Natural Capital – Key to country’s prosperity and future – Environmental Ministry Secretary | Daily News

Natural Capital – Key to country’s prosperity and future – Environmental Ministry Secretary

The Panel of Speakers.
The Panel of Speakers.

Environment Ministry Secretary Dr. Anil Jasinghe said that the Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs) Policy addresses the need for dealing with the natural capital outside the formal protected areas system, which is key for the prosperity and future of the country, by aligning the rightful owners for decision making with regard to land.

A new National Policy on ESAs in Sri Lanka is being launched by the Environment Ministry, with the development and formulation of the policy supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka with funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

A virtual media briefing was held recently in this regard in collaboration with the Ministry and the Mass Media Ministry, as a part of its ongoing high-level Sustainable Development Discussion series organised by the Media Centre for National Development.

“The contentious issues with land we face today can be addressed whilst protecting natures bounties, if we act accordingly, together,” the Ministry Secretary said.

Building on the pilot project launched in 2015 by the MoE and UNDP to protect ESAs from the threats that they face, the policy will guide to designate an Environmentally Sensitive Area based on the best scientific data available and consideration of the economic and any other relevant impact of such designation.

UNDP Resident Representative in Sri Lanka Robert Juhkam said that the ESA policy ensures that communities are a part of economic growth without compromising environmental conservation - a blueprint to the innovative public-private-community partnerships that underpin the much-needed paradigm shift, to support and encourage stewardship and innovation in green growth, while raising awareness to enable the pursuit of economic growth in balance with the planet for Sustainable Development.”

Prof. Sevvandi Jayakody of the Wayamba University of Sri Lanka said that the balanced decision making about land comes only through acute investigation of what value it possess, what potential it holds and how strategic we are in utilising them with due diligence for both values and users. “That’s the process the ESA Policy tries to bring in, ” she said.

The policy will aim to create enabling platforms at all levels for a participatory and conscious decision-making for the public and private sector, and communities in land use planning and sustainable land management in ESAs.

Wildlife and Forest Conservation Ministry Secretary Somarathne Vidanapathirana said that all significant biodiversity are not within the Protected Areas.

“Therefore, the ESAs are the alternative and most effective approach that can be used to conserve and manage biodiversity outside protected areas scattered around the country,” he said.

Land Ministry Secretary R.A.A.K. Ranawaka said that ESAs are about land management, which has been recognised by the Land Use Policy in 2007. “The ESAs reduce pressure on land by balancing interest in biodiversity, development and resilient communities through consensus land management,” he said.

The ESA policy will suggest nature-based solutions to enhance the integrity of conservation, resilience to climate change, and wise use of natural capital for development in Sri Lanka. The draft ESA policy is set to be rolled out by November 2021 following the approval from the Cabinet.

 


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