Climate change knowledge to practice: How what I'm learning will help my country

Chinthaka Jayasooriya
23 December 2019

Chinthaka Jayasooriya (Jaya) has journeyed to Canberra from Sri Lanka in a quest to improve his skills and knowledge around climate change.   He believes that there’s already relatively good understanding of how climate change will affect his country, but that what’s lacking is the skills to apply that knowledge to develop policy and management solutions.

“We desperately need to fill this gap as a country”, he said.

Jaya is half way through a Master of Climate Change degree at ANU.   With eight years’ experience as a Research Officer with the Environment and Water Resources Management Division of the Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute in Colombo, he felt he had good scientific and technical knowledge, but his understanding of related socio-economic aspects was lacking.

Whilst the Master of Climate Change (MClCh) degree crosses science and social science, Jaya has chosen predominantly policy and economics electives. 

 “For me, the MClCh is all about policy application,” he said.   “When I get back home, I’ll be better placed to develop solutions and apply them.    I’m getting real world experience, which will give me a much better career path when I return to Sri Lanka.   I’m in a great position to put my aspirations into practice.”

“My focus has been on the agrarian sector”, he said.   “In Sri Lanka we are dependent on irrigation as well as on seasonal rainfall and we are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.  As a research officer, what I’ve learnt here will help me provide guidelines for policymakers and to tailor trainings for officers and farmers.”

He’s also been incredibly impressed by the quality of lecturers.  

“Although I’ve already done a Masters’ degree in Sri Lanka, this is such a different experience,” he said.  “I’m experiencing legends!  Over the years, I’ve read many reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and now I can discuss climate change with some of the authors.  These teachers are role models for me - it’s a dream come true!”

Jaya has also benefited from making connections with other students from all over the world, particularly in the Pacific.  

“Different countries are having different experiences of climate change.   Many islands in the Pacific are experiencing climate change in real time in very alarming situations.     It’s been so helpful to meet people from many different countries throughout Asia and Pacific and compare notes.”

Jaya is the recipient of an Australia Awards Scholarship.

Updated:  23 December 2019/Responsible Officer:  College of Science/Page Contact: