The Sri Lanka Business and Biodiversity (SL B&B) Platform of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce recently appointed its second Advisory Committee for its new term of operation. The overall mandate of the Platform is to encourage dialogue amongst stakeholders, and to help raise awareness of biodiversity and sustainability issues amongst the Sri Lankan business community. Working to assist companies in understanding and mainstreaming biodiversity, the Platform has the ultimate aim of ensuring that a majority of companies will eventually be on a sustainable ecological footing with a vastly reduced negative impact upon biodiversity. Dilhan C. Fernando
The Advisory Committee's newly appointed Chairman- Mr. Dilhan C. Fernando- is Director Marketing of Ceylon Tea Services PLC. In addition to his responsibilities in tea, Mr. Fernando manages the humanitarian and environmental arm of Dilmah, utilizing revenue from the company's global sales. Under his leadership, Dilmah Conservation works on much needed environmental conservation projects focused on enhancing knowledge and education, habitat restoration and species conservation. Together with the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) and IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Sri Lanka, Dilmah Conservation pioneered the establishment of the SL B&B Platform.
The other members of the second Advisory Committee representing the Platform's initiating partners are Mr. Samantha Ranatunga- Deputy Chairman of the CCC- and Dr. Ananda Mallawatantri- Country Representative of IUCN Sri Lanka. Mr. Jonathan Alles- Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director of Hatton National Bank PLC and Mr. Sumal Perera- Chairman of Access Group- now represent the Platform's Patron Members, whilst tourism industry veteran Mr. Prema Cooray, brings in his expertise in merging the business sector and the environment.
SL B&B PLATFORM'S KEY FOCUS AREAS
Enhanced Information Flow: Under the new Chairman's stewardship, the Advisory Committee will focus its efforts on facilitating information flow among companies, encouraging them to share best practices and demonstrate that sustainability and profitability need not be mutually-exclusive. Another aspect is to ensure that relevant case studies and effective tools and mechanisms are readily available to companies. Recognizing that often companies have trouble navigating through a surfeit of data and not taking advantage of the best tools and other mechanisms available, the Platform will endeavor to streamline and simplify this information, providing assistance and support for greater uptake.
Mainstreaming Biodiversity and Raising Awareness: The Platform will continue to assist companies in mainstreaming biodiversity and raise awareness through its training portfolio encouraging businesses to ask questions and exchange ideas. A novel feature will be its enhanced capacity to host webinars and 'Ask the Expert' events. The Platform being a member of the Global Business and Biodiversity Partnership of the CBD Secretariat, lends a cache and legitimacy to these efforts which will be very important for companies working with other stakeholders, particularly governments and civil society.
Strengthening SMEs: An important role of the Platform in its coming term will be in the targeting of companies, particularly SMEs that are embedded in the supply chains of large corporations. Very often, even in the case of huge multi-nationals, it is their supply chain that has the largest impact on biodiversity. The Sri Lankan SME sector represents the bulk of the local manufacturing industry. With the advent of the open economy, these SMEs are gradually put through the acid test in the market place, where they are compelled to compete with other exporters. Being market-friendly is therefore an important requisite and the Platform will work towards strengthening their competitiveness through access to more information and support in their efforts to meaningfully address their impacts on biodiversity.
Enhanced Outreach to Business: The Platform will continue to build and strengthen international relations by contacting key global business partners in a wide variety of sectors for sharing their experiences with the Sri Lankan private sector. Through its website, newsletters, workshops and other events, the Platform will reach out to global businesses and networks especially for the benefit of the SME sector further down the supply chain. Related to this, the Secretariat is also looking at the issue of Green Public Procurement as a way of encouraging further demand for eco-friendly products. Encouraging business and government engagement on biodiversity will be another focus where companies, government officials, academia and civil society will work together to provide tools and advice to businesses, creating networks to share ideas and best practices.
A Solutions Market Place: During its new term the Platform will focus on Annual Networking events and a Solutions Market Place is targeted for 2015, which will bring progressive companies together and be open to all businesses and related interests that have innovative, green, biodiversity-friendly solutions. Participation will include exhibition space, be featured in promotional materials for the exhibition, opportunity to make presentations to highlight the company's innovative solutions and entry into the Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Awards competition.
Strengthening Public-Private Partnerships: There is an urgent need for international and national cooperation between policy-makers, science, the public and especially the business sector. The Platform leads the way in this connection. It is partnered by companies and institutions of international standing which have actively incorporated biological diversity into their business concepts and thus established themselves as pioneers in the field. As one of the first national programmes dedicated to biodiversity in the private sector the initiative takes a leading role in this regard.