President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized that the world’s most biodiverse regions are found in tropical countries and he proposed the launch of a dedicated program to support these nations in addressing future climate change challenges.
He highlighted that 80% of the world’s endemic plants, as well as 50% of all coral reefs and mangroves are located in tropical regions. Sri Lanka, he noted, is actively working towards the establishment of an international university focused on climate change, capitalizing on this unique ecological context.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe made these remarks during his address at the high-level conference “Green silk road for harmony with nature” held at the China International Conference Hall Oct- (18), in conjunction with the 3rd “Belt and Road Initiative” International forum.
The conference was chaired by Mr. Han Zheng, Vice President of the People’s Republic of China. The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres and leaders from other participating countries also shared their insights.
Furthermore, President Ranil Wickremesinghe elaborated on the establishment of an international university dedicated to climate change which aims to lay the groundwork for conducting relevant research and implementing protective measures to address the pressing global crises of climate change, environmental pollution and biodiversity destruction. President Wickremesinghe strongly advocated for immediate action in these areas.
Expressing his views further, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said;
“Through this university, we have set three primary objectives. First and foremost, our focus is on researching measures for collective security and the common good. Secondly, we aim to foster knowledge sharing among the global community. Lastly, we are committed to providing practical education.
To mitigate the impacts of climate change, this institution delves into a comprehensive array of strategies across diverse fields, encompassing rigorous research, structural reforms within relevant organizations, international cooperation, community engagement and more. It serves as a valuable source of knowledge, research and solutions aimed at limiting global warming to a level of 1.5 degrees C. In this endeavour, the university assumes a pivotal role in the battle against climate change.
One significant challenge impeding global efforts to combat climate change is the widespread economic crises afflicting many countries. These crises have rendered participation in climate change mitigation an exceedingly intricate and daunting task.
The most effective approach is for the entire global community to unite and collaboratively seek solutions to this pressing issue. In this context, I would like to propose three key suggestions.
Firstly, offering debt relief to low-income countries can significantly alleviate their economic burdens and enable them to actively participate in climate change mitigation efforts. Secondly, providing access to concessional loans for high-income countries can facilitate their engagement in sustainable practices. Lastly, we should consider channelling additional funding through multilateral organizations, including the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, to support climate-related initiatives.
It’s worth noting that there are 150 tropical countries, with 88 of them participating in the Belt and Road initiative. This tropical region encompasses 40% of the world’s total land area and is home to 40% of the global population. In light of this, I would like to express my gratitude to the Republic of China, under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, for organizing this conference, recognizing environmental concerns as a fundamental aspect of sustainable development.
During the Asia-Pacific Belt and Road High-Level Summit in 2021, Sri Lanka wholeheartedly endorsed the Green Silk Road initiative and our commitment to supporting this initiative remains steadfast.”