UNDP Partners with the Private Sector to host Sri Lanka’s First National Summit on Foresight and Innovation 


Ceylon Biscuits Limited and Holcim Lanka partners to co-finance Sri Lanka’s first National Summit on Foresight and Innovation for Sustainable Human Development. The Summit organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs together with many core partners including the United Nations Global Compact Network Ceylon (UNGC) and the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC), will take place on the 24th -25th  of May at Waters Edge, Battaramulla.

These partnerships come in the backdrop of many global calls for greater private sector engagement in the 2030 Development Agenda.  The two day Summit is expected to collaboratively start a national dialogue on the importance of foresight and innovation as a value addition to traditional development planning to achieve sustainable human development and the 2030 development agenda.

Noting the fundamental role of the private sector in advancing the newly adopted sustainable development agenda, Mr. Sutheash Balasubramaniam, Sri Lanka Representative of the UNGC stated, “This summit is timely and will engage diverse stakeholders to collaborate and scale up the operation towards meeting the 2030 development agenda of the government. Towards this end, UNGC is committed to inspire businesses to play a vital and innovative role in driving the Sustainable Development Goals with a purpose to create new sustainable markets, services and products”

The Summit, is expected be graced by the Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Hon. Niroshan Perera, State Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs, Hon. Susil Premajayantha, Minister of Science, Technology and Research and Hon. Harin Fernando, Minister of Digital Infrastructure and Telecommunications. The Summit will connect many international resource people including those from the UN Pulse Lab – Jakarta, the UNDP Centre for Public Service Excellence – Singapore, myForesight – Malaysia, Mind Lab – Denmark, Open Design City, Germany, Superflux – UK, UNDP Kolba Lab – Armenia, UNDP MiLab – Moldova, eGov Centre – Moldova, Fields of View – India,  to name a few.

The UNDP led National Summit, noting the importance of mobilizing the business community to realize the 2030 Agenda, is expected to gather the participation of key corporate sector representatives, including, Aitken Spence, Sri Lankan Airlines, Holcim Lanka, Virtusa, MAS, DNV GL, Unilever, Jetwing Holdings, John Keells Holdings, FCCIS, Maga Engineering, MAS Holdings, Dialog Axiata, Nestle and Hemas.

Joining as a Summit Partner, Mr. Nandana Wickramage Group Director – Head of Marketing and Sales of Ceylon Biscuits Limited stated “In our business, foresight and innovation are vital for success. So, when we think of ‘Sustainable Human Development’ from a food conglomerate’s point of view, we clearly see CBL Munchee being an active and benevolent partner in this journey. CBL Munchee will continue to work to meet the needs of the present generation and be mindful of the environment that sustains us, without compromising on the future. In this context we are happy to be partnered with UNDP to organize this first ever National Summit on Foresight and Innovation in Sri Lanka”


The Summit will also feature a high-level private sector panel discussion on ‘Innovation for Sustainability: Role of the Private Sector’ with Mr. David Fullbrook of DNV GL, Malaysia, Mr. Philippe Richart, CEO of Holcim Lanka, Mr. Carl Cruz, Chairman of Unilever Sri Lanka, Mr. Jerome Auvity, Director Operations of Jetwing Holdings and Ms. Sumathi Jayaraman, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Innovation of UNDP. The Summit will also have Mr. Jonathan Alles, CEO of HNB Grameen and Mr. Dilhan C Fernando, Director of Ceylon Tea Services address the summit.

Mr. Philippe Richart, CEO of Holcim Lanka, speaking on the importance of this summit and the partnership with UNDP stated, “As a member of the LafargeHolcim group we want to lead in sustainability and set new standards. We want to help transform the way our industry works and encourage the whole construction sector to play its full part in addressing our planets biggest issues. As the global leader in the construction material industry we believe, we have both the opportunity and responsibility to make a positive difference. Globally our ambition is to generate 1/3 of our turnover from solutions with enhanced sustainability performance and clear targets in the areas of climate, circular economy, water & nature and our people & communities. The summit is an excellent opportunity to share ideas among Sri Lankan sustainability leaders, best practices and tools to promote sustainable initiatives with diverse industries. Holcim Lanka takes pride imparting our global knowledge at this forum.”

The Summit will introduce several foresight tools by looking at nationally relevant environmental, social and economic themes. Together with the private sector, a key component of the audience, the Summit will aim at producing a set of recommendations that will be implemented collectively following the event.

Foresight and Innovation are rapidly becoming tools that governments and other non-traditional partners for development are incorporating into their work. Through these methodologies, they seek to create coherent policy frameworks that will effectively utilize limited resources. Therefore understanding emerging trends and opportunities whilst successfully evading inevitable challenges is key.

This Summit, will thus contribute to enhancing development practices and policies that are visionary, to create the world we want and need by 2030 by fostering a development sector that is forward-thinking and visionary.