World Environmental day is celebrated globally on 5th June from 1973. The day provides a platform for environmental activists to voice their concerns and highlight the negative impacts of global environmental issues to the global community. In that line, the theme for World Environmental Day 2023 focuses on ‘Solution for Plastic Pollution’ under the campaign #Beattheplastic.
‘Stepping Stone to Safeguarding Sri Lanka’s Natural Environment Project’ (SSEP) was implemented by Caritas Sri Lanka in 2022. It is believed that community involvement plays a major role in protecting and restoring the environment. Therefore, SSEP chooses to assist the selected communities who face the effects of environmental degradation and address the environmental issues to bring sustainable solutions. Caritas Sri Lanka is currently undertaking several environmental and development initiatives through it’s Diocesan network under SSEP. Commemorating World Environmental Day is one of the key activities that was carried out by the DCs with the participation of the Environmental group members in 2022 & 2023.
Caritas Diocesan Network conducted community projects such as cleanup campaigns, awareness-creating parades, awareness-creating sessions including street dramas and speeches, tree planting campaigns and art competitions for kids in line with World Environmental Day. This project is carried out with the funding assistance of Misereor.
Caritas EHED – Batticaloa commemorated the World Environmental Day on 5th of June 2023 under SSEP. A procession with more than 80 people started from Cycle Park Batticaloa to Charles Hall Batticaloa. Rev.Fr. Jesudhasan the Director of Caritas EHED – Batticaloa along with the staff, the SSEP team from CSL National Center, Police Officers, schoolchildren, members of village-level environmental groups and the public participated in the procession. The foundation stone was planted at Batticaloa Gandhi Park to build the monument that addressed the 50th year anniversary of World Environment Day. A cultural event was organized at Charles Hall Batticaloa continuing the procession. Rev.Fr. G. Alex Robert, the Vicar General of Batticaloa Diocese participated in this event as a chief guest. The village-level environmental group members delivered dramas, songs, dances and delivered speeches on environmental protection and the importance of conserving our mother earth from plastic pollution. An art competition for kids was also conducted prior to the day and the pictures were displayed in the hall. Mr. S. Gohulan, the Assistant Director of Central Environmental Authority delivered a speech on the negative impacts of plastic pollution. He mentioned in his speech that how plastic garbage can pollute our eco-system and change the nature of human lives. In addition, he shared more information regarding micro-plastic contamination in the ocean. Handouts on garbage management were distributed among the participants. The winners of the competition were awarded at the end of the program.
The farmer’s society in Walsapugala Galle has been advocating and lobbying for the past years to solve the human-elephant conflict that has ravaged their farming and living. This had been one of the most sensitive and politicized issues that gained worldwide attention in the past due to their fast-unto-death protest. Galle DC formed a village level environmental group in Walsapugala under SSEP. Several awareness creating sessions regarding the prevention measures that can be taken to safeguard people from elephant attack was conducted to the people in the village in 2022 under SSEP. As per the request from the community, Caritas SED Galle agreed to build elephant fence for the village. Therefore, Caritas SED Galle started to spearhead the process of building the elephant fence with the collaboration of Port Authority, Department of Wildlife Conservation, the Mahaweli Authority of Sri Lanka and MONLAR (Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform). A foundation post was planted to start the process of elephant fence building in line with the World Environmental Day. The Director of Caritas SED Galle Rev.Fr. Lasantha Fonseka, Officers from Governmental and Non-Governmental Organizations along with the local community from Walsapugala participated in this event.
Caritas HUDEC Jaffna conducted a tree-planting campaign at Thellipalai cancer hospital commemorating World Environmental Day. Dr. Sathiyamoorthy, Dr. Ketheeswaran,
Dr. Raymonds, Telipalai DS Mr. Satkunarajah Sivasiri, Mrs. Krishanthy Kamalarajan AGA Jaffna, Telipalai District Secretary, OIC Telipalai Police, nurses and public participated in the event. Caritas HUDEC Jaffna built a compost-making structure and opened it for the hospital usage on the same day. In addition HUDEC Jaffna conducted two more tree planting campaigns at Varuthalaivilan in Telipalai & Antonypuram Palaly under SSEP to address World Environmental Day. Caritas HUDEC Jaffna established two billboards on environmental conservation to create awareness among the public about environmental protection.
Caritas Valvuthayam Mannar commemorated World Environmental Day at Southpar Beach Mannar. Mr. Pratheep the Divisional Secretariat of Mannar DS division conducted an awareness session on the negative impacts of plastic and polythene. A group of 170 members from village level environmental groups participated at the event.
Caritas EHED – Trincomalee conducted a series of events to address World Environmental Day including a residential program on environmental management for youth, a tree planting Campaign with ATI students and the public at Varothaya Nagar, and an art competition for kids at T/Bharathi Tamil Maha Vidyalayam under SSEP. Mrs. T. Sharmila an environmental officer from Central Environmental Authority – Trincomalee, Mr. Mathivannan from Disaster Management Office participated in this event.
Caritas Vanni Hudec organized a protest against the privatization of public land and a common pond in Mullaitivu District in line with the World Environmental Day Commemoration. The land and the pond are main natural resources for the livelihood of most of the people living in that area. Because of the privatization, the livelihood of people from freshwater fishing, agriculture and animal husbandry will get disturbed. Therefore, to emphasize the importance of conserving nature over development activities a protest took place under the leadership of Rev. Fr. Sebajeevan, the Director of Caritas Vanni- HUDEC. The village level environmental groups formed under SSEP from Udaiyarkaddu & Vellapalam spearheaded the protest. In addition, people handed over two petition papers to the Divisional Secretariat Puthukudiyiruppu and the Department of Agriculture explaining the sufferings of people with the objective of gaining the attention of the relevant authorities to take legal action against the privatization.
Caritas Chilaw organized a clean-up campaign at Poththuwilluwa Lakeside. A tree planting campaign and a silent procession also took place during the clean-up campaign to commemorate World Environmental Day. Members from Village Level Environmental Adult, youth and children groups formed under SSEP from Pottuwilluwa, Madawaththa and Iranawila participated in this event. The SSEP team from Chilaw DC also conducted debate, singing, essay and art competitions for St’ Pauls Ⅱ Cambridge College Wennapuwa students to create awareness among them to take action protecting the environment. The winners were awarded later.
Caritas Ratnapura – Sethmini organized a cleanup campaign and a tree planting campaign on World Environmental Day at Ruwanwella. Officers from Ruwanwella DS office, Youth Council, Pradeshiya Sabha and Road Development Authority participated in this event. In addition Caritas Ratnapura – Sethmini conducted one more clean-up campaign at Kahanawita. The members from Village Level Environmental Group cleaned the drainage and canal in Dehiowita and fixed the manhole cover of the canal. A billboard was also established at the canal site under SSEP.
Caritas Colombo – Seth Sarana organized a series of programs in conjunction with the World Environment Day under SSEP. As an initial program, a tree planting campaign was held at Maharagama. Officers from Maharagama DS office participated in this event on 5th of June 2023. In addition, Caritas Colombo organized a mangrove tree planting campaign along with Department of Coastal Conservation at Negambo Lagoon on 7th of June 2023 to address the World Environmental Day. Members from Negombo DS office, NARA institute, Teppan Society, and the local community participated in this event.
Caritas Badulla –USCOD conducted a cleanup campaign in Badulla town in line with the World Environmental Day 2023. Members of Badulla Municipal Council, Staff of Caritas Badulla, Members of Village Level Environmental Groups and public participated in this event.
Caritas Anuradhapura – Sethsaviya organized an art competition on World Environmental Day for members of the Village Level Environmental Children Group. Children from Ulpathagama, Nabadawawa, and Dangahakadawala participated in this event. In addition, Village Level Environmental Youth Group conducted a cleanup campaign at Anuradhapura town to address World Environmental Day 2023.
It is true that our mother earth and her all natural resources needs to be protected for our future generations. Hence, ‘Environmental Conservation’ has become one of the core concepts that need to be shared and discussed more than ever before while we play the battle of climate change. In that line, we believed, that as CSL we have tried our best to instill in the minds and hearts of many individuals the importance of environmental protection, especially by involving the local communities and creating awareness among them.