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Government puts focus on “happiness” during development

Dec 12, 2017 7:09:28 AM - thesundayleader.lk

The Government says it has given vital consideration to economic prosperity, environmental sustainability, social equity and most importantly, the happiness of the people living in areas being developed.

Two delegations representing Sri Lanka from the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development and Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment took part in a conference on resilient infrastructure, to share experiences from Sri Lanka and draw lessons from the region for implementation in the country.

The conference titled “Holistic Vision for Resilient Infrastructure” was held on the 11th and 12th of December 2017 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia with the participation of over 10 countries from the Asian and South Asian Region, along with representatives from development banks, UN agencies and other regional partners.

Minster of Megapolis and Western Development Patali Champika Ranawaka, who was leading the delegation from the Ministry, made a presentation on the “Colombo Megapolis Master Plan and Investment Opportunities” highlighting the development plans of the country while sharing experiences and the challenges faced in driving the ambitious targets set by the Megapolis Ministry.

The Minster highlighted the approach taken by the Megapolis ministry to develop the Megapolis regions – especially the Colombo region – that will address various sectoral needs including housing, utilities, transport and waste management. The Minster went on to stress that the government “has given vital consideration to economic prosperity, environmental sustainability, social equity and most importantly, the happiness of the people living in these area when developing and implementing such plans”.

United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) organized the conference together with the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Royal Government of Cambodia and Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The main objective of the conference was to bring together stakeholders from countries in South East and South Asia to discuss essential matters, share experience and knowledge on promoting resilient infrastructure in the region.

Leading the delegation from the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, Dr. Wasantha Dissanayake, Additional Secretary (Environment Policy and Planning) shared how the Ministry is looking to promote high value investments aimed at safeguarding the environment while driving sustainable economic growth through his presentation “US$5 billion SDG Aligned Investment Opportunity: Sri Lanka Develops Natural Infrastructure”.

The conference also allowed the two delegations to take in lessons and best practices on a wide range of topics including de-risking projects to make them bankable; value-added approaches for infrastructure; climate change and adaptation; and holistic design and planning. These lessons will be of critical importance in the development planning process within the context of Sri Lanka’s drive for rapid development.

By facilitating this knowledge sharing between countries and sector experts, UNOPS aims to support countries in adapting lessons on resilience to their infrastructure design and planning process. As an operational arm of the United Nations with a global mandate on infrastructure, UNOPS takes a holistic approach to infrastructure, by integrating resilience, sustainability and equity in to the process.

During the opening session of the conference, UNOPS Regional Director for Asia, Sanjay Mathur highlighted the importance of resilient infrastructure stating, “Infrastructure development promotes economic growth, but resilient infrastructure promotes long term sustainable economic growth. This is why UNOPS is committed to support host governments in planning, designing and constructing resilient infrastructure.”

The delegations from Sri Lanka were accompanied by Sudhir Muralidharan Director a.i. for UNOPS Sri Lanka and Maldives, and Vidya Amarapala, Advisor to the Minster of Megapolis and Western Development.