President Ranil Wickremesinghe announced that Sri Lanka is committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2040 while pursuing its economic goals. He noted that Sri Lanka is the first country in Asia to incorporate the global objective of zero carbon emissions into its national policy.

He made these remarks during the World Environment Day celebrations held at the Presidential Secretariat on Wednesday (05).

The President emphasized that Sri Lanka’s approach to climate change and environmental issues goes beyond traditional programs and is now integrated into the country’s economic and foreign policies. 

He also highlighted that the upcoming Climate Change Act and the establishment of the Climate Change Centre will create a comprehensive legal framework for addressing environmental and climate change issues, a framework that is unique compared to other countries.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe highlighted Sri Lanka’s proactive role in recent COP Conferences on Climate Change and other international platforms. He announced a significant initiative: the draft for establishing the International University on Climate Change in Sri Lanka is expected to be enacted before June next year.

The President expressed skepticism about the financial commitments from the Western world and developed countries to address climate change. He noted that the money spent by the US and Europe this year on the war in Ukraine could have funded climate change efforts for two years.

President Wickremesinghe urged developed countries to provide relief to low-income African nations, while stressing that tropical countries must secure their own funding to manage climate change effectively. By doing so, tropical countries can contribute significantly to global climate control.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe signed the gazette announcement declaring the Warnagalawatta Environmental Protection Zone in the Ratnapura District. He also symbolically awarded medals to eight students from four school environmental pioneer brigades.

During the event, the first issue of “Soba” magazine was presented to the President. Additionally, mineral kits were distributed to schools, environment-friendly mining licenses were issued, and certificates and gifts were awarded to the ten best green railway stations.

In conjunction with World Environment Day, a National Environment Week was announced starting from May 30, with numerous special programs organized across the island to increase the country’s forest cover.

In his remarks, President Wickremesinghe emphasized that this year’s World Environment Day is being celebrated at a crucial time. He expressed optimism that focusing on global climate change will help achieve the climate goals outlined in the Paris Agreement.

The World Environment Day celebration, held at the Presidential Secretariat under the theme “Effective Land Use is a Healthy Alternative,” also saw the launch of the “National Green Procurement Policy” under the President’s leadership.