7. National Resources
Our vision is to ensure access to safe, culturally appropriate and nutritionally adequate food for all, now and into the future through developing a food system that is secure, healthy, sustainable, thriving and socially inclusive. After a comprehensive study, a State of the National Food System report will be tabled to the Parliament at the end of the first year and then regularly every three years. This report will collate all the key information about the food system such as, production capacity, land use, workforce and food security and related vital health indicators including dietary intake, food consumption patterns and food insecurity.
We will establish a native grains gene bank and a pasture gene bank so that we could conserve and manage national genetic resources. These genetic resources will be used to improve agricultural productivity and create new food products, which will contribute to making the industry viable, supporting food security and helping producers adapt to climate change. To do so we will develop a National Food Plan for Zero Hunger within two years in power, via extensive public consultation with all relevant stakeholders on the food security and nutrition goals that need to be realised.
We will help farmers and other crop producers’ access to new agricultural technologies. Sharing the international research and development expertise including that of the NRSL communities with targeted stakeholders will help develop sustainable, safe and nutritious food varieties. We will explore digital technologies such as 3-D printing for food printing in order to prevent resource scarcity and improve food diversification.
Collection of digitalised data on the status of food production that underpins decision-making needs to be conducted efficiently. Digital innovation will create new channels for food distribution making virtual supermarkets a reality. In future, farmers may sell directly to their customers via the internet. We will monitor and keep up‐to‐date data, policies and research relating to food security. A State of the Food System report that brings together key information about the food system and how it is performing will be published every five years to monitor the progress of our National Food Plan goals. We will monitor and evaluate our Food Security Policy after four years.
The aim of water security is for all citizens to have equitable access to clean, safe and affordable drinking water and sanitation into the future at least cost. Water security is a basic human right as water is fundamental for sustaining livelihoods, human well-being, socio-economic development and eco-systems. During the last few decades there have been attempts to establish a privatised water market in Sri Lanka. We see the privatisation of water as a denial of basic human rights of our people.
Water security requires protecting reservoirs and dam sites, pump stations, distribution networks, hydropower plants and related water infrastructure from contamination both natural and wanton and to natural hazards such as flooding, droughts, tsunami like events and during political and civil unrest, and curtailing water wastage and profligacy. Protests to safeguard drinking water against pollution show the failure to foresee water security challenges and appropriate regulatory and administrative mechanisms to allocate water amongst competing users sustainably and economically efficiently. Water quality issues are found due to faecal pollution, turbid water, eutrophication, organic pollution, agrochemical use etc. Agricultural waste pollutes both groundwater and surface water with excessive use of agrochemicals and excessive use of fertiliser and water compounding the problem.
Our vision is to make society benefit from secure access to water resources into the foreseeable future by maximising the productive value of water, minimising long-term costs to users, industry and government and protecting water-dependent environment through a proper water governance framework. Water security needs to be considered in the long-term for peoples’ benefit, rather than in the short-term simply for acquiring and maintaining political power. Investment decisions should be based on balanced social, economic and environmental analysis, informed by sound scientific advice and implemented through transparent and contestable processes. With better water policy development and implementation and governance systems, natural and human-induced water security issues could be better handled.
We will emphasise on application of evidence-based practical initiatives, improved planning founded on an improved understanding and more efficient management of water systems and application of simple new conservation technologies, such as drip irrigation, waste reuse and rainwater harvesting. We will provide for sustainable management of water resources including accounting for use and development for domestic purposes for ensuring adequate and safe public water supply.
We will ensure transparency and security of water resource management and make it explicit that water quality specifications are taken into account in all applicable decision-making processes, particularly, in uniformly protecting water quality in public drinking water sources in both urban and regional areas. In water planning, public water supply will be accorded the highest priority by setting of statutory allocation limits and statutory water allocation plans for current and future use of public water supply. We will establish joint mechanisms between water scientists and policy makers to improve information exchange between them to ensure that advancements in hydrological sciences are employed to address water security issues and also to determine the data that need to be collected. Such data should be openly and easily made available to be utilized to improve water quality or security in the country.
Aligning Sri Lanka with the Goal 7 of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN would contribute to achieving universal access to energy. This will lessen the dependence on fossil fuels and also halve the specific energy use by 2030. Greater cooperation in the energy sector would enhance national energy security, reduce the cost of energy supply, and reduce the negative effects of price volatility. Promoting energy cooperation would be an effective climate change mitigation mechanism. Cross-border energy trade would also minimize the need to build new generation capacity in each country.
However, our vision will be for a nation self-sufficient in energy without being dependent on imported oil and oil products or contribute to air pollution. We believe that this is a pre-condition for energy security, as we are located in a politically contested zone influenced by the nuclear powers in the region. To realize our vision, we intend to capture the full potential of all renewable and other indigenous resources.
We recognise renewable energy and new energy technology as priority sectors for our economy. We have vast renewable energy resources that we can harness. Our wind generation will have a strong growth potential, particularly in the coastal areas where there will be opportunities for significant offshore wind exploration. We will make it compulsory standard feature to see continued growth in rooftop solar photovoltaic systems, with significant potential in the commercial and industrial sectors. Solar photovoltaic systems will be rolled out island-wide. Grid augmentation will help unlock the abundant natural resources well into the future.
We will provide incentives to the business, cooperative and research communities to actively engage them in developing local entrepreneurship and research capacity. We will encourage novel ICT applications such as energy accounting, smart metering and intelligent traffic management. Smart grids will be promoted for effective utilisation of distributed and variable generation from renewable energy sources. We will promote research and development on introducing, adopting and implementing new and emerging renewable fuel sources and efficient energy conversion and end use technologies. We will provide financial incentives and tax benefits to those who nurture nascent technologies.
We will establish a National Energy Authority (NEA) to conduct a National Energy Security Assessment. It will recommend the manner in which the renewable energy sources can be incorporated with a target of achieving a sustainable renewable power generation within the time frame of a decade. The NEA will also develop a Renewable Energy Action Plan (REAP) building upon the work the governments have already done so far. Through the REAP plan we will empower and engage households, businesses and communities, supporting community energy projects; and ensuring affordable energy supply; ensure our energy system is smart, safe and reliable by advancing energy storage, smart grids and microgrids, creating value through data and other energy innovations; and create jobs, attract investment and grow our economy through boosting the new energy technologies sector.
Every citizen has a responsibility in contributing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change for the sake of future generations. Our vision is to work with and for all Sri Lankans to realise environmentally sustainable development that will ensure a healthy environment that supports a liveable and prosperous country. Our policy will comply with sustainable development goals 2030 and will be dependent upon strong government action.
We will introduce climate-friendly building projects that will reduce environmental impact of buildings by targeting water-saving and energy-efficient initiatives. Coal and energy intensive infrastructure will be phased out with the use of more climate-friendly technologies.
Our vision is to work towards a Zero Waste Island by reducing consumption, and by reusing or recycling waste material. To meet this goal within a reasonable time frame, we should deal with waste management issues urgently. We will adopt appropriate innovative recovery and disposal technologies and methods used across the world in managing waste. For example, use of Dendro Liquid Energy (DLE – nearly ‘zero-waste’) and smart bin technologies, eco-friendly biodegradable products, solar powered trash cleaners etc. Based on such technologies and methods, profitable ventures can be built using waste as a resource.
It is vital to address widespread corrupt practices that are prevailing in Sri Lanka. It can only be done through establishing an Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC). IBAC will have more powers than any anti-corruption body currently operating, and it will continue to operate combating corrupt activities on an ongoing basis.
Disasters are deadly and damage infrastructure and economies. Natural disasters have become a feature of global landscape and will continue causing personal, social, economic and environmental impacts that will take many years to dissipate. South Asia is one of the regions where exposure to disasters is high. The impact of disasters in the region prevents many thousands of people from breaking out of poverty.
Repetitive disasters and shocks reduce the resilience of individuals, communities and societies. The psychosocial repercussion of disasters can be long lasting and may undermine well-being and threaten peace and human rights. This would further exacerbate with climate change, urbanisation and demographic shifts. Thus, reducing risk and building resilience to future disasters is a priority not only to save lives but also for sustainable economic growth.
We believe that natural disasters and hazards may be inevitable, though the suffering, destruction and the loss of life associated with those are not necessarily inevitable. We will undertake the activities that are needed to develop social resilience by analysing and managing risks, reducing vulnerability and building capacity to reduce risk and grow greater resilience. Investing in disaster management and social resilience is a precondition necessary for making development efforts sustainable. We believe integrating risk reduction into development is critical for achieving sustainable development. We will make arrangements for investing in risk reduction before disaster strikes. By better preparing the vulnerable, the poor and the marginalised, it will be able to recover faster.
We will work towards a more disaster resilient Sri Lanka, able to recognise current and future risk, reduce and manage those risks, and be better able to adapt to change and recover from disasters. We will highlight the stages of managing natural disasters while paying attention to the roles played by various stakeholders in the process of institutional building in disaster management.