Many months ago we alluded to an upcoming project in Sri Lanka. At the time, we thought we would be partnering with Dilmah Conservation, the human and environmental services arm of Dilmah Tea Company, We had been speaking with Dilmah Conservation for over a year, and both of our organisations were eager to collaborate on a project that leveraged our respective areas of engagement and expertise. In the meantime, however, we applied for funding from the Australian Government Partnerships for Development (GPFD) program run by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and were subsequently awarded a 2 1/2-year grant to partner with three universities in Sri Lanka – the University of Moratuwa, the University of Jaffna and the University of Sri Jayewardenepura – to build their capacities to incubate small-scale upcycling businesses with five local community recycling groups. This project is analogous to much of our past work in Buenos Aires, which depended upon the creation of international linkages between universities (for research and development, design, and tactical and strategic support) and the recycling cooperatives that are the primary beneficiaries of our activities. The terms of this GPFD grant stipulates a public-to-public institutional collaboration, so the award passes through the University of Western Australia, which will provide logistical support.

Dilmah Conservation is, of course, still a key partner in the project, and they are 1 of 9 advisory board members that include Sri Lankan NGOs and community groups, and technical and business experts from Australian and Canadian universities.

There will be much to write about in the upcoming year(s) – the project just launched in March. So stay tuned to this space for more information.