The Marine Environment Protection Authority of Sri Lanka (MEPA) in collaboration with SLYCAN Trust hosted the Sixth National Symposium on Marine Environment on April 22nd and 23rd, 2021. Under the theme of “Oceans-Based Solutions and Policy Frameworks for Enhanced Climate Action and Blue Economy,” the symposium aimed at bringing together experts from around the country to discuss the complex issues of climate change, marine flora and fauna, sensitive coastal and marine ecosystems, shipping and marine pollution, fisheries, blue economy, and related policies and legislations.
The opening session was presided over by the Honourable State Minister of Urban Development, Coast Conservation, Waste Disposal, and Community Cleanliness, Dr. Nalaka Godahewa. Addressing the audience, Dr. Godahewa stated: “I believe protecting the marine environment is not only a responsibility of the government but also the responsibility of all of us. Protecting the environment for the next generation is the responsibility of the current generation. There are people passionate about this subject, and it is necessary to get them on board to protect this important ecosystem”. He further noted that the ideas and information generated through symposiums of this nature should be communicated to the general public to build their awareness and be transformed into implementable and collective action.
For this sixth annual Symposium, MEPA received numerous abstracts from researchers working on the coastal and marine environment and related fields. From the abstracts received, over twenty abstracts were selected to be presented at the symposium in front of four distinguished expert panels.
Speaking during the symposium, the Chairperson of MEPA, Ms. Dharshani Lahandapura, said, “Rich and diverse marine and coastal ecosystems in Sri Lanka currently experience many threats and immense pressure from human activities and climate change. MEPA has the mandate to prevent, control, and manage Sri Lanka’s coastal and marine environment. With that objective in mind, MEPA carries out this academic exercise annually to update our policies and strategies.”
Dr. P.B. Terney Pradeep Kumara, General Manager of MEPA, stated, “At MEPA, we work based on nine pillars amongst which we focus on spreading awareness in Sri Lanka on ocean ecosystems and protecting the marine environment. In our quest to seek information to enhance marine health and understand work done on the theme, we have launched the research symposium on Marine Environment to enable us to find the latest information and share new research and data with others. We are happy to organize this event with SLYCAN Trust, which has been working with us for several years on this thematic area.”
The research studies presented throughout the symposium’s four sessions provided insight into country-specific issues related to marine and coastal ecosystems such as mangroves or coral reefs, the actions that can be taken to address such issues, and new knowledge to enhance the health of coastal and marine ecosystems and livelihoods in Sri Lanka.
Concluding the symposium, Ms. Vositha Wijenayake, Executive Director of SLYCAN Trust said, “This was a collaborative effort of many entities to encourage research and disseminate research findings, targeting to improve the health of marine and coastal ecosystems. The Symposium was supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development as part of the project "Participatory NDCs for a Climate-Just Response in a COVID-19 World." Communications, broadcasting, and awareness creation for the event were supported by Mitsubishi Corporation. We thank all those who were involved in making this event a success.”
SLYCAN Trust is a non-profit think tank. It has been a registered legal entity in the form of a trust since 2016, and a guarantee limited company since 2019. The entities focus on the thematic areas of climate change, adaptation and resilience, sustainable development, environmental conservation and restoration, social justice, and animal welfare. SLYCAN Trust’s activities include legal and policy research, education and awareness creation, capacity building and training, and implementation of ground level action. SLYCAN Trust aims to facilitate and contribute to multi-stakeholder driven, inclusive and participatory actions for a sustainable and resilient future for all.