Compiled by Nicola Jayasundera


Senura Sumanadasa sees growth in a nation where progress meets a purpose

Q: What’s the good, the bad and the ugly in Sri Lanka?

A: Known as ‘the Pearl of the Indian Ocean,’ Sri Lanka is blessed with golden beaches; beautiful forests; cascading waterfalls; and lush plantations of tea, rubber, coconut and cinnamon.

It’s also home to a wide range of endemic fauna and flora. And the island’s cultural tapestry is adorned with ancient temples, amazing architecture and colourful festivals that reflect a diverse heritage.

Sri Lanka sometimes has problems with corrupt politicians and unsustainable policy-making, and this makes it hard for the country to develop and prosper. Even though the situation is improving in the island, a substantial percentage of the local population is still poor and lack basic infrastructure.

Extensive deforestation and habitat destruction is being carried out in the country. Failure to enforce environmental protection laws and prevent political interference is exacerbating this problem.

The lack of proper land management policies and unsustainable development projects carried out with total disregard for environmental assessments have created unsafe living conditions, for both people and fauna, in certain parts of the island.

Q: And what are some of the other challenges facing the country today?

A: Sri Lanka has trouble maintaining a stable economy due to the large amount of external debt it has incurred. The situation has worsened due to conflicts around the world and this is making it difficult for people to purchase essentials.

It is also tough for businesses to grow.

Q: Do you believe that Sri Lanka will be united one day – and why, if so?

A: Yes, I think that we will be united one day – as Sri Lankans are hospitable and friendly by nature. They always help others who are in need.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

A: I see myself working as an automobile engineer in 10 years’ time and a person who will be guiding youth along the correct path.

Q: And where do you see Sri Lanka in a decade from today?

A: I see Sri Lanka becoming a developed country through the use of technology, and having better schools, hospitals and state institutions. And I also envisage a country that cares about nature and protects its beauty.

Q: So who is responsible for climate change and global warming – and what must be done about it?

A: People are mainly responsible for climate change and global warming.

Burning fossil fuels results in the release of greenhouse gases, which is the main culprit in this case. And the destruction of our forest cover makes it very difficult for the Earth to recover.

Using natural energy sources such as wind, solar and hydropower are the best solutions to overcome this problem. We should also protect our forests and plant more trees. Countries need to work together to help fight climate change.

Bhutan has become the world’s first carbon negative country. Its constitution mandates that at least 60 percent of the landmass must contain forest cover and this has enabled the country to effectively zero out its net CO2 emissions.

Taking Bhutan as an example, other countries too should initiate similar policies to minimise their carbon dioxide emissions.

Q: How do you view the growing importance of social media today?

A: Social media is a huge online gathering where people chat, share news and make friends. It’s where you find out what’s happening, look for jobs and even shop. People use it for entertainment too by watching funny videos or playing games.

But it’s important to be careful; because sometimes, news on social media isn’t true. And it’s imperative to safeguard your privacy.

Q: And finally, where do you see the world in 10 years?

A: In 10 years, the world could be a very different place. We might have cooler gadgets and inventions such as flying cars or advanced robots helping us. Hopefully, we’ll be doing better at taking care of our planet with cleaner energy and less pollution.

People may understand each other more, and there could be increased fairness and kindness all around. With modern technology, we might be healthier and live longer. While some things may get better, we will still have to work together to tackle future challenges.