Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development

By W.L. Sumathipala


The Stockholm Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment which was adopted in Stockholm on the 16th June 1972 recognized the importance of protecting the environment. Afterwards, at the first summit in 1992, also held in Rio de Janeiro, a historic set of 27 principles on Environment and Development - the Rio Declaration; as well as Agenda 21, a detailed plan of action was adopted.  This was also the occasion for the opening for signatures of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.

Prior to Rio+20 (in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 20-22 June 2012) Rio+10 was held in Johannesburg in 2002 where the Rio Declaration and related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were discussed and a platform for implementation (Johannesburg plan of implementation) was agreed upon. 

RIO +20

The United Nations General assembly (A/RES/64/236) established the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) and one of the themes set up was, “a green economy in the context of sustainable development”.  Since the aim of the summit was to agree on a draft decision, the co-chairs of the Bureau prepared and released “zero draft” as an initial working document in January 2012.  There were several meetings in different parts of the world, held in order to negotiate the text and a Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meeting held to finalize the document.  This was hosted at the same venue as Rio+20 a week prior to the summit, where world leaders met from 20-22 June.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Coconut

By Sanathanie Ranasinghe

There is enough scientific evidence to conclude that climate change is taking place. Plantation agriculture is one of the high priority sectors where the impacts of climate change exceed tolerance limits, with implications for the livelihoods of millions of people who are dependent on this sector as well as to the national GDP contribution of coconut.  The Coconut Tree, also referred to as the “Tree of Life”, is an important part of the Sri Lankan diet with an estimated per capita fresh nut consumption of 129 nuts per year (including oil).  Coconut provides approximately 15 % of the calories in the daily diet and is the sole source of fat for much of the rural population. The annual national coconut production during 1996-2010 averaged at 2673 million nuts from which about 80 % is locally consumed and the balance, exported as desiccated coconut, copra, oil, mature nuts, milk powder and other processed products (Coconut Development Authority and Department of Census and Statistics, Sri Lanka). The coconut sector makes a substantial contribution of about 1.4% to the GDP (of 2.7% of total plantation crops) and 3.57%  of foreign exchange earnings (Central Bank, 2009) to the country. On account of the important role it plays in the country, it is imperative to identify adaptation and mitigation measures to make coconut a sustainable industry even in the event of anticipated climate change.