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‘Shree Ramayan Trails’ set to revitalize tourism (Pics)



Indian High Commissioner in Colombo – Mr. Santosh Jha has said that Tourism promotion has been an ‘important source of economic activity’ for Sri Lanka and ‘promotion of Ramayana trail holds a significant promise.’

He said this during the official launch of the “Shree Ramayan Trails” Project organised by the Supreme Global Holdings group yesterday (April 21) in Colombo.

He added that the ‘Ramayana trail also confirms the deep people-to-people connect and shared civilisational antiquity of India and Sri Lanka.’

“I must also recall that our leaders have pledged to promote the Buddhist circuit and the Ramayana trail in both our countries in the Vision Document that was issued when our leaders – President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Narendra Modi – had their summit meeting in New Delhi in July 2023. I must add that this is the vision of our leaders that guides our actions today in all areas,” he added.

“Our effort to establish the land bridge, on which we have begun our joint work, promises to further provide fillip to our ongoing efforts to promote tourism between our two countries. No doubt that it will be a game changer.  It will, of course, bring many benefits to communities along the alignment of this connectivity but more specifically, it will make Ramayana and Buddhism tourism easier and more alluring to people on both sides,” the High Commissioner added.

The High Commissioner joined the inauguration event of Ramayana Trail Project in Sri Lanka along with a host of dignitaries including Swami Govind Dev Giri Maharaj – Treasurer of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, Sagala Ratnayaka – Chief of Staff and National Security Advisor to Sri Lanka’s President, former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and former member of the European and British Parliament Niranjan Dev Adhitya.

The ‘Shree Ramayan Trails’ project aims to transform nine key sites across Sri Lanka into world-class monuments, epitomizing the spiritual and historical essence of the epic Ramayana, with cutting edge technology.

From Adam’s Bridge in the Mannar Basin to Seetha Eliya in Nuwara Eliya, each site is chosen to tell a part of the Ramayana story in a way that is tangible and transformative. According to the Supreme Global Holdings group, these sites will serve as beacons of cultural heritage and spiritual introspection, drawing visitors from around the globe.

This project, executed by Supreme Global Holdings in partnership with powerful regional investors, is an investment of over USD 50 million and aims to boost tourism and bilateral ties while fusing history, heritage, culture and spirituality with technology.


President Ranil conveys condolences at Iranian Embassy




President Ranil Wickremesinghe paid a visit to the Iranian Embassy in Colombo this morning (22) to extend his condolences on the untimely tragic passing of the late Iranian President, Ebrahim Raisi.

Upon arrival at the Embassy, President Wickremesinghe was warmly received by the Iranian Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Dr. Alireza Delkhosh, and the Embassy staff.

During his visit, the President engaged in brief conversation with the Iranian Ambassador and others present, conveying his heartfelt condolences on behalf of the Sri Lankan government and himself to the Iranian government and people for the loss of the Late President Ebrahim Raisi.

(President’s Media Division)

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‘Tea for Harmony’ in Colombo (Pics)




A Chinese cultural event was held in Colombo yesterday (May 22), featuring cultural components from the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region located in Southern China.

Titled ‘Tea for Harmony – Yaji Cultural Salon 2024’, the event showcased a catwalk featuring Guangxi ethnic wear , a Guangxi pictorial tour exhibition, traditional song and dance performances by China and Sri Lanka.

The event, which coincided with the International Tea Day, featured an intangible cultural heritage tea art experience as well as tea products from both countries.

The event was attended by a host of distinguished guests including Chinese ambassador to Sri Lanka – Mr. Qi Zhenhong and Madam Jin Qian, Speaker of Sri Lankan Parliament – Mr. Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena and Mr. Lai Fuqiang – Level-I Counsel of the Department of Culture and Tourism of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Addressing the gathering, the Chinese ambassador – Mr. Qi Zhenhong said that tea has become a significant medium for people in China and around the world to connect and be friends.

He added, “The people of China and Sri Lanka share a long history of growing, making, tasting and drinking tea, fostering exchanges and mutual learning. Though tea is produced in different places, it derives from a common source. Tea has become a common part of lifestyle of the two peoples and an important link to connect and bring them closer. I hope that everyone here today will enjoy a delightful cup of tea, watch the performances, and enjoy the wonderful time. I believe that tea, as a medium today, will further promote cultural exchanges between the two countries and strengthen the friendship between the two peoples.”

(Pics : Shanika Jayasekara)

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President highlights Global North’s failure in climate change financing




President Ranil Wickremesinghe delivered a compelling speech at the 10th World Water Forum, held in Bali, Indonesia today (May 20), highlighting the stark contrast between global funding priorities, pointing out the willingness of the Global North to fund death and destruction in Ukraine while showing reluctance to finance measures to combat climate change.
Accordingly, President Wickremesinghe proposed a 10% levy on the annual profits of global tax evasion assets deposited in tax havens, estimated at $1.4 trillion annually. He suggested that funds raised through this levy could support Blended Finance projects focused on climate change adaptation and mitigation.

In his opening remarks, President Wickremesinghe extended his gratitude to President Joko Widodo of Indonesia for hosting the event, which centres around the theme “Water for Shared Prosperity.” He praised Indonesia for its leadership in promoting the “Sustainable Management of Lakes” resolution at UNEA-5, emphasizing the collective responsibility in managing water resources, essential for all life and ecosystems.

Following is the speech delivered by President Ranil Wickremesinghe;

At the outset let me thank the President of the Republic of Indonesia, H.E. Joko Widodo for hosting the 10th World Water Forum in Bali. The theme ‘Water for shared prosperity’ focuses on collective responsibility in managing water resources, the life blood of all living beings and ecosystem services. This follows the “Sustainable Management of Lakes” Resolution proposed by Indonesia at the UNEA-5.

During the UNEA -6 held this year, the European Union together with Sri Lanka brought about the resolution “6/13 Effective and inclusive solutions for strengthening water policies to achieve sustainable development in the context of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution”.

I also take this opportunity to congratulate the Government of Indonesia for taking the initiative during the G20 Presidency to launch the Global Blended Finance Alliance. Sri Lanka expresses its willingness to become a pioneering member.

Climate Change and water stress are two sides of the same coin. The cumulative effects of Climate Change are the main reason for what we see today as the water resource crisis. According to IPCC projected climate scenarios till 2090, Sri Lanka’s dry zone will get drier and the wet zone will get wetter in an unprecedented manner. Sea level rise will cause salt water intrusion in coastal areas resulting in salinization of land. I took this example from Sri Lanka while appreciating the fact that this is what is happening all over the world.

In global terms the solution to water stress revolves around climate mitigation and adaptation. Combating the triple planetary crisis with specific measures aiming at water. In the Nationally Determined Contributions water is classified under the adaptation sectors. On the other hand, mitigation is equally important as emissions are the root cause. Combating the threats to water resources posed by climate change requires colossal amounts of financial resources.

The Global North has failed miserably in adhering to the commitments to provide financial resources for Climate Change. There is a notable lack of political will after the euphoria of the Glasgow COP was over. Climate Change denial is gaining ground in the West.

The establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund, after a long drag, if effectively implemented can help to bridge the gap. This is a big IF. The Summit for a new Global Financing Pact will hopefully reach a conclusion by September this year. Nevertheless, the final outcome will depend on the results of the US Presidential Elections in November.

The OECD in 2021 projected the investment for global water related infrastructure at US $ 6.7 trillion for 2030 and US$ 22 trillion for 2058. The UNEP Report 2023 “Underfinanced – Underprepared” estimate the under financed gap to combat climate change at US$ 194 – 366 billion per year. The Global North is willing to fund death and destruction in the Ukraine. But there is an unwillingness to fund measures to avoid death and destruction caused by climate change.

Since money is not coming our way in anticipated amounts and at anticipated pace, to overcome the resource gap, Sri Lanka presented to COP 28 the Tropical Belt Initiative. A novel concept of harnessing commercial investments in the natural forests, mangroves, swamps, grassland water bodies and other natural resources in the Tropical Belt towards tackling the triple planetary crisis. The Tropical Belt from the time of its existence has been a ‘shield’ for the whole world. It is a catalytic accelerator of solutions to the ongoing triple planetary crisis. Investment in the tropical belt will bring in transformative changes to combat the triple planetary crisis.

In this context, the Initiative on Global Blended Finance will enable the Global South to mobilise the much needed financial resources. The US$ 9.4 billion available to commence this fund is a good example of leveraging concessional finance. The Tropical Belt Initiative will also benefit from this facility. In this context Sri Lanka proposes a 10% levy on the annual profits of global tax evasion assets deposited in tax havens. The annual profits are estimated at US$ 1.4 trillion per annum. The levy can be enforced by imposing sanctions, similar to those imposed on Russian Banks on the Banks and the Financial Institutes which fail to implement the levy. The monies raised by these levies to be made available to be utilised by the Blended Finance projects on Climate Change adaptation and mitigation.

The Global Blended Finance initiative is a supplement to the Loss and damage funds – not an alternative. These two measures must work in tandem. Therefore at this forum, let us express our appreciation for the hard work done by Indonesia in proposing this Initiative at the G20 culminating the establishment of the Alliance Secretariat.

Again, our thanks to President Joko Widodo for his contribution both in respect to the management of water resources and for bringing together the Global Blended Alliance.”

The World Water Summit, themed “Water for Common Prosperity,” began on May 18 in Bali, Indonesia, bringing together world leaders, experts, academics, entrepreneurs, and policymakers. The conference aims to unite nations in a collaborative effort to address global water issues.

Since its inception in 1997, the World Water Summit has been held every three years, serving as a premier platform for countries worldwide to share experiences and knowledge on best practices for water management. The summit facilitates dialogues among stakeholders on water, sanitation challenges, and sustainable development goals.

This year’s event sees the participation of key United Nations organizations, including the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the United Nations International Children’s Fund, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, and the United Nations Climate Change Organization.

Meanwhile, Indonesian President Joko Widodo hosted a dinner at the Bali Cultural Park yesterday (19) for the heads of state and representatives attending the conference. President Ranil Wickremesinghe was also in attendance.

(President’s Media Division)

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