Policy Analysis in Prioritising Societal Challenges: the Case of Sri Lanka

Champika Liyanage, Kanchana Ginige, Dilanthi Amaratunga, Richard Haigh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


The 30-year war ended in Sri Lanka in 2009. Country is now heading towards local, regional and national development through the development of infrastructure and services. However, there are obstacles along the way in achieving the required development targets set by the different levels of governments. These obstacles, for the purpose of this paper, can be identified as ‘societal challenges’. According to the largest ever research and innovation programme of the European Union named as Horizon 2020, there are seven areas of societal challenges, i.e. Health, demographic change and wellbeing; Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research, and the Bioeconomy; Secure, clean and efficient energy; Smart, green and integrated transport; Climate action, environment, resource
efficiency and raw materials; Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies; and Secure societies.

According to the EU, these seven societal challenges that need to be addressed for a country to prosper and move towards development. However, especially for a developing nation like Sri Lanka it is difficult to address these seven challenges all at once. It should happen as a systematic approach on a long-term basis. The paper, in this context, intends to investigate, of the seven challenges, which is/are the critical societal challenge(s) to be addressed first in the case of Sri Lanka. This is investigated using a questionnaire survey. Addressing the challenges needs to happen as a top-down approach. One of the first steps towards that is the implementation of effective policies. Therefore, the main focus of the questionnaire survey is to assess the availability and effectiveness of policies in relation to addressing the societal challenges. The survey was conducted among 54 Sri Lankan experts on the seven areas of challenges.

The findings reveal that secure societies is the most critical challenge to be addressed followed by climate action. According to the policy analysis, ‘health, demographic change and wellbeing’ is identified as the challenge, which has the highest number of related policies whilst the inclusive, innovative and reflective societies have the least.

It is further revealed that the correlation between the availability of policies and their effectiveness are not always linear.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 5th International Conference on Building Resilience
EditorsJamie Mackee, Helen Giggins, Thayaparan Gajendran, Sallyanne Herron
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015
Event5th International Conference on Building Resilience - University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia
Duration: 15 Jul 201517 Jul 2015
Conference number: 5
https://www.newcastle.edu.au/about-uon/governance-and-leadership/faculties-and-schools/faculty-of-engineering-and-built-environment/school-of-architecture-and-built-environment/building-resilience-2015/home (Link to Conference Information )


Conference5th International Conference on Building Resilience
OtherThe risks and vulnerabilities exposed by natural hazards and disasters are on the rise globally, and the impacts are severe and widespread: extensive loss of life, particularly among vulnerable members of a community; economic losses, hindering development goals; destruction of the built and natural environment, further increasing vulnerability; and, widespread disruption to local institutions and livelihoods, disempowering the local community. Rising population and infrastructures, particularly in urban areas, has significantly increased disaster risk, amplified the degree of uncertainty, challenged emergency arrangements and raised issues regarding their appropriateness.
What is becoming equally apparent, however, is the importance of resilience - not only in the structures that humans design and build, but in the way society perceives, copes with, and reshapes lives after the worst has happened: to use change to better cope with the unknown.
Despite resilience having been widely adopted in research, policy and practice to describe the way in which they would like to reduce our society's susceptibility to the threat posed by such hazards, there is little consensus regarding what resilience is, what it means to society, and perhaps most importantly, how societies might achieve greater resilience in the face of increasing threats from natural and human induced hazards.
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