U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina B. Teplitz announced the first grants awarded through the U.S. government’s Clean Cities, Blue Ocean program yesterday, totaling $345,000. These grants to Sri Lankan organizations will fund projects that help protect Sri Lanka’s cities and marine resources from plastic pollution. Dr. Anil Jasinghe, Secretary for the Ministry of Environment, joined Ambassador Teplitz at the event.
“National and local coordination, enduring partnerships, community engagement, and localized solutions are key to reversing the impact of pollution and environmental degradation,” said Ambassador Teplitz. “The Clean Cities, Blue Ocean program incorporates the principles and will help Sri Lankans build sustainable solutions to protect the precious ocean that surrounds us.”
In line with Sri Lankan government and grassroots efforts, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Clean Cities, Blue Ocean program will fund pilot projects to minimize the flow of plastic pollution to the ocean. The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and the Public Interest Law Foundation received funding to develop, test, and implement new models to enhance solid waste management and promote reducing, reusing, and recycling practices. Grantees will also build awareness of the negative impact of plastic pollution on the ocean.
Working in Colombo, Galle, and Jaffna districts, grantees will collaborate with local and national government entities to manage solid waste more effectively. The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce will pilot a public-private partnership approach that encourages manufacturers to take responsibility for the environmental impacts of the production and disposal of their plastic products. The Public Interest Law Foundation will help to create guidelines for the disposal of non-hazardous plastic waste from hospitals, draft proposals to strengthen local solid waste management, and advance reforms that support recycling and disposal of plastic waste. The Clean Cities, Blue Ocean program will provide technical assistance and conduct site-level research to understand specific challenges in solid waste management and enforcement and barriers to private sector investment.
The Clean Cities, Blue Ocean program is the U.S. government’s flagship program to respond to the global crisis of ocean plastics pollution. This is one component of the longstanding partnership between the American and Sri Lankan people to support self-reliance and promote economic growth. USAID’s program in Sri Lanka, totaling more than Rs 350 billion ($2 billion) since 1961, promotes a healthy, educated, and employed population