Business Times

Environmental trusteeship not ownership, says Justice Weeramantry

By Sunimalee Dias

Environmental sustainability is tipped to be key to driving the future development that required support by people with adequate knowledge to lead the future generations. Environmental sustainability is based on trusteeship bearing the idea that they cannot own the earth but enjoy it and hold it for the benefit of those in the future, former International Criminal Court Justice Christopher G. Weeramantry told a gathering of businesspersons at the Ceylon Continental Hotel in Colombo last Wednesday delivering the keynote address at the green event on the theme “The Need for Environmental Trusteeship as A Pre-requisite to Sustainability” organized by the Global Compact Network Ceylon.

Christopher G. Weeramantry

He noted that the earth is not owned by the people but given as a trustee to be held for the next generations. While short-term perspectives generated at the time of the industrial revolution have continued to dominate today’s commercial and political mindsets this has led them to lose sight of the long term goals, he pointed out.

He explained how the question of sustainability is deep-rooted in all cultures noting that “whatever anyone does it impacts on everyone.” Highlighting the country’s readiness to become a cultural centre for the region he noted this provides the opportunity to become a “beacon in our area.”

In this respect, the youth need to be conscious of this growing need for which they are currently working on assisting the youth at the centre established in this respect to train and nurture them to understand the needs of the day and its future.

Students from universities are selected to be trained as future leaders in trusteeship and taught to hand over values and traditions to the next generation with a good grounding in both a religious and commercial outlook provided towards this end, Justice Weeramantry said.

During this programme two presentations were made by the private sector to highlight the efforts undertaken by them in engaging in the evolving needs for environmental sustainability.
Haycarb Managing Director Rajith Kariyawasam brought to the fore dangerous signs noting that today the world’s consumption is more than the regeneration capacity.

It is believed that should this continue, “By 2030 we will require two earth planets to sustain people.”
This clearly points to a debt crisis due to exploitation of resources and in this respect a reverse of the current trends are urgently required, he said. This can be carried out through actions initiated by the government, corporate, multilateral corporations and society and individuals.

It was pointed out there needs to be a payoff made by developed nations in a bid to encourage growth in developing countries, Mr. Kariyawasam said. LOLC CEO Kapila Jayawardene observed that as part of being in the service industry it was essential that they become a part of creating environmental sustainability in order to run an organization for a 100 years and not just for a few years of about 5-10 years.

Conserving of energy and resources through the use of solar power, reforestation and encouragement of waste reduction is being carried out at the company, he explained. The company has installed 2000 solar panels that not only provide 15% of the monthly power requirement at the head office but also generate some of it to the national grid as well.

Paper usage has reduced due to reuse and reduction in printed matter at the office, the CEO said.
LOLC is to replace conventional vehicles provided to its employees with 70 hybrid cars in the first batch.
Further, an eco-friendly motor garage and vehicle service centre is being used at present, he said.
Plans are underway to establish a 10MW power plant for the production of biomass while 14 mini hydro power projects are being implemented that generate 27MW at US$30 million investment.

During the ensuing panel discussion, the main ideas that came to the fore were the need to encourage increased awareness among the top level decision makers and those at the grassroots in a bid to ensure that they are actively involved in engaging themselves to work for environmental trusteeship.

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