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SL mangrove restoration initiative recognized as an UN World Restoration Flagship

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Mangrove forests play critical roles in Sri Lanka’s economy and climate resilience but are rapidly degrading due to climate change and pollution. A large-scale initiative to increase mangrove cover across Sri Lanka by more than 50 per cent was today named as one of seven UN World Restoration Flagships.

The World Restoration Flagship awards are part of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration – led by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) – which aims to prevent, halt, and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and in every ocean. The awards track notable initiatives following global commitments to restore one billion hectares – an area larger than China.

Mangrove forests thrive along the border between land and sea and are the first line of defence for coastlines, reducing erosion from storm surges, currents, waves, and tides. Their intricate root system makes them attractive to fish and other organisms seeking nurseries, food, and shelter. This need for the ecosystem’s mitigating effect was dramatically stressed during the 2004 tsunami, which killed more than 30,000 people in Sri Lanka. The award for the Sri Lanka Mangrove Regeneration initiative was announced by UNEP Advocate for Life Under Water and actor, Jason Momoa.

Following the tsunami, Sri Lanka led a mass-drive to plant mangroves. However, noticing that only approximately three per cent of the planted saplings survived, the country changed tactics: from planting mangroves to nurturing them. By creating the right conditions for mangroves to thrive, the plants started regenerating naturally. Ecosystem restoration on the island is now science-driven, co-led by local communities, and focused on restoring the natural balance in the ecosystem. Thanks to the country’s partnership with the Australian and UK governments, the focus on ensuring growth has already resulted in 500 hectares of newly restored mangroves since the initiative was founded in 2015.

Today, this resilient and biodiverse ecosystem provides natural protection against climate change – including cyclones, floods, sea level rise, wave action and coastal erosion –as well as medicine, fish, and other food, especially in poorer communities.

“As an island nation, mangroves are the first line of defence for us. Investing in restoration is investing in well-being, societal health and economic prosperity of Sri Lanka. It is also our contribution to global priorities and our deep understanding nurtured by living with nature, that all living beings, not just humans, share this wonderful ecosystem,” said Mr. B.K Prabath Chandrakeerthi, Secretary, Ministry of Environment of Sri Lanka.

In 2015, Sri Lanka became the first nation to legally protect all its mangrove forests and established the National Expert Committee on Mangrove Conservation and Sustainable Use, spurring several actions to protect and manage mangroves including new declarations under the legislations.

In 2020, the Government of Sri Lanka adopted a National Policy on Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Mangrove Ecosystems in Sri Lanka. To maintain the sustainability of the policy, the “National Strategic Action Plan for Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Mangroves in Sri Lanka” was developed in 2022, complemented by National Guidelines. In 2022, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution sponsored by Sri Lanka to celebrate 1st of March as World Seagrass Day. Seagrasses are closely linked to mangroves and the health of the overall ocean ecosystem.

Recognised as a World Restoration Flagship, Sri Lanka’s mangrove restoration drive is now eligible for technical and financial UN support. This will bring it closer to realize its 2030 goal of restoring 10,000 hectares of mangroves – more than 50 per cent of the country’s mangrove cover – benefiting 5,000 households and creating over 4,000 new jobs.

“Mangroves are one of the planet’s most productive ecosystems. Sri Lanka’s unwavering commitment to their restoration is one of the best possible bargains to be made with nature,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP. “The country’s relentless work on perfecting the planting of mangroves shows how restoration must be a long-term investment. Sri Lanka’s experience is one which many other nations would do well to draw from.”

Sri Lanka expects to be able to achieve its restoration 2030 goals with additional funding of USD 3.5 million to support livelihood activities, maintain restoration sites and restore channels r, as well as cleaning and boundary management, awareness raising and calculation of the value of carbon sequestered by the restoration of mangroves.

As a World Restoration Flagship, Sri Lanka’s mangrove restoration is recognized as one of the best examples of large-scale and long-term ecosystem restoration in any country or region, embodying the 10 Restoration Principles of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. The announcement of seven new World Restoration Flagships was made ahead of the 6th UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-6), held between February 26 and March 1, 2024. The Assembly will convene the world’s Environment Ministers in Nairobi, Kenya, to address the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste.

(decadeonrestoration.org)

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Shooting incident ‘targeting’ former MP Uddika was self-orchestrated : Police

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Sri Lanka Police says it has been uncovered that the incident where several gunshots had been fired at the vehicle belonging to former Anuradhapura District parliamentarian Uddika Premaratne, had been orchestrated by the actor-turned-politician himself with the assistance of an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) in the area.

Speaking during a press conference held in Colombo today (13), the Police Media Spokesman DIG Nihal Thalduwa said that the suspects connected to the incident have been identified so far following investigations carried out by the CID.

On September 17, 2023, a group of unidentified gunmen had opened fire at Premaratne’s car soon after he returned to his residence in Anuradhapura at around 10:35 p.m. The parliamentarian had managed to escape unharmed.

The perpetrators, who had arrived in a car, were said to have targeted the parliamentarian who was walking towards the house after parking his vehicle. The left rear door glass of Premaratne’s car was damaged in the shooting incident for which the gunmen were believed to have used a pistol.

Anuradhapura police initiated investigations soon after the incident was reported and Special Task Force (STF) personnel were deployed to beef up the security near the MP’s house. Later, investigations into the matter were handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

However, the former MP claimed that the existing system within the country was the reason behind the recent shooting incident targeting him.

Speaking in Parliament in this regard, MP Premaratne said that while he believed the system was the cause behind the recent shooting outside his residence, it is also the reason why the country is in the state it is today.

Later on 27 February 2024, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) MP resigned as a Member of Parliament, following which S.C. Muthukumarana of SLPP was appointed to fill the vacant MP seat.

However, Premaratne was later reported to have flown to Canada, seeking political asylum, which he refuted, and claimed that he was expecting a work visa in Canada.

In 2020, the popular actor was announced as a candidate for the 2020 parliamentary election from the Anuradhapura District as a member of the Sri Lanka People’s Freedom Alliance, a political alliance led by the SLPP formed in 2019. 

He obtained 133,550 votes and won a seat in the 16th Parliament of Sri Lanka.

(adaderana.lk)

(This story, originally published by adaderana.lk has not been edited by SLM staff)

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Apple is the world’s first $1 trillion brand: Kantar

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Kantar BrandZ’s Top 10 Most Valuable Global Brands 2024 has named Apple as the world’s first trillion-dollar brand, holding onto pole position for the third consecutive year. 

Google, Microsoft, and Amazon join Apple atop the rankings, with McDonald’s rounding up the top 5.

Demonstrating how effective AI has become for driving brand value, NVIDIA has lept 18 places to crack the top 10 for the first time, holding sixth position with a 178% year-on-year brand value increase. 

Facebook rejoined the Top 10 after a one-year absence, while Oracle joined the Top 10 for the first time. 

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The G7 Summit begins today

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Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries are meeting for a three-day summit, starting today (13 June) to discuss global affairs in the southern region of Puglia (Apulia), Italy.  

Heads of state of the seven members – the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and the United Kingdom – as well as the chiefs of the European Council and the European Commission will be present at the event.

Italy, the host of this year’s event, has extended an invitation to more than 10 other countries for sideline discussions. These include UAE’s Mohamed bin Zayed, Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Notable absentees are Egypt and Saudi Arabia, who it  is reported, had been invited.

Support for Ukraine is top of the agenda. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is scheduled to arrive on the summit’s first day for two sessions dedicated to the war-torn country. The G7’s most anticipated outcome is an agreement over a $50bn loan for Ukraine backed by profits accrued on Russian assets frozen in the West. 

The war on Gaza is also expected to dominate talks. 

Pope Francis will also be among the guests – the first time a pontiff has been invited to the summit – for a session dedicated to artificial intelligence (AI). Other specific sessions will be on migration, financial issues and the situation in the Asia Pacific. 

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