18 June, 2021

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Challenges For A Sustainable Economic Development In Sri Lanka

By Thisal Dewundara

Thisal Dewundara

First of all, I would like to define sustainable development.  According to the Brundtland report it is “a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

But it is important to go further in the definition: “Sustainable development has 2 concepts: the first one is the needs, particularly the needs of the poor, to whom priority should be given. The second is the idea that the actual state of technology and social organization impose limitations to the capacity of the environment to satisfy present and future needs.”

This definition is an invitation to think differently. Sri Lanka has to thrive by following this path for a sustainable development, which is taking care of poverty, and economic development while taking into account environmental constraints. Sri Lankan growth rate is high (8%), true story, but if we dig a little further, we can see that the income inequality has been increasing over the years. Sri Lankan Gini index is 42 on a scale of 100, with 100 representing a perfect inequality. Our country is among the most unequal countries of the world. Moreover, 12% of the population is still living below poverty line and the share of the population over 60 will double from 10 to 20 % over the next 25 years; this trend will have an aggregate impact on the economy through labor force participation and health care.

Sustainable development implies to work simultaneously on different objectives, which will take Sri Lanka towards prosperity and peace. It is not about achieving an ideal but it is a process aiming towards constant improvement taking into account the environmental dimension in order for the whole population to benefit from it.

I decided to point out some main challenges for a sustainable economic development in Sri Lanka:

 

  • The challenge for production and consumption thanks to responsible producers and consumers who would take into account life cycles of their products and services.

 

  • The challenge of developing knowledge and information, training, while valorizing research and innovation which are the basis for Sri Lanka’s competitiveness.

 

  • The challenge of climate change and energy, which requires more responsibility in the consumption of those in Sri Lanka who have the chance to be wealthier. The development of sustainable energies, proper land settlements while taking into account vulnerable activities and people.

 

  • The challenge for a sustainable mobility looking for an innovative transportation system, which could satisfy our economical and ecological performances.

 

  • The challenge for biodiversity conservation and sustainable management. Working for a better knowledge of biodiversity and for a better appreciation of its contribution to our most essential needs, on our economy, our urbanization, for an eco-innovative Sri Lanka.

 

  • The challenge of demography and social integration, by fighting against any kind of exclusion, leaning upon the multicultural dimension of Sri Lanka.

 

  • The last but not the least: The challenge for proper governance:  I promised myself not to say what it shouldn’t be, as I think we have some good examples…But according to me it should be one that facilitates the adaptation to changes and help Sri Lankan society to develop by taking into account ALL the stakeholders.

 

Of course these challenges are not easy, Sri Lanka requires a new economy not only Sri Lanka perhaps the whole world. Capitalism and democracy are proved to be the most effective in our world, but it is important to think about which form of capitalism and which type of democratic participation we want for our country?

Whatever this new economy will be, it needs to put investment in the heart of these challenges: Reconceive investments. We are still living in a world where investment is about a mindless and relentless pursuit of consumption growth. We need to invest to nurture and protect the ecological assets on which our future depends. We need to invest in the idea of a simple and meaningful prosperity by providing capabilities for our people to flourish.

The main point I’m trying to make is this. It is up to us to make those changes starting on our own scale, there won’t be a one sized solution, and as one of my teacher said: “We are all learning by doing, but the operative word is doing”.

*Thisal Dewundara holds a BBA from ESSEC Business School (Paris) and is currently preparing a Master in Tourism Management at the Centre for Higher Studies on Tourism (IREST/Sorbonne). He also works as a revenue management analyst at the SNCF (French National Railway Corporation).

Thisal Dewundara, participated at the French-Sri Lankan Diaspora Youth Workshop “Post-War Reconciliation Dialogue for a Sustainable Peace”, which took place in Paris, on October 27th, 2012. He participated as a panelist on the theme “Towards an effective and sustainable economic development”.

The event was organized by What’s Next!, a forum comprising of post-graduates and young professionals of Sri Lankan origin residing in France. What’s Next! seeks to promote a sustainable peace in Sri Lanka through intellectual exchange and multicultural dialogue.

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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    While ‘ Greed’ and not ‘ Need’ underpins development and the limits to growth remain undefined, sustainable development is a myth. Wealth creation based on promotion of unnecessary consumption of goods and services is the lynch pin of the western model of development. Is accumulation or renunciation the path to follow in country like Sri Lanka, where renunciation has underpinned both Buddhism and Hinduism. Renunciation at various levels and voluntarily sharing the excess with those without, are very likely the path to sustainable development.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • 0
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    The policy of sustanabile developement policy stances that corrosponding to these viwes of POOR also tend to be capture in simple formulas.”Free Market for the poor”,…..”Make human right sustanital”…”Deal with conflct First” …”Give more money to the to the POOREST” and “Foregin aid kills country development” and the like.These ideas all have important elements of reality.
    Needless to say these ideas have much space for average poor people with thier HOPES and doubts,limitations and asprirations,belifes. Rural and urban Poor and poverty get confusuon of develoepment.
    If poor or have-not appear at all it is usually as tragic episode,but not as a sources of knowledge ,not as people to be consulted about what they think or want or do.
    The all too often the economics of poverty gets not by mistaken is due to gap between RICH and POOR OF THE UNEVEN DEVELOPMENT OF CAPITALISM AND RUTHLESS EXPOLITAION POOR BY RICH HAD BEEN CREATED VAST WEALTH CONCERTAION BY FEW BILLIONERS OF RULING CLASS OF FEW.
    This economy developent become unsustiatable unequal and our economy progress since 1948 has hinder overall many field.Due such weak capitalism and low level of economy develoepment poor possess very little weath,it is assum the there in nothing interesting about thier economic EXISTENCE.
    Fight agianst povert of RURAL POOR and libreate get out of poverty of milions RURAL POOR our countryside, Simple problem and beget SIMPLE SOLUATION and most priority of Sustanabile economtic developement of Sri Lanka.
    As nation we have abandond such model and PATH OF DEVELOMENT OF CAPITALISM IN OUR ISLAND.We really not understand RURAL POOR LIVES IN ALL THIER COMPLEXITY OF RICHNESS OF LIFE CAN CONTRIBUTED NATIONL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PAST FIFTY OR SIXTY YERAS.
    The crux of matter is sustainable devepoment remain unsolve by emient and elities of Engilsh speaking school of thought diviating the nationl reality urgent need of social clssses of Rural Sri lanka.

  • 0
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    Hello

    We all know about challenges what you have written. These are just text book challeges that are relavant to any developing country. Please let us how should we provide solutions for these specific challenges. That is the important thing.

    I challenge your Brundtland report definition of sustainable development. It is not clear and very broad. You can not use this definition and should not use this for policy formulation in Sri Lanka. Just use concept of weak sustainability and strong sustainability.

    you talked about future needs as Brundtland reports does. Who know about the needs of future generation? Can you indentify their utility functions. You do not. To be a good researcher and policy analyst do not belive and depend on text books or UN reports. Be critical minded.

    We Sri lankans praticed sustainable development over more than 2500 years. We had really good system. Do not import nonsense concept from the west that failed in those countries.The solution for climate change, energy crisis, and other poverty related questions is just practice simple life. This is the Lord Buddha’s thaught

    I read two articles here in your forum. They may be good as primary documents for presenting in the forum like yours.I would say that they do not provide any valueble policy implications for Sri Lanka. If you participate annual conference in atleast Sri Lanka economic association, you may realize what the sri Lankan economy is and what Sri lankan experts are talking about SL? Before providing policy analysis about Sri Lankan economy based on western economic theories, Please learn about Sri Lankan economy (I challenge Western economic theory that does not explain the actual behavioural pattern of the economy. So I am trying to develop more rich concepts to understand the third world development particularly in Sri Lanka)

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