Hon. Susil Premajayantha, Minister of Environment and Mr. Subinay Nandy, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Sri LAnka, with other officials during the launch of the Sri Lanka UN-REDD National Programme
On Friday, 7th June, Hon. Susil Premajayantha, Minister of Environment and Renewable Energy, officially inaugurated a programme to put forests at the heart of Sri Lanka’s strategy to tackle climate change. The programme will help Sri Lanka to prepare for an international mechanism to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+). REDD+ will be part of a future international comprehensive agreement to tackle global warming, which is currently being negotiated through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
REDD+ will be implemented on a voluntary basis; no country will be obliged to take on such a commitment if they see no benefit in doing so. Under a REDD+ mechanism, industrialized countries are expected to provide positive incentives to Sri Lanka and other developing countries in exchange for verified information which proves that they have improved forest and land use management practices. Sri Lanka will do this by measuring the emissions of Carbon Dioxide (CO2), a potent greenhouse gas, caused through clearance of forests or loss of forest quality. The country will aim to reduce the levels of these emissions over time, and thus qualify for the positive incentives.
This is a significant challenge for Sri Lanka. As the country’s economy continues to grow, ever more pressure is put on scarce forest resources. To help them prepare, the Ministry of Environment and Renewable Energy have requested the assistance of the UN-REDD Programme, a collaborative initiative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Inaugurating the UN-REDD Sri Lanka programme, Hon. Minister Susil Premajayatha, thanked UN-REDD for providing funding for the implementation of Sri Lanka’s REDD readiness proposal. He expressed that this programme will provide an opportunity to equip the country with knowledge and capacity required to implement a national level REDD programme. While affirming Sri Lanka’s commitment to combating human induced climate change challenges, he added, that the inception of the UN-REDD national programme is an important step forward in this regard.
Also speaking at the launch, Mr. Subinay Nandy, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Sri Lanka, expressed, “In the post-conflict accelerated development of the country, initiatives like the UN-REDD Programme can provide opportunities to ensure the sustainability and resilience of the development, and also propose ways to share the benefits of development with multiple stakeholder groups.” He further added that through such initiatives, Sri Lanka will be able to become a global model in Environmental Management.
The UN-REDD Programme works with over 40 countries around the world to help them get ready for REDD+. Among the services that the UN-REDD Programme will provide to Sri Lanka are: capacity development for national forest monitoring systems, multi-stakeholder consultation processes, and the development of a national REDD+ strategy that identifies policies and actions to reduce pressure on forests and ensure their sustainable management.