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Professor Sir James Mirrlees, a distinguished economist and recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize for Economics, led a dialogue on Sustainable Development on 25 February 2016 at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute. Sir James was invited by the Chairman and Members of the Board of Management of LKI to deliver the first of a series of Laureates’ Lectures, which was initiated to mark LKI’s 10th anniversary.
Sir James presented his views on recent international developments, including the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement, before considering the local context. He was optimistic about Sri Lanka’s ability to achieve sustainable development, stating that the country enjoyed several advantages over other developing countries, such as high literacy and relatively low levels of poverty and emissions. However, he was cautious of the drive towards greater urbanisation in Sri Lanka, suggesting instead that the way forward to a sustainable future lay in developing a number of smaller cities.
Following Sir James’s speech, the audience, which consisted of leading figures in the Sri Lankan corporate, public and educational sectors, had the opportunity to ask questions and engage in a broader discussion on the theme of sustainable development. The discussion emphasised Sri Lanka’s opportunities and challenges in promoting sustainable development. It was moderated by Dr. Indrajit Coomarsawamy, with contributions from Professor Sirimal Abeyratne and Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, a member of the Board of Management of LKI.
The dialogue was organized by LKI in partnership with the UN Global Compact Network Sri Lanka and John Keells Holdings PLC. The creative agency Holmes Pollard & Stott was the communications partner.