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Environmental Challenges and the Sustainable Development Goals: A Study about the Emerging Environmental Issues in Sri Lanka

Athukorala, W. and Karunarathna M.


Poverty, inequality, economic as well as social instability and environmental degradation are common features of unsustainable development. In general, the need for sustainable development is rarely at the top of priority lists of the people in developing countries because their livelihoods are mainly depended on available economic opportunities and environment variables. As a developing country, Sri Lanka has shown a progress of many aspects in sustainable development goals. However, irresponsible planning, unplanned development activities, absence of a proper monitoring as well as evaluation system and lack of knowledge on sustainable development has resulted in damaging the ecosystems over the last few decades. In this context, this study attempts to investigate the direction of some of the key environmental variables in the country. It also analyses the knowledge and attitudes of people in Sri Lanka towards the sustainable development, climate changes, forest as well as biodiversity conservation and government policies. Results show that performances of most environmental indicators are not consistent with achieving main targets set up under the sustainable development goals. It is found that people as well as policy makers have given low priority on sustainable development and environment which may be one of the main reasons for environmental degradation in the country.

KEYWORDS: Sustainable development; Environment; Sri Lanka

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