July 27, Colombo: The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has reiterated its support for Sri Lanka's sustainable industrial development.
The UNIDO is to usher an Inclusive and sustainable industrialization framework to Sri Lanka as part of a vast array of strategic interventions under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed globally in 2015, Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen says.
Minister Bathiudeen held discussions with a visiting New Delhi based UNIDO Regional Representative, Rene Van Berkel on Tuesday in Colombo on Sri Lanka's development of industries.
"SDG 9 involves the three 'I's-Infrastructure, Industrialization and Innovation. SDG 9 focuses on building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation," UNIDO Representative Van Berkel said during the meeting.
Joining the meeting were Head of UNIDO focal point office in Sri Lanka Nawaz Rajabdeen and Senior Advisor to Minister Bathiudeen Himali Jinadasa.
Van Berkel said UNIDO has a long history of partnering with Sri Lanka recalling that recently, it partnered in renewable energy and environment and waste management and cinnamon quality and trade promotion.
"Future interventions for Sri Lanka we aim to structure around inclusive & sustainable industrial development and investment, including SMEs. SDG9.2 (referred to as Target 9.2) promotes sustainable industrialization and raise industry's share of employment and gross domestic product, and in least developed countries, double industry share. SDG 9 can assist proposed industrial reforms as per the vision of the Government of Sri Lanka," he said.
"We can work on new industrial parks and also on sub-sectors of the economy-such as agri-business and farmer markets, farmer produce collection and storage, food processing and packaging, exports and stronger industry linkages to exports such as leather production," the UNIDO representative added.
Minister Bathiudeen, responding to UNIDO Representative Van Berkel thanked UNIDO's ongoing support to the country's industrial development.
Minister Bathiudeen noting that Sri Lanka is already working on some of the sub sector activities that UNIDO plans such as leather production and tannery upgrades, said Sri Lanka needs to jointly develop an Industry Development Blueprint as part of advancing UNIDO's next country development program for Sri Lanka.
"This is a continuation of its tradition of support to our Five Year Industrial Development Plan introduced earlier. I commend UNIDO's assistance in the setting up of National Cinnamon Training Academy of Sri Lanka for Lankan cinnamon industry which aims to go for $1 Bn exports, the pilot Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification for cinnamon, and support for our renewable energy efficiency enhancement. These are more recent development in a support journey that began way earlier. Therefore we welcome SDG 9 introduction to our industries in your new strategic intervention. The industry reform vision of our Unity Government aims at taking our industries to next level such as robotics and high value addition manufacturing, where UNIDO's support could help us greatly."
During his first visit to Sri Lanka in February 2015, UNIDO Director General Li Yong hinted of bigger plans for UNIDO's Sri Lanka operations in his meeting with Minister Bathiudeen. "Let me stress that it is time that Sri Lanka receives a fully-fledged UNIDO country program. Sri Lanka is a very important member of UNIDO. The long history of national and international engagement by Sri Lanka is very commendable" DG Yong said.