webinar hosted by the Institute of Environmental Professionals, Sri Lanka

COVID 19 pandemic, the most serious health crisis ever since the Spanish flu in 1918, hitherto has affected more than 5 million lives and killed more than 300,000  people world over. Almost all the countries imposed locked downs at varying intensities forcing people to stay at home. All facets of life including social, economic, cultural and environmental were affected. Many lives were lost and businesses went bankrupt. The biggest challenge faced by countries is how to get back to pre- COVID 19 status. In this quest, countries might resort to unsustainable development efforts.

In the wake of the above challenge, the Institute of Environmental Professionals, Sri Lanka organized a webinar titled ‘A New Normal Approach to Sustainable Development in the aftermath of COVID 19’ on May 19th, 2020 from 6.30 to 7.45 pm. It was a great success, with the significant contribution of the panelists, the moderator and the active participation of interested many. The resource personnel were;


Resource Personnel  

Prof. Hemanthi Ranasinghe,

Senior Professor in Forestry and Environment Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura and Council Member, IEPSL


Prof. Ajith de Alwis

Senior Professor of Chemical and Process Engineering, University of Moratuwa and

Project Director, The Coordinating Secretariat for Science, Technology and Innovation (COSTI)

Mr. Indra Kaushal,
Chairman/MD, Kalhari Group of Companies,
President, Plastic and Rubber Institute and Council Member IEPSL
Mr. Sanjeewa Chulakumara,
Director INSEE Eco-cycle and Council Member IEPSL
Dr. Indra Dissanayake,
Former Member of Director Board and Director (Research & Special Projects), Central Environmental Authority and Council Member, IEPSL



Dr. Sampath Wahala,
Chairman, Sri Lanka Accreditations Board and Council Member IEPSL

The main objective of the webinar was to generate a discussion as an eye opener to think out of the box and promote the much-needed economic development in a way which is less carbon intensive, less costly, more resource efficient, more productive and long term, which does not harm the finite natural resources of the environment – in short called circular economy or green economy. The sensitization to the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ during the locked down period of uncertainty led many of us to change our attitudes towards the way we perceive ‘prosperity’ and work towards sustainable development.

Some key takeaways from the webinar were;

In the wake of economic and social hardships experienced due to COVID 19 across all the sectors, it is vital to make a concerted shift from the linear economy to a circular economy, which is an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources through reuse, sharing, repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing and recycling to create a closed loop system, minimizing the use of resource inputs. The government policy and regulations should also facilitate this.

Development should only take place within the carrying capacities of finite natural resources to make it sustainable and long term.  It is required to emphasize the requirement to mainstream nature based solutions provided by healthy ecosystems to many existing and emerging environmental and livelihood challenges. We need to stay away from consuming wild species to sustain biodiversity as well as for health reasons.

The need to evaluate the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals and identify what is working and what is not and make necessary adjustments even if it is 10 years before the target year of 2030 was also discussed.

We need to focus on local food production and nutrition of the people especially the next generation. Need to reduce the postharvest losses in food handling. All sectors in the SDGs need to prepare preparedness plans for disasters.

Need to provide a permanent solution to waste management in the country especially with the addition of COVID 19 related clinical and plastic waste generated in the households as well as in hospitals was emphasized.  Wastewater contaminated with the chemicals from sanitizing solutions needs to be properly disposed.   As a lot of plastic waste will also be generated through PPE (personnel protective equipment) recycling and upcycling of these waste is a must. Overall the public need to be educated on the 7R Principle which includes Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair. Regift, Recycle and Recover. Need to revisit the existing waste management solutions in both Government and Private Sector and upgrade as required.

It is imperative to provide facilitation by way of knowledge provision, investment support and marketing support for the emerging innovations.

Government to provide necessary policy support to promote a localized economy and reduce foreign exchange flows outside in every sector.

The Institute of Environmental Professionals Sri Lanka is the professional body of practising environmentalists in the country. The main thrust areas of the Institute are Education and Training, Promotion of awareness and advocacy on environmental issues and improvement of environmental professionalism in the country. For further information;


Institute of Environmental Professionals Sri Lanka
104, Denzil Kobbekaduwa Mawatha, Battaramulla, Sri Lanka
Mrs. Piyumi Dadigamuwa, Executive Secretary, +94717685642
Tel: +9411308268; Fax: +94112872296; Email: /;