Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena highlighted how national climate impacts are already emerging during a recent meeting with GCF Executive Director Howard Bamsey designed to enhance his country’s interaction with the Fund.
“Drought has caused a 40 percent loss of agricultural food production in Sri Lanka,” said President Sirisena. “Rice, as a staple food for the country, has always been produced in the country. However, two years ago, we have started importing rice - already highlighting the impact of climate change to food security in the country.”
Discussions between President Sirisena and Mr Bamsey at the President’s House in the Sri Lankan city of Kandy on 6 April covered Sri Lanka’s development of a strategic country programme for GCF, which will enhance the country’s ability to develop and implement GCF projects.
In forming climate solutions, “it is important to leverage the private sector to be part of the actions,” said President Sirisena, who is also concurrently Sri Lanka’s Minister of Mahaweli Development and Environment.
Mr Bamsey noted a key purpose of GCF financing is to leverage private sector actions and investments, while welcoming climate priorities outlined by the President. He also highlighted the opportunities to strategically use GCF’s readiness support for a country like Sri Lanka, which is aiming to scale up its engagement with the Fund. Mr Bamsey added that in GCF, “the use of public money can be used to encourage and de-risk private investments.”
Climate change projections in Sri Lanka show that while the volume of seasonal rainfall will remain the same in the coming decade, changes to its intensity and distribution will cause more intense drought and floods in many areas.
These climate effects, coupled with human activities including the degradation of water quality, have enhanced food insecurity and economic impacts, and worsened the health of community members. Many watersheds in Sri Lanka are also home to rubber, tea, coconut and cinnamon plantations, owned privately – which, if left unattended - can lead to land degradation and water management problems.
Sri Lanka has one GCF-approved project , while GCF readiness, including support for National Adaptation Planning, is about to start.
Anura Dissanayake, Secretary of the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, noted the government is prioritising natural assets in the country’s central highlands and dry zone impacted by climate change, and decarbonising the transport sector.
“We are now actively consulting with all of Government and with our development partners to come up with a strategic country programme for the GCF, which we hope will be the basis for a good pipeline of projects in the years to come,” he said.
“We hope to share our experience on this in the upcoming GCF Asian Regional Structured Dialogue in Viet Nam,” added the ministerial secretary, referring to the second GCF information-sharing event in Asia which will be hosted by the Government of Viet Nam from 17 to 20 April in Danang.