Taking action to effectively address climate change is a one-way street, Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides said, pointing out the benefits of synergies and regional cooperation and underlying the significance of the cooperation Cyprus has developed with countries in the region.
Addressing Thursday the 2nd international conference on climate change in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East which concludes in Pafos, the Minister said that through the redesign of our policies, aiming at the implementation of drastic measures such as those envisaged by the Green Deal in the context of the European Union, we can ensure sustainable development whilst achieving a high level of protection and management of the environment.
“It is against this very backdrop that we have prioritised in recent years, in the context of our foreign policy, the further enhancement of bilateral ties with all neighbouring countries and the promotion jointly with them of a new paradigm for the broader region, founded on peace, security, stability, cooperation and prosperity, on the basis of an inclusive agenda, for the benefit of all the peoples of the region and of future generations”, the Minister said in his address.
He noted that reaping the benefits from increasing regional cooperation, Cyprus has undertaken a very concrete and substantial initiative involving the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East Region with the aim of coordinating efforts to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and to collaborate in mitigating the impact of climate change in the region.
Christodoulides said that the ultimate objective of this initiative, which lies at the heart of today’s Conference, is to develop a targeted regional action plan that will be reviewed and adjusted depending on future developments, underlining that regional cooperation and cooperation with key international partners through joint projects or joint support schemes could also be used to facilitate the promotion of the clean energy transition.
He referred to the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) describing it as the ideal platform through which the EU itself can outreach in order to promote its transition agenda and adding that how to best accommodate energy transition is part of our priorities, especially during the upcoming EMGF Presidency of Cyprus in 2022, and part of the vision to transform the Levantine region into a frontrunner towards greener energy.
FM also referred to the Euroasia and the Euroafrica electricity interconnectors which can create a highway for the transmission of significant amounts of electricity generated by using gas, in this case from the fields in the Eastern Mediterranean. He also announced that Cyprus, holding the chairmanship of the Committee on Education and Sustainable Development of the UN Economic Commission for Europe, will organise the 9th Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference, in October 2022 with the participation of around 80 countries and 1,000 delegates.
Furthermore he said that Cyprus is currently in the initial stages of establishing in Cyprus a Centre of Excellence of Commonwealth countries, for the promotion of marine research, development and innovation and added that Cyprus as an EU member state endorses and is of course fully aligned with the European Green Deal, our joint vision for a climate neutral continent in 2050, and with its dedicated roadmap for achieving this goal.
Collaboration needed, says Greece's Climate Crisis Minister Stylianides
Christos Stylianides, Greece's Minister of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection in a virtual address said that climate change is here and it is a reality that affects everyone. He said that our region suffered from catastrophic fires during the summer while Europe suffered from deadly floods, adding that these severe weather phenomena are more frequent and intense. He noted that climate change is well ahead of us and we need to act now, adding that time is of the essence to address the root causes and consequences. Stylianides also pointed out that international cooperation is important because no country can face the impact of climate crisis alone.
We need to work collectively because our neighbourhood will suffer the most, Stylianides said, adding that the latest report by UN is alarming.
The Greek Minister noted that engaging in a structured dialogue and exchanging best practices is of utmost significance. He also said that Greece is preparing a national strategy with a holistic and horizontal approach, based on prevention, preparedness and resilience.
Addresses by other speakers
Minister of Environment of Egypt Yasmine Fouad spoke about the particularities of her country and the issues associated with water scarcity saying that the government is preparing a new holistic approach with 5 objectives, promoting also innovative technologies. She hoped that the results of this conference will be discussed in the upcoming ministerial meeting and that ministers of the countries of the region will decide the policies to tackle climate change.
Janet Rogan, UK Regional Ambassador to the Middle East and Africa said that politicians need to change their mind set and need to understand that policies are needed to tackle the impacts of the crisis, the conflicts that derived from environmental issues such as water scarcity and to take action for emissions and promote the net zero policy. She also said that we need to help the developing world in their energy transition, adding that green investment is also important. Rogan said that collaboration is also needed adding that no policy decision can leave climate behind. She also said that Cop in Paris promised and now the upcoming Glascow Cop must deliver.
George Kremlis, advisor to the Greek Prime Minister on energy, climate and circular economy spoke of the effects of climate crisis on cultural heritage especially in coastal areas and the islands. He said that the purpose is to highlight this dimension because it has to do with our roots, our culture, our history and we need to protect it as we need to protect the environment and the ecosystems which are our home.