 16 with some protection of forests and their products in reserved forests and village forests, again for the controlled exploitation of timber. In 1929 the first authoritative forest policy statement was given in regard to species protection and in 1937 the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance No. 2 was signed with the intention of protecting the wildlife in national reserves. However this was restricted to wild life in sanctuaries, and such habitats were protected only on state land, with complete freedom to exploit privately owned land. The Amendment Act No. 44 in 1964 saw the nature reserves and jungle corridors formally recognized as categories of Sri Lanka’s protected areas of national reserve.

In 1990, the National Policy for Wildlife Conservation was approved by the Sri Lankan cabinet with the prime objectives of sustaining the ecosystems and ecological processes and the preservation of genetic diversity. The government also introduced a logging ban that was implemented in all natural forests in Sri Lanka under the Forestry Sector Development Programme.

In 1993 Amendment Act No. 49 also added Refuge, Marine Reserves and Buffer Zones as additional formal categories to the definition of the national reserve. Any degradation of the forest resource in Sri Lanka is dynamically related to the increasing demand for timber and fuel wood. Central to the sustainability of the forests of Sri Lanka in the future is the rate of population pressure and economic growth Not only will a growing population demand more fuel, they will also place a higher demand for housing construction materials with wood Interference with nature results in disastrous effects. Several forest fires were reported during the past few weeks. The indiscriminate dumping of garbage in cities especially in Colombo has led to the spread of diseases. Colossal waste of public funds to purchase a luxury limousine for the use of the Mayor of Colombo was reported recently. These funds could have been used to purchase machinery for garbage conversion into manure. The Mayor has been reported saying that as Cabinet Ministers are using expensive limousines that he too is entitled to use such a vehicle. What service have these public officials and Ministers rendered to the people of Colombo or Sri Lanka to engage in such wasteful expenditure of public funds? Before demanding comforts these persons must render valuable service to the people.

The colossal waste of funds spent for the Anuradhapura Deyata Kirula Exhibition replete with many performances could have been used to provide a water purification plant for the people of Anuradhapura and suburbs who are dying of kidney ailments due to the intake of heavy metals in the dirty water they are forced to consume. Before beautifying cities and building road networks the basic needs of the people such as food, clean drinking water, adequate supplies of medicines in hospitals and other essentials for the sustenance of life of the citizens must be provided.

The abominable wasteful expenditure of public funds should be terminated forthwith for the welfare of the country. The President who has stated on several occasions that he holds power as a public trustee has advised public officials to make the best use of public funds. Addressing the Matale District Development Committee Meeting last week the President said that, ‘Everyone is duty bound to make the utmost contribution to society and the country. Similarly, public funds should be utilized carefully for the betterment of the country to gain maximum returns and productivity’(Daily News 3rd July 2012 pp.1and 8). Excellent advice indeed but whether the public officers follow such advice in practice appears to be doubtful. While an electrical energy or power crisis is looming in the near future with the water levels decreasing in the catchment areas the public institutions and commercial establishments seem to be switching on all billboards and illuminating their showrooms wasting valuable electrical energy late into the night in the city of Colombo.

As usual let me conclude with an amusing anecdote. The teacher asked the class to write an essay on what they would do if they had a million dollars. But, little Johnny handed in a blank paper. The teacher asked, ‘Johnny you have done nothing why?’ ‘Because,’ he replied ‘that is exactly what I’d do if I had a Million Dollars’.

We as Sri Lankans may now understand the reason why corrupt politicians and public officials do nothing for the motherland but relax and enjoy their existence wasting public funds.

May all celestial beings protect our motherland.

Suggestions to the next Government by Dr. Rohan Pethiyagoda, Dr. Anslem de Silva and Dr. Gehan de Silva Wijeyaratne

Excerpts from a published interview conducted by Island newspaper journalist Ifham Nizam with three of Sri Lanka's foremost experts on plants, reptiles and habitat.

Sri Lanka’s foremost authority on biodiversity, Dr. Rohan Pethiyagoda, who is Research Associate, Australia Museum and serves as an editor for Asian freshwater fish covered by the journal 'Zootaxa', answered some of our queries. His thoughts were expressed purely in his personal capacity:

Q: In your opinion, what are the areas the government needs to focus on?

A: The main problem I see in biodiversity conservation is as follows: We have a good idea of which species are threatened (e.g. the Red List) and also what the threats are (e.g. habitat loss).

However, for even a single one of these hundreds of threatened species, there is no recovery plan. What is the point of long lists of critically endangered species if we do not do anything about it?

Our goal should be, for every threatened species to have a plan that mandates certain actions that will ensure that the population of the species recovers to a level at which it is no longer threatened.

But not even for the elephant do we have such a plan. So the focus of the government should be on planning and implementing management interventions that assure the recovery of threatened species.

Q: Looking back, as a person who has done yeoman service to the country when it comes to fauna and flora, are you happy with the ongoing government initiatives for the betterment of mother nature?

A: No. We have made some progress with protecting species and their habitats, but not enough. Even Strict Natural Reserves are being steadily encroached, and elephants are starving to death because electric fences put up in the name of "conservation" result in them not getting access to food and water.

But there is almost no science in Sri Lanka's conservation strategizing, which is a pity because large amounts of scientific data exist that could help inform the conservation planning process. But there is a deep divide between conservation scientists on the one side, and the government conservation agencies on the other. As a result, national conservation strategies tend to be largely unscientific and hence unproductive.

Q: What are your thoughts on the occasion of World Environment Day, especially when it comes to Sri Lanka?

A:I think this is a good opportunity to look at where we have gone wrong, and then try to see how we could get on the right path. The problems are so serious and complex that no easy solutions exist.

On a previous occasion, I likened biodiversity to a critically ill patient who has been wheeled into the intensive care unit. Will anyone seriously argue that he or she should be treated not by the best doctors in the hospital but by the security guard? The unwillingness of Sri Lankans at all levels to genuinely absorb scientific research is a massive national failing and needs urgently to be addressed.

Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne has been responsible for publicizing Sri Lanka and the leopards, the gathering of elephants and blue whales and has researched and developed almost every significant wildlife tourist products.

Excerpts of the interview with him:

Q: You are among the few naturalists in the country who went out of the way to promote the country especially with a focus on tourism. Looking back, are you happy with those initiatives?

A:Yes I am. Sri Lanka has not become a regular destination for wildlife film crews because of the wildlife stories I have put out based on field work and seeing a story angle which is of international significance.

A lot of international media now know that Sri Lanka is one of the best places in the world, is the best for the blue whale and sperm whale super-pods and has the Elephant Gathering. These generate a lot of international television coverage and generate a lot of employment and revenues for the country.

You were one of the first journalists to see my potential as someone who can seed credible wildlife stories that catch the attention of the media. You have also joined me in the field and will have a sense of the amount of man hours of work it goes into breaking some of these big stories.

Establishing Kalpitiya's potential as a whale watching destination and breaking the Best for Blue Whale story took many lonely days at sea. Plus a lot of desk research. It is always rewarding to see hard work come to fruition.

Q: Are you happy with the present status of fauna and flora of the country?

A: Even despite the devastation in the last few centuries, Sri Lanka remains super-rich for wildlife. But more needs to be done to reinforce conservation.

A lot more needs to be done to make people participate in research and conservation. In developed countries there is a lot of volunteer work in conservation and a lot of citizen science. The research and conservation community will benefit more by engaging the public.

Q: In your opinion what are the areas the government should focus on?

A:The fragmentation of habitat and the restoration of habitat degraded by unsustainable agricultural practices are among the major challenges. There are no easy solutions, but there are examples from around the world how this is being addressed.

The government should also look to devolve the visitor management of national parks and reserves to the private sector. It has worked in other countries. In fact in countries such as the UK, the largest number of wildlife tourism is to reserves that are owned and managed by NGOs such as the RSPB.

Sri Lanka’s leading herpetologist Dr. Anslem de Silva who is member of several specialist groups of the IUCN (World Conservation Union) and chairs few of them in the region as well as in Sri Lanka says it is from the grass root level (from Grama niladhari and Palath Sabha) up to the minster that personnel should be made aware of the importance of flora, fauna and the natural environment and its value - there are many lessons of this 'living with the nature' ideas we could get from 'traditional wisdom'.

De Silva strongly believes that the implementing government servants should be dedicated personnel.

Next Government Must Demonstrate their Commitment to the protect the Environment with Actions

A call by Environmental activist Mr. Pubudu Weerarathna :

* උතුරු පලාතේ වනජීවී රක්ෂිත 16ක් වන සත්ත්ව හා වෘක්ෂලතා ආරක්ෂක ආඥා පනතට අනුව ප්රකාශයට පත් කිරීම ආර්ථික සංවර්ධන අමාත්යාංශයේ විරෝධතාව හා බලපෑම මත වසර තුනක කාලයක් තිස්සේ නතර වී තිබේ.

මේ වනජීවී රක්ෂිත ජාලය ප‍්‍රකාශයට පත් කිරීමේ ප‍්‍රධාන අරමුණු වී ඇත්තේ අලි - මිනිස් ගැටුම පාලනය කිරීම, උතුරු ප‍්‍රදේශයේ පවතින සුවිශේෂී වනජීවී වාසස්ථානවලට ආරක්ෂාව සැලැසීම, ධීවර කර්මාන්තය සදහා වැදගත් වන මත්ස්‍ය විශේෂ බෝවීමේ ප‍්‍රදේශ වලට ආරක්ෂාව සැපැයීම, වැව් හා ගංගා වල ජල පෝෂක ප‍්‍රදේශ ආරක්ෂා කිරීම, ප‍්‍රාදේශීය ව සිදු විය හැකි කාලගුණික හා දේශගුණික විපර්යාස අවම කිරීම මෙන්ම උතුරු ප‍්‍රදේශයේ වනජීවී සංචාරක කර්මාන්තය ප‍්‍රවර්ධනය කිරීම ය.

*. අසූව හා අනූව දශකයේ දී පක්ෂි විවිධත්වයෙන් ඉතා පොහොසත් තෙත්බිමක් ලෙස බොහෝ පක්ෂි නිරීක්ෂකයන් ගේ අවධානයට යොමුවුණු බෙල්ලන්විල - අත්තිඩිය අභයභූමිය අද වන විට මුහුණ දී ඇත්තේ දුර්භාග්ය සම්පන්න තත්ත්වයකට ය. එක් කලෙක දී කැළි කසළවලින් පුරවනු ලැබූ මේ තෙත්බිමේ බොහෝ ප්රදේශ අද වන විට ගොඩකර ජනාවාස හා කර්මාන්තශාලා මෙන් ම වාහන නැවැතුම් පොළවල් ද ඉදි කර ඇත. කර්මාන්තශාලා අපද්රව්ය සෘජු ව බැහැරලීම හේතුවෙන් අභයභූමිය හරහා ගලා බසිනා දිය දහරාවන්

* අද වන විට මහ පරිමාණයෙන් සිදු කෙරෙන අවිධිමත් සංවර්ධනය හේතුවෙන් වාසස්ථාන අහිමිවීම හා වාසස්ථාන ඛණ්ඩනය වීම නිසා උද්ගත වී තිබෙන අලි - මිනිස් ගැටුම හේතුවෙන් වසරකට මිය යන අලි - ඇතුන්ගේ ප‍්‍රමාණය 230 දක්වා වර්ධනය වී තිබේ. ඒ අතරතුර 2007 වසරේ සිට මේ දක්වා කාලය තුළ දී අලි පැටවුන් 70 කට වැඩි ප‍්‍රමාණයක් වනාන්තරයෙන් අල්ලා හීලෑ කිරීම සිදු කර තිබේ. එම කි‍්‍රයාවලියේ දී පැටවුන් 15 කට වැඩි ප‍්‍රමාණයක් මිය ගොස් තිබේ. මේ තත්ත්වයන් වල ප‍්‍රතිඵලයක් ලෙස අප රටේ අලි - ඇතුන්ගේ ගහනය ඉදිරි වසර කීපය තුළ දී දැවැන්ත අඩුවීමකට මුහුණ දීමට නියමිත ය. දැනට සිදුවන සීග‍්‍රතාවයෙන් අලි පැටවුන් ජාවාරම සිදුවුවහොත් අනාගත පරපුරක් බිහිකිරීමට සිටින සතුන් පරිසරයෙන් ඉවත් වීමේ ප‍්‍රතිඵලයක් ලෙස අලි - ඇතුන් වඳ වීම ඉතාම කඩිනමින් සිදුවනු ඇත. එසේ සිදුවුවහොත් එය ස්වාභාවික පරිසරයේ පැවැත්මට හා තුළිතතාවයට පමණක් නොව රටේ ආර්ථිකයට ද දැවැන්ත ලෙස බලපානු ඇත. ලංකාවේ සංචාරක කර්මාන්තයෙන් සැලකිය යුතු ප‍්‍රමාණයක් රැුඳි ඇත්තේ අලි - ඇතුන් මතය. එම සුවිශේෂි පුරුක ස්වාභාවික පරිසරයෙන් ඉවත් වුවහොත් එ් මත පදනම් වූ සංචාරක කර්මාන්තයෙන් වැඩි කොටසක් බිද වැටීමට ලක්වනු ඇත. ඉන් රටට ලැබෙන විදේශ විනිමය ප‍්‍රමාණයෙන් සැලකිය යුතු කොටසක් අහිමි වී යයි.

* රටේ ඉඩම් බොහොමයක් බහු ජාතික සමාගම්වලට ලබා දීමට ද වත්මන් රජය ක‍්‍රියාකර ඇත. කන්තලේ, මහියංගනය, මොණරාගල හා හම්බන්තොට ප‍්‍රදේශවල රජයේ ඉඩම් අක්කර දහස් ගණනක් ලෝකය අපකීර්තිමත් සමාගමක් වන ඩෝල් සමාගමට කැවැන්ඩිස් නම් කෙසෙල් ප‍්‍රභේදය වගා කර අපනයනය කිරීම සඳහා ලබා දී තිබේ. එපමණක් නොව මෙම සමාගම් විසින් මැණික් ගඟ, කුඹුක්කන් ඔය හා කිරි`දි ඔයේ ජලය වගා කටයුතු සඳහා මහා පරිමාණයෙන් ලබා ගැනීමේ ප‍්‍රතිඵලයක් ලෙස පසුගිය කලයේ දී දැවැන්ත ජල හිඟයකට මුහුණ දීමට හම්බන්තොට ප‍්‍රදේශයේ ජනතාවට සිදු විය..

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