"We have a right to live; a right to develop, but that is being blocked by richer nations," the minister, a qualified engineer, told IPS in an interview. Ranawaka and his aides want to take the idea of environmental debt to the main forums of the world and convince the richer nations to exchange their debt claims from borrower-countries against environmental damage caused.
"Our foreign debt is 1.35 billion US dollars but our environmental cost is much higher because richer countries have polluted our environment and we are told to forget development," he said. "Forget GSP Plus or other trade concessions -- we should be able to trade off our environmental burden against loans and trade benefits. The
Environmentalists tend to agree with Ranawaka's rational views on the environment, but believe it would be a huge uphill task to convince the international community to accede to such a proposal. "He may be irrational in his views on the ethnic conflict but he is well read and intelligent on the environment and on many other issues," one environmentalist said…..Flag of Sri Lanka