Hon. Minister of Environment and Renewable Energy, Mr. Susil Premjayantha
Secretary to the Ministry of Environment and Renewable Energy, Mr. B.M.U.D. Basnayake
Distinguished representatives of government, UN and non government organizations
The Ministry of Environment is a long-standing, partner of the UN family in Sri Lanka. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be engaged in Sri Lanka’s sustainable development through Ministry-led programmes like UN REDD. As the UN system in Sri Lanka, we are pleased that the United Nations’ collaborative initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD) is initiating its implementation in Sri Lanka. As a partner of the Forest Department, the United Nations supported Sri Lanka’s integration into the UN-REDD Programme a couple of years ago. Today we all can be proud of that partnership.
Just to highlight, reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) is a mechanism currently being negotiated under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to provide positive incentives to developing countries to reward their efforts to reduce emissions from forestry, and for enhancing and sustainably managing their forests, as a considerable amount of CO₂ emissions from forestry and land-use change activities come from developing countries.
As you may already be aware, the UNREDD programme in Sri Lanka will be a collaborative effort of three UN agencies. It provides an opportunity to harness the technical strengths and experience of FAO, UNDP and UNEP for the benefit of the country. This provides a rare opportunity to bring in the required synergies through this collaboration effort. The UN REDD programme will support Sri Lanka to get ready for the REDD+ mechanism which has the potential to provide a range of benefits for the development of Sri Lanka.
In the post-conflict accelerated development of the country, initiatives like the UN-REDD Programme can provide opportunities to ensure the sustainablitiy and resilience of the development, and also propose ways to share the benefits of development with multiple stakeholder groups.
By its design, the UN-REDD Programme requires the active participation of all stakeholder groups – Government, UN agencies, Civil Society Organizations, Private Sector and academia – to achieve success. We firmly believe that partnerships developed through this Programme will be beneficial for other initiatives as well.
Tools such as monitoring systems, carbon measurements, social and environmental safeguards, etc under the UN-REDD Programme will be helpful in other development areas. For example, the Programme aims to develop a detailed forest inventory and a mechanism to measure the amount of cabon the Sri Lanka forests can absorb, and bring in accountability, transparency and equity issues into the discussion of the country’s forest management.
At this moment, there are nine projects that UNDP supports the Ministry of Environment and Renewable Energy to implement. According to projections, there will an additional six projects to come in within the next 3-4 years through agencies such as UNDP and FAO. With this assistance, we trust that Sri Lanka will be able to become a global model in Environmental Management.
We are also happy to note Sri Lanka’s active participation in the global environmental dialogue related to Rio+20, post Kyoto and post 2015. I hope the added knowledge imparted through this project will enhance Sri Lanka’s knowledge base to contribute to these global platforms even more effectively.
I would like to congratulate the Forest Department officials who were instrumental in bringing the UN-REDD Programme to Sri Lanka by working side by side with the UN agencies. Without their commitment and engagement, this would have been impossible. I thank the representatives of other Government, UN and civil society organizations also for their participation in this meeting.
I also thank FAO, UNEP and UNDP colleagues who worked tirelessly to bring the UN-REDD Programme to this level.