I wish to iterate Sri Lankas full commitment to Achieve UNs Sustainable Development Goals in 2030 that include SDG Goal Number 11 to introduce Sustainable Cities and Communities. I must also underline that Sri Lanka undertakes to implement the UN-HABITATs New Urban Agenda. Towards that direction, my Government has taken many steps in accordance with the universal best practices.
There is currently more than half the global population living in urban areas. This number is expected to double by 2050 and by then two-thirds of the global population will be city dwellers numbering globally to 6.5 billion people.
Cities all over the world are adopting various measures to efficiently manage urbanization which paves the way for sustainable cities. Sustainability is a broader concept with integrated social and economic development and environmental management, while ensuring the governance and resilience.
In the path to achieve sustainable cities, many countries are facing various challenges that include unequal access to public services or inefficient usage of public services, as well as vulnerability to natural hazards.
Therefore, I am of the view that the main focus of the concept of Sustainable Cities should be on serving the poorest segments of the society by providing better living and working conditions for them by ensuring affordable housing, health care, water, sanitation and electricity.
In this context, the Government of Sri Lanka has accorded high priority to achieve sustainable development in urban areas, while taking various policy measures to uplift the living conditions of the poor. My government introduced a new Cabinet Portfolio three year back only to manage city development under the Mega polis and Western Region Development Ministry.
The theme of my National Budget Proposals for 2018 was Blue-Green Economy. In this context, we recognized the inalienable relevance of ocean related economic potential of our country as an Island. We introduced sustainable development strategies that pave the way to achieve our Vision for 2025 that envisages a country enriched with a higher per-capita over USD 5000.
Specially, in line with the Mega polis Development Plan, various development activities have been initiated targeting both economic and social development. For this purpose, we received the assistance from multiple development partners including AIIB.
I highly appreciate the commitment and prompt grant assistance extended by the AIIB for the preparation of Colombo Solid Waste project. We have received a positive response from AIIB for the Urban Regeneration Programme which aims at relocating 50,000 low and lower middle-income households living in slums and shanties in Colombo City into new apartments.
In addition, the projects of Reduction of Landslide Vulnerability Mitigation Measures aiming at implementing mitigation measures and thereby minimize the damages from landslides. It is evident that both the frequency of occurrence of disasters and their severity have been increasing in the recent past. Therefore, the AIIB collaboration was solicited for disaster risk reduction strategies to minimize the damages.
Sri Lanka, being an Island, hosts over hundred lagoons and estuaries. Environmental sustainability of those precious water bodies will ensure the wellbeing of many aquatic resources. Therefore, we expect to implement a lagoon development project in the country for which the AIIB could become a strong partner in due course.
I wish to underline that our investments will be the catalyst to realize each of the component goals of urban sustainability, while the ultimate objective of creating any sustainable city should be the preservation of our precious natural environment.