A briefing session on the outcome of the Workshop on Climate Change and Coastal Zones was conducted by RCSS and Stimson Centre to representatives of key Embassies/ High Commissions resident in Colombo, on 23rd March 2009, following the workshop. The invitees included members of South Asian diplomatic missions and those of the USA, EU, China, and Japan, observer states of SAARC. Representatives of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) attending to the subject of Climate Change also participated.
The briefing session endeavoured to share the outcome of the workshop with representatives of policy makers, in this instance, members of the diplomatic missions. The invitees were briefed on the necessity of climate change to be mainstreamed into all aspects of policy planning on coastal zones; coastal zone management to focus on food security, water security, habitat preservation, poverty alleviation, protection of livelihoods, and risk assessment for infrastructure development; policy action to be oriented to the scale of natural systems – habitats, catchments, ecological zones – rather than boundaries of administrative jurisdictions; the necessity of emissions mitigation; disaster management preparedness and response strategies; to engage the local communities, incorporate local knowledge, and reflect the local specifics of the particular environments, during planning and implementation of policies.
The discussion that followed the presentations focused on the lack of financial resources to acquire technical options available for mitigation and adaptation problems (e.g., desalination to secure freshwater supplies); the requirement of behavioral changes from human society and conceptual changes from decision makers; developing and implementing coastal management strategies that are holistic in approach; mechanisms for monitoring the implementation of the existing plans and gathering and diffusing policy lessons and best practices; and the question of whether existing institutions at local, national, regional and global levels, should continue, be reformed or new institutions created.
The briefers were Dr. David Michel from the Stimson Centre, and, Dr. Nirmali Pallewatte (Colombo University), Dr. R Venkatesan (SACEP) and Dr. K.D.D. Wijewardane (Coast Conservation Department) from Sri Lanka. Executive Director Professor Amal Jayawardane presided over the briefing session.