On 27 and 28 July, the Thematic Alumni Event on ‘Livability in cities of the future’ took place in Sri Lanka. The first day of the event was a public seminar that was attended by 140 professionals in addition to 22 IHE Delft alumni.
Mrs. Joanne Doornewaard, Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, opened the event. Mr. Nihal Rupasinghe, the Secretary of the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development was also present.
The Thematic Alumni Event (TAE) programme consisted of lectures by IHE Delft staff members and Mr. Nihal Rupasinghe and Dr. Srikantha Herath, two professionals from Sri Lanka. The lectures were followed by a panel discussion moderated by William Veerbeek of IHE Delft. The morning ended with a networking lunch.
In the afternoon the TAE participants visited Thalawathugoda Wetland Park, an urban wetland being developed and maintained by the Wetland Management Division of Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Corporation. The 25 hectare wetland is an interesting example of how an urban wasteland can be transformed into an oasis of nature. This location was used as dumping ground for dredging material during the construction of the parliamentary complex of Sri Lanka, which is built on an island, surrounded by the Diyawanna Oya river.
The expert Ms. Chethika Gunasiri explained that the soil was too acidic to grow any plants in the beginning, but nature succeeded in giving back life to this barren piece of land over time. Today it is home to 50 species of wetland birds, over 25 butterfly species, many types of fishes, dragonflies, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and many terrestrial and aquatic plant species. This park has a high biodiversity value, especially considering the urban wildlife.
The second day of the event was dedicated to the 22 IHE Delft alumni and some invited experts. An interactive workshop focused on ‘Livability in cities of the future’ and other important issues like gender in the urban water sector and future activities for IHE Delft alumni in Sri Lanka. Three interactive presentations were given by IHE Delft alumnus Mr. Perera, CEO of Lanka Hydraulics Ltd., Mrs. Wickgramanayake of the Coast Conservation Department, and IHE Delft alumnus Mr. Ghnanapala, former employee of Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Corporation. These were followed by charrette style group-based workshop on the discussed topics. The event was closed in the afternoon with social networking activities.
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“This is the first event in Sri Lanka, as well as first alumni activity I had after my graduation in 2004. I had the opportunity to meet many alumni and exchange ideas and create a network among us”
”This programme gave me a new way of thinking and refreshed my knowledge of what I had learned. The session was really interactive. it allows me to actively participate during discussions. The programme is well planned. it is hard for me to find any suggestions, but I recommend to have this kind of programme frequently as it will keep us continuous developing.”
“I like the panel discussion very much. It explored vast knowledge on one stage. It was very interesting due to participation of professionals from different sectors.”
Thematic Alumni Events
The Thematic Alumni Events aim to contribute to the professional development of alumni and the organisations they work for, as well as stimulate the setup and maintenance of thematic networks. These events are financially supported by Nuffic, and strengthen links among alumni, Nuffic and Dutch educational institutions, providing an opportunity for mutual learning for all stakeholders.