Sri Lanka became a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1992 and ratified the Convention in 1994. The National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan (NBSAP) prepared in 2016 – the main tool through which the commitments made to the CBD are implemented, is in line with emerging national and global priorities and has an operational period of seven years from 2016-2022.
It provides the strategic approach needed to ensure that Sri Lanka’s rich biodiversity is conserved and used in a sustainable manner. It includes national targets that are synergistic with global targets such as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The NBSAP is also consistent with other national and sub-national policy frameworks and serves as a guiding policy framework for provincial authorities of Sri Lanka, as well as civil society groups and private sector organizations, in approaches to biodiversity conservation and ecosystems management.
In addition to the many government sector institutions that are involved in implementing the NBSAP, the private sector also carries out a significant role in the achievement of national targets mentioned therein. However, since the work undertaken by the private sector in biodiversity conservation, has gone hitherto unrecognized and unverified, in order to successfully implement the current NBSAP, it is critically important to urgently address barriers, such as the lack of data and knowledge circulation. Based on a study undertaken by Biodiversity Sri Lanka (BSL), wherein it was revealed that its members have been engaged in over 290 initiatives that can be linked to the NBSAP targets within the period 2010-2018, BSL began to document linkages and identify gaps in the implementation of the NBSAP. While the primary objective of this work was to support enhanced knowledge for better informed decisions, through same, BSL is also able to direct its members and the larger private sector, to areas where gaps exist in terms of action required. In doing so, BSL developed an online repository of conservation-related data and information in partnership with its Patron Member – Virtusa Ltd. – who provided the technical expertise in building the portal, keeping in mnd the many uses it could be adapted for, on completion. Support from the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) helped pilot test this portal and check for user-friendliness. This online repository – Life Commitment (www.life commitment.lk) – will be launched at a ceremony following BSL’s 5th Annual General Meeting scheduled for 5 p.m. on Thursday, 17 September. www.lifecommitment.lk is expected to benefit not only the Sri Lankan private sector but also the GoSL, academics and other interested parties working with reference to achieving national biodiversity targets.
Biodiversity Sri Lanka: Biodiversity Sri Lanka (BSL), initiated by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Dilmah Conservation back in August 2012, is a Not-for Profit Company Limited by Guarantee registered under the Companies Act No. 07 of 2007, with a current membership of 85 Sri Lankan corporate sector entities. It is a national platform entirely owned and driven by the private sector, established to promote strong engagement of the corporate sector in biodiversity and environmental conservation in Sri Lanka.
BSL actively promotes strong leadership of the private sector in the areas of biodiversity and environmental conservation, through the provision of technical support, sharing of information, knowledge and experience, and the promotion of best practices through active learning and understanding mechanisms. BSL also initiates and facilitates dialogue between State and civil society partners and the private sector, advocating biodiversity-friendly policies and positive instruments that campaign for the conservation of Sri Lanka’s fragile environment. BSL’s overall mandate is to help raise awareness on biodiversity and sustainability issues amongst the Sri Lankan business community. Working to assist companies in understanding biodiversity and related issues, as well as to mainstream it into their core businesses, BSL has the ultimate aim of ensuring that a majority of Sri Lankan companies will eventually be on a sustainable ecological footing with vastly reduced negative impacts on our biodiversity.