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CELEBRATING THE INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE CONSERVATION OF THE MANGROVE ECOSYSTEM

Between 30-50% of mangroves have been lost over the past 50 years. New approaches for the restoration of mangroves are emerging; benefiting from new, low-cost technologies and supporting the resilience of local communities through empowered engagement and innovative funding. As has been underlined by the recent X-Press Pearl disaster, off the coast of Sri Lanka, coastal mangrove ecosystems are vulnerable to a wide range of possible stressors, which requires reliable monitoring and response plans.

33 of the 54 Commonwealth countries hold mangrove ecosystems, representing 22% of the global mangrove holdings. The Mangrove Ecosystems and Livelihoods Action Group (MELAG), championed by Sri Lanka, has been working with its members to identify the priorities for action, innovative ways for financing, that can trigger conservation and sustainable use, develop enabling policies and initiate data governance for an informed decision-making process.

Celebrating the International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem declared by UNESCO, the Foreign Ministry was a part of two initiatives.

As a joint coordinator for the Commonwealth Blue Charter Action Group on Mangrove Ecosystems and Livelihoods (MELAG), the Ocean Affairs, Environment and Climate Change Division of the Foreign Ministry, together with the Commonwealth Secretariat organized a webinar on the theme “International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem: Mapping Mangrove Ecosystems”. This theme was to raise awareness of the importance of mangrove ecosystems as “a unique, special and vulnerable ecosystem" and to promote solutions for their sustainable management, conservation and uses.

The webinar was aimed towards Commonwealth government officials, interested in how satellite images can help paint a comprehensive picture of global mangrove coverage. This knowledge can contribute to national policies and plans, blue carbon strategies, and Nationally Determined Contributions.

The speakers at the webinar included the Director General of Ocean Affairs, Environment and Climate Change Hasanthi Urugodawatte Dissanayake, describing the role of Sri Lanka’s leading role in the MELAG, key achievements and the ramifications of the X-Press Pearl ship Disaster on mangrove ecosystems; Director, Biodiversity Secretariat of the Ministry of Environment Pathma Abeykoon,  focussing on Sri Lanka’s achievements in mangrove conservation and restoration, including formulation of policy, guidelines and the action plan and importance of high resolution satellite images for mapping and monitoring; and Geospatial Research Fellow at the Institute of Marine Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago Nikia Gooding on their experience in using satellite and aerial photography to monitor mangroves, and Strategic Accounts of EMSA Planets satellite company Mark Richardson on how the company is collaborating with countries, particularly in mapping corals and mangroves. The webinar was moderated by Advisor on Ocean Governance, Blue Charter Project Dr. Jeff Ardon lead at the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Over 75 participants joined the webinar, across the globe, comprising mostly from the Commonwealth fraternity.

Further, celebrating this special day, the Department of Forests organized a mangrove planting campaign at the ‘Omari Lagoon’ in the east coast, under the auspices of the State Minister of Wildlife Protection, Adoption of Safety Measures including the Construction of Electrical Fences and Trenches and Re-foreststation and Forest Resource Development, Honourable Wimalaweera Disssanayake. The Foreign Ministry was represented by Director General of Ocean Affairs, Environment and Climate Change and the team.

The Omari Lagoon is a unique lagoon which is not directly connected to the sea; as the area is lower that the sea level, there is constant salinity seeping through the soil. Because of the mangroves, salinity is prevented from reaching the inland further. This allows rice cultivation to take place close to the mangroves. During the rainy season, the mud flats get flooded and fish in the mud flats come out and breed fast, enabling another livelihood option for the local communities – fisheries. This is a beautiful example of why we should conserve mangroves – as it directly contributes to livelihoods, in addition to of course the scientific fact that mangroves sequester 3 - 4 time more carbon than tropical forests.

Foreign Ministry

Colombo

29 July, 2021

(https://mfa.gov.lk/mangrove-ecosystem/)

 

THE AMBASSADOR OF CUBA TO SRI LANKA CALLS ON THE FOREIGN MINISTER

The new Ambassador of Cuba to Sri Lanka Andres Marcelo Gonzalez Garrido called on Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena today (29/07) at the Foreign Ministry.   Minister Gunawardena welcomed Ambassador Garrido who presented his credentials to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on 22 July, 2021.

Foreign Minister Gunawardena conveyed President Rajapaksa’s appreciation to the Cuban government for the continued support and cooperation extended to Sri Lanka at multilateral fora, particularly at the United Nations Human Rights Council. While recalling the considerable assistance extended to Sri Lanka following the Asian Tsunami in 2004, he thanked the Cuban government for the medical assistance provided to the Sri Lankan expatriates who were stranded in Haiti at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. Ambassador Garrido briefed the Foreign Minister Gunawardena on recent developments in Cuba and the Latin American region.

Foreign Minister Gunawardena also discussed a wide-range of bilateral matters with Ambassador Garrido, including the possibility to forge further cooperation in the areas of pharmaceutical and vaccine production, coconut and sugarcane cultivation and Spanish language courses in Sri Lanka, with a view to enhance the cordial relations prevailing at all levels between Sri Lanka and Cuba.

Foreign Ministry

Colombo

29 July 2021

(https://mfa.gov.lk/sl-fm-cuba/)

 

STATE MINISTER OF REGIONAL COOPERATION THARAKA BALASURIYA AND FIRST RESIDENT HIGH COMMISSIONER OF NEW ZEALAND TO SRI LANKA DISCUSS MEANS OF STRENGTHENING ECONOMIC TIES BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES

The first resident High Commissioner of New Zealand to Sri Lanka Michael Appleton paid a courtesy call on State Minister of Regional Cooperation Tharaka Balasuriya on 28 July, 2021.

Welcoming the new High Commissioner Appleton, the State Minister Balasuriya highlighted the potential to build upon the existing cordial ties between the two countries.   He discussed means of further diversifying and expanding trade relations with New Zealand and also emphasized the opportunities that exist in Sri Lanka for potential New Zealand investors in diverse areas, especially in the economic zones and the Colombo Port City.

State Minister Balasuriya and High Commissioner Appleton also discussed means of collaboration between the two countries on the creative economy, an area which the State Ministry has launched a program recently. They also focused on further cooperation in the areas of sports, education and renewable energy.

Associated with the State Minister Balasuriya were senior officials of the State Ministry of Regional Cooperation and the East Asia Division of the Foreign Ministry.

State Ministry of Regional Cooperation
Colombo

28 July, 2021

(https://mfa.gov.lk/new-zealand-sl-2/)

 

PRIME MINISTER DECLARES OPEN A REGIONAL CONSULAR OFFICE IN KURUNEGALA

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa declared open a Regional Consular Office of the Foreign Ministry in Kurunegala virtually on 27 July 2021. Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Minister of Highways & Chief Government Whip Johnston Fernando, Provincial Governor for North-Western Province Raja Kollure, State Minister for Regional Cooperation Tharaka Balasuriya, and several other dignitaries joined the opening ceremony.

This Regional Consular Office in Kurunegala will cater to the public in the North Western Province and neighboring regions providing a range of consular services such as attestation of birth, marriage and death certificates as well as educational certificates for overseas use; authentication of export documents and related certificates; extending assistance to family members of Sri Lankans stranded abroad; processing of compensation claims and other forms of redress to affected migrant workers, and repatriation of human remains of deceased Sri Lankans from abroad.

The Foreign Ministry, under the direction of Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, has taken an initiative to open Regional Consular Offices islandwide since January 2020 with the objective of giving impetus to the National Policy Framework of the Government “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendor” aimed at improving the productivity and delivery of consular services offered to the public.

This is the latest Regional Consular Office opened by the Ministry in order to provide consular services through a network of regional offices across the island, enabling the public to receive such services without travelling to Colombo, especially during this pandemic period.

The other Regional Consular Offices are located in Kandy, Matara,Jaffna and Trincomalee.

 The contact details of the Regional Consular Office in Kurunegala are;

3rdFloor,
Department of Probation and Child Care Services,
No. 2, Dambulla Road,
Kurunegala.

Tel: 037-2225931
Fax: 037-2225941,
E-mail:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Foreign Ministry

Colombo

28 July, 2021

(https://mfa.gov.lk/consular-kurunegala/)

 

JOINT STAMP LAUNCHES IN SRI LANKA AND SINGAPORE TO COMMEMORATE 50 YEARS OF DIPLOMATIC TIES

A joint stamp release ceremony was held at the Foreign Ministry, Sri Lanka on 27 July to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties which took place on the same day in 1970. This milestone event was held with the participation of the Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, joining virtually.

The two stamps ceremonially unveiled at the event, were especially designed for the occasion to depict the theme “Marine Conservation”, and showcase the restoration of Coral Ecosystem in Sri Lanka, and Mangroves in Singapore and reflects the shared interest and commitment of both countries in protecting the marine environment.

Speaking at the occasion, Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena highlighted the long standing friendly relations between the two countries, nurtured by deep rooted linkages at community and societal levels. He recalled his meeting with Minister Balakrishnan when both were holding different portfolios and the discussions held on tackling challenges posed by climate change across the globe. The Minister Gunawardena said further that the unveiling of commemorative postage stamps to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties, undoubtedly shows the great warmth and friendship that exist between the two countries.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, in his remarks, spoke on the warm and long-standing nature of Singapore-Sri Lanka relations. He noted the close and meaningful cooperation between our two countries, including during this COVID-19 period.

The event was attended by the former Sri Lanka High Commissioners who served in Singapore, Chitranganee Wagiswara, Nimal Weerarathna, Ferial Ashraff and Hony. Consul of Singapore in Sri Lanka Dr. Jayantha Dharmadasa, Singaporean business community in Sri Lanka, Secretary of the Ministry of Mass Media, Officials of the Foreign Ministry and the Department of Posts.

Meanwhile in Singapore, a ceremony was held at the Shangri La a few hours prior to the Colombo event where High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Singapore Sashikala Premawardhane and Non-Resident High Commissioner of Singapore Chandra Das unveiled the two stamps in the presence of Director-General of the South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore Gilbert Oh. Deputy Director of Postal & Consumer Policy, Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) Ruth Wong, and Vice President Philately & Stamps Peggy Teo together with several other officials of MFA, IMDB, SingPost and the High Commission of Sri Lanka.

The Foreign Ministry extends its appreciation and congratulations to the Government of Singapore, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore, Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore, SingPost, and the Department of Post of Sri Lanka and to the High Commission of Sri Lanka in Singapore for the successful issuance of the commemorative stamps marking 50 years of friendship between Sri Lanka and Singapore.

 

Foreign Ministry
Colombo

27 July, 2021

(https://mfa.gov.lk/joint-stamp-sl-sin/)

 

APPOINTMENT OF THE FIRST HIGH COMMISSIONER OF THE NEW ZEALAND TO SRI LANKA

The Government of New Zealand with the concurrence of the Government of Sri Lanka has appointed Mr. Michael Edward Appleton as the first High Commissioner of New Zealand to Sri Lanka based in Colombo. He has presented credentials to H.E. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka on 22 July 2021 at 10.30 a.m. at President’s House, Colombo 01.

Foreign Ministry

Colombo

22 July, 2021

(https://mfa.gov.lk/new-zealand-sl/)

 

APPOINTMENT OF AMBASSADOR OF THE REPUBLIC OF CUBA TO SRI LANKA

The Government of the Republic of Cuba with the concurrence of the Government of Sri Lanka has appointed Mr. Andrés Marcelo Garrido as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Cuba to Sri Lanka in Succession of H.E. (Ms.) Juana Elena Ramos Rodriguez. He has presented credentials to H.E. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka on 22 July 2021 at 10.30 a.m. at President’s House, Colombo 01.

Foreign Ministry

Colombo

22 July, 2021

(https://mfa.gov.lk/cuba-sl/)

 

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