By Avanthi Jayasuirya
A workshop organised by Southern Voices on Adaptation, SLYCAN Trust, Janathakshan (GTE) Ltd, and CANSA Sri Lanka, was held on the 18th of August at Hotel Renuka, for the purpose of discussing on how to facilitate transparent and inclusive implementation of Sri Lanka’s National Adaptation Plan.
As a civil society initiative for promoting effective and equitable adaptation, Southern Voices has developed Joint Principles of Adaptation (JPA) which promotes multi-stakeholder participation in the shaping of policies on climate change adaptation. The workshop therefore targeted a wide stakeholder audience including policy makers, CSOs, academicians, researchers and media in the hopes of reinforcing Sri Lanka’s NAP.
The regional facilitator for SV-Adapt in Asia, Ms. Vositha Wijenayake commenced the proceedings of the workshop with an introductory note which underlined the national focus on adaptation, a background on how the NAP was developed in Sri Lanka, and the role of SV-Adapt in it. She also highlighted the need for a transparent and inclusive means of implementing the NAP, as well as the need for a transparent and accountable adaptation finance mechanism.
Presenting on the NAP of Sri Lanka, Mr. Athula Senaratne, a research fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies and a consultant to the Ministry of Environment and Mahaveli Development for developing the NAP, provided an insight into the NAP process in terms of its purpose, structure and scope which carried out a series of expert consultation sessions with various stakeholders. This included the recognition of the critical areas of focus based on the vulnerabilities identified within the system, as well as the formulation of tentative budget plans. He further elaborated that Sri Lanka, having covered reasonable groundwork in terms of establishing national climate change policies and the NAP, is still in the preparatory stage and that the implementation arrangements focusing on institutional and coordination mechanisms needs to be the focus henceforth.
Commenting on the scope for the CSO organisations in the NAP process, Mr. Senaratne as well as several other government representatives from the Climate Change Secretariat and the Ministry of Primary Industries pointed to the lack of private sector involvement in devising the NAP of Sri Lanka. The private sector was identified as a crucial medium of extending the education and awareness on climate change and adaptation procedures to ground level individuals such as farmers and fisher folk. In a similar vein, academicians from the University of Colombo commented on the need to secure the grassroots through capacity building and to focus on a more inclusive representation of vulnerable groups by taking into account the capacity of women and the differently-abled people in disaster situations.
Several individuals speaking on the involvement of the media as a stakeholder in climate change actions pointed to the lack of awareness as a key issue. Accordingly, budgetary allocations for raising awareness, circulation of advertisements were suggested as immediate steps, as well as media engagement.
The second session of the workshop was based on the two main objectives outlined in the presentation by Mr. Navam Niles, a consultant from Janathakshan. The first objective emphasized on the need to create formal processes for citizens on most appropriate local adaptation plans options and priorities through a participatory process in the development and implementation of the NAP. Therein the need for the incorporation of feedback on the NAP and the implementation of it was emphasized in order to create a sense of communal ownership to the process of adaptation. The need to set up a transparent process for full and free access to information on finances in collaboration with the government and CSO organisations was identified as the second objective.
In line with these objectives the workshop proceeded to define the role of Southern Voices in the process of Sri Lanka’s NAP and to outline the tentative plan of action for the next year. The mobilisation of CSOs as well as capacity building and creating awareness were among the measures to be taken in the immediate plan of action. As a preliminary measure, discussions with the key decision-makers who will receive recommendations including information and data would be carried out. It was discussed that SV-adapt in partnership with CANSA Sri Lanka would be facilitating a consultation space for dialogue and activity between various stakeholder groups especially in capacity building and creating awareness in local communities.