Launch of ISEA-North
The website and the Map Atlas on Integrated Strategic Environment Assessment for the Northern Province (ISEA-North) conducted by UNDP, in collaboration with the Central Environment Authority, the Disaster Management Centre and UNEP, was launched on May 26, 2011 by Hon. Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development.
The ISEA –North is aimed at better understanding the natural resource base in the Northern Province following the conflict and to provide strategic information support to facilitate rapid development. A key outcome of the process is that assessments are carried out early to identify potentially adverse effects on the environment. The ISEA process produced a series of Opportunity Maps (www.isea.lk) which identifies the areas in the Northern Province that can be developed with minimum environmental concerns and highlighted the number of potential environment issues associated with the proposed development initiatives. The maps provide data on the locations of jungles, mineral resources, water, fisheries resources and residential areas in the North and will be beneficial to those engaged in development activities.
Identifying suitable locations for development ahead of time will facilitate environment clearance for larger projects, explained Hon. Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Minister of Environment, speaking during the occasion.
Over 25 agencies worked together in this venture and the ISEA-North process capitalized on the technical strengths of Government agencies. UNDP provided technical, coordination and financial assistance in new data generation including mapping of water resources, mineral resources, archeological resources and boundaries of forest and wild life to facilitate the process. In addition, UNDP also partnered with UNEP Post Conflict and Disaster Management Branch to obtain specific technical assistance for ISEA-North.
Addressing the gathering, Mr. Douglas Keh, Country Director of UNDP stated that a golden era has dawned in Sri Lanka. “There are very few situations in the world where conflict was brought to an end so abruptly and categorically, exposing in this case an entire part of the country for change, hope and development,” he said. He also commended the extraordinary commitment provided by the country’s leadership, not just in development, but also in launching this assessment, at a crucial juncture in the country’s history. “It demonstrates the level of political maturity that is not always evident in other parts of the world at this stage of post conflict recovery.”
Noting that this is a proud moment for the UN system to be associated under the government leadership, he reiterated UN’s commitment to support the Government, as the country embarks on a process of development and change.
Hon. Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Minister of Environment, Hon. Dulip Wijesekera, Deputy Minister of Disaster Management, Mr. Charitha Herath, Chairman, Central Environment Authority, Mr. Douglas Keh, Country Director, UNDP, Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunge, Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Major General Gamini Hettiarchchi, Director General of Disaster Management Centre and Ms. Ramani Ellepola, Director General, Central Environment Authority were among those present at the occasion. The keynote address on “Ecosystem based Disaster Risk Reduction (Eco-DRR)” was delivered by Dr. Conor Skehan, Advisor to the Government of Ireland and UNEP Technical Advisor for the ISEA-North.