- Environmental Integration in Sri Lanka’s Financial Sector: CSF’s New Research Study
- Anchoring meaningful community participation at the heart of nature-based solutions in cities
- Dirty Business: Reading modernity in Colombo’s fish markets
- Financing Conservation: Six Mechanisms Sri Lanka Should Know About
- Understanding Power Asymmetries in Platform-based Gig Work
- October 2023
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September 26, 2023
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.
September 20, 2023
Dirty Business: Reading modernity in Colombo’s fish markets
Why are fish markets consistently decried as filthy, and what does that say about urban space and our changing ideas of what is acceptable in our cities? While adding fish markets to the list of national failings may be the simplest course of action, a closer examination of how these markets are perceived by urban planners and administrators, offers us insight into dominant ideologies of planning, municipal governance and public health that continue to influence our cities today.
September 18, 2023
Financing Conservation: Six Mechanisms Sri Lanka Should Know About
Conservation efforts across the globe are in urgent need of sustainable financing. The challenge to meet this need is difficult but surmountable. The growing recognition of natural capital, the increasing availability of innovative financing instruments, and the expansion of climate-oriented funds means that there are now a greater number of financing alternatives for countries like Sri Lanka that do not have the fiscal capacity to sustain conservation efforts through traditional budgetary sources. At the Centre for a Smart Future, we are looking at some of these instruments and mechanisms specifically to identify their applicability to Sri Lanka, and learning lessons on how they can be deployed sensibly and sustainably. It’s vital that domestic economic and governance considerations are borne in mind when choosing these instruments and mechanisms for use in Sri Lanka, and government, development partners, policy think tanks, and environmental specialists should be engaged inclusively to get the best outcome for the country.
September 14, 2023
Understanding Power Asymmetries in Platform-based Gig Work
In contrast to traditional employment, the power structure in the gig economy is largely dominated by the platform companies that use different mechanisms rooted in algorithmic management leading to power asymmetries. Workers have little agency and find it difficult to contest unfair decisions or unethical behaviours by platform companies, given the few organisational resources at their disposal. In this context, platform companies must work towards improving overall transparency of their operations (i.e., particularly on algorithms), so that workers are made aware of how different aspects of their work (i.e.,ratings, incentives, commission rates etc.) are determined.
July 15, 2023
Circuits of Semiconductors and Affiliation: a Shallow Dive into the Small-Scale Mobile Phone Repair Sector
In Sri Lanka, the way telecommunication technologies have embedded themselves into people’s lives cannot be ignored. Over the past two decades, mobile telephone voice subscriptions have gradually increased. Furthermore, at the end of 2021, the total cellular mobile telephone subscriptions were 135% of the population. These facts and figures describe the public’s need for mobile phone connectivity services in order to connect to people and things. However, within this sector, the roles played by states and larger enterprises tend to overshadow the ancillary roles played by people organised at smaller scales.
June 7, 2023
Beyond Pomp and Pageantry: Looking at Public Markets as Lived Spaces
The reconfiguration of Colombo’s built environment and key infrastructure has lasting consequences for the city’s food environment and people’s access to affordable and nutritious fresh produce. Public markets are more than the building in which its activities take place. They are lived spaces for people of different walks of life and facilitate more than mere commercial activities. The conceptualisation and design of these markets must also consider the lived experiences of those that work and engage with the market, in order to make them sustainable in the long run.
March 14, 2023
Valuing the Catch of the Day: Towards a more Humanised Food Value Chain
Even with limited understanding about how exactly they function, it is hard to not appreciate the capacity of markets to coordinate the movement of seafood from our oceans to our plates using the price mechanism and relationships. However, exploring upstream of the fish supply chains, does beg the question about what “relevant information” is lost when the value of fish is determined by the price mechanism. The distress of fishermen who are finding it increasingly harder afford their traditional livelihood, the plight of vendors of small fish markets where prices of fish are beyond the spending capacity of the immediate community, the loss of livelihoods of the most vulnerable of us who provide their labour at fish landing sites, and the impacts on marine life as fishermen may be forced to maximise catch to make each trip to sea economically efficient: How well does information about these aspects travel with price information? Or is this information not relevant?
March 13, 2023
New Publication: ‘Debt for Nature Swaps: A Primer for Interested Stakeholders’
There is increasing global pressure for economies to extend their investments in climate action due to the added and ever-increasing pressure on the environment. Various sovereign financing instruments linked to nature, like Debt for nature swaps (DFNS), provides developing economies under severe macroeconomic and public financial strain the opportunity to increase climate action and environmental outcomes, while taking new steps to tackle sovereign debt issues. There has been rising interest in debt for nature swaps in the recent years, especially in the post-pandemic era with increase in instances of sovereign debt crises in developing countries and emerging markets. With the help of various multilateral institutions, there has been an increase in traction and reports of debt for nature swap negotiations in process and of such deals that have already taken place. DFNS provide countries a means of tackling sovereign debt issues, and strengthen public finances, while simultaneously making investments in conservation and improving environment outcomes. As this paper notes, governments and country stakeholders must prepare their technical knowledge, and institutional and legal frameworks when embarking on instruments such as these for the first time. In Sri Lanka, some of these have already begun and are ongoing. Our paper argues that stakeholder collaboration in both the economics, finance, and public financial management fraternity as well as the environmental science, conservation and sustainability fraternity is key to ensuring that the right pathways are chosen, and good governance is embedded.
January 26, 2023
Is Gig Work in Sri Lanka Enabling Female Participation in the Workforce?
While gender was not the primary focus of our gig worker survey, it was interesting to find that relatively less women were engaged in gig economy activity (i.e., similar to what is seen in the traditional workforce) despite the relative flexibility of gig work, equal pay opportunities (in most cases) and low barriers to entry. In this context, platform companies have a role to play in facilitating the participation of more women in their workforce. If gig work is to attract more female participation in the future, platforms and other stakeholders in the gig economy must address issues specifically affecting women, and also initiate discourse on broader structural and cultural changes, including on the perception that women are the only primary caregivers or home-makers, especially in developing countries like Sri Lanka.
January 13, 2023
Is Gig Work Really Part-time in Sri Lanka?: Findings from a Survey
A recent study of gig economy activity in Sri Lanka has emerged, suggesting that although gig work is generally perceived as being part-time work, in reality, gig workers actually work full-time. Despite the reputation gig work as attracted as being largely part-time work used to supplement existing income, the survey of drivers and riders in ride-hailing/ride-sharing and delivery platforms in Sri Lanka, has revealed that many workers actually work on the platform full-time. Yet, platform companies typically do not recognise such workers as ‘employees’ of the platform company and resulting low worker protection. The pandemic and economic crisis has affected these full-time workers to the extent that many were often left idle, with little to no hires and orders during the height of the pandemic and the crisis, despite engaging with the platform full-time.