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President says fertiliser policy opposed by ‘entrenched lobbies’

  • Says chemical fertiliser ban has paved the way for innovation, investment

The ban on the import of chemical fertiliser has paved the way for innovation and investment into organic agriculture although opposed by entrenched lobbies, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said addressing the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland, on Monday (1).

“Sri Lanka recently restricted the imports of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, and weedicides due to public health concerns, water contamination, soil degradation, and biodiversity impacts. Although opposed by entrenched lobbies, this has created opportunities for innovation and investment into organic agriculture that will be healthier and more sustainable in future,” the President said.

He added that climate change affects all nations, but disproportionately impacts developing island nations and that developing nations which take bold steps towards climate change mitigation and adaptation deserve extensive support.

“It is essential that the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases fulfil their national commitments and assist developing nations navigate through the climate crisis,” the President said. 

He called upon all nations to work together in a spirit of true co-operation to overcome this crisis and sustain humanity and our planet.

“Sri Lanka’s updated Nationally Determined Contributions aims to reduce emissions towards achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. It is expected to increase carbon sequestration capacity by 7% by 2030 and steps are being taken to phase out use of fossil fuels,” the President said.

In 2019, Sri Lanka spearheaded the Colombo Declaration on Sustainable Nitrogen Management, which seeks to halve nitrogen waste by 2030, and the President said he looks forward to more countries joining this initiative. Sri Lanka also leads the Action Group on Mangrove Ecosystems and Livelihoods under the Commonwealth Blue Charter initiative, and the President said Sri Lanka is proud to be a co-lead of the “Global Energy Compact for No New Coal Power”.

He added that Sri Lanka is deeply aware of the impacts of climate change as its rich philosophical heritage, shaped by Lord Buddha’s teachings, places great value on environmental integrity. Therefore, the President said sustainability is at the heart of Sri Lanka’s national policy framework. He said Sri Lanka welcomes investments, technology transfers, and climate financing for its ambitious sustainability efforts, along with broader development assistance to support recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The COP26 – the UN Climate Change Conference – held as “a critical moment in the fight against climate change”,  is attended by around 25,000 people representing a wide range of fields, including heads of state, government representatives, scholars, and businessmen from 197 countries. It is reported that this is the largest conference ever held in the UK.

The President of the US, the President of France, the Prime Minister of the UK, the Prime Minister of Italy, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and the Secretary General of the United Nations also addressed the main summit.

Meanwhile, addressing the summit, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that the Earth was changing before our own eyes. The Secretary General pointed out that proper responsibilities should be fulfilled in this regard wisely and that those aspirations should be borne collectively.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Prince Charles said that all must work together to find practical ways to overcome inequalities so that the planet can be saved and the younger community’s future, which has been threatened, will be secured.

The COP26 United Nations Conference on Climate Change, which commenced on 31 October, will be held until 12 November in Glasgow.