Author Archives: Hiranthi Gunawardena

About Hiranthi Gunawardena

Serves UNIC Colombo as the Admin.Assistant

UN Envoy on Youth : Believing in the simple yet powerful phrase: “Nothing about us, without Us”:

“Armed with nothing but my passion for youth empowerment, I’m here today….”,says the incoming UN Envoy on Youth , Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake of Sri Lanka Issuing her press statement on her appointment as UN Envoy for Youth.

Statement by incoming United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake

22 June 2017, Colombo: On 20th of June, 2017, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. António Guterres, appointed me as his next Envoy on Youth. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Secretary-General for entrusting me with this important responsibility, which I accept with humility and determination.

I also want to take this opportunity to appreciate Mr. Ahmed Alhendawi’s remarkable service as the former Envoy on Youth, and thank him for his continued guidance and support.

Having represented Sri Lankan youth as a UN youth delegate and a member of the Youth Parliament as well as a youth negotiator in the post-2015 process that led to the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and having contributed to the post-conflict reconciliation process in Sri Lanka, I take great pride in this new important role as the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth. Today I am grateful to all who have worked with me over the years supporting a rights-based approach to youth development and to those who gave me the inspiration to come this far.

As a young woman from a small island in the Indian Ocean, with a developing economy and deeply rooted conservative norms and traditions, armed with nothing but my passion for youth empowerment, it is fair to say that I am here today against all the odds.

I thank all those who conveyed their sincere greetings on this occasion and would like to reaffirm my commitment to working together for a better world for young people. To achieve this requires a truly global partnership that will ensure the participation of young people worldwide. This must include the most vulnerable youth and address issues of participation and conflict prevention. I believe that my background in working with communities from former conflict regions of Sri Lanka will give me the ability to understand these issues well.

I have always believed in the simple yet powerful phrase: “nothing about us, without us”. In an era where the world is quickly moving to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it is of utmost importance that the voices of young people are heard, valued and acted upon.

I hope that together we can work towards the goal of making our common future more youth friendly by prioritizing youth rights and ensuring political empowerment, especially of those who are most marginalized and vulnerable.

I look forward to arriving in New York to serve in my role as Envoy on Youth and to working with young people around the world to help realize the Secretary-General’s vision on youth.

Jayathma Wickramanayake
22 June 2017, Colombo

Congratulations, Jayathma, a daughter of Sri Lanka to be the global advocate for youth!!!

The next UN Envoy on Youth is from Sri Lanka.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has appointed Jayathma Wickramanayake of Sri Lanka as his next Envoy on Youth. She will succeed Ahmad Alhendawi of Jordan to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his dedicated service in addressing the needs and rights of young people, bringing the work of the United Nations closer to them. The success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development depends on empowering young people as rights-holders, agents of change and torchbearers.

The Envoy on Youth is mandated with the task of bringing the voices of young people to the United Nations System and bringing the UN closer to them. Moreover, the Envoy on Youth also works with different UN agencies, governments, civil society, academia and media stakeholders towards enhancing, empowering and strengthening the position of young people within and outside of the United Nations system. The role of the Envoy on Youth is also described by the UN Secretary-General as a “harmoniser between all UN agencies”[citation needed] bringing them together to explore cooperation opportunities for working with and for young people.

Having represented and motivated global youth development on an international level since the age of 21, notably during high-level United Nations initiatives including the declaration of World Youth Skills Day, Ms. Wickramanayake has also played a key role in transforming the youth development sector at the national level, notably through the creation of a large movement for civic and political engagement of young people named “Hashtag Generation.”

Presently working as an officer of the Sri Lanka Administrative Service, Ms. Wickramanayake has previously served as Secretary to the Secretary General of the Parliament of Sri Lanka (2016-2017), Project Officer-Youth, One-Text Initiative in Sri Lanka (2015-2016), Member and Youth Lead Negotiator, International Youth Task Force of the World Conference on Youth 2014 (2013-2014) and Official Youth Delegate to the United Nations, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Skills Development (2012-2013). She was furthermore a Senator in the Sri Lankan Youth Parliament (2013-2015).

Born in 1990, Ms. Wickramanayake is reading for Master of Development Studies, at the University of Colombo and holds a Bachelor degree in Science, from the same university
The Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth serves as a global advocate for addressing the needs and rights of young people, as well as for bringing the United Nations closer to them. The Envoy’s Office is part of the United Nations Secretariat and supports multi-stakeholder partnerships related to the United Nations system-wide action plan on youth and to youth volunteer initiatives. The office also promotes the empowerment and foster the leadership of youth at the national, regional, and global levels, including through exploring and encourages mechanisms for young people’s participation in the work of the United Nations and in political and economic processes with a special focus on the most marginalized and vulnerable youth.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has appointed Jayathma Wickramanayake of Sri Lanka as his next Envoy on Youth. She will succeed Ahmad Alhendawi of Jordan to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his dedicated service in addressing the needs and rights of young people, bringing the work of the United Nations closer to them. The success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development depends on empowering young people as rights-holders, agents of change and torchbearers.

UNIC Colombo while looking forward to extend her all the support, wishes Jayathma every success in her future endeavours!!

For more news on UN Youth Envoy, please visit:

World Day against Child Labour: In conflicts and disasters, on 12th June

This year, World Day Against Child Labour on 12 June focuses on the impact of conflicts and disasters on child labour. In times of conflict, in times of disaster, when livelihoods are disrupted, basic services are lost and people can be forced from their homes, entire families become more vulnerable. But it is children who often pay the heaviest price. Many of the 168 million children in child labour live in areas affected by conflict and disaster.

Under Target 8.7 of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, all countries have committed to eliminating all forms of child labour by 2025. It means leaving no child behind – no matter how difficult and challenging the circumstances.

#NOchildlabour @ILOColombo / ILO Sri Lanka
ILO,cOLOMBO, in collaboration with the UNICEF and Girl Guides Association, is planning to host an event on World Day Against Child Labour, on 22nd of June, 2017.
So join us in marking World Day Against Child Labour! There is no time to lose. It is time to make our actions speak.

From UN Daily News

UN News Centre
For the latest news updates and
email alerts, visit:
Issue DH/7424 Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Sri Lanka: UN assists storm victims, seeks to contain diseases ‘spiralling out of control’

6 June – In the aftermath of a devastating tropical storm in Sri Lanka,United Nations agencies are working to provide shelters and other emergency kits while seeking to contain a mosquito-borne disease that is starting to “spiral out of control.”

Flood waters flattened many homes in
this village in Kalutara, Sri Lanka. Photo: IOM

Heavy flooding, landslides and flash floods caused by Tropical Cyclone Mora in Myanmar and Bangladesh, and torrential monsoon rains have affected some 684,000 people in south and central Sri
Lanka. The flooding, which is believed to be the worst in over a decade, has left at least 212 people dead and 79 missing. Sri Lanka’s Disaster Management Centre (DMC) estimates that over
2,500 houses were destroyed and nearly 15,900 damaged. These numbers could rise as data from damage assessments is compiled in the coming weeks.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) plans to provide 3,700 shelter repair kits, 5,000 non-food relief item kits and 250 temporary shelters, with funding sought from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), said the UN migration agency in a press release. The intervention will help an estimated 74,750 people. Nearly 22,000 people are still sheltering in over 200 overcrowded sites, including schools, temples and churches, the agency said. In flood-affected areas people are expected to return to their homes as water levels recede. But in landslide-affected areas, people currently staying in evacuation centres or with relatives and friends are unlikely to be able to return to their homes in the short term.
“There will likely be a need to track displacement, return, and site closure. People will need shelter and other non-food relief items (when they leave the sites) and we will need to ensure that aid is distributed at the location most useful and appropriate for each affected family,” said IOM Sri Lanka Chief of Mission Giuseppe Crocetti. On Friday, the UN Humanitarian Country Team launched an emergency response plan seeking $22.7 million to address the critical life-saving and protection needs of 374,000 people in seven districts, targeting four priority sectors, including shelter, food, health and water and sanitation.

IOM will co-lead the emergency shelter and non-food item sector, which is appealing for $6.5 million.
Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is calling for $3.5 million to keep vulnerable children safe.
“So far we have delivered water and sanitation supplies, we are working on education supplies, strengthening health systems and rehabilitating basic health services and working on disease control for both diarrhoea and dengue which is starting to spiral out of control,” said UNICEF country representative Tim Sutton.
He said flood waters have not receded in the southern district of Matara, raising fears of mosquito-borne disease transmission. He noted that so far this year there have already been more than 53,000 cases of dengue, a mosquito-borne tropical disease, which causes severe flu-like symptoms. It is a leading cause of death among children and adults in Sri Lanka.


Why celebrate World Oceans Day?
• To remind everyone of the major role the oceans have in everyday life. They are the lungs of our planet, providing most of the oxygen we breathe.
• To inform the public of the impact of human actions on the ocean.
• To develop a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean.
• To mobilize and unite the world’s population on a project for the sustainable management of the world’s oceans. They are a major source of food and medicines and a critical part of the biosphere.
• To celebrate together the beauty, the wealth and the promise of the ocean.

About the Ocean Conference
The high-level United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development is being convened at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 5 to 9 June 2017, coinciding with World Oceans Day, to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14. The Governments of Fiji and Sweden have the co-hosting responsibilities of the Conference.
The Conference aims to be the game changer that will reverse the decline in the health of our ocean for people, planet and prosperity. It will be solutions-focused with engagement from all.
The Conference shall:
• Identify ways and means to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14;
• Build on existing successful partnerships and stimulate innovative and concrete new partnerships to advance the implementation of Goal 14;
• Involve all relevant stakeholders, bringing together Governments, the United Nations system, other intergovernmental organizations, international financial institutions, non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, academic institutions the scientific community, the private sector, philanthropic organizations and other actors to assess challenges and opportunities relating to, as well as actions taken towards, the implementation of Goal 14;
• Share the experiences gained at the national, regional and international levels in the implementation of Goal 14;
• Contribute to the follow-up and review process of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by providing an input to the high-level political forum on sustainable development, in accordance with resolutions 67/290 of 9 July 2013, 70/1 of 25 September 2015 and 70/299 of 29 July 2016, on the implementation of Goal 14, including on opportunities to strengthen progress in the future;
The Conference shall comprise plenary meetings, partnership dialogues and a special event commemorating World Oceans Day. The Conference shall adopt by consensus a concise, focused, intergovernmentally agreed declaration in the form of a “Call for Action” to support the implementation of Goal 14 and a report containing the co-chairs’ summaries of the partnership dialogues, as well as a list of voluntary commitments for the implementation of Goal 14, to be announced at the Conference.

Sustainable Development Goal 14

Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

The world’s oceans – their temperature, chemistry, currents and life – drive global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. Our rainwater, drinking water, weather, climate, coastlines, much of our food, and even the oxygen in the air we breathe, are all ultimately provided and regulated by the sea. Throughout history, oceans and seas have been vital conduits for trade and transportation. Careful management of this essential global resource is a key feature of a sustainable future. YOUTH POWER

Facts and Figures
• Oceans cover three quarters of the Earth’s surface, contain 97 per cent of the Earth’s water, and represent 99 per cent of the living space on the planet by volume
• Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods
• Globally, the market value of marine and coastal resources and industries is estimated at $3 trillion per year or about 5 per cent of global GDP
• Oceans contain nearly 200,000 identified species, but actual numbers may lie in the millions
• Oceans absorb about 30 per cent of carbon dioxide produced by humans, buffering the impacts of global warming
• Oceans serve as the world’s largest source of protein, with more than 3 billion people depending on the oceans as their primary source of protein
• Marine fisheries directly or indirectly employ over 200 million people

United Nations Digital Library is now available!

The United Nations Digital Library is here!

Dear Readers,

The United Nations Digital Library (UNDL) is now available bringing together the diverse institutional heritage of the United Nations and preserving it for future generations.

You can now explore UN documents, votes, speeches, public domain publications and more!
The platform provides access to UN-produced materials in digital format free of charge. The system incorporates content presented in various ” stand-alone databases” such as the UN Bibliographic Information System (UNBISNET) and the UN Official Document System (ODS) – almost 900,000 records and counting. It provides one global point of access to UN information – current and historical. Enhancements will be rolled out on a regular basis.

What can you find in the United Nations Digital Library now?
– UN documents and open access publications
– UN voting data and speeches
– UN maps
– UN content freely available around the world
– Content in 6+ languages

Which system features are there for the user?
– Advanced browsing features
– Linked data between related documents such as resolutions, meeting records and voting
– Refine search by UN body, agency or type of document
– Simple and advanced search functionality
– New content alerts

Why a United Nations Digital Library?
– Modern technology and functionality
– Improved usability and access
– Enhanced transparency and preservation

Search and download information from anywhere in the world, at any time: 

Please send your feedback to United Nations Dag Hammarskjold Library, New York:

United Nations Information Centre, Colombo
202-204 Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7.
Tel: 011 2580691 – 8 Ext. 2100 Fax: 0 11 2581116

#SyriaCrisis and #WithRefugees
After 6 years of war, more than 11 million Syrians have fled their homes. But ultimately, Syria’s conflict is not about numbers, it’s about people. 6 years of conflict. 4.9 million Syrians are refugees. 6.3 million have fled home but remain inside Syria. Stand #WithRefugees
This is where Syrian refugees are hosted. Surprise you?
“We must remember those who are suffering most from this calamity – the 4.9 million refugees, the 6.3 million people displaced internally, and the millions more inside Syria living in daily fear of this war and the inhumanity it has created.”

Powerful words from our United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi as we mark 6 years of the Syrian war.
As we mark the 6th anniversary of the Syria conflict, let’s not forget children like Wafaa, and every single one of the 11 million Syrians who have been forced, by bombs, fighting and destruction, to flee their homes.
Please stand with them, please stand #WithRefugees
Wafaa is 8 years old and lives in a temporary shelter in Aleppo. When her house was shelled, a gas cylinder exploded next to her, burning her face.
Read Wafaa’s story here:

“We wish to return safely to our home, my children need education, they have already missed 3 years.”

Nuzha holds her children Mustafa, 1, and Hassan, 10, in the Pioneer Camp for internally displaced persons in Tartous, Syria. Her family fled Aleppo four and a half years ago, when the fighting reached their neighbourhood.


In October 2016, the United Nations held the Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III)to reinvigorate global commitment to sustainable urbanization, focusing on the definition and implementation of a transformative New Urban Agenda , effectively harnessing the role of urbanization as a driving force as well as a source of development with the power to change and improve lives of people.

This New Urban Agenda is a framework that lays how cities should be planned and managed to best promote sustainability while being a strong part of the Sustainable Development Goals which adopted in 2016.
It’s also ” a commitment for the development of common urbanizing world” which requires the involvement of all relevant actors.
The best channel to make a wider audience aware of the New Urban Agenda & the SDGs first, and then to expand athe level of the citizens’ conscientiousness on the issue, is the MEDIA and communication professionals. Their role is crucial and they have the opportunity to spread knowledge and share reflections of burning issues such as urban issues and sustainability. Journalists are already the ones who chronicle life in the city, who give voice to urban changes and describe the urban reality from different points of views.

UNIC Colombo, with the support of UN-Habitat Colombo, held a workshop on the 14 May 2017 to seek partnership with universities which cater to the needs of career enhancement of journalists and mold them to be responsible citizens through their undergraduate/postgraduate degree courses for Journalism/Mass communication & writership towards possible support for this worthy cause of promoting the New Urban Agenda in Sri Lanka. This workshop was attended by several stakeholders such as the Chairman, Urban Development Authority of Sri Lanka, Expertise from the University of Moratuwa and academia from the Universities of Colombo and Sri Jayewardenepura.

For more information on the New Urban agenda, please visit:


8 March 2017 – “The richness, welfare and prosperity of countries depend on the full integration of women in the development process”, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said today, commemorating International Women’s Day at a ceremony in Nairobi as part of his visit to Kenya where he hailed Kenya’s role in multilateralism.
Noting the three pillars of the UN – human rights, peace and security and development – he also underlined that “it is better to prevent conflict when we have women fully empowered in societies and it’s better to solve conflicts when fully participate in conflict resolution.”

Secretary-General António Guterres meeting with youth leaders and women political aspirants in the Mathare slum of Nairobi, Kenya. Photo: UN Habitat/Julius Mwelu

UNIC Colombo celebrated the Day with “Mihithala Mithuro (Friends of Earth), an environmental development foundation at Kodigahakandain Olaboduwa North on the 8th of March under the theme “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030”. The main message conveyed by the inspirational speeches made at the event was well absorbed by the audience.