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Promoting Sustainable Consumption and Production in Sri Lanka through Eco Innovation

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In recent decades, there has been a growing recognition among manufacturing business leaders on sustainability challenge such as climate change, worker welfare and resource constrains which have a significant impact on businesses.

Sri Lanka being a small island nation falls into the United Nations Framework for Climate Change (UNFCC) and IPCC’s category of “vulnerable states”, which cannot be ruled out from serious threats of climate change. From Sri Lanka’s context, we could observe that apart from the deaths and disabilities caused by extreme weather events, secondary or indirect health hazards are reported more frequently than before. Problems in accessing safe drinking water, outbreaks of vector and water-borne diseases (dengue, diarrhoea), increased rate of respiratory disorders (due to dust and cold waves), more communicable diseases (skin diseases, typhoid fever), and malnutrition (due to inaccessibility for food) are inevitable. Psychological problems due to the loss of dwellings, habitat and income and loss of family members could also arise. Sanitation issues and other social problems are unavoidable along with ravaged floods and in camps of displaced people due to extreme weather events. Outbreak of Dengue, spreading of kidney diseases and food security can be regarded as some of the recent examples of negative health outcomes of climate change.

According to World bank report released in 2013 It was expected that the Southernmost tip of India and Sri Lanka will be most affected by rising temperature. In these areas, 20 to 30 percent of summer months are expected to experience unprecedented heat. With South Asia close to the equator, the sub-continent would see much higher rises in sea levels than higher latitudes, with the Maldives confronting the biggest increases of between 100-115 centimetres. The consequences on livelihoods and health could be disastrous warns this scientific report. Disturbances to the monsoon system and rising peak temperatures put water and food resources at severe risk.  An extreme wet monsoon, which currently has a chance of occurring only once for 100 years, is projected to occur every 10 years by the end of the century.

Food scarcity due to climate change and extreme weather events would cause nutritional problems. The worst flooding in 100 years came just two months before fields were to be harvested for the Maha season in the Eastern Province Sri Lanka. More than 607,000ha was to be cultivated during this time, with over one-fifth of that in the four districts hit by the floods. Widespread flooding drove hundreds of thousands from their homes, left 43 people dead, and damaged or destroyed close to 30,000 homes. In total, the flooding affected more than 1 million people.


A recent study done in Sri Lanka has revealed global warming as the cause of Rajarata kidney diseases.  There are 18 types of poisonous algae by the name ‘Bluegreen Algae’ as responsible for spreading the disease. The team carried out an investigation to specifically determine the reason for contracting the disease. It revealed drinking water contaminated with a poison emitted by Bluegreen Algae in the irrigation system   as the cause of the kidney diseases. According to leading researcher Dr. Dissanayake the main reason for the spread of these algae was the soaring temperature in the environment. In 1960, the average temperature in Anuradhapura was 31.5 degrees Celsius; this had increased to 32.5 degrees in 2001.

Sri Lanka has been benefiting from robust economic growth in recent years. Calculated growth of GDP for the country was 6.3% in 2015. Agriculture one of the major economic activity in Sri Lanka, is one of the key environmental concerns: having a tremendous impact on everything from climate change to soil deterioration. It is believed that increases in non-infectious diseases in Sri Lanka such as cancer and chronic kidney diseases due to certain agricultural practices and agrochemicals leaching into streams and shallow wells, contaminates drinking water resources.

Agri-food industry in Sri Lanka is one of the emerging and lucrative industries in terms of production, consumption, export and growth prospects. Consumers are. However facing some issues with the sector such as food safety, food quality and lack of information on origin. Food safety is a crosscutting issue that should be addressed by bringing together collaborative efforts of agencies concerned.

Since its inception in 2002 National Cleaner Production Center undertook different international projects to accelerate the shift towards achieving sustainable development in the country. Accordingly in 2014, United Nations (UN) Environment selected NCPC to pilot the concept of Eco Innovation in Agri-food sector in Sri Lanka, Aiming to embed sustainability at strategy level and change the business models. NCPC Identified key areas in various companies to enhance their economic, environmental and social performance. As a result six SMEs were selected and applied the concept. This Two year project is now getting successfully completed.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) officially known as “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” is one of the national priorities in Sri Lanka. Many stakeholders are taking different initiatives to achieve 17 SDGs in Sri Lanka. National Cleaner Production Centre (NCPC) has focused to achieve SDG 12: Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) through diverse activities.

With the completion of “Project on Eco Innovation, Strengthening SCP Practices in Sri Lanka by Empowering SMEs in Agri-food Sector” NCPC will embark on a project supported by 10 Year Framework of Programmes (10YFP) of UN Environment on “Consumer Information, Promoting SCP in Sri Lanka through Facilitating Accessibility to Information”. This launch took place at Waters Edge recently to shape up the Sustainable Consumption in the country. Speaking at the event Mr. Wasantha Dassanayake additional secretary to Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment stated that since its inception in 2002 the Ministry has supported the process and Ministry will support this 10 year framework in future to implement this mechanism. Speaking at the event Mr.Ian Fenn stated that Eco Innovation tools been developed with policy guidelines. He also stated that this is a good opportunity for consumers to promote and discuss about the benefits of sustainable choices, opportunities available. The 10 year framework will help out the business and retailers to enhance a communication drive for a behavioral change, Drive change in Business and government and to improve quality of consumer information in its products. This will help to promote sustainable goods and quality information along supply chains. Also to use information tool to improve, processes, goods and services for business. It is also a new avenue for many industries which to enable to save costs through reduced resources usage such as raw material, energy and water resulting revenue growth with new market opportunities.






Last Updated on Friday, 28 April 2017 15:54  
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