Author Archives: Hiranthi Gunawardena

About Hiranthi Gunawardena

Serves UNIC Colombo as the Admin.Assistant

Global call for nominations for the Equator Prize 2017: A search for nature-based solutions for local development

The Equator Initiative has announced a global call for nominations for the Equator Prize 2017. This year’s prize will be awarded to outstanding community and indigenous initiatives that are advancing nature-based solutions for local sustainable development.
Previous Winners from Sri Lanka

You may savor the reward of nominating eligible communities that are innovative and advancing creative solutions related to natural resource management and local sustainable development.
For further information, and to submit nominations please visit

E Equator Prize-Media Release

Equator Prize 2017 Eligibility and Selection Criteria

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for the Equator Prize 2017, the following requirements apply:
•The initiative must have been in existence for at least three years, and/or the actions taken must have been in place for at least three years.
•The nominee must be either a local community-based group, operating in a rural area, based in a country receiving support from the United Nations Development Programme (for a list of eligible countries, see the list below); or an indigenous peoples’ community in any country, operating in a rural area.
•The actions taken must be nature-based, and must deliver benefits related to two or more Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Eligible Initiatives
•Community-based associations or organizations
•Community-based enterprises and cooperatives
•Women’s associations or organizations
•Indigenous or ethnic minority groups or associations
•Youth groups or associations
•Non-governmental organizations

Local community based-groups must be located in one of the following countries listed below.

Afghanistan,Kiribati,Nepal,Thailand,Bangladesh,Laos,Niue etc. including SRI LANKA

Indigenous peoples’ communities from any country may nominate.

Selection Criteria

Equator Prize 2017 winners will be selected by an independent Technical Advisory Committee, which will assess nominations based on the following criteria:
•Impact: The extent to which the nominated initiative has resulted in measurable and positive environmental, social and economic impacts, related to two or more Sustainable Development Goals;
•Innovation: The extent to which the nominated initiative demonstrates new approaches and models that overcome prevailing constraints, and could offer fundamentally new approaches to attaining sustainable development;
•Scalability and/or replicability: The extent to which the nominated initiative could be scaled up sub-nationally or nationally and/or, the extent to which the initiative can be replicated within the country and beyond;
•Resilience, Adaptability, and Self-Sufficiency: The extent to which the nominated initiative demonstrates adaptability to environmental, social and economic change, resilience in the face of external pressures, and improved capacity for local self-sufficiency;
•Reduced inequalities: The extent to which the initiative reduces inequalities in income as well as those based on age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status, particular for the poor;
•Social Inclusion: The extent to which the nominated initiative includes youth, elders, indigenous members and other diverse groups in the decision-making processes and the actions that affect them;
•Gender Equality:The extent to which the nominated Initiative promotes the equality and empowerment of women and girls.

Youth Taking Action to Implement the 2030 Agenda – ECOSOC Youth Forum#YOUTH2030

Within the UN system, ECOSOC has the main responsibility for following up on all major past international conferences linked to the three pillars of sustainable development, and will continue to do this alongside the implementation of the sustainable development goals. As a hub for the exchange of knowledge and mutual learning, it had an instrumental role in examining lessons learned from the Millennium Development Goals, assessed the transition into the post-2015 agenda, and currently consider the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. ECOSOC also explores the scope of a renewed global partnership and invites youth to share their views on their future.

“You have the talent, energy and ideals to prevent conflicts, defend human rights, secure peace and realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”
— UN Secretary-General António Guterres
ECOSOC President Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava addresses the 2017 ECOSOC Youth Forum. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

ECOSOC YOUTH FORUM :At Youth Forum, UN calls on young people to help realize a better future for all
The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum, held on 30-31 January 2017, provided a platform for youth to engage in a dialogue with Member States and share ideas on innovation, collective action and solutions to global problems. It also addressed the concept of “shared prosperity”, which is at the core of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The forum brought youth leaders from around the world to the UN Headquarters in New York. It gave them the opportunity to engage with policy-makers and other youth delegates and representatives.
This two-day event featured interactive dialogues among representatives from youth organizations, high-level and other keynote speakers. A number of sessions were held on aspects of the themes for the Economic and Social Council and the High-level Political Forum and space was created for regional perspective
Important ECOSOC forums for exchanges around sustainable development comprise:
• High-Level Political Forum
• Development Cooperation Forum, including reviews of global trends
• Annual Ministerial Review, including its national voluntary presentations on development strategies that have proven effective
• Financing for Development Forum, involving leading financial and trade organizations
• Integration Segment, with specific focus on the three pillars of sustainable development
• Operational Activities for Development Segment, on adapting the UN funds and programmes to post-2015
The Department of Economic and Social Affairs organizes the Youth Forum in collaboration with the Office of the Youth Envoy of the Secretary-General and the United Nations Inter-agency Network on Youth Development.

UNIC Colombo congratulates Ms.Dakshitha Wickremarathne, Member, UN MGCY- Commonwealth Youth Council for her participation at the forum.

More details:


Commitment to Youth by new UN Secretary-General António Guterres

The annual Youth Forum of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), is a platform where young people can contribute to policy discussions at the United Nations through their collective ideas, solutions and innovations. The Forum allows representatives of youth-led and youth-focused organizations and networks, youth advocates and others to dialogue with Member States, and to explore ways and means of promoting youth development and engagement.
The SDG Media Zone will join the sixth ECOSOC Youth Forum on January 30 – 31 in New York to broadcast live dynamic discussions and interviews featuring SDG Youth Advocates, YouTubers and social media influencers. Each day #SDGLive will engage the online global audience on how to address the Sustainable Development Goals together.

Young People Convene at the United Nations Headquarters for the Fifth and Largest ECOSOC Youth Forum to Date


• Achieving the SDGs: Harnessing the Power of Youth
• Africa’s Youth in the Realization of the SDGs
• Youth 4 Peace: How Young People Promote Peace & Security
• One for All – Campaign Engagement
• Youth and Inequalities

Ahmed Alhendawi, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth
Alpha Sennon, Founder of WhyFarm
Andreas Karsten, Youth Policy Labs
Andrea Lizarzaburu, Alliance for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Ecuador
Andy Rabens, Special Adviser for Global Youth Issues,U.S. Department of State
Carolina Medina, Co-Founder of Agruppa and Young Leader for the SDGs
Cecile Mazzacurati, Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security -United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) & Peacebuilding Support Office
Christopher Eigeland, UN Youth Delegate, Australia

2016 in Review: Youth Highlights at the United Nations
Rise of Youth Rights at the UN Human Rights Council

2016 has been a critical year in making the shift from youth issues to youth rights with the adoption the first Human Rights Council Resolution on Youth and Human Rights and the convening of the first forum on Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law. Both the resolution and forum were important steps marking a transition around the needs and priorities of youth from talking about youth issues to talking about youth rights.

Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace & Security from Adoption to Implementation
2016 marks the first year after the adoption of Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace, and Security, In this short time, we have witnessed important momentum and progress in implementing the resolution. On International Youth Day, the Secretary-General announced the appointment of an Advisory Group to document young people’s contribution to peace-building world-wide. The first regional consultation was held in Amman in December to contribute to the Resolution’s Progress Study. Also, the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund allocated $5 million to youth-focused projects across the world as part of its commitment to inclusive peacebuilding and as a recognition of the central role of young people to the peacebuilding portfolio.
For more information: &

“Peace must be our goal and our guide”- UN New Secretary General

UNIC COLOMBO wishes the new Secretary General of the UN every success in fulfilling the high expectations placed upon UN by the people!!!

As Secretary-General António Guterres took up his functions as the head of the Organization on 1 January 2017, he launched an appeal for peace. His wish for 2017: let it be a year in which we all strive to overcome differences. «Peace must be our goal and our guide.»
For more details please visit:


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is now online in 500 languages.
Have a look at the illustrated edition with the UN digital ambassador Elyx and know your rights:
Images by Elyx

UNIC Colombo joined the Department of Legal Studies of the Open University of Sri Lanka to mark the Day on 8 December 2016. Several information materials were donated by UNIC to the Department.
A lecture on Right to information was delivered by a senior journalist.

The Vice-Chancellor of the OUSL speaks at the event
A drama on “barriers to love without boundaries” was performed by students of regional centres of OUSL.


“Sustainable development goal 6 calls on the international community to ensure access to toilets by 2030. Delivering on this basic human right — the right to water and sanitation — is good for people, business and the economy.” — UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon

LOGO_En copie

Breaking the Taboos
Breaking the Taboos

World Toilet Day, on 19 November, is about taking action to reach the 2.4 billion people living without a toilet. The theme of World Toilet Day 2016 is ‘toilets and jobs’, focusing on how sanitation, or the lack of it, can impact people’s livelihoods.

Sanitation is a global development priority. The Sustainable Development Goals, launched in 2015, include a target to ensure everyone everywhere has access to toilets by 2030.

Toilets play a crucial role in creating a strong economy, as well as improving health and protecting people’s safety and dignity, particularly women’s and girls’.

The UN and its partners are getting the message out that toilets save lives, increase productivity, create jobs and grow economies.

To learn more about the connection between toilets and jobs, please download the factsheet.

To take action and join the global movement, please go to

Top facts:
•2.4 billion People live without improved sanitation (World Health Organization (WHO)/UNICEF 2015).
•One in ten people has no choice but to defecate in the open (WHO/UNICEF 2015).
•Diarrhoea caused by poor sanitation and unsafe water kills 315,000 children every year (WAS-Hwatch 2016).
•Disease transmission at work mostly caused by poor sanitation and hygiene practices, causes 17% of all workplace deaths (International Labour Organization (ILO) 2003).
•Loss of productivity due to illnesses caused by lack of sanitation and poor hygiene practices is estimated to cost many countries up to 5% of GDP (Hutton 2012)

UNIC Colombo selected an interior rural village in the Central Province of the Island, about 235 km away from Colombo, to mark the Day. The Centre found that the villagers of this beautiful rocky mountain village do not have decent hygiene facilities due to deeply rooted poverty and difficulty in transporting building materials to construct a toilet due to non-availability of proper mode of transport as the only road to the village is totally damaged and washed away.
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wtd-kidswtd-for-report-03-overlooking-lake-galawtd-children-going-to-school-thro-paddy-fields wtd-a-cow-grazingThey take 16 k.m. journey up and down through thick jungle to go to the town to sell their produce and buy provisions once a week.
Heading back to the hidden village 20161121_131944nov21-86Plight of the villagers: A risky crossing over the washed away path
wtd-plight-of-villagers< wtd-journey-to-villageTravellers helping UNIC Team to carry the stuff

Out of 35 families live therein, only 05 families have toilets and others practice open defecation. wtd-about-to-collapse – A dilapidated toilet to collapse down any moment

UNIC Colombo arranged a programme to educate the villages on how the sanitation could have an impact on their livelihoods. The assistance of People’s Representatives (Hon. Chief Minister of Central Province, Mr. Sarath Ekanayake) was obtained to partner with the Health Department. UNIC selected 05 families with school-going children to provide toilet facilities as it is important to change long-standing practices that hinder the quest for dignity of children. The programme which was attended by villagers and school children comprised of the following:-
• Speaking engagements to raise Awareness and inspire action to tackle the local sanitation crisis
• SDG through quality education and the target to ensure everyone everywhere has access to toilets by 2030. – UNIC
• Upholding dignity through proper sanitation practices – Public Health Inspector /Department of Health, Central Province
• Protect the Planet – UNIC
• Inspiring thoughts on volunteerism – UNIC
• Meet household Toilet – Assistance to construct 05 full toilets and 07 half built ones – UNIC with kind generosity of UNIC’s friend’s circle and UN colleagues
• Health Camp : Tests for kidney diseases and diabetes wtd-test-for-diabeteswtd-for-report-for-report-health-campwtd-for-report-health-camp Distributing building materials for construction of toilets nov22-178wtd-fro-report-04-at-the-programmewtd-fro-report-05-at-sessionwtd-school-children-with-yuukaa “>wtd-way-to-school-for-the-programme UNIC’s team sets off for the Day
nov22-154wtd-un4uwtd-phis-session wtd-how-to-brush-your-teethwtd-yuuka-addressing-the-students – Yuuka, UNIC’s intern from Sophia University, Japan, shares her passion for volunteerism
wtd-for-report-making-sandwiches – UNIC team makes sandwiches for tea offered to participants
UNIC is thankful to Ranbanda & Wimala for all their helps.

01. Kumari Wickramasinghe – UNIC staff
02. Hiranthi Gunawardena – UNIC Staff
03. Nadeeshani Gomez – UNIC Intern
04. Yuuka Iwamura – UNIC Intern
05. Devana Salgadu – UNIC Volunteer
06. Thilanka Gunawardena – UNIC Volunteer

Courtesy: Mr. M M. Ranbanda of Galamuduna, Coordinator
Mr. Devana Salgadu, Team Leader
UN Colleagues )
UNIC’s friends circle) who supported the toilet project
Department of Health, Central Province
Department of Zonal Education, Central Province
Transport courtesy: UNDP Transport Unit- Messrs. Rohana Dissanayake, Jayamini Seneviratne & Ranjan

Global Sustainable Transport Conference 2016


Recognizing the fundamental role of sustainable transport in fighting climate change and achieving the sustainable future we want, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon will convene the first ever global conference on sustainable transport, on 26 and 27 November 2016 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
The Global Sustainable Transport Conference will bring together key stakeholders from Governments, UN system and other international organizations, the private sector, and civil society to engage in a dialogue that emphasizes the integrated and cross-cutting nature of sustainable transport and its multiple roles in supporting the achievement of the SDGs. All modes of transport—road, rail, aviation, ferry and maritime – will be addressed.
For more details:
Link to Conference website:
Main event hashtag: #SustainableTransport
Additional hashtags: #SDGs #GlobalGoals
Promotional video:
Video on sustainable transport

Download video file at

Transport in Asia
A train snakes its way through Seoul while it looks as follows in Sri Lanka:
(Photo Credit: AFP PHOTO / Ishara S.KODIKARA)

Donald Trump Wins 2016 US Presidential Election

Statement by the Secretary-General on the presidential election
in the United States of America

I congratulate Mr. Donald Trump on his election as forty-fifth President of the United States of America.

In the aftermath of a hard-fought and often divisive campaign, it is worth recalling and reaffirming that the unity in diversity of the United States is one of the country’s greatest strengths. I encourage all Americans to stay true to that spirit.

Today’s global challenges demand concerted global action and joint solutions. As a founding member of the United Nations and permanent member of the Security Council, the United States is an essential actor across the international agenda. People everywhere look to the United States to use its remarkable power to help lift humanity up and to work for the common good.

The United Nations will count on the new Administration to strengthen the bonds of international cooperation as we strive together to uphold shared ideals, combat climate change, advance human rights, promote mutual understanding and implement the Sustainable Development Goals to achieve lives of peace, prosperity and dignity for all.

Now more than ever, we must mobilize around the principles and common values of the United Nations Charter.

I would also like to express my deep appreciation to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for a lifetime commitment to peace, the advancement of women and the well-being of children.

She has been a powerful global symbol of women’s empowerment, and I have no doubt that she will continue to contribute to our work across the world.

New York, 9 November 2016

Donald Trump Quotes
“I try to learn from the past, but I plan for the future by focusing exclusively on the present. That’s where the fun is.”
“The point is that you can’t be too greedy.”
“You have to think anyway, so why not think big?”

Launch of Wonder Woman Campaign for Empowerment of Women and Girlssdg-fo-rwomen-image
Do you know the character of Wonder Woman?
She is a very strong, compassionate, and fair super hero heroin from American comic books published by DC comics and fights against evil to bring justice to the world.

woner-woman-mainfigureThe character of Wonder Woman has been designated as an Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls on 21 October 2016 which is also her 75th birthday.
This is the UN campaign to promote the SDGs #5 which focuses on “gender equality”.
It aims at celebration of the real wonder women who are standing up for gender equality from all over the world. The more people know about existing activists against gender inequality, the easier they get involved in. This campaign’s main theme is “Think of all the Wonders We Can Do”. It may sound difficult for you to be a wonder woman but don’t worry! If you join this campaign, it will be accessible for those existing wonder women to reach their audience in order to promote gender equality and empowerment of women and girls.wonder-women-wonders-we-can-do

Working with our New Ambassador for Gender Equality

It is very easy to participate in this UN-Wonder Woman campaign. Find your friends and speak out what she or he is doing to make difference on gender equality with hashtag “#WithWonderWoman and #RealLifeWonderWoman” on your SNS account such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram etc. You will easily join our important conversation. This is very important because gender equality is now everyone’s business. It does not matter whether you are a woman or a man.

Do you know a gender equality champion?
Wonder Woman is helping the United Nations to achieve gender equality by 2030 by shining a light on women and girls who overcome barriers every day to reach their goals.
Use #ReaLlifeWonderWoman to share the story of an inspiring woman or girl you know!
Get ideas for how YOU can take action to empower women and girls here: #WithWonderWoman
2) TWITTER: Know a gender equality champion? Use #ReaLlifeWonderWoman to share her story! Take action here –> #WithWonderWomanÜbersetzung
Every single of you needs to raise your voice and take action in order to bring gender equality to your community and this world because it plays a big role in order to achieve our global goals. Half of the population on the earth is female so it will not be able to achieve our global goals without commitment and potential of female. Not only women and girls but also men and boys need to stand up for this global issue.
Thank you and feel free to leave your comments! UNIC
For more details, visit UN Women site @


The International Day of Older Persons is an opportunity to highlight the important contributions that older people make to society and raise awareness of the issues and challenges of ageing in today’s world. older-persons-day-main-image

The theme for 2016, Take a Stand Against Ageism, challenges everyone to consider ageism – the negative attitudes and discrimination based on age – and the detrimental impact it has on older people. older-prsons-day-2016-02

“Combat ageism”
Age-based stereotypes influence behaviours, policy development and even research. Addressing these must lie at the core of any public-health response to population ageing.
(World Report on Ageing and Health)
Ageism is stereotyping and discrimination on the basis of a person’s age. Ageism is widespread and an insidious practice which has harmful effects on the health of older adults. This year, we challenge everyone to identify and question these internalized ageist attitudes, and to understand the serious impact that these attitudes have.

For older people, ageism is an everyday challenge. Overlooked for employment, restricted from social services and stereotyped in the media, ageism marginalizes and excludes older people in their communities.

Ageism is everywhere, yet it is the most socially “normalized” of any prejudice, and is not widely countered – like racism or sexism. It exists when the media portrays all old people as “frail” and “dependent”. It influences (subconsciously or actively) the policy maker to opt for cost containment in preference to making appropriate adaptations and investment in infrastructure and services for ageing societies These attitudes, pervasive yet invisible, lead to the marginalisation of older people within our communities and have negative impacts on their health and well-being.

Older people who feel they are a burden may also perceive their lives to be less valuable, putting them at risk of depression and social isolation. Research shows that older adults with negative attitudes about ageing may live 7.5 years less than those with positive attitudes.

UNIC COLOMBO, together with a Civil Society from Thalawathugoda, celebrated the Day on the 02 October 2016 at the Havy Nature Resort, Madiwela. UNIC was supported by WHO Colombo which held a health camp for elders with much dedication and interest. UNIC addressed the gathering highlighting facts in the UNSG’s message on the Day. The “leaves soup” (kola kenda) provided to all those present by UNIC staff was energized them to the programme. UNIC also supported the sing-along the elders enthusiastically got involved in and was a real entertainment for them. The marketing bags (Cambria bags) depicting SDGs in local language gifted to the elders by UNIC were an attraction.
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