Anoka Primrose Abeyrathne

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Anoka Primrose Abeyrathne
Anoka Abeyrathne.jpg
Abeyrathne at the Commonwealth Women's Ministerial Meeting 2013
Born 1991
Alma mater
Occupation Conservationist, Environmentalist, Social Entrepreneur, Lawyer
Known for Growin' Money

Anoka Primrose Abeyrathne also known as Anoka Abeyratne is an award-winning Sri Lankan conservationist, social entrepreneurship pioneer,[1] environmental expert and youth activist on sustainable development and entrepreneurial issues in Sri Lanka and Asia.

Abeyratne presented the keynote speech of the Youth Leaders Forum, Commonwealth Asia Youth Ministers Meeting 2015 [2] and is the first Sri Lankan appointed from the Asia-Pacific region to the UN Habitat Global Youth Advisory Board [3] and to the Commonwealth Climate Leadership Team as the Policy and Advocacy representative.[4] Anoka is a co-founder of TEDxKandy,[5] an independent TEDx event curated for "Ideas Worth Spreading".

Early life[edit]

Abeyrathne at a press conference on environmental protection

Abeyrathne born during the Sri Lankan Civil War, completed her education in Biology at Bishop's College serving as the president of the United Nations Club, the Red Cross Society, secretary of the Environmental Society, a Girl guide and a gold medal receiving athlete, swimmer and pianist.[6] An alumnus of the University of London, University of Colombo and Harvard University, she is a post-graduate student of the University of Cambridge.[6] Notable family members include the father of free education in Sri Lanka - Hon. C. W. W. Kannangara and Sri Lanka's first female diplomat - Manel Abeysekera.

Activism and Work[edit]

Early Activism[edit]

Abeyrathne at a campaign

Abeyrathne started volunteering at age 13 when the 2004 tsunami struck Sri Lanka and has replanted over 60,000 Mangroves in South Asia by providing over 5000 families the opportunity to gain in income through designer handicrafts, organic farming, eco-tourism, and access to education through skills training.[7] Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations Kamlesh Sharma presented Abeyrathne with a Commonwealth Youth Award in March 2013.[8] Recognized by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)[9][10] Abeyrathne is featured in Sri Lanka's first digital environmental music video.[11] As the youngest founding Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum[12] Colombo Hub established in 2012 in Sri Lanka, she served as one of the 12 Shapers on the United Nations - World Economic Forum Sustainable Development Council working towards mainstreaming sustainability and is the first female New Champion of the World Economic Forum in Sri Lanka.[13]

Abeyrathne with
Queen Elizabeth II
Abeyrathne with Secretary General of the United Nations and the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education
Abeyrathne at a WEF event

Continuing Activism[edit]

Abeyrathne continues her passion for entrepreneurship while engaging as a sustainable development advocate. She has trained and mentored over 3000 youth as the next generation of environmentalists and social entrepreneurs. Her entrepreneurial work promotes and develops gender equality, social justice, access to education, communal harmony and human rights in impoverished communities. Being the youngest panelist on Sri Lanka's first Social Innovation Forum[14] and the Commonwealth Women's Affairs Ministerial Meeting,[15] Abeyrathne is a founding member of the Commonwealth Gender and Equality Network and a drafter of the first Commonwealth Gender Agenda, working towards linking gender equality, education, entrepreneurship and sustainable development.

She is a co-founder of TEDxKandy, an independent TED-like event curated for "Ideas Worth Spreading" and presented the Keynote speech of the Youth Leaders Forum, Commonwealth Asia Region Youth Ministers Meeting 2015 [2] and is the first Sri Lankan appointed from the Asia-Pacific region to the UN Habitat YAB.[3] Abeyrathne continues engagement in disaster management and sustainability analysis as an Associate Resource Fellow[16] of the Institute of National Security Studies Sri Lanka - Ministry of Defence (Sri Lanka).

Abeyrathne received a World Youth award[17] in 2017 for her contribution to youth and sustainability from the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt H.E Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt. In 2018 Abeyratne became the first Sri Lankan appointed to the Youth Skills and Innovation Initiative Youth Council, an initiative of Intel and Hon. Sarah Brown. Abeyrathne has been featured[18] by the United Nations,[19] United Nations Environmental Programme,[20] the INSSSL - Ministry of Defence,[21] the UNICEF,[22] The Guardian[23] TEDx,[24] UNFPA,[25] Echelon Magazine,[26]Financial Times,[27] UNDP[28][29][30][31] and Huffington Post.[32]


  1. ^ "Sri Lankan wins Commonwealth Youth Award for Excellence in Development Work". 2013-04-19. Retrieved 2017-11-30.  Sri Lankan eco-social entrepreneur
  2. ^ a b "Spotlight on young people at ministerial meeting in New Delhi". The Commonwealth. 2015-07-27. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  3. ^ a b "Young people of the world elect a new UN-Habitat Youth Advisory Board – UN-Habitat". 2015-10-01. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  4. ^ Commonwealth Youth Climate Change Network (CYCN) Leadership Team 2016 – 2018 Retrieved 2017-11-30.
  5. ^ "Organizing Committee". Archived from the original on 2016-10-25. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  6. ^ a b Migara Wijesinghe (2014-08-28). "Anoka". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  7. ^ Shaahidah Riza (2016-08-15). "Growing mangroves harvesting opportunities". Ceylon Today. Archived from the original on 2016-09-15. Retrieved 2016-09-02. 
  8. ^ "Sri Lanka : Young Sri Lankan development worker wins Commonwealth Youth Award". 2013-03-14. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  9. ^ South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation SAARC Youth Award
  10. ^ "South Asian Association For Regional Cooperation | Area of Cooperation". Archived from the original on 2013-09-21. Retrieved 2013-09-20. 
  11. ^ "Make It Green Again Official Music Video [HD]". Voyage Studios. YouTube. 2012-02-27. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  12. ^ "Celebrating the work of Our Shapers: Anoka Primrose Abeyrathne | World Economic Forum". Global Shapers. 2014-03-25. Archived from the original on 2015-04-15. Retrieved 2015-04-08. 
  13. ^ "How sustainability can transform the Indian subcontinent - Agenda - The World Economic Forum". Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  14. ^ "British Council joins Dialog, Softlogic, Brandix, AMW, Horizon Campus to look into the future, beyond 2020". Social Innovation Forum. 2014-03-04. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  15. ^ "10th Commonwealth Women's Affairs Ministerial Meeting Partners' Forum" (PDF). Commonwealth Women's Affairs Ministerial Meeting. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  16. ^ "INSSSL conducts a special lecture on Human Security in a changing climate". Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  17. ^ "Sri Lanka's youngest change-maker honored at WYF's closing". Egypt Today. 2017-11-10. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  18. ^ "On International Women's Day, What Young Leaders Want You to Know". International Youth Foundation. 2018-03-08. Retrieved 2018-03-11. 
  19. ^ "UN Youth Flash Newsletter, November 2017". Retrieved 2017-12-29. 
  20. ^ "Actions – ROAP". UNEP. Archived from the original on 2013-09-21. Retrieved 2013-09-20. 
  21. ^ "INSSSL conducts a special lecture on Human Security in a changing climate". 2017-06-14. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  22. ^ ""Seal the Deal!" to Heal the Planet". UNICEF. 2009-07-24. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  23. ^ Joe Jervis (2012-07-12). "Live Q&A: Women and social enterprise, Friday 20 July, 12-2pm BST". The Guardian. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  24. ^ "TEDx Talk". YouTube. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  25. ^ "Investing in Youth pays dividends, evidence from Sri Lanka shows". UNFPA. 2014-07-09. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  26. ^ Avanti Samarasekera. "Preserving an All-Giving Tree". Echelon Magazine. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  27. ^ ""Creativating" Sri Lanka". FT Online. 2016-02-17. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  28. ^ ""Creativating" Sri Lanka". UNDP in Sri Lanka. 2016-02-17. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  29. ^ ""Creativating" Sri Lanka". 2016-02-17. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  30. ^ "Floods and Droughts – an endless Sri Lankan loop?". UNDP in Sri Lanka. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  31. ^ "Floods and droughts – An endless Sri Lankan loop?". Retrieved 2017-06-27. 
  32. ^ "Anoka Primrose Abeyrathne: Eco-Entrepreneurship, Music Videos and a World of Change!". HuffPost. 2012-04-21. Retrieved 2017-11-30.