On September 5, 2016, Sri Lanka and the World Bank signed three loan agreements amounting to US$ 187 million for three projects to advance disaster recovery efforts, to protect Sri Lanka’s eco systems and for growth and jobs.
World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough and Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga, Secretary to the Treasury, Ministry of Finance Monday signed the loan agreements with three institutions of the World Bank. The three institutions are the International Development Association, Financial Development Policy Programme, and Sri Lanka – Ecosystem Conservation and Management Project.
The Ecosystem Conservation and Management Project (ESCAMP) will benefit approximately 15,000 residents; 30 percent among them women, with most of them belonging to marginalized groups. It will protect and foster the sustainable use of natural resources by introducing more competitive and compatible livelihood opportunities.
Through the Department of Wildlife Conservation and Forest Department, the project will support the management of protected areas. Improved landscape management, better awareness and improved coordination on natural resource management among different stakeholders, and increased quality of nature-based tourism are some of the expected results.
“Sri Lanka is blessed with a rich endowment of eco-systems. Striking a fair balance between economy and ecology is crucial, not only for the preservation of the ecosystem but also for helping people emerge from poverty,” said Pswarayi-Riddihough. “Managing this natural heritage is the responsibility of all Sri Lankans. Benefits of well managed eco-systems include, improved national economy as well as addressing challenges such as human wild life conflicts and climate change effects.”
A recent World Bank Group assessment, the Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD) underlined the importance of environmental management and stewardship to preserve Sri Lanka’s natural resources while developing tourism.
The Government and the World Bank also signed a $45 million credit to help protect Sri Lanka’s natural habitats and resources from degradation and over-exploitation. The project will assist the Government improve the lives and livelihoods of neighboring communities, who suffer the most from natural resources loss and degradation.
On July 28, 2016, the World Bank Group’s Board of Directors endorsed a new four-year strategy aimed at achieving greater prosperity for Sri Lanka and its people. The strategy emphasizes greater macro-economic stability, improving Sri Lanka’s global competitiveness, investing in under-served people and areas, and promoting green growth.