Updated: May 10
Sri Lanka organized engaging discussions for youth in the lead-up to Stockholm+50 and compiled key points for the three Leadership Dialogue discussions
On 2 May 2022, the Ministry of Environment and United Nations Development Programme, Sri Lanka organized the Stockholm+50 National Consultation for youth. The outcomes from the three leadership dialogue discussions will be invaluable to the development of the Country Report and in informing the proceedings of the Stockholm+50 conference in June.
The three leadership dialogue themes in discussion were: reflecting on the urgent need for actions to achieve a healthy planet and prosperity of all; achieving a sustainable and inclusive recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic; and accelerating the implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development in the context of the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development.
The participants were broken out into three breakout sessions based on their preferences. During the discussion on the questions pertaining to the first leadership dialogue, participants pointed out potential good practices and pathways that could help restore and regenerate a positive relationship with nature, safeguarding the rights of people and nature and enabling progress towards a healthy planet and prosperity for all.
Suggestions included promoting home gardening (HG) to produce food and reduce food waste, providing technical and other support to initiate and maintain home gardening on a household level; further promoting the use of sustainable and renewable energy sources; and localizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by raising awareness and providing technical and financial support, research and development to address issues such as inhibition by ammonia in biogas generation.
Towards enhancing benefits to marginalized groups, suggestions were to create incentive schemes for vulnerable groups to use renewable energy reinstating biogas support schemes; provide marketplaces to sell excess homegrown produce; and develop methods for safe disposal of solar cells and batteries.
To safeguard the rights of people and nature, recommendations were to promote home gardening to reduce land degradation; propose education reforms to encourage practical learning to change attitudes towards nature; and enforce rules and regulation to protect rights.
Some of the outcomes from the second leadership dialogue discussion on enabling an inclusive and sustainable recovery from COVID-19 included improving online platforms for education, banking, e-commerce; promoting personal hygiene practices; creating awareness on the use of online platforms; promoting sustainable consumption and minimizing waste; developing curricular which can be offered online; and improving ICT infrastructure.
On changing pre-existing practices, participants suggested that while individual transportation methods were promoted during the pandemic for safety reasons, it should be discouraged to reduce one’s carbon footprint; and non-biodegradable item usage should also be limited or disposed of appropriately.
Towards creating better performing industries, participants recommended to enhance the use of renewable energy, promote a decent and safe work environment through imposing social safeguards; and prioritize local and rural/cottage industries. The youth felt that renewable energy, waste treatment, precision agriculture were potential areas for decent green jobs and that soft skills, IT and leadership were important skills that will need to be honed further in the future.
On accelerating implementation of the environmental dimensions of sustainable development, the youth reflected on the biggest challenges faced by Sri Lanka while implementing commitments to the 2030 Agenda and other Multilateral Environmental Agreements, while exploring ways to create an enabling environment for delivery on the ground.
They noted that impeding implementation and achievement of environmental commitments was the lack of localization of SDGs, targets, indicators, baselines (particularly related to the environment), availability and sharing of relevant data was limited; a lack of awareness and education (from early childhood, school, university, vocational, etc.) on environmental dimensions; in-cohesive and conflicting plans in renewable energy development; and the lack of adoption of technologies for environment monitoring and pollution control.
It was thereby suggested that good governance must be mainstreamed at the national and local government levels while enforcing the mandates given to institutions; stakeholders and communities should be mobilized to actively participate; citizen science should be fostered; and non-formal and informal education methods should be introduced, emphasizing “learning to do” and “learning to be”.
Participants further suggested environment regulations (Eg: EIA, EPL, IIE) should be enforced establishing sustainability criterion and monitoring environmental impacts of projects in the long-term; awareness should be created on national green reporting, certification, accreditation schemes and green labeling which should be mandated by government; mechanisms to promote rational land use should be developed and; and guidelines around protected areas should be enforced. The youth also mentioned that the UN and other agencies could provide technical support, finance, expertise, best practices and coordination to enable implementation.
Overall, the participants felt it was important to develop a platform to share best practices and technology from other countries to move towards sustainable development and ensure ideas are translated into concrete actions. Moreover, the youth learned the importance of youth engagement at Stockholm+50 and the role of the Stockholm+50 Youth Task Force.
To watch the full Stockholm+50 National Consultation video, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6WO18BRNRc
For more information and outcomes of the Youth Consultation in Sri Lanka, please visit: https://www.sparkblue.org/content/youth-consultation-outcomes