contesting the Daring Debates Global Finale on 16 November 2020, during the Awards Week of the Global Sustainability Film Awards 2020:

Navindu Palliyaguruge

University of Colombo and Janya Lumbini


University of Jaffna


The first-ever Sri Lanka Chapter of Daring Debates hosted online in partnership with Regal Campus on 2 November 2020 saw 8 shortlisted contestants debating the motion:

Democratic Politics is inadequate

to address Climate Change

photo: Kudawa, Sri Lanka by Agnieszka Kowalczyk


Muditha Katuwawala

Economist and Conservationist/ Coordinator, The Pearl Protectors



Anjali Watson

Ecologist/ Co-Founder & Managing Trustee, Wilderness and Wildlife Conservation Trust ( 

Anjali Watson is a passionate ecologist predominantly working on the ecology and conservation of the Sri Lankan Leopard, a threatened endemic subspecies. She brings a novel perspective to the research and conservation of this isolated apex carnivore by championing it as an umbrella species for landscape level conservation in Sri Lanka. Anjali voices the need to promote human-wildlife coexistence if Sri Lanka is to continue to be a high biodiversity nation.


Anjali is a founding member and Managing Trustee of the Wilderness and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Sri Lanka. She holds a MSc in Ecology from the University of Edinburgh and a bachelor’s from McMaster University.  She has over 20 years of research experience across continents and species giving her international experience and exposure which contributes greatly towards the depth of WWCTs overall work.


Devaka Weerakoon

Senior Professor in Zoology and Environmental Sciences

Professor Devaka Weerakoon is a renowned academic and research personnel in the zoology and environmental science domain for over three decades. With special emphasis to long term conservation of Asian elephants, Prof. Weerakoon’s research focus is on the conservation of threatened species. Prof. Weerakoon was well recognized for his research contributions including the presidential award for research. He has served in many expert panels and committees of universities, research institutes, global conservation organizations and government agencies. 


Prof. Weerakoon long serves in the Department of Zoology and Environmental Science and has guided many Sri Lankan youth environmentalists and academics. He currently represents the Board of Management of National Science Foundation, Sri Lanka.


Dilrukshi Handunetti

Senior Journalist and Executive Director, Centre for Investigative Reporting

Dilrukshi Handunnetti is a multiple award-winning investigative journalist and a lawyer by training. She studied investigative journalism at the Stabile Center, Columbia University, USA, and at the Authentic School of Journalism, Mexico.  A senior editor, Dilrukshi's work has appeared in the Guardian, Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Anadolu, The Humanitarian, Reuters Alertnet, sciDev.Net, Down to Earth, IANS, and many others.


She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Center for Investigative Reporting, Sri Lanka's only such initiative, and is a writer/curator with Mongabay.


Hemantha Withanage

Executive Director for Centre for Environmental Justice

Hemantha Withanage is an environmental activist who has immensely contributed in environmental conservation efforts of the country. He is appreciated most for his tireless, detailed legal battles against many human-triggered environmental damages and hazards of the country. Hemantha is a firm believer of community-driven engagements for sustainable conservation. In addition to leading local initiatives, Hemantha has contributed to many Asia-Pacific and global conservation initiatives. 


Hemantha is the Founder and Executive Director of Centre for Environmental Justice. He holds bachelor’s from Kelaniya University, Sri Lanka. He is currently the International Convenor of the NGO Forum on ADB and from 2016-2018 he was the vice chair of the Friends of the Earth International, the largest grassroot network of environmental organizations.

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