Sri Lanka firm in commitment to preserving life below water

Sri Lanka stands firm in its commitment to preserving life below water under different international instruments, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative in Geneva, Ambassador A.L.A. Azeez said.

He said that Sri Lanka has a longstanding history in preserving and nurturing the environment, and has made considered policies and programmes making the environment an enduring aspect of its sustainable national development.

Addressing the 2019 World Wildlife Day celebration in Geneva held under the theme ‘Life Below Water: For People and Planet’, Ambassador Azeez said that, in this context, Sri Lanka was proud and honoured to be the host of the 18th Meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in Colombo, from 23 May to 3 June this year.

“We are pleased to note that the Conference has received a record number of working documents and species-listing proposals, making it the largest Conference of Parties in the history of CITES to date. Interestingly, it is the mako shark, wedgefish, and guitarfish proposals submitted for the CoP18 that have received major support from Parties to the CITES. .Sri Lanka is proud to cosponsor all 3 of these proposals at the upcoming Conference, which will also be conducted in a carbon-sensitive manner”, he said.

Ambassador Azeez noted that, as an island nation endowed with rich biodiversity both below water and on land, where the livelihoods of a sizeable portion of the population are inter-twined with the sea, the rivers and the inland reservoirs, Sri Lanka fully subscribes to the notion that ‘challenges to life below water were in fact challenges for our planet and its people’.

“From a global perspective, Sri Lanka stands firm in its commitment to preserving life below water under different international instruments. Among the global initiatives where Sri Lanka maintains stakes are the Clean Seas Campaign, the International Coral Reef Initiative, the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance, and a declaration of intent with France aimed at protecting the Oceans and enhancing Blue economy cooperation. Sri Lanka also champions the Commonwealth Blue Charter Action Group for Mangrove Restoration”, he added.

The 2019 World Wildlife Day celebration in Geneva was organized by the CITES Secretariat, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, UN Environment and the Geneva Environment Network. Panelists from these organisations as well as from the World Trade Organisation contributed to thematic discussions that followed.

Sustained economic advantages arising from preservation of biodiversity and equitable sharing of benefits, technological cooperation to contribute to carbon-sensitive industry and trade, and strong preventive measures against trade in endangered species, received substantive coverage in the deliberations at this event. (Colombo Gazette)

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