Activities and Updates

Anchoring meaningful community participation at the heart of nature-based solutions in cities

Historically, and more often than not, community participation has taken the form of “consultations” to satisfy engagement criteria for projects, a sort of ‘tick-box’ exercise. These can take the form of awareness raising initiatives to inform communities that projects are taking place in their communities or with the ecosystems they engage with. In these instances, communities have little autonomy to guide the direction of these projects or voice their opinion and provide feedback. For NbS initiatives to be successful, meaningful engagement is essential to ensure project success. Thus, it is paramount that we move to a model of meaningful community engagement in a way that is equitable and just with the communities who will be impacted either directly or indirectly, by NbS projects. This article details out principles of community engagement that should be taken into consideration when designing NbS projects to ensure meaningful engagement and participation throughout the project lifecycle from conception through to completion and finally to review evaluation.

A New Project on Innovative Financing for Sustainable Marine Conservation in Sri Lanka

Ecological conservation sites cannot operate without proper financial planning and management. In Sri Lanka, sites are operational, however, can stand to benefit greatly from revisiting theoretical and practical considerations of planning and management. Moreover, unlocking innovative financial solutions is only possible once conservation and financing stakeholders are on the same page regarding the issues, objectives, and outcomes of conservation. While financiers may be aware of the opportunity, the lack of awareness and knowledge on science-based conservation metrics too limits the attention given to this space. The Centre for a Smart Future is partnering with the Blue Resources Trust on a research and advocacy project to advance innovating financing for sustainable marine conservation in Sri Lanka, under a project funded by the Oceans 5 consortium.

Policy-Lab on ‘Integrating Equity and Reframing Urban NbS in South Asian Cities’

The need for Nature-based Solutions (NbS) that integrate equity and address the unique challenges of South Asian cities will be the focal point of a two-day Policy-Lab scheduled to take place on August 22-23, 2023, in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Colombo Urban Lab will be one of the collaborating partners at this event together with People's Alliance for Right to Land (Sri Lanka), Transitions Research (India) and International Centre for Climate Change and Development (Bangladesh). The event, supported by the Stockholm Environment Institute’s Strategic Collaborative Fund, aims to reframe NbS within the region's social, political, and economic context, focusing on the growing urban areas.

New Platform Initiated for Young Professionals in Public Policy

Emerging Sri Lankan public policy leaders have come together to form the country’s first platform for professional development and networking towards advancing better public policy capabilities. The Young Professionals in Public Policy (YPPP) was launched recently, with Professor Matt Andrews of Harvard University speaking at the inauguration. Speaking virtually from the Harvard campus in Cambridge, USA, Matt Andrews (Edward S Mason Senior Lecturer at Harvard Kennedy School of Government) congratulated the initiative and said, “These kind of initiatives - which we call communities of practice - are well recognized for their potential to build new capabilities and play a role in pushing forward new ideas. It is the ideal time for this in Sri Lanka, as new stakeholders must come together to build a new future”. The YPPP will function as an invitee-based learning and networking platform anchored by the CSF. Members will meet once in two months to hear from globally-leading public policy experts, to get new insights and inspiration. YPPP members will also engage in peer-learning, with each session featuring the work of a different member, and opportunities for knowledge sharing.


CSF partners with LSE’s International Inequalities Institute for a Research Project

The Centre for a Smart Future is collaborating with the International Inequalities Institute (III) at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) on a new project that explores how small and informal entrepreneurs access and use business advice to improve their incomes. CSF is a partner on the project ‘Ethnographic Solutions to Inequalities in South Asian Advicescapes’ which seeks to understand the channels of entrepreneurial advice to youth in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The project maps networks of advice for business development in comparative focus, and aims to generate new practical insights. It is funded by the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity Programme at the LSE. The project is a collaboration with BRAC in Bangladesh and the Centre for a Smart Future in Sri Lanka. CSF researchers supported the project through identifying existing advicescapes for informal sector entrepreneurs and small businesses in Sri Lanka (mainly in the Western Province) and conducted research to develop an understanding of the current state of play among different types/groups of entrepreneurs. Nimaya Dahanayake, Research Assistant who contributed to the project from CSF observed that, “Our field work so far, has focused on understanding existing channels of business advice for entrepreneurs and small business owners in Urban Colombo and has revealed interesting insights on the nature of their business activities and reasons for reliance on such channels of advice for business decisions”. Anushka Wijesinha, Co-Founder/Director of CSF said, “We are very happy to partner with the Dr Luke Heslop and the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity Programme at the International Inequalities Institute (III) at the LSE on this project, and particularly keen to support the uptake of the findings. CSF is always interested in solutions-oriented research, and so we hope this work will help inform key stakeholders in the business and entrepreneur advisory landscape in Sri Lanka, to get better at the services they provide, and become more considerate, meaningful and impactful”.

Our strategic partnership with the National Innovation Agency

CSF is pleased to announce a strategic partnership with the National Innovation Agency Sri Lanka, to advance ideas and solutions to strengthen the science, technology and innovation agenda in the country. CSF signed an MoU with NIA in September 2022 to leverage our joint expertise and local and global networks, to bring new knowledge, analysis, and policy initiatives. Both CSF and NIA believe that innovation must be inclusive, sustainable, and it is central to Sri Lanka's economic transformation, beyond recovery from the current crisis.

Introducing Sri Lankan corporates to climate risk disclosure standards

In mid-January 2022, the Centre for a Smart Future - under its 'Natural Capital Forum' initiative - collaborated with the Climate Disclosure Standards Board in the UK and the Colombo Stock Exchange to bring new accounting and analytical tools to Sri Lankan corporates. With practice facilitation and outreach by CSF to the CDSB, Sri Lankan listed and unlisted companies were able to learn about new accounting, reporting and disclosure standards relating to climate risks, for the first time in the country. The Colombo Stock Exchange(CSE) organized the training programme, which saw participation of nearly 200 participants. The programme was supported by the UN Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative(SSE)

Involuntary Resettlement in Sri Lanka – Urgent Need for Reform

Dispossession can have generational impacts on communities if their relocation process is not done in a proper way. The loss of their home and land that they have invested in, loss of livelihood and community and their entire of way of life is a massive upheaval. The words involuntary resettlement alone addresses that the act is not a fair one or a just one to begin with, and we need to ensure that communities are not left worse off post relocation.