Unlocking Collaborative Horizons: A Landmark Meeting Between CEA and JRDC
December 7, 2023 – Central Environmental Authority, Battaramulla
In a groundbreaking meeting held at the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) in Battaramulla on December 7, 2023, graced by prominent personalities from the CEA, JRDC, and esteemed delegates from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), aimed to bolster joint efforts in environmental research and capacity-building initiatives. The meeting, chaired by Dr Sanajaya Rathnayake, Director General (acting), CEA, aimed to foster partnerships between the CEA and the Joint Research and Development Center (JRDC), with a particular emphasis on potential collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). The discussions unfolded with a promising agenda, converging to explore multifaceted avenues for mutual cooperation and innovative advancements in environmental sciences, addressing crucial aspects of environmental research, training programs, and testing capabilities.
The conference hall at CEA became the nexus of this historic gathering, where Dr Sanajaya Rathnayake, Director General (acting), CEA, extended a warm welcome, setting the tone for the day’s discussions. He emphasised the paramount importance of collaboration and outlined the CEA’s fervent interest in establishing robust ties with leading institutes. “The main objective,” he highlighted, “is to elevate the CEA’s research capacities and ensure our alignment with advanced laboratories, thereby strengthening our mandate under the National Environmental Act.” He further highlighted that the CEA, established in 1981 under the National Environmental Act, showcased its eagerness to fortify alliances with cutting-edge laboratories, placing particular emphasis on enhancing ambient quality monitoring systems.
Fostering Partnerships: Key Discourses
CEA’s Aspirations and Collaborative Ventures
Dr Sanajaya Rathnayake, Director General (acting), while underlining CEA’s eagerness to collaborate across various research domains, spoke of the CEA’s agreement with JRDC to train its staff, a strategic move expected to significantly benefit the CEA’s analytical endeavours. He also applauded the hospitality extended by JRDC during CEA’s visit, indicating a positive synergy between the entities.
Prof Wei’s Insights and Potential Areas of Collaboration
Prof WEI Yuansong from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a distinguished figure whose insights illuminated potential synergies between China and Sri Lanka through the Joint Research and Development Center (JRDC). Prof WEI delved into the innovative collaboration model honed during prior engagements, spotlighting the resounding success of the Kelani River Quality studies. His views mapped out pivotal realms for collaboration, spanning key areas such as water and air quality monitoring, capacity building, and educational exchanges, which was a multifaceted approach to the collaboration. The prospect of CEA staff pursuing higher studies under government scholarships at CAS was particularly noteworthy, signalling a promising avenue for knowledge exchange.
JRDC’s Technical Capabilities and Initiatives
Mr. Zammil, Research Engineer, JRDC, meticulously unpacked the technical prowess of this burgeoning institute. October 2021 marked the operationalization of JRDC, and Mr. Hameed passionately delineated ongoing research endeavours. Among these, some notable projects like the introduction of Elector Dialysis Reversal (EDR), Nano-Filtration (NF) reverse osmosis (RO), and Electro Coagulation (EC) technology in the CKDu endemic zones. As well as JRDC’s pilot project on rubber wastewater treatment stood out, accentuating the nascent yet promising strides made by JRDC. The emphasis on water treatment technologies and ongoing collaborations with NIFS and UoP hinted at JRDC’s pivotal role in advancing environmental research in Sri Lanka. Moreover, The collaborative ventures with CAS and the University of Peradeniya, along with the progressive strides in water treatment processes under the aegis of the Department of National Community Water Supply (DNCWS), testified to JRDC’s potential as an indispensable collaborative hub
Training Programs and Expansion of Testing Capabilities
Dr. Madhubhashini shed light on JRDC’s analytical capabilities, highlighting equipment and tentative training programs in collaboration with CAS and UoP experts. She adorned with expertise, meticulously unravelled the intricate tapestry of JRDC’s analytical capabilities. Her presentation adorned the canvas with a spectrum of cutting-edge equipment tailored for testing diverse parameters. She unveiled a tentative training program, envisioned as a collaborative effort with CAS and UoP experts, inviting active participation from CEA. Stressing the pivotal role of capacity-building initiatives for water professionals, Dr Madhubhashini accentuated the availability of advanced analytical facilities at JRDC, poised to bolster the collaborative alliance.
Expanding Testing Capabilities of CEA with JRDC
Ms. Wasanthi, the Director of CEA, who eloquently painted a panoramic vision for future collaboration. She articulated potential areas for mutual growth, encompassing the provision of studentships for equipment training, joint research ventures under grants, and the prospect of accessing Chinese and other grants. Ms. Wasanthi’s vision extended to envisaging postgraduate opportunities at CAS, the symbiotic sharing of analytical and mobile facilities, and the exploration of equipment hiring possibilities. Her comprehensive outlook epitomized a holistic collaboration aimed at elevating CEA’s testing capacities to unprecedented heights.
Pathways to a Collaborative Future
Discussions and Future Endeavours
Under the astute moderation of Mr. P.B Hemantha Jayasinghe, the subsequent discussion traversed critical terrain. The participants navigated through essential points, deliberating on the timeline for formalizing agreements between the institutes, establishing a national monitoring system like in China, outlining areas of keen interest for CEA in research endeavours, proposing the establishment of a CEA coordination unit within the JRDC, and exploring additional mutual interests. The consensus fostered an acknowledgement of the significance of inter-laboratory comparison and kindled enthusiasm for the imminent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the CEA and JRDC. The parties aimed to formalize their partnership within the next four months.
Roadmap to Collaboration: Key Agreements and Proposals
The horizon of collaboration unfolded, unveiling several key agreements and proposals, each acting as a cornerstone for a dynamic partnership: Prof WEI underscored the training program’s alignment with CEA’s priorities, orchestrating an engagement involving experts from CAS, UoP, and NIFS, thereby bolstering the knowledge exchange between the institutions. He further highlighted the Joint Statement made by HE President of Sri Lanka during his visit to the People’s Republic of China in October 2023 to celebrate the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Joint Statement, particularly items 14 and 17 pertaining to climate change, disaster preparation, and mitigation, emerged as pivotal elements shaping the trajectory of future cooperation. The imminent signing of the TPA on December 18 at the China Embassy marked a monumental stride in formalizing the collaborative endeavours, solidifying the foundations for joint initiatives. Thereafter, consideration was given to the invaluable prospects offered by inter-laboratory comparison resonated deeply, promising mutual insights and growth for both CEA and JRDC. CEA was invited to participate in future competitions actively. Ultimately, Prof Wei highlighted the proposal unveiled for a solid waste management project, and projected the anticipation of potential collaboration between CAS and CEA, illuminating a pathway toward addressing critical environmental challenges.
Determinations for future
The meeting concluded on a promising note, laying the groundwork for an exciting era of collaborative environmental research and knowledge exchange between China and Sri Lanka. With shared aspirations and a commitment to environmental stewardship, the convergence of these institutes promises groundbreaking solutions to pressing environmental challenges.
In a global context where environmental concerns demand urgent attention, this partnership signifies a beacon of hope, showcasing the power of collaboration in forging sustainable solutions for a better tomorrow.
This article attempts to encapsulate the essence of the meeting held on December 7, 2023, emphasizing the key discussions, aspirations, and proposed collaborative endeavours between the Central Environmental Authority, JRDC, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.