6 Ensure environmental sustainability

Where are we?

Over the years, there has been a noticeable deterioration of environmental quality in Sri Lanka. The forest cover has continued to decline steadily and in 2005 it covered less than 30 percent of the total land area.  Sri Lanka has introduced many rules and regulations to reduce the use of green house gases.

7 out of 10 Sri Lankans still live in areas classified as rural. Projections indicate that over half of the total population will be living in cities and towns within the next decade but the Government policy is to discourage urbanization by accelerating the development of services and facilities in rural areas.

Sri Lanka’s high biodiversity includes a diverse array of ecosystems and species, and careful management of natural resources is required balancing development needs and ecosystem services. It require appreciation of the ecosystem services, minimizing harmful land use practices and in depth understanding by all on factors affecting the quality of air, soil and water resources.

Sri Lanka uses Integrated Strategic Environment Assessments to help guide decisions and policies that promote climate change adaptation, encourage communities to use environmentally friendly best practices, foster green growth, reduce disaster risks and protect vulnerable ecosystems.

In Sri Lanka, nearly 85 percent of households had sustainable access to improved drinking water in 2006/07 compared to 68 percent in 1990. Sri Lanka plans to increase the green cover significantly and improve the contribution of renewable energy to the total energy mix up to 10% by 2015 with a significant generation from biomass sources.


UNDP's work in Sri Lanka

  • Acting as one in disaster response

    Since the Tsunami of December 2004, the Ministry of Disaster Management and the Disaster Management Centre (DMC), have worked together with multiple stakeholders involved in disaster response to set up legal and institutional systems, prepare vulnerable communities for disasters and enhance efforts to minimize disaster risks. Sri Lanka is proud to have a 24/7 early warning and response capacity, which is one of the many significant outcomes of these efforts.more

  • Forestry program funded by Australia to support 90,000 farmers in Sri Lanka’s dry zone

    The Government of Sri Lanka, Government of Australia and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today (11 October 2012) launched a new AUD 5 million community forestry program, which will increase forest cover and support small farmers living in Sri Lanka’s dry zone. Forests are a critical environmental and economic resource for Sri Lanka. During the past hundred years Sri Lanka has lost half of its forest cover. more

0.61 years
until 2015

1990 2015
Targets for MDG7
  1. Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources
  2. Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss
    • Proportion of land area covered by forest and proportion of species threatened with extinction
    • CO2 emissions, total, per capita and per $1 GDP (PPP)
    • Consumption of ozone-depleting substances
    • Proportion of fish stocks within safe biological limits
    • Proportion of total water resources used
    • Proportion of terrestrial and marine areas protected
  3. Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
    • Proportion of population using an improved drinking water source
    • Proportion of population using an improved sanitation facility
  4. Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020
    • Proportion of urban population living in slums