On September 25th, 2015, 193 countries adopted a set of goals under the United Nations supervision to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. These are called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or Global Goals. Each of these goals consists of targets that ought to be achieved by each participating country by 2030.
Here’s a look at the relevance and implementation of SDGs in Sri Lankan context.
Having overcome a three decade long terrorist conflict, Sri Lanka has begun to transform towards a sustainable and resilient society. The poverty rate has dropped to 4.1% in 2016 and the country is on the verge of reaching upper middle income status with a per capita GDP of USD 4060 in 2017. Unemployment rate has remained below 5% for the last seven years.
Free education and health policies have resulted in high life expectancy (75 years) and high youth literacy rate (98.7%). As a result, UN has recognized Sri Lanka among ‘high human development’ achieved countries.
The government’s Vision 2025 that provides the overall vision and the Public Investment program, the three year rolling plan align significantly with SDGs. The National Budget 2018 focused on a ‘Blue Green Economy’ to create an eco-friendly environment where everyone can co-exist harmoniously.
Main challenges and areas of progress
Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) was 1.9% in 2012/13 which reflects a reduction in poverty. However, poverty pockets exist throughout the country and disparities can be observed among districts.
Maternal mortality and neonatal mortality have decreased remarkably. Population aging and increase of non-communicable diseases can be identified as challenges. Health policy 2016-2025 addresses issues in financing, regulations and primary healthcare.
Sri Lanka has achieved high youth literacy rate, school enrollment and primary education completion. Improving the quality and relevance of education, increasing access to higher and vocational education, standardizing non-state education remain as challenges.
Sri Lanka has a rank of 73 out of 188 countries in the Gender inequality index. Gender inequalities can be observed in labour force participation and political representation. Regulations have been introduced to facilitate women to balance work with their family responsibilities. Further, the women’s share in local authorities has been increased through legislation.
Water and Sanitation
Around 89.5% of the population has access to safe drinking water. However, disparities exist among regions and there are issues on quality and quantity of drinking water.
87% of the population possesses onsite sanitation facilities. Providing facilities to the rest and wastewater in urban centers and industrial areas can be seen as challenges.
Sri Lanka has over 98% coverage of domestic electricity supply. 53% of total primary energy supply is accounted for by renewable sources. Rising dependency on imports and cost of energy can be viewed as challenges.
Sri Lanka has tremendous potential for tourism thanks to its geographical location and the countless attractions within a relatively small area. Annual tourist arrivals have increased significantly during the last ten years. A transformation in the tourism strategy is needed for its sustainability.
Sri Lanka is one of the world’s 35 biodiversity hotspots. However, a considerable number of species are threatened species. Deforestation has become and challenge due to increased demand for land. Solutions have been identifies in the National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan.
The government seeks to build a peaceful, reconciled and prosperous Sri Lanka based on a three-pillar strategy of strengthening democracy, reconciliation and economic development, with the participation of all stakeholders, as reflected in the Peace building Priority Plan.