On April 20, 2017, we were invited to participate in the Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA)’s roundtable on Overseas Sri Lankans as Partners of Development, held in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka.

The one-day workshop brought together varying degrees of representation primarily from the Northern, Eastern, and Central Provincial Councils; Sri Lankan civil society organizations;  and the private sector to meet with a number of diaspora organizations involved in sustainable development and economic investment activities from Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Norway, and Malaysia to name a few. comdu.it was amongst the the handful of diaspora organizations from Canada invited to participate at the roundtable.

The objectives of the workshop were:

  • Facilitate an exchange between the Provincial Councils and District Secretariats and Overseas Sri Lankan groups/organisations on needs and strategic priorities of the Provinces, Districts and Divisions;
  • Provide a platform for Overseas Sri Lankan Groups groups to express/pledge their support towards addressing the strategic priorities of the Provinces, Districts and Divisions;
  • Develop a plan of action to channel Overseas Sri Lankan support by way of investments, development assistance, technology/ideas and human resources towards meeting the strategic needs of the Provinces;
  • Create space to form an institutional mechanism to facilitate the support of diaspora groups and organisations in a transparent and accountable manner; and
  • Convince the government (at Central and Provincial levels) to ensure a conducive policy environment to facilitate investments and development assistance.

The panel discussions covered a number of topics, including understanding the interests and expectations of engagement by overseas Sri Lankans; the needs and priorities of the provinces; facilitating policy and institutional framework for overseas Sri Lankans engagement; and ideas for innovation.

More detailed post-roundtable information and next steps are still forthcoming from CEPA Sri Lanka.