The visiting U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Kanni Wignaraja called on Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa December 17 evening at Temple Trees and discussed a range of issues, including Sri Lanka’s vaccination program.

“You have a very good vaccine program,” Ms. Wignaraja said.

After mention of the fact that Sri Lanka has also started administering COVID vaccine booster shots, she pointed out that many countries who have started the booster shots are seeing an increase in tourist arrivals. The Prime Minister noted that tourism is slowly starting to pick up once again in Sri Lanka. The tourism sector has been particularly hard hit all across the world due to the pandemic.

“I think with the vaccines, the tourists will come,” Ms. Wignaraja said.

In further discussing Sri Lanka’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery, Ms. Wignaraja said there are many ways that the United Nations can support Sri Lanka.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa reiterated that Sri Lanka has always worked closely with U.N. organizations and will continue to do so.

The two delegations also discussed the need for creating jobs and opportunities for young people, particularly in the private sector, and encouraging young people to seek private-sector jobs.

Ms. Wignaraja, who also serves as the Assistant Administrator of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Regional Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, also briefed the Prime Minister about the work the United Nations is supporting in the areas of climate change and sustainable development.

One of the major projects that the UNDP is supporting in Sri Lanka is the Climate Resilient Integrated Water Management Project (CRIWMP), which is a seven-year project “aimed at strengthening the resilience of smallholder farmers in Sri Lanka’s Dry Zone to climate variability and extreme events,” according to the UNDP. A little over 73 percent of the total cost of the project is being financed through a grant received from the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

Robert Juhkam, the Resident Representation of UNDP Sri Lanka, briefed Prime Minister Rajapaksa on the work being carried out towards achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in close cooperation with the Sustainable Development Council of Sri Lanka (SDC). The SDC convened the first national-level multi-stakeholder consultative workshop last month.