RUWANTHI MIGNONNE HALWALA
Ruwanthi Mignonne Halwala considers herself an international citizen and has lived, worked, volunteered, and traveled across the globe. Born in Oman, with roots in Sri Lanka, Ruwanthi Mignonne moved to Canada when she was 13 and eventually attended the University of Toronto for her BSc. (Hons.) in Psychology, Industrial Relations, and Sociology.
With a keen interest in the environment and global affairs, she completed an intensive internship at the International Holistic Tourism Education Center (IHTEC) during this time and was mentored by founder Dame Julia Morton-Marr. Ruwanthi Mignonne successfully completed the Transformational Leadership Training Program and her interest in sustainability grew, alongside real-world learnings. A notable such experience included conducting a presentation on the impact of plastic litter on highways, rivers, great lakes, and ocean to the Mississauga City Environmental Advisory Committee (a group comprised of local Councillors, University Professors, and citizens) in 2013.
This was well-received and forwarded by Mississauga’s Mayor Hazel McCallion to Provincial and Federal Ministers, the Premier of Ontario, and Prime Minster of Canada with the intent of making effective change in public waste management in Canada through local government policies.
Ruwanthi Mignonne moved to the United Kingdom for her MSc. in Environmental Management from Coventry University and then to Sri Lanka shortly after her postgraduate studies, where she worked on the implementation, development, coordination, and management of over 65 sustainability projects across the public and private sector in Sri Lanka.
During her time in Sri Lanka, Ruwanthi Mignonne witnessed numerous practical issues faced in the global south, where infrastructure, education and awareness on certain sustainability issues including overall accountability was often modest. One such prevalent problem was waste - unsegregated and predominantly non-biodegradable plastic waste, which never seemed to escape her sight, no matter where she went on her beautiful island. The plastic waste continues to litter land, block canals, ruin ecosystems, and eventually ends up in the ocean, with terrible consequences - some of which are still being studied and understood.
Shanthi Sustainable Development (SSD) was set up with the vision of looking at the problem of waste in Sri Lanka in a holistic and different way. Its focus is stakeholder engagement and customized bottom-up approaches to develop integrated and sustainable long-term solutions. SSD works with local authorities and corporations on their waste management and helps build capacity, streamline operations, and raise awareness on waste management and its connection to our environment. The team of professionals are passionate about changing the negative perception of waste, making a positive impact, and working toward data-driven solutions in a circular economy. The team is focused on sustainable, holistic, and workable answers for prevailing waste management issues, especially in the global south. As the [pro-bono] Sustainability Consultant, she supports projects with a focus on sustainability and education.
Ruwanthi Mignonne is presently the Executive Director, Global Sustainability Education at IHTEC, a member of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, the Institute of Environmental Professionals of Sri Lanka, and a member of Carbon Removal Working Group – Taskforce on Climate Governance (Earth System Governance Project) and the International Society of Female Professionals.