Colombo, 1 July 2014: Fifty high level delegates from Government Ministries and partner agencies came together at a workshop held in Colombo Tuesday last week to formulate the National Habitat III Report. The workshop was convened by the Ministry of Construction, Engineering Services, Housing and Common Amenities of the Government of Sri Lanka, following an invitation by UN-Habitat.

Habitat III is the third UN Conference on Sustainable Human Settlements, and specifically focuses on housing and sustainable urban development. The global conference will seek to define global urban priorities for the next twenty years by discussing the many challenges and opportunities of urbanization towards achieving goals of sustainable development.

Officially inaugurating the workshop, Mr. P H L W Perera, Secretary to the Ministry of Construction Engineering Service, Housing and Common Amenities, highlighted that the Ministry, as the focal point for UN-Habitat and member of its Governing Council, welcomes the opportunity. He highlighted the collective responsibility of Government Agencies to ensure representation of the interests of nearly 22 million Sri Lankan citizens.

Mr. K A Thilakarathne, Additional Secretary (Housing), called for inclusivity in formulating the National Report. The efforts to capture the country’s progress on the Habitat Agenda calls for the representation of a multitude of stakeholders involved in the development of sustainable human settlements.

UN-Habitat Programme Manager for Sri Lanka, Mr. Saman Ekanayake noted that the agency has enjoyed a productive partnership with the Government of Sri Lanka for over three decades. Sri Lanka has made significant progress within the urban and housing sectors since the Habitat II conference held in Vancouver in 1996, and has been a global sector leader.

A day of productive dialogue on Sri Lanka’s achievements, issues, lessons-learnt and way forward followed the inauguration ceremony. Expert groups focused on specific issues such as urban demography, land and urban planning, environment and risk reduction, urban mobility, legislation and governance, social inclusion and equity, urban economy and livelihoods, and housing and basic urban services.

Based on the discussions, the National Report is now being drafted. Following further participatory consultations, the National Report will be presented to the Cabinet of Ministers of Sri Lanka for ratification before its final submission to the United Nations Habitat III conference.