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The successful partnership between Sri Lanka and the European Union (EU) on sustainable consumption and production (SCP) continued with a Multistakeholder Consultation in Colombo organised by the EU’s SWITCH-Asia SCP Facility. The meeting focused on stakeholders, building awareness on SCP and determining priorities, especially within the context of Sri Lanka’s strategy to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The biggest success from the dialogue came from the unanimous agreement by participants to move forward with action-oriented activities on a limited number of strategic sectors, which will be key for the implementation of an inclusive national action plan for SCP policy.
With members of Government ministries, representatives from the European Union Delegation to Sri Lanka, experts from academia and civil society, the United Nations and private sector leaders taking part in the Multistakeholder Consultation, diverse voices shared perspectives on the country’s needs and opportunities for action. The dialogue built on recently concluded work from the SWITCH-Asia National Policy Support Component (NPSC), which, among other achievements in Sri Lanka, supported the drafting of an SCP Institutional Coordination Mechanism and the introduction of an eco-labelling platform as well as setting the tone for this new phase of work.
In addition to the action plan for SCP Policy, high on the agenda were resource efficiency, education, eco-labelling and Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP), as well as green accounting. Each of these themes have received attention, particularly from the capacity building perspective and necessary technical knowledge. Mr. Anura Dissanayake, Secretary of the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, noted that “the recently concluded NPSC under SWITCH Asia has made solid policy interventions and provided an opportunity for the Government to work with the industry more than ever before and engage with the private sector to forge strong partnerships. The momentum built by the NPSC needs to continue until its outcomes are fully integrated in a comprehensive and operational National SCP Action Plan, an essential requirement for the implementation of Sustainable Development in Sri Lanka. Working together, we will see change delivered.”
Sri Lanka’s cooperation with SWITCH-Asia also includes the Grants Programme, which currently operates METABUILD and has seen four additional projects previously implemented. “The EU and its Members States are actively engaged in promoting Sustainable Consumption and Production towards a Green Economy”, said H.E. Tung-Laï Margue, the European Union Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, adding that “it is in this context that a new SWITCH-Asia Call for Proposals was launched in January, representing a great opportunity for Asian countries, including Sri Lanka, to bring new ideas for impactful projects.”
Sri Lanka’s work on sustainable consumption and production is also aligned with global processes, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and in particular SDG 12 on responsible consumption and production. As Sri Lanka works to implement a stronger monitoring system for SDG 12 targets, it’s important to remember there are opportunities for progress at the local level as well. According to Arab Hoballah, Team Leader of the SCP Facility, “working at the ground level by providing assistance to small and medium enterprises is one of the most impactful opportunities, as it can induce and enable eco-innovation, such as adoption of clean technology and encourage pursuit of eco-certifications. In a country where SMEs are everywhere, this will make a big difference, mainly when bringing to light the numerous unseen champions with innovative and scalable initiatives.”
As these consultations continue over the next three years, SWITCH-Asia will continue to provide support to Sri Lanka, convening stakeholders, responding to government requests for policy support and through further research and development hone in on the priorities and strategies that will create the most impact for Sri Lanka.