ECONOMYNEXT – Safeguarding Sri Lanka’s water resources is a top priority for the government, Udaya Senevirathne, Secretary to the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, said.
The island has over 30,000 small lakes, 130 big lakes, and 103 rivers and water sources, he told a news conference.
“Safeguarding and managing our water resources remain a priority for the president, who oversee this portfolio,” Senevirathne told a news conference held to announce an international water conference hosted by the island.
The 8th GEF Biennial International Waters Conference (IWC) will be held in Sri Lanka from 9 to 13 May 2016 with the participation of 250 foreign delegates from over 80 countries, including government ministers from Seychelles, the Maldives and Angola.
“The conference will provide an opportunity to learn about good water management practices, coastal zone management, protected areas and alternative livelihoods in Sri Lanka,” Senevirathne said.
Joern Soerensen, Country Director of the United Nations Development Programme, said the conference will discuss threats to clean water resources and how to overcome them.
IWC is organized under the theme ‘’Scaling Up Investments from Source to Sea’, in the context of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“It will especially look at two SDGs — to ensure access to water and sanitation for all, and conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources,” Soerensen said.
The forum will also look at scaling up investments and strengthening governance processes in managing water resources.
IWC8 is jointly organized by the Global Environment Facility Secretariat (GEF) of the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Participants also include representatives of GEF beneficiary countries, non-governmental organizations, transboundary waters management institutions, United Nations agencies, GEF International Waters project managers and staff, and the international private sector.
The GEF is the largest financier of cooperation in shared waters systems, said Christian Severin, Senior Environmental Specialist of GEF.
It has a specific focus on two SDGs covering the sustainable management of shared aquifers, lakes, rivers, large marine ecosystems and open oceans.