Haritha Lanka program:
National Green Reporting system, a catalyst for cleaner environment
Finding high levels of heavy metals, fertilizer residues, toxic
waste, sewage and manymore industrial waste in the water we drink and
bathe, in the air we breathe and in the soil we walk on and grow our
food, is sounding the final alarm of a perilous future. The time has
come to put a halt to it. Understanding this fact, the Ministry of
Environment is taking rapid action to stop this aggravated pollution
considering the fast pace of the development activities taking place and
the rapid boon in the newly emerging economy in the post war era.
National Green Reporting program is a result of these initiatives by
the Ministry under directions of Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa. “We
have tried at numerous levels to bring policies and strategies to create
a healthy safe environment for the people. With more industries coming
up today we definitely need solid public-private partnership to meet the
goal,” said Additional Secretary (Environment and policy) of the
Environment Ministry Padmini Batuwitage in an interview with the Sunday
Observer . Shedding the earlier concept of pollute first and remedy
second we need to develop world class industries to succeed in the
global market, she said.
Following are the excerpts of the interview:
Q: The Environment Ministry launched the ‘National Green
Reporting System’ in order to mitigate environment problems cropping up
due to the rapid growth of industries and development works. What is the
structure of the new concept? Could you explain this as it is a new
concept to Sri Lanka?
A: This is a new concept to Sri Lanka but actually similar
projects are implemented in many other countries specially in the
developed world. The Sri Lankan concept is solely a public-private
partnership. With the lessons learnt from previous experiences of nearly
two decades we strongly wanted to narrow the gap between the
policy-makers and implementors and make it more of a collaborative
This National Green Reporting system is a result of years of
studying, research thus it caters a wider perspective. The objective is
to recognise, appreciate and reward the manufacturing and service
sectors based on their sustainability performance, which would also
facilitate them to compete with the international and local markets
efficiently and effectively. The goal is to enhance the capacity of the
country to address the challenges of economic development with a
sustainable development framework.
Q: Why a new policy? Sri Lanka has been operating under many
number of policies and protocols for the past few years.
A: Yes we agree we had many initiatives to address environment
problems. Luckily we were on par with world when the environment
conservation became a global trend against the adverse effects of
environment pollution the world felt as a result of industrial
revolution. In 1972 the Stockholm Conference (United Nations Conference
on the Human Environment) was the first major UN conference that
addressed world environment issues - basically environment and
development. In 1990 the Ministry of Environment was established. The
Earth Summit held at Rio de Janeiro in 1992 could be considered the
international event that created a major global impact on environment
conservation for the second time. It was the United Nations Conference
on Environment and Development. By this time the world was aware of the
adverse impacts of environment pollution as a result of disastrous
In 1993 the Central Environment Authority with the assistance of the
UNDP started an Industrial Pollution Reduction Program.
This proves Sri Lanka has been taking appropriate policy decisions on
par with the rest of the world to mitigate adverse effects of industries
on environment. Projects were implemented to control environment
pollution. Under such initiatives government institutes such as NERD
found environment-friendly strategies for industries including bio-gas
production etc. Yet they were not sufficient to meet the demand. In 2005
Sri Lanka launched National Policy and Strategy for Cleaner Production.
Yet its implementation was poor. Until recently the industries focused
on ‘pollute first - remedy second’ concept. The world does not accept
that concept now. Considering trade agreements the developed countries,
where we have to sell goods, are considering environment concerns of
companies, labour laws etc.
This is the new trend in the industrial sector. To meet this demand
we need more skilled human resources to produce clean and quality
products. The National Cleaner Production Centre of Sri Lanka works
excellently yet its capacity is not sufficient to meet the demand.
The Central Bank report 2006 indicates that 50% of the Provincial
Shares and GDP and per capita income is concentrated in the Western
Province. Three provinces are below 5%. As a country we need to rapidly
answer the unequal distribution of economic benefits within the country.
As a remedy the Government has launched the rural economy development
programs. These are industries and it is essential to expand the green
concept in the same phase to this rural industrial sector.
Q: Cannot we see any positive development as a result of the
A: There are definitely. One of the significant improvement
was from the Health sector. Implementing the 2005 National Policy and
Strategy for Cleaner Production the Sri Lankan health sector initiated
many steps to train medical staff on environmental and occupational
health. Cleaner production was included in the curriculum of the
postgraduate (M.Sc) course on community medicine.
Cleaner production was included in the Environmental health policy.
They drafted a policy for healthcare waste management. And manymore
steps are either already implemented or in drafts. This is one of the
Q: What sort of difference could this new policy create?
A: If we take lessons from the world history we see that with
the industrial revolution countries in the Northern Hemisphere gained a
rapid development yet this was either ignoring or ill considering the
environmental conservation factors.
Thus their environment became heavily polluted. Yet even by then we,
Sri Lankans, had environment friendly sustainable development practices.
In order to create a hazard-free environment to live the concept of
environment conservation culminated from the Western world.
In today’s world three pillars are considered in development
activities - i.e. Environment, Economy and Social dimensions. It has
become necessary of doing business transforming end-of-pipe line
solutions to pollution prevention and reduction and minimisation of
resource degradation. By the time environment conservation became a key
concern globally many Western countries had already reached the
developed stage, whereas countries like Sri Lanka had to adhere to these
concepts while progressing in development activities competing with the
world market. Following the industrial revolution the focus of the
business world was solely on the quality of products.
This is what stated in ISO 9000. Yet with time as the concern for
environment conservation grew the criteria determining the quality of
the product expanded. ISO 14000 which was established later explains
this. So in order to keep up with the world trend we cannot be
considering profits alone. The industrial sector need to be upgraded to
meet this demand and that is what ‘Green Reporting System’ would create.
Q: On what basis was this launched? What was the strategy
A: In 2009 the Ministry adhering to the Mahinda Chinthana
development strategy launched the National Action Plan for Haritha Lanka
Program. It was launched in ten thrust areas. Clean Air - every where,
Saving the fauna, flora and Eco systems, Meeting the Challenges of
Climate change, Wise use of the coastal belt and the sea around,
Responsible use of Land Resources, Doing Away with the dumps, Water for
all and always, Green cities for health and prosperity, Greening the
industries, Knowledge for Right Choices were those ten thrust areas.
The program includes short, medium and long term targets spanning the
period 2009 - 2016 and performance indicators. The ‘Green Reporting
System’ was initiated in line with the requirement set out under the
thrust area number 9. The outcome is a team effort of many stake
holders. The initial draft guidelines were developed with the technical
assistance of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce through SWITCH-Asia program
funded by the European Union. The final guidelines were prepared
following reviews by key Government stake-holders including the
Ministries of Industry and Commerce, Finance and Planning, the Central
Environment Authority, the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka, Ceylon
Chamber of Commerce, Industrial Technology Institute.
Q: How do you plan to implement?
A: The reporting system is dynamic. The Governing Council and
the National Steering Committee of the reporting system will monitor the
progress regularly and effectively guide the industry and service sector
to improve the performance. Identifying and addressing both policy and
institutional failures will be the key to meet the objective, goals and
Universities are excellent resources to address this demand.
Universities can spread the green concept at the regional level. We need
to create responsible agents to implement the green concept. It is cheap
to pollute, thus a demand needs to be created to make the costly
environment friendly systems to be effective.
This was the concept behind green reporting. We need to create a
structure that includes entities creating Public policies and
environment regulations, Responsive agents to sensitise, promote the
public on going green, and agents to develop, adapt/adopt and transfer
green technologies and provision and technological services. We need
skilled persons in the category of Green Human resource developers and
responsive funding agents as well.
This all would result effects on producer making sustainable
production of products and services. Accordingly the larger companies
will support their subordinating Small and Medium Scale Enterprises in
This would raise the quality levels of the SMEs as well. The large
industries will be recognised and prioritised at every event under the
Ministry of Environment for their contribution.
This is to meet the demand of the present industrial world. This also
creates demands in different principals in the higher education sector.
We need to use a maximum possible number of youth who pass the Advanced
Level examination while increasing the number of study opportunities
that has a market locally as well as internationally. This is one of the
demands green reporting create in the community.