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Sri Lanka appoints Maldivian Speaker Nasheed, Norwegian ex-minister Solheim as climate advisors

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe with former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed in a file photo (Photo: Twitter)

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe has appointed former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed as his International Climate Advisor. Wickremesinghe also appointed former Norwegian minister Erik Solheim for the same role, reports The Times of Addu.

Wickremesinghe had in May 2022 appointed Nasheed as a special envoy to coordinate foreign aid for Sri Lanka during the country’s debilitating economic crisis. Reportedly, Nasheed was in Sri Lanka just a few days back in his role as the special envoy to seek international assistance for the island nation.

Nasheed is known widely for being a climate champion. During his time as the President of the archipelago, he had organised a widely-publicised cabinet meeting under the sea to highlight the threat from global warming and rising sea levels.

The two Indian Ocean island nations enjoy strong historical and people-to-people connections.

During the mass protests and political upheaval in Sri Lanka in July this year, the then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled to Maldives to escape the public wrath. However, as people protested in Maldives against his arrival, Rajapaksa had to leave Maldives for Singapore. The Maldivian government too faced flak for giving shelter to Rajapaksa.

Sri Lankan newspaper Daily FT reported that the other international climate advisor Solheim met Wickremesinghe and endorsed his vision for green economic recovery and for Sri Lanka’s climate leadership. Solheim has been working on climate change issues. He was earlier Norway’s international development and environment minister and also headed the UN Environment Program (UNEP) as its Executive Director.

Solheim was also upbeat about the government’s plans to pull Sri Lanka out of the economic crisis. He said: “It is hard to think of any politician with a better grasp of economic realities than President Wickremesinghe”. He added that the President has great plans for a green economic recovery for the country.

Solheim has had a long association with Sri Lanka as he was involved in negotiations with Sri Lanka and the LTTE rebels as a Special Adviser in the Norwegian Foreign Affairs Ministry where he got the two sides to agree to a peace deal. The peace deal was seen as controversial by many Sri Lankan parties who felt that Sri Lanka’s interests were not articulated through the deal.

Also Read: Why did Ranil Wickremesinghe appoint Nasheed of Maldives as advisor for aid assistance?

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