June 05, Colombo: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa today emphasized the need to safeguard the environment for the future as it amounts to protecting the country's children.
He said everyone should focus special attention to safeguard the environment and take actions to minimize damages to the environment in achieving development targets.
President Rajapaksa made these points participating as chief guest in the 41st World Environment Day commemoration ceremony held today at the Nawarangahala auditorium at the Royal College in Colombo.
This year has been named as the International Year of Small Islands and Developing States (SIDS) and the World Environment Day events will focus on 'Small Islands and Climate Change' with the theme "Raise Your Voice Not The Sea Level."
Sri Lanka, although not under the SIDS, being an island, is highly vulnerable to the impact of climate change and sea level rise.
The Ministry of Environment and Renewable Energy organized the main event today under the patronage of the President.
Speaking at the ceremony, the President said Sri Lanka is leading in protecting the environment when compared to other countries in the Asian region, and all should determine to make Sri Lanka the country that emits the least amount of carbon dioxide in future.
He said the country's scientists have the responsibility to explore systems and strategies to minimize emission of carbon dioxide.
The President said that this year's World Environment Day theme is very important and timely relevant as Sri Lanka is also as an island susceptible to climate changes.
He noted that in 2010, the government has prepared an action plan to successfully face the natural disasters. The government has established the Sustainable Energy Authority to encourage the nation for generation of alternative power sources, he added.
He urged the people to protect the environment around them in order to lead a life free of various menaces such as dengue.
At the ceremony, the President recognized the Royal College Colombo for the contribution the school has made for the protection of the environment.
The Postal Department issued a special stamp and a first day cover to mark World Environment Day and Postal services Minister Jeevan Kumaratunga presented the first copy of the stamp to the President.
President Rajapaksa awarded prizes to winners of the Climate Change Art Competition and the Merit Award to the "Sobha Chalana Sithuwam" Short Film Competition.
The President also handed over Merit Awards to the winners of the Salaroo Environment Television Short Advertisement Competition organized by the Central Environment Authority and prizes to winners of the Suwasara Thaksalawa programme.
An Exhibition which presented creations from various divisions of the Environment Ministry was also organized in parallel to the event.
The President presented scholarships to children of gem mine workers who are pursuing their studies and also awarded prizes to winners of the Prison Inmates Art Competition.
Ministers Susil Premajayantha and Bandula Gunawardena, Deputy Minister Abdul Cader, Parliamentarians Shantha Bandara, Duminda Silva, J.R.P. Suriyapperuma and A.H.M. Azwer also participated in the event.
(Photos by Sudath Silva)