(for the Pre-COP26 virtual event on Nitrogen for Climate and Green Recovery 27- 29 April 2021, Colombo)

Excellencies
Distinguished Participants
Ladies and Gentlemen

It gives me great pleasure to address you today at this preparatory high level regional e-meeting. This meeting represents a positive step towards addressing the important issue of Nitrogen Management ahead of the 26th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, hosted by the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland later this year.

Sustainable environmental policies require not only environmental conservation but also improving social and economic practices so that nations can sustain their people and their natural environments in the long term.

For its part, the Government of Sri Lanka has adopted balanced policies that promote the sustainability of our biodiversity, forest cover, waterways and oceanic resources alongside the socioeconomic requirements of our citizens. Inculcating a sense of environmental sensitivity and responsibility amongst our future generations is critically important and is included in our ongoing educational reforms.

At the Biodiversity Summit of the United Nations General Assembly last year, I made an appeal to world leaders for the better management of Nitrogen. Climate scientists have been studying and grappling with the impact of increased Carbon Dioxide emissions in the atmosphere for decades. I believe it is important to address the issue of Nitrogen waste in a similarly urgent way, and to broaden the ongoing discourse on climate change accordingly.

With agriculture comprising the primary means of livelihood for a significant section of our population, the issue of nitrogen management is particularly important to Sri Lanka. It is estimated that approximately 80% of the Nitrogen fertilizer used domestically is wasted, and ends up in the atmosphere, land, and water. Transportation and other industries also release gaseous reactive Nitrogen, which entraps heat and contributes to faster global warming.

I am aware that such issues are common to countries in our region, and that the adverse consequences of these issues will prove challenging to our Governments in the medium and long term. Improved Nitrogen management through comprehensive study, more awareness building and creating better solutions for the dual imperatives of sustaining economic activity and the environment is therefore of critical importance. Such actions need to be guided by timely policy decisions not just at the national level, but also regionally and globally.

I am confident that the deliberation of this forum will help bring together the Governments of the South Asian region towards a common understanding on this issue. This will in turn have a positive impact on the decisions arrived at during the 26th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change later this year. In concluding, I convey my best wishes to you for a successful and productive forum.

Thank you.


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