A large delegation led by president Ranil Wickremesinghe will represent Sri Lanka at the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai.
Ministers Keheliya Rambukwella, Ali Sabry and Kanchana Wijesekara and MPs Patali Champika Ranawaka and Ajith Mannapperuma are among the official delegation.
Also, 20 youths, entrepreneurs in the energy and environment fields and a media team will attend with the state not bearing their expenses.
Fast-tracking the energy transition is the theme of the COP28 that will run from tomorrow (30) to 12 December.
More than 140 heads of state, senior government leaders and at least 70,000 participants are expected to attend COP28.
The summit will be divided into a “blue zone” with sessions for UN-accredited participants such as state representatives only, and a “green zone” with events and exhibits for registered participants from the public and civil society.
Sri Lanka’s proposals to COP28
President Wickramasinghe is due to present three proposals, the main being to establish an international climate change university in Sri Lanka.
Establishing a climate justice forum for vulnerable and developing countries that are inconvenienced by the activities of developed countries is also included.
The third one is to establish a tropical belt forum for tropical rainforests.
Public scrutiny of extensive representation
With over 80 delegates from Sri Lanka taking part, the extensive representation has sparked public scrutiny on social media.
In response to criticism, environment ministry secretary Dr. Anil Jasinghe has told ‘Ceylon Today’ that the 80+ delegation comprises three distinct groups: political delegation, technical delegation and overflow delegation.
While Dr. Jasinghe refrained from commenting on the political delegation, he explained the technical delegation consists of 24 individuals, with 11 delegates from the ministry of environment and seven climate change experts.
Of the 11 government-funded delegates, only three are supported by the Sri Lankan government; the remaining seven experts are self-funded and the rest of the technical delegation is funded by organisations such as the UN Environment Programme and WHO.
Dr. Jasinghe clarified that the overflow delegation comprises 20 youth delegates funded by organisations like the British Council, UNICEF, and SLYCAN Trust.
These youth representatives were chosen by the funding organisations, not the government.
Additionally, over 40 businessmen are part of the overflow delegation, attending the summit to discuss and attract potential investments to Sri Lanka, he added.