Sri Lanka’s Urban-Centred Development Trajectory: Implications for Rights-Based Development Policy

Thumbnail Image
Mendis, Rasika
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Global Campus of Human Rights
Sri Lanka’s urban development policies and strategies outline an urban transformation that would generate economic opportunities and dividends for Sri Lanka’s overall national economy. The paper attempts to uncover the potential outcome of a policy drive that does not adequately explore the social implications of the envisaged transformation; some of these implications include problems of adaptation to an urban environment, vulnerability to marginalisation and urban-poverty, and inability to negotiate urban employment, urban housing and mobility within the urban space. Data and information needed to analyse social implications is compromised by issues of capacity (among urban institutions) and the lack of connectivity between academics, civil society and urban interest groups and stakeholders (including policy makers). The discussions of the brief are centred on fundamentals of rights based development, with reference to the United Nations Declaration of the Right to Development (DRD); a necessary foundation for a detailed revision of rights based urban policy. The fundamentals of the DRD include the need for holistic definition of what the urban context entails, and the ability of all persons concerned, notably the vulnerable and marginalised, to influence and benefit from urban centred development. Recommendations include that a more defined selection of data and information is used to comprehensively assess the potential of Sri Lanka’s urban context to benefit all segments of the urban population and to mobilise local government authorities as key players that link the grassroots to policy making levels of government.
Sri Lanka, development, urban policy, social change, human rights