Understanding Priorities and Concerns for COP21

By Senashia Ekanayake

Following the Paris Agreement in December 2015 at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties organised by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Sri Lanka along with many other developing countries have renewed responsibilities towards combatting climate change and tackling environmental issues complementing the country’s development agenda.


Speaking on climate change mitigation in the country formed CANSA Board Member Asoka Abeygunewadena noted on the world having already reached the 1 degree Celsius mark and the intended target requiring a reduction of 12 giga tonnes of COfrom the existing 14.

“The situation in Sri Lanka is such that in the future 900 mega watts of coal power plants are to be set adding another 3300 mega watt of coal power. In comparison to 1990, COhas increased by 600%. The tug o war between the developed and developing countries are such that developing countries claim to be poor and hence unable to tackle the issues of climate change whereas the developed world emits 50% more CO2 though it construes only 20% of the world population,” said Abeygunewardena.

He went on the say that policies of institutions need to be in line with the government policy including the long term power generation of the Ceylon Electricity Board that is currently not in line with the government policy.

The mitigation expert stated that President Maithripala Sirisena’s manifesto illustrates basic energy requirements and renewable resources while the CEB states that the increase in demand needs to be addressed by adding more mega watts of coal. President Maithripala has also elaborated on the use of Dendro power stations and systems and meeting the increase in demand using renewable technology.


“The Ministry of Environment is in the process of formulating a national action plan and the final draft is to be submitted to the COP21,” said Nilmini Ranasinghe from the Climate Change Secretariat.

Speaking on the status of the country’s National Adaptation Plans that began taking shape mid 2014 spearheaded by the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change Secretariat and a select panel comprising non-governmental sector representatives and thematic area experts was Climate Change Adaptation Expert Committee Buddhi Marambe.

“Sri Lanka is on the verge of completing their National Adaptation Plans, which is inclusive of 10 sectors and has been compiled with the contribution of 240 individuals. Adaptation is one of the key environmental priorities for Sri Lanka and sustainable development should and will not be compromised at any cost,” said Prof. Marambe.

The National Adaptation Plans, established under the Cancun Adaptation Framework enables Parties to formulate and implement adaptation plans as a means of identifying medium and long-term adaptation needs and development programmes.

The Southern Voices Programme on Adaptation facilitated by CARE Denmark and implemented by Climate Action Network South Asia has put together 7 principles termed the Joint Principles for Adaptation (JPA) that help gauge the strength of a country’s National Adaptation Plan. The JPAs are being implemented in 12 countries including Sri Lanka, Nepal, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malawi, Nicaragua and Bolivia. They are designed to guide and provide information on stakeholder involvement, bureaucratic policies, creating balance between physical infrastructures and building of skills and devising plans that are sensitive and flexible to new scientific information.

Creating Synergies between Sustainable Development and Climate Change

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) following the completion of the 15-year long Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) implemented in 2000.

“The SDGs and climate change agendas show synergy and unlike the MDGs, it is a two-year consultative process merged with the Rio outcome. While MDGs concentrated mostly on socio-economic perspectives, the first global initiative of the SDGs is to merge concepts universally applied with Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR),” said Centre for Poverty Analysis Senior Professional Karin Fernando.

She went on to say on how there will be expected gaps and difficulties in finding cohesion with national development priorities upon the implementation of SDGs that also require additional financing capacities.

A few of the pointers Fernando described as being helpful in the implementation of the SDGs include the integration of climate change and sustainable development into the national development plan; institutional linkages and synergistic agents; financing and pooling of resources; data for monitoring and the success reliant on governance, peace and mutually beneficial partnerships. She also introduced the five Ps required to end poverty: people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership.


Speaking on biodiversity and the protection of ecosystems CANSA Board Member and Centre for Applied Biodiversity Research and Education Secretary Sarath Ekanayake provided a few pointers for adaptation in biodiversity including: the identification of most vulnerable biodiversity assets and adaptation thrust areas; planning for short and long term changes; meaningful allocation of resources and an act to be passed on ecosystem basis.

Post-COP21 Sri Lanka needs to strengthen its game to finalise its adaptation plans and make adequate measures towards implementing and fulfilling contributions to the INDC. As steps towards achieving plans laid out, the Ministry of Environment has organised a meeting on January 06 with the President’s involvement to plan climate actions for the country.

About the Author:
Senashia Ekanayake is a writer, an advocate of Arts, Education and climate change activist. She read for her degree in English, dabbled in the corporate world and is now involved