On January 9, 2017, the Cabinet-approved Bill entitled Sri Lanka Sustainable Development was presented to the Sri Lankan Parliament. It seeks to provide for the development and implementation of a National Policy and Strategy on Sustainable Development in Sri Lanka and the establishment of a Sustainable Development Council in light of the United Nations’ recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

Of interest in this bill is the asymmetrical responsibility of the federal government in appointing members to the Council, given that it is intended as a national authority no doubt. Specifically, per sub-paragraph (iv) of paragraph (b) of subsection (1), “three members (who do not hold electoral office) out of the nine persons nominated by the Provincial Councils” to the Sustainable Development Council. The Bill is silent on how these three selections would be distributed amongst the nine (9) provinces in the country. It also remains to be seen if and how provincial leadership can influence the composition and outcomes of the Council.

Also related to this Bill (and at times confused between the two), is another Bill entitled Development (Special Provisions), which seeks to facilitate the formulation of a National Policy on all subjects including Accelerated Economic Development of Sri Lanka. While this Bill speaks primarily to economic development matters, it certainly has linkages to the government’s sustainable development agenda especially in the context of the European Union’s recent proposal to restore GSP+ concessions to Sri Lanka, which was withdrawn in 2010 due to human rights excesses at the conclusion of the armed conflict.

Update: In February 2017, the Northern Provincial Council rejected the bill.