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Sunday, 23 June 2013

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Helping Lanka tackle climate change

Environment and Renewable Energy Minister Susil Premajayantha inaugurated a program recently to put forests at the heart of Sri Lanka's strategy to tackle climate change. The program will help Sri Lanka to prepare for an international mechanism to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+).

It will be part of a future international comprehensive agreement to tackle global warming, which is currently being negotiated through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

REDD+ will be implemented on a voluntary basis; no country will be obliged to take on such a commitment if they see no benefit in doing so.

Under a REDD+ mechanism, industrialised countries are expected to provide positive incentives to Sri Lanka and other developing countries in exchange for verified information which proves that they have improved forest and land use management practices.

Sri Lanka will do this by measuring the emissions of Carbon Dioxide (CO2), a potent greenhouse gas, caused through clearance of forests or loss of forest quality.

The country will aim to reduce the levels of these emissions over time, and thus qualify for the positive incentives.

This is a significant challenge for Sri Lanka. As the country's economy continues to grow, more pressure is put on scarce forest resources.

To help them prepare, the Ministry of Environment and Renewable Energy has requested the assistance of the UN-REDD Programme, a collaborative initiative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Minister Premajayatha said the program will provide an opportunity to equip the country with knowledge and capacity required to implement a national level REDD program. While affirming Sri Lanka's commitment to combating human-induced climate change challenges, he said the inception of the UN-REDD national program is an important step forward in this regard.

UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Sri Lanka, Subinay Nandy said, "Initiatives such as the UN-REDD Program can provide opportunities to ensure the sustainability and resilience of the development, and also propose ways to share the benefits of development with multiple stakeholder groups."

He said through such initiatives, Sri Lanka could become a global model in environmental management.

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