Sri Lanka receives a UN award for restoring mangroves

Sri Lanka’s remarkable efforts in reconstructing and revitalizing its mangrove ecosystems have earned it recognition as a UN World Restoration Flagship for 2024.

At the UN Environment Assembly on Tuesday, February 27, in Nairobi, Kenya, Anil Jasinghe, the CEO of Sri Lanka’s Climate Change Office, and Professor Sevvandi Jayakody, a senior lecturer at Wayamba University, accepted the prize.

High Commissioner Veluppillai Kananathan and Ruwan Wijewardena, a top presidential advisor on climate change, joined them.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, will host the sixth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6) from February 26 to March 1, 2024.

The Open-ended Committee of Permanent Representatives met prior to UNEA-6, from February 19–23, 2024, and contributed to the Assembly’s foundation.

This acknowledgement highlights Sri Lanka’s leadership in tackling environmental issues and encourages other nations to give ecosystem restoration initiatives top priority. The esteemed award highlights Sri Lanka’s skillful implementation of the UN’s Principles for Ecosystem Restoration, highlighting globally significant best practices that may open the door for future global triumphs.

The catastrophic aftermath of the 2004 tsunami made clear how important mangroves are in protecting coastlines. Even with this knowledge, the ongoing destruction of mangroves and the lack of a formal conservation strategy hampered progress.

Since 2015, Sri Lanka has been working to strengthen its coastal ecosystems, and as a consequence, complete coalitions for efficient action and conservation have been formed through the creation of expert panels, task forces, laws, action plans, and restoration standards.

A novel, scientifically based method that puts the restoration of ecosystem services first guides Sri Lanka’s mangrove restoration strategy. The goal is to improve connections and restore equilibrium throughout the entire ecosystem.

A forward-thinking restoration paradigm has emerged as a result of young people’s involvement as researchers and potential leaders in the field of restoration as well as cooperation between various stakeholder groups, including the government, university, business sector, non-governmental organizations, and the community.

The UN Flagship Restoration Award recognizes Sri Lanka’s innovative approaches to restoring these key ecosystems, which are essential to the island’s economy and support countless lives. This recognition comes at a timely moment.