Dilmah Conservation, this year, partnered with Colombo University’s Faculty of Science to mark World Environment Day (WED) 2015. A public lecture and the finale of a student quiz competition took place at the College House in Colombo, June 5th. This year’s WED theme was “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume With Care.” It was a warning to all of humanity that the planet’s natural resources are being overused.
“Many of the Earth’s ecosystems are nearing critical tipping points of depletion or irreversible change, pushed by high population growth and economic development,” the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) warned. “By 2050, if current consumption and production patterns remain the same and with a rising population expected to reach 9.6 billion, we will need three planets to sustain our ways of living and consumption.”
Leading Sri Lankan environmental expert, Dr. Sumith Pilapitiya, who was the chief guest at the event, spoke about sustainability issues Sri Lanka is facing with his lecture titled “Sustainable Use or Sustained Abuse.” Dr. Pilapitiya began by reminding the audience that Sri Lankans had spoken of and dealt with sustainability long before the western world started addressing it.
“Focusing only on economic growth is inevitably unsustainable,” Dr. Pilapitiya said. “Development decisions should be based on natural resource availability to be sustainable.’
To coincide with WED 2015, the group Base for Enthusiasts of Environmental Science and Zoology (BEEZ) organised an essay writing competition, a photography competition and the quiz competition to commemorate the day.
Several leading members of the field attended the event, including the Dean of the Colombo University Science Faculty Prof. K.R. Ranjith Mahanama, the former Head of the Department of Zoology Dr. Nirmalie Pallewatta and the new Head Prof. W.B. Yapa. Other members of the academic community, university students and school students from around the country also participated. Pointing out that it cannot be an either-or choice between development and the environment, and that development must also take place, Dr. Pilapitiya had a message for environmentalists as well.
“Environmentalists must be rational, not emotional, in their approach to environment and development,” he said.