Economy 2024 Featured

Building Climate Resilience and Adaptation: Insights from the Sri Lanka Climate Summit

Climate change poses significant risks to communities, ecosystems, and economies worldwide. Addressing these challenges requires robust adaptation and resilience strategies. The Sri Lanka Climate Summit, particularly the session on Climate Adaptation and Resilience, provided valuable insights into these issues. The session brought together experts who shared their knowledge and experiences, contributing to a deeper understanding of how we can build a resilient future. For more information, visit the Sri Lanka Climate Summit website (link: https://slcs.chamber.lk/).

Understanding Climate Resilience

Climate adaptation and resilience refer to the processes by which communities, businesses, and ecosystems adjust to climate change, aiming to mitigate potential damages and capitalize on emerging opportunities. As Dr. Lalanath de Silva emphasized, resilience is the ability to survive and thrive amid various risks, uncertainties, and threats posed by climate change​​. This concept is vital for Sri Lanka, a nation that has historically demonstrated resilience through numerous adversities, including natural disasters, economic crises, and conflicts. Dr. de Silva highlighted that building climate resilience should start at the national level but must be deeply rooted in local actions. He stressed the significance of community participation in risk mapping, drafting regulations, and implementing preventive measures. For instance, the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) Implementation Plan for 2021-2030 integrates local community inputs to enhance coastal vulnerability assessments and adaptive actions​​. This approach ensures that adaptation strategies are not only nationally relevant but also locally actionable, fostering a robust, community-driven response to climate risks.

Integrating Climate Resilience into Business Policy

Transitioning from a general understanding of climate resilience, it is essential to explore its integration into business policies. Dr. Ravi Fernando’s presentation on integrating climate resilience into business policy highlighted the urgent need for businesses to acknowledge the climate emergency and take proactive steps. He argued that businesses contribute significantly to global warming through their reliance on fossil fuels and that they have a crucial role to play in mitigating climate change​​. Dr. Fernando illustrated the significant impact of fossil fuels, noting the heavy reliance of energy and electricity is supplied by fossil fuels, and the logistics and supply chain sectors are entirely powered by them. He stressed the importance of aligning business policies with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDGs 6, 7, and 15, which focus on clean water, affordable and clean energy, and life on land, respectively. Dr. Fernando outlined several key areas where businesses can influence policy, including reducing their water and carbon footprints, adopting sustainable sourcing and manufacturing practices, and embedding climate risk monitoring into their agendas. He stressed that businesses should see themselves as part of the solution, not just part of the problem, and that sustainable practices can also provide economic benefits​​.

Grassroots Efforts in Building Resilience

Complementing the discussion on business policy, grassroots efforts play a pivotal role in climate resilience. Vinod Malwatte shared grassroots case studies on building resilience and engaging local communities. His presentation focused on the restoration of national parks in Sri Lanka by removing invasive alien species, which had overrun critical habitats. This effort not only restored the natural ecosystems but also provided significant benefits to local communities who rely on these environments for their livelihoods​​. Mr. Malwatte’s work demonstrates the importance of community involvement in resilience-building efforts. By empowering local communities to take part in these projects, resilience can be built more effectively and sustainably. Lessons learned from these initiatives can be replicated and upscaled to enhance resilience across other regions.

Customized Crop Advisories for Farmers

    Shifting focus to agricultural resilience, customized crop advisories are proving beneficial. Amal Gunarathne presented a compelling case study on how customized crop advisories can significantly enhance farmer resilience. The CBL Grain Supply Chain initiative provides tailored agrometeorological advisories to farmers, helping them make informed decisions to reduce crop losses and improve grain quality. This approach has led to better irrigation management, pest control, and cultivation planning, ultimately boosting the resilience of the agricultural sector against climate variability​​. The initiative has had a tangible impact on the farmer base, which consists of over 21,000 registered farmers. By providing bi-weekly customized advisories, CBL has increased the use of agrometeorological information among farmers, leading to a reduction in crop losses and an increase in grain quality and yields. For example, the initiative has improved water use efficiency and pest management, which are critical for maintaining crop health and productivity in the face of changing climate conditions​​.

    The Role of National Adaptation Plans

    Examining broader governmental strategies, National Adaptation Plans are vital.. Dr. Sonali Senaratna Sellamuttu discussed the evolution of the National Adaptation Planning (NAP) process in Sri Lanka. NAPs are critical instruments that help governments develop and implement their climate adaptation strategies. Dr. Sellamuttu emphasized the importance of integrating adaptation planning vertically and horizontally, involving all levels of government and sectors of society​​. She also highlighted the role of the private sector in adaptation efforts. Private sector involvement is crucial for financing and implementing adaptation measures, as businesses can play a significant role in enhancing national resilience through investments and innovative solutions.

    Conclusion

    In conclusion, the insights shared at the Sri Lanka Climate Summit underscore the multifaceted nature of climate adaptation and resilience. Building a climate-resilient future requires a collaborative effort that spans national policies, local community actions, and private sector engagement. By leveraging these diverse strategies and fostering a culture of resilience, Sri Lanka can effectively navigate the challenges posed by climate change and emerge stronger and more adaptive.

    By Sanjaya Ariyawansa
    Senior Economist 
    The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce

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