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"World Environment Day raises awareness in Sri Lanka"
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"World Environment Day raises awareness in Sri Lanka"

IndooshanSri Lankans are embracing World Environment Day as part of their crowded calendar of special events, says Indooshan Shanthakumaran, 25, a Correspondent from Colombo in Sri Lanka, but while the growing environmental awareness is an encouraging first step much work remains to be done.

Sri Lanka is a land where people have so many religious festivals to celebrate, political dramas to watch and daily issues to tackle, that in this circus arena specially-designated international days hardly make any mark on peoples’ mind or create awareness.

However in the last few years the attention given to June 5, World Environment Day, and the seriousness shown is very exciting for an environmental person like me to witness. We can see the depth to which this awareness is created and the missions yet to achieve in this regard.

The leading corporate brands and government agencies – especially the central environment authority – both should be given credit for creating public attention. The leading clothing stores issue specially designed wardrobes to mark Environment Day. Some of these clothes are made of totally bio degradable substances while others have designs or verses to remind and motivate people towards environment conservation. Many companies conduct cleaning activities and shramadana (a Sri Lankan word for getting together and cleaning public places) campaigns to ensure that the community is given the idea of keeping common places clean and green. The president’s office and other institutions conduct tree planting campaigns. The education department issues circulars to arrange special activities in schools. Even Sri Lanka Police started a special force as an “Environment Unit” to watch pollution issues.

If you look at how June 5th and World Environment Day is celebrated it is highly satisfying. The day itself is created to enlighten the people about the current disastrous situation regarding environmental pollution, and to make people feel responsible about ensuring peace and harmony with the environment. On the other hand we cannot be satisfied just for creating awareness and implanting ideas in a particular community. Let us look at what the mission has yet to achieve.

All the above mentioned activities are largely done in major cities like Colombo and Kandy, and the people who get the message are highly educated and doing white color jobs. But the larger population represents rural farmers who are not as attuned to international causes as the city crowd. The activities of Environmental Day are largely published in daily newspapers and social media. The rural Lankans have less access to those. More importantly they have their daily struggles including poverty, ignorance, education for their children, seasonal harvest and working for better living conditions. In these struggles they hardly get time to concentrate on environment conservation and mitigating pollution.

The actual victory of creating awareness can only be declared once the entire range of Sri Lankan communities get the proper knowledge about environmental conservation, irrespective of socio economic divisions.

Rural Sri Lankans have to know about pollution and climate change as badly as any other person in this part of the world, because improper agricultural activities will harm the land and waterways. This will result in insufficient harvests and the curse of poverty will continue forever.

To sum up, we can be happy about doing a commendable activity with the goal of creating awareness among people about World Environment Day. But we have to work hard to take this to the whole of Sri Lanka to achieve our mission to live in a clean, healthy and green Sri Lanka.

Photo: art created with recycled material – Indooshan Shanthakumaran

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About me: I am a friendly and fun loving person, highly interested in travelling around getting know different people and making lovely memories. I intend to pursue higher studies in development economics and help small and medium entrepreneurs achieve their development and their country’s development goals.

I am interested in writing about common issues that lie within the Commonwealth countries and to find some reasonable and practical solutions universally.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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