“Australia keen to help agri sector adopt to climate change” | Sunday Observer

“Australia keen to help agri sector adopt to climate change”

12 September, 2021

Over 200 agribusinesses in Sri Lanka are now better informed on the business need for climate change adaptation following a successful webinar, ‘Experience from Industry Leaders,’ organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Australian Government-funded Market Development Facility (MDF).

The virtual event was the first in a planned series for local agribusiness titled,‘The Business Case for Climate Change Adaptation for Agribusinesses’. The series raises awareness on climate change implications for Sri Lanka’s agriculture sector and highlights the need for strong private sector focusCharitha Subasinghe,  on adaptation and mitigation to ensure resilience of businesses and investments.The kick-off webinar was attended by close to 200 agribusinesses of varying scale, reflecting growing business interest in how to effectively manage climate change alongside growing profits. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a report recently indicating a ‘code red’ alert for humanity. Impacts of climate change like high temperatures, changes in rainfall and extreme weather events like floods and landslides are increasingly felt across Sri Lanka at varying levels, impacting businesses and rural livelihoods.

Opening the event, Australian Deputy High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Ms. Amanda Jewell said, “Australia is keen to support Sri Lanka adapt to climate change,and to plan, prepare for and respond to climate change related impacts.”

“We hope this event provides a wonderful opportunity for business leaders in the agriculture sector to come together to discuss common objectives to expand climate change mitigation and adaptation to increase profits and advance business models. Particularly, as the world copes with challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, sustainability has become an essential cornerstone for building resilience of our businesses and investments,” she said.

The event featured industry veterans such as  CEO of Dilmah, Dilhan Fernando; President, Retail, John Keells Holdings, Charitha Subasinghe; Group Managing Director, CBL Group, Ms. Shea Wickramasingha;  Managing Director, Aitken Spence Plantation Managements, Dr. Rohan Fernando; and Principal Researcher and RGL – Disaster Risk Management and Climate Resilience, International Water Management Institute, Dr. Giriraj Amarnath. The webinar was moderated by  Editor of the Daily FT, Nisthar Cassim, CEO, Dilmah Tea Company, Dilhan Fernando said, “Globally, climate change is expected to reduce crop yields by 10 – 25 per cent by the end of the century.Therefore, we have a very serious issue relating to food security, export economy, and also social instability and could be a result of weakening rural economy.”

“Every business is a product of its environment. We see agribusinesses challenged in an unprecedented way.The solutions are there. We have the tools; we have the knowledge in our ancestors which is incredibly important today.

We need to learn to collaborate. We need to change from an attitude of confrontation to one of collaboration with nature.Because in collaboration we have incredible potential,” he said.