Steps taken to protect marine ecosystems – FM
Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, said like other archipelagic and island countries, Sri Lanka is faced with climate-induced disasters, biodiversity depletion, overexploitation, pollution, oil and chemical spillage, ocean acidification and sea level rise.
Making the country statement at the third Ministerial Meeting of the Archipelagic and Island States (AIS) Forum on 25 November, he added that the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic has further escalated the impact of these calamities multifold.
Sri Lanka is highly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change and is ranked sixth in the Climate Risk Index of 2020.
“Appropriate steps are being taken to address these issues and the protection of marine ecosystems and threatened species. Environment is recognised as one of the key priority areas in achieving Sustainable Development Goals. As such, Sri Lanka’s Nationally Determined Contributions, submitted in 2016, are being updated with more ambitious targets to arrive at a net zero carbon country, without compromising our national development requirements.
Being an active Member of the Action Group on Mangrove Ecosystems and Livelihoods under the Commonwealth Blue Charter, Sri Lanka has taken considerable efforts to conserve the ecosystem, including the launch of the National Policy on the Conservation and Sustainable Utilisation of Mangrove Ecosystems in September 2020.
In addition, Sri Lanka has identified some important adaptation technologies, including restoring coral reefs and declaring those as protected areas, the replanting of sea grasses and sand dune rehabilitation as soft defence mechanisms, the construction of dikes, and floating mariculture for seaweeds and fish.
Furthermore, to reduce the impact of microplastic pollution, which also has contributed to the rapidly declining fish stocks, a high priority is therefore banning the use of single-use plastics. Sri Lanka is moving forward with the Colombo Declaration on Sustainable Nitrogen Management, with an ambition to halve Nitrogen waste and also to mitigate the harmful effects of algal bloom, ocean dead zones and eutrophication.
Sri Lanka welcomes the Manado Joint Declaration and looks forward to future discussions of a road map to tackle ocean sustainability challenges, through the implementation of policy and community-level approaches, regionally and internationally,” he said.