Sri Lanka’s progress in many sectors of ocean-related development offers a striking example of a national agenda productively linked to international programs for strengthening the Blue Economy, External Affairs Minister Professor G.L. Peiris said in Abu Dhabi over the weekend.
He was delivering the keynote address at the Blue Economy Summit in the United Arab Emirates. The minister explained to the international audience the good use to which Sri Lanka has put the peace consequent to the defeat of terrorism, to advance a variety of objectives forming an integral part of the global agenda to integrate the Blue Economy into post-2015 development objectives. Among the major areas dealt with by Prof. Peiris were fisheries and their vital role in providing food security and sustainable livelihoods, tourism as a source of employment and a significant contributor to poverty alleviation, the generation of renewable energy from wind and biomass sources and the oceans as a primary medium of global trade through shipping and port facilities.
He showed how each of these topics, which represented the basic themes of the international symposium, could be illustrated in practical terms by Sri Lanka’s experience during the last four years.
Minister Peiris submitted that the atmosphere of stability which had been established in Sri Lanka, contributed in no small measure to the substantial success of initiatives in the region to combat aggressively a host of illegal activities connected with people smuggling, piracy, gun running and narcotics.
The development of the Blue Economy on the lines envisaged by the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012, is necessarily dependent on order and stability in the regime of the oceans, and continuing terrorist activity would have posed a formidable challenge to the accomplishment of these objectives, the minister emphasised.
The restoration of peace after a 30-year-conflict gave Sri Lanka the opportunity to take advantage of its geographical location and to play a vigorous role, in partnership with other littoral States, to promote and safeguard the conditions essential for a viable strategy to improve living standards of increasing populations by harnessing the resources of the oceans, he said.
Sri Lanka is at present an active member of several groupings of nations to strengthen collective action in this regard, he remarked.
Prof. Peiris also participated in a high level roundtable panel discussion which involved presentations on the Blue Economy from the perspective of different regions including the Pacific, the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean.