The workshop was held at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) Head Quarters, Sri Lanka on 22 March 2017 with the participation of officials from Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Corporation, National Water Supply and Drainage Board, Department of Irrigation, Department of Agriculture and Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development. Academics and Students from the University of Colombo and experts representing several other orgnisations including SLWP, GWP SAS, IWMI and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) also attended the workshop.
Prof Deepthi Wickramasinghe from the University of Colombo conducted the introduction to Water, Wetlands and SDGs. Engineer Badra Kamaladasa, who was the former Director General of Department of Irrigation, discussed the topic Water, Wetlands and Irrigation at the perspective of an engineer. Dr Nimal Wijeratne, a Hydrologist discussed Wetlands for Transportation and Recreation. He briefly explained the proposed Colombo City ferry transportation system using the channel system - how it would control the heavy traffic congestion in the city, minimise the transportation cost and sustainably develop the urban wetlands. Ms Chethika Gunasiri further talked about the Colombo Wetlands and Biodiversity, discussed how these sites can be used in recreation, and contribute to tourism industry in the country without destroying its diversity.
Ms Damithri Chandrasekara who is an Undergraduate from the University of Colombo presented her academic research on Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction. Dr Missaka Hettiarachchi from WWF focussed on challenges in conserving wetlands in urban Sri Lanka. The workshop wrapped-up with an interactive session where all the participants had an opportunity to introduce themselves and their area of interest in relation to wetland management in Sri Lanka. This was a very important and interesting session where some raised their problems and were able to solve them immediately as the room consisted of officials from almost all the sectors who are having their central point of interest as urban wetlands. The rest of the participants’ atleast were able to get guidance for the challenges faced by their organisations. Some acknowledged the SLWP Wetlands Programme started since 2008 and indicated that the programme facilitated them to develop their own networks that enhanced the interaction among different departments and ministries who are working on the same subject.
Overall, the SLWP and SLLRDC collaborated effort on the occasion of WWD 2017 facilitated in creating a discussion forum to share experience and thoughts on different issues related to water, wetlands and development with a special focus on understanding the role of each institute and to discuss the way forward.