President Ranil Wickremesinghe highlighted Kenya’s current struggle with a severe economic crisis and incidents of violence, emphasizing the crucial need for economic preparedness in all nations.

Speaking at the Presidential Environment Awards ceremony at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) in Colombo on Friday (28), he underscored that Sri Lanka’s economic stability has effectively prevented comparable challenges within the country.

Addressing the gathering, President Wickremesinghe elaborated on Sri Lanka’s foreign policy stance to advocate globally for the complete cancellation of debts owed by African countries lacking economic resilience to confront climate change. He emphasized that while Sri Lanka does not anticipate such debt relief for itself, the country is capable of managing its debts effectively and progressing forward.

Additionally, the President expressed Sri Lanka’s readiness to assume regional leadership in addressing climate change and highlighted the nation’s significant role within the international community.

The President further said;

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"We are dedicated to fostering a digital and green economy. In line with this, we have launched an agricultural modernization program, aiming to reach our objectives by 2048. While the global community has generally set 2050 as the target year for these goals, we are determined to achieve them earlier.

To support this initiative, green financing and green bonds have been incorporated into our economic program. We are committed to meeting these objectives, and our efforts are focused on addressing the global climate challenges.

Addressing climate changes requires a collaborative effort from all countries; no single nation can tackle it alone. However, despite initiating this program, some Western countries have distanced themselves from it. For example, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. Boris Johnson, announced the Glasgow Declaration, but now the British government is attempting to withdraw from it. The United States’ stance on this issue will become clearer after the November elections.

Our focus should be on advancing towards this goal, which demands substantial funding. Many countries in Africa and Asia are heavily indebted and have requested debt relief. While I did not support the call for debt relief in Asia, emphasizing that Sri Lanka’s debt issues can be managed independently, there has been a call for the complete abolition of debt relief for low-income countries in Africa.

Sri Lanka has taken the first step toward debt restructuring, moving us out of bankruptcy. Our next step is to implement the Economic Transformation Law to continue this progress. However, this process is challenging for countries like those in Africa, which require relief. At the Climate Change Conference, Sri Lanka proposed the complete cancellation of debts for African countries.

Adequate funding is crucial to address climate change, but necessary funds have yet to be secured. Meanwhile, Western countries have spent approximately USD100 billion on the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, with additional unknown expenditures from Russia. If this money had been allocated to African and other countries, it could have significantly transformed their situations."

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