Sri Lanka at COP17, Sounds Good

By Ranga Pallawal

Sri Lanka has sent an official delegation of 20 to the UNFCCC COP17/CMP7, the largest delegation ever in Climate Change negotiations. It is an indication that climate change has come up in the government’s priority list over the last few years. This is a warmly welcome by all environment lobby groups in Sri Lanka and South Asia. However, there is lot more to do by Sri Lanka on climate change negotiations.

With the prevailed war situation and terrorist attacks in the country, the climate change was never come into the policy priorities. After the ending of war Sri Lanka showed a steady economic growth with significant expansion in infrastructure construction, tourism and manufacturing sectors. Alongside this the climate risk in the economy has also increased. The war affected communities in the country lives in highly climate vulnerable areas in the country making it an urgent call to address climate change issues

Sri Lankan delegation comprised of representatives from 4 national ministries viz: Environment, Disaster Management, Power and Energy and Foreign Affairs. The Sri Lankan CANSA members believe this is a good mix of subjects to be focused in Climate Change negotiations as a country. The recent devastating floods in Sri Lanka during the year was taken as a serious issue by many civil society organizations to ask the government to pull their socks up to work especially on adaptation.

G77 and China is the only negotiating block where Sri Lanka is represented. The Sri Lankan delegation members said that they are all up to a legally binding second commitment period of KP. On LCA Sri Lanka believes there should be a legally binding agreement while respecting to the “Common but Differentiated Responsibility”. Even though, Sri Lanka did not make any interventions in the open informal meetings during the 1st week of COP17, they support the equity arguments brought up by India. Sri Lanka do not expect to access any immediate adaptation finance through the finance mechanisms but is in the process of developing a stance to access capacity building support. Loss and Damage is another area in which Sri Lanka focusing on and for the first time there is a specific negotiator in the delegation following loss and damage discussions. There are 4 negotiators in the Sri Lanka delegation for COP17 representing 2 Provincial Councils which are the sub national governance units below the National government. This is being looked as a good move by the government making the negotiation process open for sub national level to bring out local level issues on the table. This would be very helpful for a “bottom-up” approach for climate action planning for which CANSA is lobbying. One Provincial minister mentioned that he will moot a “Provincial Climate Action Plan” that will contribute to national plans.