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An engaging and insightful platform

By Chenelle Fernando

The passing of each day brings the environment a step closer to being trapped in a perilous state, which ultimately leaves the betterment of our society and all living beings at stake.

Festival for Our Planet – Environmental Awareness Event, a programme pledged to discuss all things environment-related, took place on 16 March at the Good Market at Racecourse. The programme was organised by NGage Goodvocacy, a consultancy entity specialising in reputation strategy and management, social and environmental advocacy, leadership communications, and media training. Needless to state, the organisation is a coherent supporter of activism and social betterment movements.

The programme featured an all-day event which advocated on almost every facet of the environment – from climate change, sustainable development, and water resources all the way to protection of the wildlife and forest resources.

NGage Goodvocacy Chairman and CEO Nimal Gunawardena shared that this was merely a positive step in changing gears to look beyond communications for the purpose of sharing the real issues that are persistent in our world. He said: “We’re doing this today to sensitise everyone to the notion that every country including Sri Lanka needs to think and do things about the environment.

Often times, we think the government has to initiate things, but we think that it’s really the citizens who should start.” Gunawardena said that when governments don’t cooperate, citizens have stood up by doing the right thing even in recent times. “I believe that school children and millennials are the ones who should take the lead.”

Keeping citizen activism in mind, the festival essentially sought to extend awareness to decision makers and citizens at large. To begin with, the traditional oil lamp was in fact an eco-friendly structure designed by the organisers with the aid of LED bulbs. The programme was an edutainment event with poster exhibitions displaying details of the environment and various issues that concern the environment, as well as an art installation which was on the theme of the environment.

The highlight of the entire programme we thought was the speaker sessions which took place throughout the course of the day, featuring a group of well-rounded individuals to propagate the cause.

Speakers included Climate Leadership Corps Alumni Sanith de S. Wijeyeratne, former Miss Sri Lanka and UN Human Rights and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) advocate Eshani Diana Jayapala, , Strategic Corporate CEO Ravi Fernando, consultant and lecturer Kithsiri Wijesundera, environmental architect Sunela Jayawardene, Sri Lanka Unites Founder Prashan de Visser, renewable energy specialist Vidhura Ralapanawa, environment activist Vraie Caly, Tilak Dissanayake, Environmental Foundation Ltd. Chairman Eric Wickremanayake, Rainforests Protectors Founder Jayantha Wijesinghe, women’s right and wildlife and environmental activist Caryll Tozer.

Photos Pradeep Dambarage