සිවුමංසල කොලූගැටයා #70: ශ‍්‍රී ලංකාවෙන් ලෝකයට දායාද කළ සදෘශ්‍ය වනවගා විප්ලවය

In this week’s Ravaya column (in Sinhala), I write about Analog Forestry, a Lankan innovation that is now adopted in many tropical countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Analog Forestry is a system of planned, managed forests that are designed to mimic the function and ecology of the pre-existing climax vegetation for the area, and are also designed to provide economic benefits.

Read: Just like a forest by Aditya Batra, Down to Earth magazine, 15 June 2011

තවත් ලෝක පරිසර දිනයක් ජුනි 5 වනදා සමරනු ලැබුවා. සෑම වසරක ම මේ කාලයට පරිසරය හා සොබා සම්පත් ගැන අවධානය යොමු වනවා. පරිසරවේදීන් කියන්නේ මහා පරිමානයේ සංවර්ධන ව්‍යාපෘති හා පාරිභෝගික සමාජය නිසා අපේ පරිසරයට විශාල තර්ජන ඇති බවයි. පරිසරයේ නිල සුරැකුම්කරුවන් ලෙස නීතිමය බලතල හා ප‍්‍රතිපත්තිමය වගකීම් ඇති රාජ්‍ය ආයතන කියන්නේ අභියෝග බොහොමයකට නිසි ප‍්‍රතිචාර දක්වන බවයි.

මේ දෙපිරිස වාද විවාද කරන අතරේ නිහඩව නමුත් ගැඹුරින් පාරිසරික තත්ත්වයන් අධ්‍යයනය කරමින් ප‍්‍රායෝගික විසදුම් සොයන හා නව සංකල්ප අත්හදා බලන ටික දෙනෙකුත් සිටිනවා. නිලබලය හෝ ප‍්‍රසිද්ධිය හෝ හඹා නොයන එහෙත් සොබා සම්පත් හා මානව සමාජය අතර සංහිදියාවක් ඇති කරන්නට වෙර දරන පර්යේෂකයන්, බිම් මට්ටමේ ක‍්‍රියාකාරිකයන් අපේ රටේ සිටිනවා. බැනර්, මාධ්‍ය ප‍්‍රකාශ හෝ පෙළපාලිවලින් තොරව නිහඩව වැඩ කර ගෙන යන මේ අය සැබෑ පරිසර වීරයෝ. මා කවදත් වැඩි අවධානයක් යොමු කරන්නේ ඔවුන් ගැනයි.

අපට සොබා දහම මවන්නනට බැහැ. එහෙත් සොබාදහම අධ්‍යයනය කොට එහි ක‍්‍රියාදාමයන් අනුකරණය කළ හැකියි. සොබාදහමට එරෙහි වනවා වෙනුවට සොබාදහම සමග සහයෝගයෙන් අපේ අවශ්‍යතා ඉටුකර ගැනීමේ ක‍්‍රමවේදයන් දැන් හඳුනා ගෙන තිබෙනවා. ගිය සතියේ කොලමින් මා හදුන්වා දුන් මෙරට සිටින ප‍්‍රවීණතම පාරිසරික විද්‍යාඥයකු වන ආචාර්ය රනිල් සේනානායකගේ නව්‍යකරණයක් වන සදෘශ්‍ය වන වගාව (Analog Forestry) ගැන සොයා බලමු.

සදෘශ්‍ය වන වගාවේ ආරම්භය 1975 දක්වා අතීතයට යනවා. රනිල් සේනානායක සිය පරිසර විද්‍යා ආචාර්ය උපාධියට ක්ෂේත‍්‍ර පර්යේෂණ කරමින් ශ‍්‍රී ලංකාවේ බොහෝ ගම්බද හා කැලෑබද ප‍්‍රදේශවල සංචාරය කළා. කෙටි කලකින් පසුව වුවත් එක ම ස්ථානයට නැවත ගිය විට එතැන ඉන් පෙර හමු වූ උභයජීවින්, කටුස්සන්, සර්පයන් හා අනෙකුත් ජීවීන් සංඛ්‍යාවෙනුත් විවිධත්වයෙනුත් අඩු වන සැටි ඔහු දුටුවා. මෙයට හේතුව ඔවුන්ට උන්හිටි තැන් අහිමිවීමයි. ස්වභාවික වනාන්තර අඩු වීමයි.

ස්වභාවික වනාන්තරවලට පසුව වඩාත් ම මේ ජීවින්ට හිතකර පරිසරයක් ඇත්තේ අපේ පුරාණ ගම්වල බව විකී අතුකෝරාල නම් මිතුරකු රනිල්ට පෙන්වා දුන්නා. මේ ඔස්සේ ගවේෂණය කළ රනිල් සොයා ගත්තේ පුරාණ ගම්වල තුරුලතා හා භූමි සැකසුම බොහෝ දුරට ස්වභාවික වනාන්තරය අනුකරණය කළ බවයි. මේ නිසා මිනිස් ජනවාස අතර වුවත් අනතුරකින් තොරව පවතින්නට සොබා දහමට ඉඩ ලැබී තිබුණා.

අමෙරිකාවේ කැලිෆෝනියා සරසවියෙන් ආචාර්ය උපාධිය ලබා 1978දී යළි ශ‍්‍රී ලංකාවට ආ රනිල්, 1980 දශකයේ වැඩි කලක් ගත කළේ වනාන්තර අනුකරණය කරමින් සොබා දහමටත් ගැමියන්ටත් හිතකර හා ප‍්‍රයෝජනවත් පරිසර පද්ධති බිහි කළ හැකි ද යන්න සෙවීමටයි.

වනාන්තරයක් වැවෙන්නේ පියවරෙන් පියවර දශක ගණනාවක් පුරා. තණ කොළ හා කුඩා පදුරුවලින් ඇරැඹී ටිකෙන් ටික වඩාත් විශාල ගස් බිහි වනවා. ඒ වටා සංකීර්ණ වූත් විචිත‍්‍ර වූත් ශාක හා සත්තව සමුහයක් එක්තැන් වනවා. මේ ක‍්‍රියාදාමය සමීපව අධ්‍යයනය කිරිමෙන් පසු මුඩුබිමක් හෝ විවෘත බිම් පෙදෙසක ටිකෙන් ටික වනාන්තරයක් අනුකරණය කැරෙන විදියේ ගස්වැල් වැඩෙන්නට සැලැස්විය හැකියි.

අපේ පුරාණ ගම්මානවල භූමි පරිභෝජන රටාවට අමතරව දකුණු අමෙරිකාවේ ගෝතමාලා රටේ වනාන්තර හා ගම්බද ප‍්‍රදේශ ආශ‍්‍රිතවත් ඔහු පර්යේෂණ කළා. මේ සියල්ලේ ප‍්‍රතිඵලය හැටියට සදෘශ්‍ය වනවගාව නමින් අළුත් සංකල්පයක් ලෝකයාට ඉදිරිපත් කරන්නට රනිල්ට හැකි වුණා.

සදෘශ්‍ය වන වගාව යනු වනාන්තරයක හා ගොවි බිමක සම්මිශ‍්‍රණයක්. සීමිත භූමි ප‍්‍රමාණයක මිලියන් 20ක මානව ජනගහනයක් හා විශාල ජෛව විවිධත්වයක් පවත්වා ගන්නට උපකාර වන එක් ක‍්‍රමවේදයක්. ගොවිබිම් සොයා වනබිම් ගිනි තබා එලි පෙහෙලි කරනවා වෙනුවට වනාන්තර හා ගොවිබිම් එක ම බිම් පෙදෙසහි එක ම කාලයේ පවත්වා ගැනීමට හැකිවිම මෙහි සුවිශේෂී ලක්ෂණයයි.

මෙහි විද්‍යාත්මක සිද්ධාන්ත තහවුරු කර ගත් පසු ප‍්‍රායෝගිකව අත්හදා බලන්නට රනිල්ට ඕනෑ වුණා. එහෙත් රජයේ වන දෙපාර්තමේන්තුව මේ සංකල්පය ගැන කිසිදු උනන්දුවක් දැක් වූයේ නැති බව ඔහු කියනවා.

එයින් අධෛර්්‍යයට පත් නොවූ ඔහු, පාරම්පරිකව තමන්ට කොළඹ හිමි වූ ඉඩමක් විකුණා ඒ මුදලින් ඌව පළාතේ බණ්ඩාරවෙලට සමීප මිරහවත්ත ප‍්‍රදේශයෙන් ඉඩමක් මිළට ගෙන සදෘශ්‍ය වන වගාවේ ප‍්‍රායෝගික අත්හදා බැලීම් ඇරඹුවා. පුරාණ ගම්මානවලින් හා ලෝකයේ වෙනත් රටවලින් උගත් දේ එහිදී වසර අටක් පුරා පෞද්ගලික වියදමින් හා පරිශ‍්‍රමයෙන් ක‍්‍රියාත්මක කළා. මේ සඳහා තවත් උද්යෝගිමත් පර්යේෂක පිරිසක්ද සම්බන්ධ කරගෙන Neo-Synthesis Research Centre (NSRC) නම් ලාබ නොලබන, පර්යේෂණ ආයතනයක් ද ආරම්භ කළා.

‘‘අපේ වන දෙපාර්තමේන්තුව යටත් විජිත යුගයේ ආරම්භ කළේ දැව උකහා ගැනීමේ මුඛ්‍ය අරමුණින් මිස වනාන්තර රැුක ගැනීමට නොවෙයි. අවාසනාවකට අද දක්වා එහි බොහෝ නිලධාරීන් වනාන්තර දකින්නේ දැව සඳහා උකහා ගත හැකි ගස් එකතුවක් ලෙසයි. වනාන්තර යනු ඉතා සංකීර්ණ පරිසර පද්ධති බවත්, ඒවායේ ජෛව විවිධත්වයේ බහුතරයක් ඇත්තේ මහ ගස්වල නොව කුඩා පැළෑටි, පඳුරු, වැල්, අපිශාක හා පාංශු ජීවින්ගේ බව ඔවුන් දකින්නේ නැහැ’’ ඔහු කියනවා.

සදෘශ්‍ය වන වගා බිමෙහි ආර්ථික වශයෙන් ප‍්‍රයෝජනවත් කුළුබඩු, පළතුරු හා වෙනත් බෝග වර්ග වවන්නට හැකියි. වගා කරන්නට පෙර ස්වභාවිකව යම් තැනෙක තිබෙන සියළු ගස්වැල් කපා ඉවත් කිරිම වෙනුවට ඒවා සෙවනෙහි ම වගා කළ හැකියි. සමශීතෝෂ්ණ දේශගුණය ඇති රටවල පුළුල්ව කැරෙන විවෘත වගාබිම් සංකල්පය ගෙඩිපිටින් ඝර්ම කලාපීය අපේ රටට ආදේශ කරනු වෙනුවට මේ විකල්පය වඩාත් පරිසර හිතකාමියි.

එමෙන්ම බෝග ඵලදායිතාවේ හා ගොවීන්ගේ ආදායම්වල වැඩිවීමක් මිස අඩුවක් වන්නෙත් නැහැ. එහෙත් බටහිර සංකල්පවලට නතු වූ අපේ කෘෂි විද්‍යාඥයන්ට හා කෘෂි ව්‍යාපෘති නිලධාරින්ට මෙලෙස වනය හා ගොවිබිම මුසු කිරිම දිරවා ගන්නට අමාරුයි. මේ නිසා සදෘශ්‍ය වන වගාවේ සාර්ථක හා හිතකර බව හොදින් සනාථ වී තිබියදීත් අපේ කෘෂි හා වන දෙපාර්තමේන්තු තවමත් එය පිළි ගන්නේ නැහැ.

“1980 දශකයේ වන දෙපාර්තමේන්තුව හා ඔවුන්ගේ විදේශ විශේෂඥයන් විශ්වාස කලේ මෙරටට තනිකර ම ආගන්තුක පයිනස් හා යුකැලිප්ටස් ගස් යොදා ගෙන කෘත‍්‍රිම වන වගා කිරීම ගැන පමණයි. වන බිම් අසල වෙසෙන ගම් වාසීන්ගේ ආදායම් උවමනාකම් ගැන කිසිදු හැගීමක් හෝ තැකීමක් වන නිලධාරින්ට තිබුණේ නැහැ. මේ නිසා සදෘශ්‍ය වන වගාව වැනි සංකල්පයක් නිලධාරින් අගය කළේ නැහැ,” රනිල් කියනවා.

වනාන්තර අනුකරණය කරමින් ගම්වල සදෘශ්‍ය වන වගා කිරීම හරහා වනය රැක ගන්නා අතර ගැමි ජනයාගේ ආදායම් ද වැඩි කළ හැකි බව වසර 25 ක් පුරා NSRC පර්යේෂණ ආයතනය මෙරට බදුල්ල, මොණරාගල වැනි දිස්ති‍්‍රක්කවල අත්දැකීමෙන් ඔප්පු කොට තිබෙනවා.

ශ‍්‍රී ලංකාවේ මිරහවත්තෙන් පටන් ගත් වනය හා ගොවිබිම් එක්තැන් කිරිමේ විප්ලවය දැන් ලෝකයේ ඝර්ම කලාපීය රටවල් ගණනාවකට පැතිර ගොස් තිබෙනවා. Analog Forestry Network (www.analogforestrynetwork.org) නමැති විද්වත් ජාලයට රටවල් 16ක සදෘශ්‍ය වන වගාකරුවන් අයත්. එය ක‍්‍රියාත්මක වන්නේ ඒ රටවල රාජ්‍ය නිලධාරී, පර්යේෂක හා ගොවි සංවිධානවල සහභාගිත්වයෙන්. සදෘශ්‍ය වන වගාව දශක දෙකක් තිස්සේ විද්‍යාත්මක අධ්‍යයනයට ද ලක්ව තිබෙනවා. ඒ ගැන MSc හා PhD මට්ටමේ පර්යේෂණ නිබන්ධන ගණනාවක් හා ජාත්‍යන්තර නිබන්ධන රැසක් ලියැවී තිබෙනවා.

“සදෘශ්‍ය වන වගාව සෑබැ ලෝකයේ ප‍්‍රායෝගික ලෙස ක‍්‍රියාත්මක වන, පාරිසරික මෙන් ම සමාජයීය ලෙසින් විපුල ඵල දෙන ක‍්‍රමවේදයක් බවට අද ආසියාව, අප‍්‍රිකාව හා දකුණු ඇමෙරිකාව පුරා පිළි ගෙන තිබෙනවා. එහෙත් එය උපන් ශ‍්‍රී ලංකාවේ තවමත් කිසි පිළි ගැනීමක් නොලැබීම අපේ අවාසනාවක්. නිලධාරින්ගේ අධිපතිවාදයේ දරුණුකම එයින් පෙනෙනවා,” යයි රනිල් සේනානායක කියනවා.

2008දී මා විධායක නිෂ්පාදනය කළ “2048 ශ‍්‍රී ලංකාව” ටෙලිවිෂන් සංවාද මාලාවේ එක් වැඩසටහනකට, මොණරාගල මාරගලකන්ද ගම්මානය ආශ‍්‍රිතව කැරෙන සදෘශ්‍ය වන වගාව ගැන කෙටි වීඩියෝ වාර්තාවක් නිෂ්පාදනය කළා. රජයේ සෘජු මැදිහත්වීමකින් තොරව, පෞද්ගලික ඉඩම් යොදා ගෙන ගම්වාසීන්ගේ විශ්වාසය හා සහයෝගය දිනා ගෙන කරගෙන යන මේ වන වගාවේ සාර්ථකත්වය හොඳාකාර දැක බලා ගන්නට අපට හැකි වුණා. http://tiny.cc/SL48AF

රනිල් සේනානායක ඇරඹු NSRC අද ඉදිරියට යන්නේ එහි වත්මන් අධ්‍යක්ෂ කැමී මෙල්වානිගේ නායකත්වයෙන්. උඩරට කදුකරයේ ලොකු කුඩා තේ වතු ආශ‍්‍රිතව සදෘශ්‍ය වන වගා ඔවුන් අරඹා තිබෙනවා. මේවා අවට ගම්වාසීන්ට අතුරු ආදායම් ලබාදෙන අතර කලක් තිස්සේ වගාකිරිමෙන් නිසරු වූ බිම්වලට නැවත ජීවය ලබා දීමක් (Ecological Restoration) හැටියටත් NSRC දකිනවා. කුරුදු, කරාබුනැටි, අලිගැට පේර වැනි ආර්ථික වටිනාකමක් ඇති බෝග මේ වන වගා අතර වවනවා. මේ සඳහා තේවතු හිමියන් මෙන් ම වතු කම්කරුවන් ද හවුල් කර ගෙන තිබෙනවා.

“සදෘශ්‍ය වන වගාවක සාර්ථකත්වය දකින්නට වසර ගණනාවක් ඉවසිල්ලෙන් ක‍්‍රියා කළ යුතුයි. සොබාවික පරිසරයේ සිටින ගෙම්බන්, සමනලයන්, කූරන් ආදී සතුන් සදෘශ්‍ය වන වගාවට පැමිණෙන්නට ගත් විට එය වනයක හොඳ අනුකරණයක් බවට පත්ව හමාරයි,” මෙල්වානි කියනවා.

NSRC අමතරව ඌව පළාත කේන්ද්‍ර කර ගත් අනාගතේ අපේ අතේ (Future in Our Hands) නම් ස්වෙච්ඡ සංවිධානය ද සදෘශ්‍ය වන වගාවේ යෙදෙනවා. හේන් ගොවිතැන සඳහා අක්කර ගණන් කැලෑ බිම් ගිනි තබා හෙළි පෙහෙලි කරනු වෙනුවට සදෘශ්‍ය වන වගාවේ නිරත වීම හරහා ආදායම් ලැබීමට ගොවීන් කැමතියි.www.futureinourhands.org

මේ ක‍්‍රියාදාමයන්ට බිම් මට්ටමේ රාජ්‍ය නිලධාරින්ගේ සහයෝගය ලැබෙනවා. ජාතික මට්ටමේ නිල පිළගැනිම හෝ අනුදැනුම නැතිව වුවත් දැනුම, කැපවීම හා සංවිධානය වීම හරහා පරිසරය රැක ගනිමින් ගැමි ආදායම් ද ඉහළ නැංවිය හැකි බවට සදෘශ්‍ය වන වගාව හොඳ උදාහරණයක්.

පරිසරය රැක ගන්නවා කියන්නේ සොබා සම්පත් පරිහරණය නොකර ඒවා කොටු කර, හමුදා ආරක්ෂාව යටතේ තැබීම නොවේ! සොබාදහමේ පුනර්ජනනීය සම්පත්, යම් සීමාවන්ට අදාළව නැණවත්ව හා ප‍්‍රවේශමින් පරිහරණය කිරීමේ කිසිදු වරදක් නැහැ. අද අපට අවශ්‍ය වන්නේ පරිසරය ද නොනසා, මානවයන් ද රැක ගන්නට හැකි තිරසාර වූත් ප‍්‍රායෝගික වූත් සංවර්ධන දැක්මක්.

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Mano Wikramanayake (1951 – 2011): A Voice of Reason in Turbulent Times

Mano Wikramanayake (1951 - 2011): Image courtesy Commonwealth Broadcasting Association


We could always rely on Mano Wikramanayake to provide an incisive analysis of any given situation with a boyish grin on his face.

The senior Lankan broadcast manager, who died suddenly on 3 December 2011, was well informed and articulate without any intellectual or artistic pretensions so common in his industry. The one time cricketer turned avid golfer, he knew when to strike – with just enough force – and when to safeguard his wicket.

For over a decade, Mano was Senior Group Director of the Capital Maharaja Organisation and a Founder Director of the company’s electronic media operations, comprising three TV channels, four radio stations and three TV production houses in Sri Lanka. It is the closest the island nation has to an electronic media giant that is now extending also to the web.

Trained as a management accountant, Mano helped the Maharaja group to consolidate its pioneering ventures in privately owned radio and TV broadcasting. Media researchers and activists have faulted this liberalisation, which started in the early 1990s, as being imperfect, for example lacking a due process in the licensing. But one benefit is undeniable: it liberated us audiences from the tiresome state monopoly of the airwaves that had lasted for decades.

From the beginning, it was evident that the Maharaja group had a long time vision for their broadcasting ventures. In the early stages, they brought in Singaporean and Australian professionals but within a few years the company was run entirely by Lankans. Mano, in particular, groomed many young journalists, producers, technicians and business managers who shared his belief that a private broadcaster could do well while also doing good.

I cheered him every time he spoke out at national and international gatherings to broaden the traditionally narrow definition of public service broadcasting. In his book – and mine – PSB was not confined to state owned or public funded stations. Every channel transmitting on the public airwaves could serve the public interest, albeit in different ways.

Our paths crossed more often outside of Sri Lanka, at various regional and global media gatherings in Asia and Europe. He spoke at such events with authority, clarity and honesty. He chose his words carefully, but didn’t gloss over the thorny issues. While I tend to be cheeky and provocative – for example, calling former state monopoly broadcasters ‘Old Aunties Without Eyeballs’ – he was more circumspect. Yet he never berated Sri Lanka even at the worst of times, most notably when his main station came under a daring arson attack in early 2009.

If Mano was measured, sharp and articulate in his public remarks, he could still be jovial and easy-going in private conversation. We were regular (and vocal) participants at the annual Asia Media Summits organised by the Asia Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD). Another regular Asian broadcaster once called him the ‘Lankan pragmatist’ while labelling me the ‘Lankan idealist’. To him, at least, Mano and I appeared to bat on from the opposite ends, but working to a common goal.

During Asia Media Summit 2006, Mano spoke at a plenary session on ‘Local Content for Global Audience: An uphill battle?’ that my organisation, TVE Asia Pacific, put together on behalf of the UN’s regional body, ESCAP. It explored the role of broadcasters in promoting the Millennium Development Goals that all countries have committed to achieving by 2015.

Mano Wikramanayake (second from left) at MDG and Local Content Plenary Session at Asia Media Summit 2006

Soon after he’d spoken, my colleague Manori Wijesekera good-naturedly challenged him to “put his money where his mouth was”. He readily agreed — and kept his word. Two years later, we co-produced with his station a TV debate series called Sri Lanka 2048 that explored pathways for creating a more sustainable island nation.

“This could be a forerunner to programmes which encourage public debate on issues that concern all of us,” he said when the series premiered in May 2008.

Mano was always ready to partner with development or charitable organisations on well-conceived projects, but he had no time for random do-gooders with vague ideas. He ensured that the Maharaja group’s considerable presence in the airwaves was put to good use in support of carefully selected educational, cultural and sporting endeavours.

Mano was equally sharp with numbers as he was with words. As a senior manager, he minded the financial bottomline of the companies under his charge. He also realised that the media business was very different from, say, marketing soft drinks or manufacturing PVC. His team bore witness to how ably he balanced the regulatory, political, journalistic and commercial interests while raising the bar for quality news, information and entertainment for his audiences.

In later years, he shared this vast experience with other developing country broadcasters, for example through training programmes and manuals for the AIBD, and the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association (CBA) in which he was a leading light. From Afghanistan to Fiji, and from Barbados to South Africa, the voice of practical and pragmatic Mano Wikramanayake will be missed.

But he has energised a generation of broadcasters, and not just in Sri Lanka. In the evolutionary perspective, all of us are transmitters — we constantly pass on ideas, experience and values to our children, students, colleagues and others in our spheres of influence. Such transmission happens 24/7, in all directions and across generations. Some among us are better transmitters than others: they amplify and value-add before passing on.

Mano was one of the finest ‘transmitters’ in the broadcast business, and that is how I shall remember him. His “transmissions” will continue in the teams and establishments he leaves behind.

Calling Hydrocarbons Anonymous: Admitting my oil addiction…

Living with climate change

On the set of Sri Lanka 2048: Living with climate change

I have finally done it…and not a moment too soon!

There I was, moderating an hour-long TV debate on Saturday evening prime time television on Sri Lanka’s premier English language Channel One MTV. Our topic for this edition of Sri Lanka 2048 was living with climate change. After exploring its many facets, I was beginning to wind up.

But not before underlining the need for us to take personal responsibility for changing our lifestyles whose cumulative impact on the planet is significant.

The philosophical and political debates over climate change will continue for a long time, I said. Meanwhile, we have to live with climate change impacts that are already happening…and change how we use energy and resources so that we don’t make matters any worse.

This means we must consume less, share more, live simply and pursue smart solutions through green technologies. Of course, at the basis of all this is finding meaningful, practical ways of kicking our addiction to oil.

That’s when I put my hand up and admitted, on air, my own substance addiction: I am hooked on hydrocarbons, a.k.a. petroleum. I’m struggling to break free from it, but it’s not easy.

Of course, my individual addiction pales into insignificance when we look at how entire industries, sectors and countries are addicted to oil and stubbornly insist on continuing the status quo. But we must be the change we seek, so it’s never too late for me to work on my oil problem. When enough of us individuals do, countries and economies will follow.

But people with addictions often need expert guidance, as well as to keep the company of fellow addicts who are similarly trying to kick the habit. That’s why those having drinking problems find help in Alcoholics Anonymous.

We oil addicts could do with some organised help — environmental activist groups, please note. And Sir Arthur C Clarke has already suggested the perfect name for such a movement: Hydrocarbons Anonymous. Read his 2004 essay on Hydrocarbons Anonymous.

* * * * *

Race Against Time

Nalaka Gunawardene moderates Sri Lanka 2048: Race Against Time

Here’s what the promotional blurb for last weekend’s show said:

Sri Lanka 2048 looks at living with climate change: how challenges can become opportunities

Climate change is no longer a theory; it’s already happening. What awaits Sri Lanka – and how best can we adapt to live with extreme weather events, disrupted rainfall, sea level rise and other projected impacts? How can Sri Lanka play a meaningful role in mitigating further damage to the world’s climate?

These and related questions will be raised in this week’s Sri Lanka 2048, the series of TV debates exploring Sri Lanka’s prospects for a sustainable future in the Twenty First Century. The one-hour debate, in English, will be shown on Channel One MTV from 8 to 9 pm on Saturday, 26 July 2008.

Titled Race Against Time, this week’s debate brings together concerned Sri Lankans from academic, corporate, civil society and government backgrounds to discuss the many challenges of living with climate change. The debate looks at aspects such as promoting renewable energy to reduce our carbon emissions, and emerging opportunities for individuals, communities and businesses to adopt low carbon lifestyles and practices.

This week’s panel comprises: Dr. W. L. Sumathipala Director, National Ozone Unit, Ministry of Environment & Natural Resources; Dr. Suren Batagoda, CEO, Sri Lanka Carbon Fund; Dr Ray Wijewardene, Eminent engineer and specialist in renewable energies; and Darshani de Silva, Environmental Specialist, World Bank Office in Colombo. The debate is moderated by TVE Asia Pacific’s Director Nalaka Gunawardene.

The debate also seeks answers to questions such as: What niche can Sri Lanka occupy in the fast-growing global carbon market? How much money can we make from this market? What is the role of the recently established Sri Lanka Carbon Fund? Is the Clean Development Mechanism the right way forward?

The debate concludes with the recognition that climate Change is not just an environmental concern, but also has economic, social, political and security implications. While the philosophical and political debates over climate change will continue for a long time, everyone has to learn fast to live with it. This calls for consuming less, sharing more, living simply and pursuing smart solutions that reduce carbon emissions without compromising the quality of living.

Sri Lanka 2048 debates are co-produced by TVE Asia Pacific, an educational media foundation, and IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, in partnership with MTV Channel (Private) Limited. This editorially independent TV series is supported under the Raising Environmental Consciousness in Society (RECS) project, sponsored by the Government of the Netherlands.

Sri Lanka 2048

Sri Lanka 2048

Photos by Amal Samaraweera, TVE Asia Pacific

Sri Lanka 2048: Business As Unusual

Sri Lanka 2048 - Nalaka Gunawardene moderating

Sri Lanka 2048 - Nalaka Gunawardene moderating

When our Sri Lanka 2048 TV debate series started a few weeks ago, I had no idea that I’d be hosting some programmes. But through an interesting turn of events, I’ve ended up doing just that.

The series, which TVE Asia Pacific is co-producing with IUCN and MTV Channel (Pvt) Limited — Sri Lanka’s ratings leading TV broadcaster — has been going out once every week from 22 May 2008. As I wrote at the time the series started, most programmes (8 out of 10) were hosted by Sirasa TV’s versatile and dynamic presenter Kingsly Rathnayaka.

Our plan was to do two shows in English, exploring the topics living with climate change and the nexus between business and the environment. We were still searching for a presenter for these two even as we produced and aired the Sinhala programmes.

In the end, the channel management as well as our production team all suggested for me to take it on. I’ve been hosting quiz shows on TV since 1990, and have been a regular ‘TV pundit’ on a broad range of development, science and technology issues for at least a decade. I’ve also been doing a fair amount of moderating sessions and panels at international conferences. Hosting Sri Lanka 2048 challenged me to combine all these skills — and to be informed, interested and curious about our topics under discussion.

I enjoyed being the ‘skeptical inquirer’, a role I’ve had fun playing for long years as a development journalist. Our viewers can judge how well I fared. My aim was to keep the panel and audience focused, engaged and moving ahead. My style is slower and more reflective than Kingsly’s fast-paced, chatty one. Direct comparisons would be unfair and unrealistic since we are very different personalities.

But I’m enormously grateful to the younger, more experienced Kingsly for his advice and guidance in preparing for my new role. The TV camera is ruthless in capturing and sometimes magnifying even minor idiosyncrasies in presenters. It has as much to do with style as with substance. Hope I made the grade…

Sri Lanka 2048 series branding

Sri Lanka 2048 series branding

Here’s the promotional blurb for this weekend’s show, titled Business As Unusual (yes, I borrowed the apt title from our sorely missed inspiration Anita Roddick). It was broadcast on Channel One MTV, the English language channel of Sri Lanka’s Maharaja broadcasting group.

Sri Lanka 2048 looks at Business As Unusual: How can companies do well while doing good?

The private sector is acknowledged as the engine of our economic growth. But how long can this ‘engine’ keep running without addressing its many impacts on society and the natural environment? With public concerns rising everywhere for a cleaner and safer environment, how best can businesses respond to the environmental challenges — and find new opportunities to grow and innovate?

These and related questions will be raised in this week’s Sri Lanka 2048, the series of TV debates exploring Sri Lanka’s prospects for a sustainable future in the Twenty First Century. The one-hour debate, this time in English, will be shown on Channel One MTV from 8 to 9 pm on Saturday, 19 July 2008.

Titled Business As Unusual, this week’s debate brings together concerned Sri Lankans from academic, corporate, civil society and government backgrounds to discuss what choices, decisions and tradeoffs need to be made for businesses to become environmentally responsible — and still remain profitable. Increasingly, there are examples of smart companies achieving this balance.

This week’s panel comprises (seated left to right in the photo below): Professor Sarath W Kotagama, Professor of Environment Science, University of Colombo; Renton de Alwis, Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority; Dilhan C Fernando, Marketing Director, MJF Group; and Jeevani Siriwardena, Director – Product Management, Sri Lanka Export Development Board.

Sri Lanka 2048 panel on business and environment broadcast on 19 July 2008

Sri Lanka 2048 panel on business and environment broadcast on 19 July 2008

The wide ranging discussion — looking at both domestic and international markets, and covering a range of industries — notes that many companies already address not just financial but also social and environmental bottomlines. Adopting cleaner production practices have helped increase profits through being thrifty with resources and careful with waste.

The debate also looks at the findings of a survey that IUCN and the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce carried out last year of 45 companies on their corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies and practices. It revealed that a significant number of companies are actively applying CSR principles, with slightly over half (53%) already having environmental components in their CSR (known as CSER). The survey also found that local companies were stronger on CSR/CSER than the local operations of multinational companies.

As some panelists and audience members argue, embracing sound environmental practices goes well beyond CSR. With rising consumer awareness and greater scrutiny of how companies source materials and energy, ‘going green’ has become an integral part of responsible corporate citizens.

Sri Lanka 2048 debates are co-produced by TVE Asia Pacific, an educational media foundation, and IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, in partnership with MTV Channel (Private) Limited. This editorially independent TV series is supported under the Raising Environmental Consciousness in Society (RECS) project, sponsored by the Government of the Netherlands.

Sri Lanka 2048 - Nalaka briefing audience just before recording starts...

Sri Lanka 2048 - Nalaka briefing audience just before recording starts...

Wherever you are, Anita, I hope you were watching our show tonight — and hopefully nodding… When you insisted that businesses must care for community and the environment, you were so ahead of the pack. We’re still struggling to catch up.

Nalaka with panelist Jeevani Siriwardena

On the set of Sri Lanka 2048: Nalaka with panelist Jeevani Siriwardena

Photos by Amal Samaraweera, TVE Asia Pacific

Sri Lanka 2048: Talking today for a better tomorrow!

Sri Lanka 2048 - TV Debate series on sustainable futures for Sri Lanka

I’m just coming up for fresh air after two hectic weeks – this blog was silent during that time as I was deep immersed in doing something new and interesting.

With my team at TVE Asia Pacific, I’m involved in producing a new TV series started airing on May 22 on Sri Lanka’s ratings-leading, privately-owned, most popular channel, Sirasa TV.

Named Sri Lanka 2048, it is an innovative series of one-hour television debates that explore prospects for a sustainable future for Sri Lanka in the Twenty First Century.

Each debate will involves -– as panel and studio audience -– over two dozen Sri Lankans from academic, civil society, corporate and government backgrounds. They are recorded ‘as live’ and broadcast every Thursday at 10.45 pm, which, in Sri Lankan TV viewing patterns, is the favoured time for serious current affairs and political programmes.

The debates are being co-produced by TVE Asia Pacific, the educational media foundation that I head, in partnership with IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and MTV Channel (Private) Limited, which runs a bevy of radio and TV channels including Sirasa TV and Channel One MTV.

The editorially independent series will accommodate a broad spectrum of expertise and opinion.
The debates are based on topics such as managing our waste, reducing air pollution, protecting biodiversity on land and in the seas, and buffering communities from disasters. Two debates in English will look at the nexus between business and the environment, and coping with climate change.

Read detailed news story on TVEAP website
Read series line up and broadcast schedule

Sri Lanka 2048 image montage by The Nation newspaper

The series is based on the overall premise that Sri Lanka has abundant land and ocean resources that can be used to build such a future -– but it faces many challenges in taking the right action at the right time. We believe that public discussion and debate on issues, choices and alternatives is an essential part of this process. Read more on why this series.

Why 2048? For one thing, it’s the year Sri Lanka will mark 100 years of political independence. Being 40 years in the future, the year lies slightly more than a generation ahead, allowing ample time and opportunity to resolve deep-rooted problems of balancing development with conservation.

Sri Lanka 2048 follows an informal, talk show format that allows ample interaction between the panel and empowered audience. Although they take place within a clearly defined scope that enables some focus, all debates are unscripted.

Our amiable moderator Kingsly Rathnayaka (centre in the photo montage above), one of the most versatile presenters on Sri Lankan television today, keeps the panel and audience engaged. By design, we ask more questions than we are able to answer in a television hour (48 mins). But then, we don’t expect to resolve these burning issues in that time – all we can hope to do is to stretch the limits of public discussion.

Logistics and studio size limit the number of our audience to a two dozen. We’ve tried hard to ensure a good mix among them, drawn from all walks of life. To bring in additional voices and perspectives, we insert into each debate 2 or 3 short video reports produced in advance. These highlight solutions to environment or development problems that have been tried out by individuals, communities, NGOs, government agencies or private companies. Played at key points during debates, these help steer discussion in a particular direction.

Sri Lanka 2048 by TVE Asia Pacific

We are already receiving favourable media reviews and coverage. Here are some that appeared in English language newspapers (more have come up in Sinhala newspapers, the language in which most of this series is produced and broadcast):
The Morning Leader, 28 May 2008: Timely action to sustain Sri Lanka’s development

The Sunday Times, 18 May 2008: TV Debate series to create a sustainable future
The Nation, 1 June 2008: Pick the best at Sri Lanka 2048

Sri Lanka 2048 is the culmination of months of research, development and pre-production work carried out by TVE Asia Pacific’s production team in collaboration with IUCN Sri Lanka. Our preparatory work involved consultations with dozens of experts, activists, officials, entrepreneurs – and their various organisations or companies. We synthesize and package their information, opinions and experiences with the dynamic and creative production team at MTV Channel (Pvt) Limited.

The inspiration for this series came from my mentor Sir Arthur C Clarke, with whom I wrote an essay 10 years ago that outlined his personal vision for his adopted country in 2048. The celebrated futurist that he was, Sir Arthur often said that there is a range of possible futures, and our actions – and inaction – determine what kind of future actually happens. Desirable futures don’t just happen; they need to be worked on.

Sri Lanka 2048 is an attempt to discuss how Sri Lankans can pursue economic prosperity without trading off their good health, natural wealth and public order. This is not a series preaching narrowly focused green messages to a middle class audience. We want to rise above and beyond the shrill of green activists, and engage in informed, wide ranging discussions on the tight-rope balancing act that emerging economies like Sri Lanka have to perform between short term economic growth and long term health of people and ecosystems.

Contrary to popular perception, ‘sustainable development’ is not some utopian or technical ideal of environmental activists. It’s about creating a liveable society here and today – where everyone has an acceptable quality of life, ample opportunities to learn and earn, and the freedom to pursue their own dreams.

Doing good television takes a good deal of time, effort and money. This TV series is supported under the Raising Environmental Consciousness in Society (RECS) project of IUCN Sri Lanka, which is funded by the Government of the Netherlands. But neither is responsible for editorial content or analysis, which rests on my shoulders as the executive producer of the series.

And I, in turn, stand on the shoulders of dedicated, hard working production teams drawn from TVE Asia Pacific and MTV Channel (Pvt) Limited. Doing good television is all team work.
Sri Lanka 2048 - Fisheries panel at Sirasa Studio - Photo by TVEAP

All photos courtesy TVE Asia Pacific