Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Minister of Education and Representative of Sri Lanka to the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO Tilak Ranaviraja represented Sri Lanka at the 200 session of its Executive Board from 7 to 10 October 2016 at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.
Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam and Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO Tilak Ranaviraja at the 200 Session of the Executive Board, UNESCO
Addressing the plenary session of the Board, Minister Kariyawasam reiterated the progressive advancements made by Sri Lanka in the fields of education, culture, science with a special focus on the efforts taken to mitigating climate change and achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In this respect, he highlighted that Sri Lanka is the first country in the region to establish a Ministry dedicated for Sustainable Development and is currently the Chair of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development. Further, Minister Kariyawasam added that a National Sustainable Development Act in conformity with the SDGs will be tabled in the Parliament within the coming weeks to facilitate a national policy in this regard.
Speaking on the education sector, Minister Kariyawasam underlined initiatives taken by Sri Lanka as a champion of free, universal education to implement SDG goal 4, ‘Education for all’ including the proposed introduction of 13 years of compulsory schooling to ensure that no child is left behind. On behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka, Tilak Ranaviraja, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO thanked the Director General Irina Bokova for visiting Sri Lanka.
In response, the Director General while appreciating the excellent arrangements made for her visit lauded the Government of Sri Lanka for the progressive developments made in advancing reconciliation during a short span of time as a country recovering from an internal conflict.
A retreat for delegates attending the Executive Board was arranged on the sidelines of the 200 session on 8 and 9 October at Château de Chantilly to provide a platform to deliberate on the future direction of the Organization and its priority where Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of UNESCO to Sri Lanka, Tilak Ranaviraja represented the Minister.
Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO Tilak Ranaviraja participated at the retreat at Château de Chantilly
The Executive Board, which is one of the two main governing bodies of UNESCO is instrumental in the decision making process and steering the organization forward. Sri Lanka was elected as a member of the Executive Board at the 38 session of the General Conference of UNESCO in 2015 receiving 149 out of 186 votes as part of Government’s policy to increase engagement with international organizations.
Minister was accompanied by Deputy Chief of Mission Shobini Gunasekera, Secretary General of the National Commission for UNESCO Dhammika Wijayasinghe, Second Secretary of the Embassy Ruvini Munidasa, Chitrani Fernando and A.R. Karunaratne from the Ministry of Education.
The Embassy of Sri Lanka
11 October 2016