Green Economy and Sustainability

Sri Lanka’s Palm Oil Industry: Balancing Economic Benefits and Environmental Sustainability

The palm oil industry in Sri Lanka has been a vital policy initiative aimed at reducing palm oil imports and boosting the economy. Oil palm cultivation was allowed initially to reduce reliance on imported palm oil, but concerns over environmental and health impacts led to a decision to phase out cultivation within ten years. In this Q&A Explainer with Author, Dr Erandathie Pathiraja, Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS), provides valuable insights into the recently published IPS study, ‘Palm Oil Industry in Sri Lanka: An Economic Analysis’. Dr Pathiraja shares her perspectives on the reasons behind the ban on oil palm cultivation, the potential impact on the economy and environment, the industry’s economic contributions, environmental concerns and their mitigation, health issues related to edible oil consumption, and alternative solutions to meet the local edible oil demand. The study authored by Dr. Erandathie Pathiraja, Ruwan Samaraweera, Hiruni Fernando, and Jaan Bogodage, offers a comprehensive analysis of the economic and environmental impacts of the palm oil industry in Sri Lanka.

The X-Press Pearl Disaster: From Flames to Prevention

Sri Lanka’s ecological disaster related to the MV X-Press Pearl, a container ship carrying hazardous chemicals that caught fire off its coast on 20 May 2021, is back in the news as the country attempts to claim damages. The ecological disaster washed up tons of plastic pellets and other pollutants on the country’s beaches and harmed its marine ecosystem. It is a stark reminder of the risks associated with transporting hazardous materials and the urgent need for governments and companies to take proactive measures to prevent such disasters in the future. This blog revisits the environmental impact of the X-Press Pearl disaster and discusses how Sri Lanka can use the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) to develop strategies and policies to prevent similar disasters from happening near its shores again.

Pro-Poor Tourism: Can it Reduce Poverty in Sri Lanka?

The tourism industry’s performance was hampered first by the Easter Sunday bomb explosions in 2019 and then the COVID-19 pandemic. Sri Lanka saw a decline in tourist arrivals from 1,913,702 in 2019 to 194,495 in 2021. It is estimated that revenue declined from USD 3600 million to USD 261 million during 2019-2021, reflecting a staggering 92.75% reduction due to a fall in arrivals. This blog discusses existing disparities in tourism and the possibility of adopting a sustainable, pro-poor tourism strategy to reduce poverty in Sri Lanka.

Plastic Pandemic: The Ecological Fallout of COVID-19 and Policy Options for Sri Lanka

The lockdowns introduced in 2020 to curb the spread of COVID-19 saw the narrative “nature is healing” gain prominence. However, the notion that nature, in the absence of people, was healing fizzled out fairly quickly with the emergence of fresh environmental challenges, most notably, the resurgence of single-use plastics. This blog examines the ecological fallout of the pandemic and suggests policy options for Sri Lanka to avert the looming environmental disaster.

Healing the Ozone Layer: The Need for a National Cooling Policy (NCP) for Sri Lanka

The ozone layer is located in the lower stratosphere at a height of 15 to 30 kilometres above the earth, protecting it against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV-B) radiation. It is like a blanket that protects the planet; a reduction in ozone concentration increases solar radiation damaging plants, animals, and human beings. Human-induced depletion of the ozone layer due to excessive emissions of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) which are primarily used in the cooling sector is a major global environmental concern. This blog discusses the importance of a National Cooling Policy (NCP) for Sri Lanka as a part of IPS’ ongoing research, to phase out ODS to prevent ozone depletion and mitigate global warming.

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