The Coordinating Secretariat for Science, Technology and Innovation (COSTI) was established on February 1, 2013 as mandated by the cabinet decision of September 9, 2011 with the specific aim of coordination and monitoring of Science,
Eng. (Dr.) Sarath Abayawardana is a senior professional engineer, with a first class degree in Mechanical Engineering from University of Ceylon, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Chemical Engineering from University College London and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Imperial College, University of London. He is a fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers London as well as the Institution of Engineers Sri Lanka.
His early experience is in university teaching and research work at the Industrial Technology Institute, then Ceylon Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research, mainly in the fields of conversion of primary natural products to secondary products and utilization of alternative sources of energy, particularly solar.
Dr. Abayawardana then worked with Unilever Sri Lanka for over 25 years, last 15 years as the National Technical Director for Sri Lanka. Three of his Unilever years was with the Engineering Division of Unilever plc, London as a Product Engineer, where his primary responsibility was in the monitoring of and technology support to Unilever regional manufacturing operations; a position that enabled him to gain wide international experience. At Unilever, in addition to normal business activities, he has been leading a number of environmental care projects such as a very strong energy conservation drive and a programme of activities to reduce liquid effluent.
From 2002 to 2007 he was with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) as a Senior International Researcher and headed its Sri Lanka Program while being a team member and a team leader for a number of projects both at national and regional level. Use of urban wastewater in agriculture and water-poverty links being some of them.
He was then engaged as a consultant to the Technical Education Development Project, an ADB project executed by the Ministry of Vocational and Technical Training to uplift vocational education and develop routes for obtaining higher competencies and qualifications for technical trainees. He was also a key facilitator at the National Science and Technology Commission in the Development of the Science and Technology Policy document now approved by the cabinet.
In May 2009, he assumed duties as the Director/CEO of the National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka, which is the primary state institution supporting Science and Technology activity of the country, including promotion of research, innovation and development, policy support and science popularization, and retired in December 2011.
His publications are mostly related to wastewater and its use in agriculture. Some later work on poverty aspects has led to the presentation of papers on water, health and poverty linkages.
He received the “Engineering Excellence Award 2011” from the Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka in recognition of his outstanding accomplishments and achievements in the field of engineering and professionalism. He has also served as a member of the Council of the Institution of Engineers and as the Chairman of its Chemical Engineering Sectional Committee, for a number of terms.
He has been a member of a number of governing bodies of Sri Lankan Government institutions and has served and is serving on numerous governmental and other committees.