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More than 100 delegates from Sri Lankan non-governmental organisations attended the conference “The Role of Communities in Environmental Decision Making” which allowed participants to broaden their knowledge of environmental democracy, community ownership of natural resource management and decision-making.

Former vice chair of the International Court of Justice Professor C.G. Weeramanthri and Friends of the Earth International chairperson Jagoda Munic, among others, addressed the conference, and led discussions aimed at finding ways to empower local communities to manage their resources for the benefit of all.

The key note address was delivered by Vedda chieftain Vannila Attho, leader of the indigenous peoples’ group in Sri Lanka. The speakers all emphasised the valuable role of Sri Lanka’s four religious traditions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Christian, Islam) in the protection of environmental and social rights.

On September 30, Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka executive director Hemantha Withanage presented the “Environmental and Social Justice Award 2014” to thirteen eminent Sri Lankan environmentalists.

On this occasion, Friends of the Earth International chairperson Jagoda Munic presented the Friends of the Earth International award to the Nilgala environmental protection society for their contribution to the protection of forest from land grabbing using the innovative method of tree ordination.