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From left: Dr. Rohan Fernando, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Minister of External Affairs Mangala Samaraweera

Subsequent to the address by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the topic of Sustaining Peace and Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, in Colombo recently, Sri Lanka’s private sector was given the opportunity to outline its commitment.

Dr. Rohan Fernando (Chairman UN Global Compact Network Sri Lanka and Director Aitken Spence PLC) summarized Sri Lankan private sector’s ongoing work to help sustain peace in the country and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Delivering his address, he said that if the private sector champions the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are relevant to their own priorities, Sri Lanka can achieve its development goals  a lot faster.

“Perhaps most significant, since the end of the conflict, has been the role of the private sector in stimulating the economy, creating jobs and in so doing – delivering a peace dividend to conflict affected and marginalised communities.

“There are many examples but perhaps the most visible is tourism. The end of the conflict brought with it a dramatic rise in the number of tourists. While the traditional tourist locations in the South of the country expanded rapidly, with the support of the private sector, new markets opened in parts of the north, east and bordering areas – and with this came opportunities for jobs in the hotels and the supporting services – boat trips, suppliers of produce, handicrafts etc,” Fernando said.

He added that in the food industry, there are also examples of how large buyers such as the supermarket chains, have worked closely with development partners and provided opportunities for farmers and fishermen from the former conflict affected areas to link up to their supply chains.

“Such initiatives and partnerships not only help provide decent work opportunities, sustainable livelihoods and opportunities for youth but also provide opportunities for people from different communities to come together,” he outlined.

A broad section of government, UN, private sector, civil society and youth representatives were present at the event hosted by the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations in Sri Lanka.