SL joins global campaign to reduce use of plastic

PM briefs UNSG on constitutional reforms


by Zacki Jabbar

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, during their meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York, last week.

A resolution was made at the first United Nations Ocean Conference, where 193 countries including Sri Lanka were represented, to implement a series of long-term and robust strategies to reduce the use of plastics and microplastics.

The five-day confab concluded in New York on Friday, with over 1,300 commitments aimed at achieving Sustainable Development Goals. Consensus was reached on the development and implementation of effective adaptation and mitigation measures that addressed ocean and coastal acidification, sea level rise, increase in ocean temperatures and other adverse impacts of climate change on the ocean.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was among the world leaders who addressed the conference.Experts said that commitments made at the Symposium, when implemented would protect over 10 per cent of the globe’s marine areas by 2020 and add 4.4 per cent of marine areas to the existing number.

The Call for Action also includes measures to protect coastal and blue carbon ecosystems such as mangroves, tidal marshes, sea grass and coral reefs and wider interconnected ecosystems, as well as enhancing sustainable fisheries management and restoring fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield.

Countries were also called upon to decisively prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing and eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Premier Wickremesinghe said that Sri Lanka had the advantage of a unique bio diversity footprint and ecological advantages, yet over time, as a result of short term goals that bordered on fast gains, the eco balance had shifted, causing considerable harm to the environment.

"We need to rediscover the manner in which our ancestors were able to co-exist in harmony with nature. As a country, every one of us must be conscious of addressing ecological and environmental concerns as we travel the path to progress", he noted adding that it was a challenge faced by every individual and the Government, in achieving an optimum balance between development and managing the environment in the right way. Wickremesinghe warned that if adequate attention was not paid to eco systems and environmental erosion remained unaddressed, there would be drastic consequences which the world had witnessed time and again.

On the sidelines of the conference the Prime Minister had briefed the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres about the work undertaken by the government, towards achieving reconciliation through truth seeking and accountability mechanisms.

That process, he said involved ongoing work on constitutional reforms, the justice system and other factors, so at to ensure a non recurrence of violence, after a near three decade ethnic conflict. Guterres who had visited Sri Lanka in the past as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees appreciated Wickremesinghe’s participation in the historic Ocean Conference. He had also recalled the long standing friendly relations between his country Portugal and Sri Lanka.

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