Sri Lanka

Delft Maha Vidyalayam

Delft Maha Vidyalayam, Delft Island © Kumudini Ekaratne, IUCN, 2016

MFF supports local community action in Sri Lanka for the sustainable use of coastal ecosystems. Enhancing community participation in coastal area management, including increasing the resilience of coastal and riverine communities to climate change and sustainable lievelihoods development are key MFF activities in the country.

MFF’s priorities address critical issues facing the environmental sustainability of coastal ecosystems in Sri Lanka. Sustainable alternative livelihood options, established through local organizations, are also being introduced widely to reduce pressure on coastal resources.

The coastline of Sri Lanka is approximately 1,340 km long and hosts a number of interrelated coastal ecosystems, including bays, beaches, dunes, estuaries, lagoons and tidal flats. Found within in these are a range of habitats such as mangroves, coral reefs. These coastal areas support a range of nationally important economic activities including tourism, fisheries and port developments.

Sri Lanka’s coastal areas are under threat from population increase, coupled with poorly planned coastal development, more intensive and industrialized resource extraction, and industrial pollution, shrimp farming, unregulated illegal sand mining, and climate change. Most of these issues are underpinned by the broader problems related to governance. Other issues, such as mangrove planting in estuaries and lagoons, are also cause for concern, particularly in reagrds to appropriate conservation and development activities.

Sri Lanka has a strong foundation in and capacity for coastal management. It has a coastal zone management programme that has been in operation for three decades, three cabinet approved Coastal Zone Management Plans (CZMPs), a dedicated line agency, the Coast Conservation and Coastal Resources Managemet Department and a large contingent of well trained technical experts and coastal managers.


Climate change-impacts and adaptation

Sri Lanka’s coasts will be exposed to the same increase in risks due to climate change and sea-level rise many other countries will experience, for example: coastal erosion, coral bleaching, increased risk of flooding and problems with freshwater supply. The Sri Lanka National Strategy Action Plan (NSAP) recognises that planning in coastal areas needs to consider these projections particularly since the changes will occur gradually. The Stern Report on Climate Change (2006) in the analysis of the economic implications of global change recommends that adaptation measures need to be included in planning now in order to avoid unbearable cost burdens in the face of a crisis entrained by postponement of action.

The MFF Sri Lanka NSAP provides an opportunity to begin addressing adaptation to global warming and climate change considerations have been carefully mainstreamed where relevant throughout the specific priority activities developed for Sri Lanka. The NSAP also reflects climate change priorities in its 14 Policies, which represent the principles by which the implementation of the NSAP should abide.


MFF’s programme of work in Sri Lanka

MFF’s programme of work in Sri Lanka is overseen by a National Coordination Body (NCB) Sri Lanka, which is comprised of representatives from a range of governmental departments, NGOs, inter-governmental organisations and academic institutions. A National Strategy and Action Plan (NSAP) and its associated workplan, guides the work of the NCB.



Geographic focus and Strategy

The NSAP prioritises activities that may be relevant only in specific areas of the country. For example, Special Area Management (SAM) sites that have been deemed nationally significant by the Government.

Additionally, post-conflict areas, e.g., the eastern and northern coastal areas are considered to be critical areas requiring attention through the MFF. All efforts will be made to work in these areas, however, implementation may be problematic and slower in these areas.

Sri Lanka’s NSAP has been developed specifically to integrate successive national Coastal Zone Management Plans (CZMPs) developed by the government’s Coastal Conservation and Coastal Resources Management Department as well as to strengthen the application of the ecosystem approach in the work of the CZMP. MFF’s country strategy for Sri Lanka is dictated in the NSAP’s Strategic Action Plan (SAP) which represents a framework of priority activities that will be supported through MFF in Sri Lanka under all the 15 Programmes of Work (PoWs) stipulated under the overall MFF Action Plan.

 Alignment to ongoing in-country initiatives and priorities

The NSAP has been developed to complement and align itself to more general ongoing initiatives, plans and policies (e.g. ecosystem-based planning and management for wetlands, including coastal wetland systems, by the Central Environmental Authority of the Ministry of Environment). 

The Sri Lanka NSAP is strongly aligned with the National Coastal Zone Plan and aims to influence the next revision of this plan through advocating an integrated ecosystem approach. Steps to support this revision have already been initiated.


MFF Sri Lanka’s priorities include:

  • Buidling knowlege: improving communication, awareness and education;
  • Strengthening empowerment of coastal communities;
  • Supporting the development of Sustainable Funding Mechanisms in context of proposed environmental levy;
  • Priority actions on improving governance (e.g., activities regarding the role of media and civil society);
  • encouraging sustainable business practices.

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Duration: 24 months

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Topics: Capacity Building , Strategies for Management , Coastal Governance

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Duration: 20 months

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MFF Grant Amount:    

Featured Film - Small Grants, Unexpected Gains

Small Grants, Unexpected Gains, Sri Lanka © MFF IUCN, 2015

SGF projects overview

Project Locations

Sri Lanka Facts

Population Size: 20,263,000 (2011)

Official Language(s): Sinhala, Tamil

GDP per capita: US$ 2,399 (2011)

Fisheries contribution to GDP: 1.7% (2010)

Tourism contribution to GDP: 1.6% (2012)

Coastline (Kms): 1340 km

EEZ: 517,000 Sq. km

Marine and Coastal Habitats: Coral Reefs, Sea Grass Beds, Mangroves, Sandy Beaches, Rocky Seashores, Sand Dunes, Inter Tidal Mudflats, Salt Marshes, Estuaries, Lagoons

Key coastal livelihoods activities: Fishing, Tourism

MFF Geographical priority areas:

Phase 1: Puttalam Lagoon in North-Western Province, Madu Ganga and Rekawa-Ussangoda- Kalametiya in Southern Province and Batticloa, Pottuwil and Panama in Eastern province.

Phase 2 (Cycle 1 & 2): Puttalam Lagoon in NW Province, Coastal areas of Mannar district in Northern Province, Kokkilai and Nayaru Lagoosn in north-eastern Province and Batticaloa, Pottuvil and Panama in Eastern Province.   

Phase 2 (Cycle 3 & 4): Jaffna and Thondamanaru Lagoons in Northern Province, Kokkilai and Nayaru Lagoons in northeastern Province and Batticaloa Lagoon in Eastern Province, Manalkadu sand dunes in Northern Province and Inhabited islands in the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay in Northwestern and Northern Provinces.

Cycle 5: Delft Island and Manalkadu (In Jaffna Peninsular)

Governance agencies responsible for the coastal zone: Coast Conservation and Coastal Resource Management Department, Fisheries Department, Marine Environment Protection Authority, Department of Wildlife Conservation, Forest Department and Central Environmental Authority.  

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