Sri Lanka is an island nation off of the Southern coast of India. Sri Lanka is home to approximately 21 million people and is rapidly urbanizing, especially in the Western province where 6 million people live on 5% of the country’s land area. This urbanization has caused a number of problems on the local ecosystem, the agricultural sector, and rapid growth in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Large swaths of agricultural land have been converted to housing and commercial uses, altering water ways and increasing transportation costs and pollution.
Sri Lanka has decided to take a different approach from many nations to deal with its urbanization challenges in its national climate change action plan. Conservation and climate change literature has often focused on increasing urban densities to make transport and service systems more efficient. Sri Lanka is seeking to incorporate better ecosystem design principles to reduce urban density and incorporate local resources. Two pilot programs have launched to facilitate paddy rehabilitation and urban agriculture. Paddy rehabilitation restores abandoned paddies to a crop producing state while adding crops that are more resistant to saltwater. Urban gardening provides resources for citizens to start their own gardens in the limited space of an urban environment. In building these pilot programs several lessons learned have been identified by the Sri Lankan government which include: