Staff of IUCN Sri Lanka invited its private sector partners to an evening with them on December 11, 2007 to discuss business opportunities arising from the National Red List which was launched recently. This informal evening was held at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel.
CEOs and senior management of selected private sector organizations discussed with IUCN on some specific opportunities arising from the Red List. A video documentary on the status of Sri Lanka’s biodiversity and the impending challenges and threats posed set the scene for the evening. Dr. Channa Bambaradeniya, Coordinator, Regional Species Conservation Programme (RSCP), IUCN Asia, made a thought provoking presentation on the findings of the Red List and potential opportunities for the private sector to address some of the issues arising from it. An information pack containing seven areas of business initiatives related to the Red List for the private sector was handed over to the participants along with a copy of the Red List.
Mrs. Shiranee Yasaratne, IUCN Sri Lanka Country Representative facilitated the sharing of experience by corporate partners of IUCN including those from the Dilmah Group of Companies, Jetwing Hotels, and from the Best Corporate Citizen’s Award Winners Hayleys Limited and John Keells Holdings. Mr. Dilhan Fernando, Director, Marketing of Dilmah shared his experience of using information from the threatened list in the Koulara pottery project being implemented by the Company. Mr. Hiran Cooray, Deputy Chairman of Jetwing Hotels pledged that he would take this programme to a wider audience through the Sri Lanka Hoteliers Association.
The Corporate Leaders present pledged their support to the establishment of an environmental business leaders forum modeled on IUCN’s Leaders for Nature Initiative. The constituents of the business leaders forum would commit and collaborate with IUCN on specific initiatives. Mr. Dilhan Fernando committed support to the development of a consumer-friendly website outlining the importance of communicating the message to the widest audience possible.
IUCN considers this evening to have been a grand success as it showcases the commitment of Sri Lanka’s private sector in championing conservation initiatives for the benefit of future generations.