Message from the Director General of South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme on World Environment Day

On this World Environment Day 2024, I am honored to address you as the Director General of the South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme (SACEP). Today, we join the global community in celebrating our planet and reaffirming our unwavering commitment to its protection and sustainable management.

This year's theme, "Ecosystem Restoration: Stopping Desertification and Building Drought Resilience," resonates deeply with our region. South Asia, blessed with diverse landscapes and ecosystems, faces significant challenges from desertification and increasing droughts. These threats jeopardize our food security, water resources, and the livelihoods of millions.

Desertification, caused by unsustainable land use and climatic variations, leads to land degradation, reduced biodiversity, and increased poverty. Concurrently, the frequency and severity of droughts are intensifying due to climate change, further straining our agricultural and water systems.

To address these pressing issues, SACEP has been implementing the Healthy Landscape (HLS) Project a national project of Sri Lanka focusing on ecosystem restoration, sustainable land management, and drought resilience.

The Healthy Landscape Project involves comprehensive strategies to rehabilitate degraded lands, restore natural habitats, and promote sustainable agricultural practices in village tank cascade system landscapes. Through reforestation efforts, soil conservation techniques, and the revival of traditional water management systems, we are working to restore the health and productivity of village tank cascade system landscapes.

One of the key components of this project is the establishment of community-led initiatives. By engaging local communities, we ensure that restoration efforts are culturally appropriate and sustainable. These initiatives not only restore the environment but also empower communities, creating jobs and enhancing livelihoods.

However, the sustainability of the initiatives of Healthy Landscape Project and our broader goals depends on people’s active participation. On this World Environment Day, I urge each of you to take part in restoration activities. Plant trees, conserve water, adopt sustainable farming practices, and support policies aimed at halting desertification and building drought resilience.

Our collective actions today will determine the health and sustainability of our environment tomorrow. By restoring ecosystems, preventing desertification, and enhancing drought resilience, we can secure a future where our communities and natural landscapes thrive.

Let us embrace the spirit of unity and cooperation that defines South Asia. Together, we can make a significant impact in restoring our ecosystems and ensuring a sustainable and resilient future for all.

Happy World Environment Day 2024!

Rokeya Khaton
Director General - SACEP