'We are the solution to preserving and celebrating our biodiversity': Biodiversity Sri Lanka
2 years ago
Sri Lanka is renowned for its biodiversity, being a small island with a stunning variety of ecological and animal biodiversity that is almost unrivalled. However, this biodiversity, like biodiversity all around the world, is under threat. Deforestation, habitat destruction, and climate change are all creating a loss in biodiversity worldwide. To celebrate the International Day for Biological Diversity, which falls on 22 May each year, Biodiversity Sri Lanka, in partnership with the Embassy of France in Sri Lanka and the Maldives and Dilmah Conservation, is holding a virtual webinar event “We’re Part of the Solution”, on Wednesday, 19 May 2021 to raise much-needed awareness on the value of maintaining biodiversity and its benefits to society for healthy living. This year’s theme for the International Day for Biological Diversity is “We’re part of the solution”. The slogan was chosen to be a continuation of the momentum generated last year under the overarching theme, “Our solutions are in nature”, which served as a reminder that biodiversity remains the answer to several sustainable development challenges. Moderated by Savithri Rodrigo, the panelists will include Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company CEO, Dilmah Conservation Trustee, and Biodiversity Sri Lanka and the UN Global Compact, Sri Lanka Boards of Directors Chair Dilhan C. Fernando; University of Colombo Department of Zoology and Environmental Science Prof. Devaka Weerakoon; Centre for a Smart Future Founder/CEO and economist Anushka Wijesinha; Goodlife X Founder CEO Randhula de Silva, and The Pearl Protectors Co-ordinator Muditha Katuwawala. Brunch spoke to Biodiversity Sri Lanka Advisor Shiranee Yasaratne for a little more on “We’re Part of the Solution”. Yasaratne explained that International Biodiversity Day is all about celebrating biodiversity and raising awareness on biodiversity issues, adding that everything mankind receives to survive, from food to shelter to ecosystem services to medicines, to the very basis of life, is from our biodiversity, and that upsetting the equilibrium of our biodiversity can have major consequences. Yasaratne shared that even the development of diseases like Covid-19 and its resulting disruption can be traced to upsetting the world’s biodiversity equilibrium. Yasaratne further noted that lots of viruses exist peacefully in nature, but when the equilibrium is upset, viruses mutate and jump into places they shouldn’t be, like for example, the Wuhan wet market, where Covid-19 is believed to have originated after mutating to be able to jump from animals to humans as hosts. “When viruses found in forest ecosystems jump out and find other hosts, they rampantly misbehave and become unmanageable like now.” The science behind this theory is one of the things that will be discussed at “We’re Part of the Solution”, with University of Colombo Department of Zoology and Environmental Science Prof. Devaka Weerakoon sharing a scientific perspective on Sri Lanka as a biodiversity hotspot, the challenges of keeping our biodiversity intact, and the consequences of disrupting our biodiversity. Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company CEO, Dilmah Conservation Trustee, and Biodiversity Sri Lanka and the UN Global Compact, Sri Lanka Boards of Directors Chair Dilhan C. Fernando will speak on biodiversity from a corporate and business perspective, especially from the point of view of plantations and tourism, discussing how industries that heavily depend on biodiversity can be impacted by the loss of this biodiversity and how important it is for businesses to take charge of this natural capital and preserve it. Centre for a Smart Future Founder/CEO and economist Anushka Wijesinha will weigh in from an economical perspective on how Sri Lanka is regarding the challenges of valuing the ecosystem, the Sinharaja Rainforest, the Muthurajawela marshland, and so on, and talk about how these systems can be valued and how that value can be communicated to decision makers. “We’re Part of the Solution” will also feature youth changemakers, sustainable business accelerator Goodlife X Founder CEO Randhula de Silva and marine environment protection advocacy group The Pearl Protectors Co-ordinator Muditha Katuwawala. Yasaratne explained that “We’re Part of the Solution” is aimed at Biodiversity Sri Lanka members and members of the general public, from academics to students to the private sector, as this is an issue that affects everyone. “This event is about saying that all of us are part of the solution,” Yasaratne said, adding: “We are part of the solution and if our biodiversity is kept intact the way it should be in nature, then we have a much more sustainable way of looking at things going forward.” “We’re Part of the Solution” will be held on 19 May at 3 p.m. For more information and to register, please visit the Biodiversity Sri Lanka Facebook page.