The “Chat on Sustainable Development Goals”
“To waste this opportunity would compromise our last best chance to stop runaway climate change. It would not only be immoral, it would be suicidal”
António Guterres (UN Secretary General)
The ‘Chat on Sustainable Development Goals’, the first webinar of its series was organized by the Final Year Undergraduates of the Faculty of Law in collaboration with the Centre for Environmental Law and Policy, Centre for Environmental Initiatives, and the Earth Mates organization on the 20th of January 2021. The webinar was also graced by two panelists Dr Shyami Puvimanasinghe and Mr Benjamin Schachter who represented the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Professor Wasantha Seneviratne, Head of the Department of Public and International Law, Faculty of Law, praised the efforts of the young undergraduates while explaining the objectives of the webinar series and highlighting the significance of organizing productive initiatives as this using the online learning platform. Following the speech, the discussion commenced with explanations of each SDG by 17 Final Year undergraduates of the Faculty representing Sinhala, Tamil and English mediums. Their presentations explained the Sri Lankan perspective of each SDG, challenges faced by Sri Lanka in relation to each SDG together with the way forward in achieving these goals in the current context.
The second session, the Panel discussion featured Professor Erandathi Lokupitiya, Director, Centre for Environmental Initiatives, University of Colombo, Dr. Shyami Puvimanasinghe, Human Rights Officer, Right to Development Section, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Mr. Benjamin Schachter, Human Rights Officer, Right to Development Section, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Dr Kokila Konasinghe, Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Law who moderated the panel opened the discussion with the traditional Sri Lankan welcome, ‘Ayubowan’ which means “ may you live longer in good health”. Her speech emphasized on the traditional Sri Lankan image which she quoted by way of the tag line, “Wewai, Daagebai, Gamai, Pansalai”, which refers to “Tank, Shrine, Village and Family unit.” She noted the Sri Lankan belief in maintaining a balance between the above four elements to ensure a just and prosperous society.