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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Environment Commissioner: We need drastic changes in the way we live (video)

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    “It's not just 'plant trees', it's also our actions on a daily basis”

    On the need for drastic changes in the way citizens live, the Commissioner spoke at the CYPE Environment Antonia Theodosiou, referring to the green transition, stressing that brave efforts are being made by the competent agencies, but we are too late not only in Cyprus, but also in other countries.

    At the same time, he said that the program of the green transition and the green deal of the European Commissionconcerns all areas of life and it is not just 'plant trees', but also our actions on a daily basis. p>

    She added that Cyprus should not currently be at the stage of the small participation of renewable energy sources in its energy potential, nor should it have such a large percentage of pollutants.

    In her interview with KYPE, referring to the role of the Environment Commissioner, Mrs. Theodosiou said that it concerns a “filtering towards the various Ministries, which are responsible for environmental and cultural issues”, as it undertakes matters of improving legislation, submitting proposals to Ministers and the Council of Ministers either with instructions from the Ministries or voluntarily.

    “This is very important,” he said, noting that because the Office of the Environment Commissioner is closer to society it can track the implementation of various policies or the implementation of legislation, the difficulties and benefits more quickly and makes fruitful proposals.

    At the same time, he pointed out, the respective Commissioner has the power to take actions. “Part of the operation of the Office is to carry out information campaigns, awareness of the issues and submission of opinions”,said Mrs. Theodosiou.

    Called to assess the situation in Cyprus in terms of actions to protect the environment and awakening about the effects of climate change, Mrs. Theodosiou said that it divides environmental protection into various sectors.

    “The main area that concerns my priority is the protection and management of NATURA areas. Cyprus, as it should, submitted areas that meet some specifications of the European acquis and were included in the Natura 2000 network. Unfortunately, until today these areas receive little management while management plans have been made”, he said.

    < p>He mentioned that the Department of Environment and the Game and Protection Service of Fauna will very soon issue decrees for the management of naturein these areas, and emphasized that both “both services need support and I will provide this support, whether it is technical or concerns campaigns both to the population and to partnerships, perhaps with experiences with other countries, what they are doing in similar areas” .

    The Environment Commissioner also stated that in addition to Natura areas,“we have the rural area, the countryside, we also have natural areas that are not classified within the Natura areas and the responsibilities for these areas if they are state forests concern the Department of Forests, if they are private or peat, they are very much influenced by policies and decisions of the Department of Urban Planning and Housing and therefore the matter concerns the Ministry of the Interior.

    “However, what is missing is how we manage this assessment of the landscape and ultimately the landscape itself. We also have the cultural landscape which is the landscape of the countryside, which is very valuable because it is what holds the lands and Cyprus is threatened with desertification and the simple constructions, known as structures, are what held and hold in a very small degree today still the rural landscape”, he said.

    According to Ms. Theodosiou, no one adequately takes care of these constructions even if there are funds from the Department of Agriculture, as in the context of Agricultural Payments where there are some financings. “I generally consider existing measures to be insufficient, while the role that structures can play in maintaining the landscape and fighting desertification, as well as in strengthening biodiversity, is huge,” he noted.

    Ms. Theodosiou said she wants to undertake a campaign “because we pay fines for pollutants. Our production is mainly from fossil fuels but there must be a steep increase in the energy mix and the introduction of renewable sources,” he noted. Another way to balance these pollutants is to increase forest cover and enhance biodiversity, because these areas absorb and store carbon dioxide, he said.

    Noting that he should have both the influence and the power to be able to promote issues, he said that “our role is not executive'', it is consultative, but with many powerful intervention tools.

    Asked what measures can be taken to reinforce the message that everything we do has an impact on the environment, Mrs. Theodosiou said that “due to the climate crisis we are going through – and we are all living the effects of extreme weather, warming – I think that at all levels we have all realized that our own human actions, and not some universe, have affected the planet and affected not only the aesthetics of nature, but also our very lives and health”.

    We all need “planning and guidance in our daily actions, but also politicians in their decision-making”, he said.

    Why’ this, she added, and European Commission “has the program of the green transition and the green agreement which if someone goes through it will see that it concerns all areas of our lives, that is, it is not only 'plant trees', but it is our actions on a daily basis ».

    On the topic of waste, he pointed out that “we produce waste. So we have to manage them. And the European Commission comes punitively to impose fines on us for pollution, because it seems that at the level of countries, not only Cyprus, we do not realize our responsibilities to such an extent.

    “ nor should Cyprus be at the stage of such a small participation of renewable energy sources in our energy potential. We shouldn't be at the stage in transportation where we have such a high percentage of pollutants. Valiant efforts are now being made by the services, but I think that not only in Cyprus but in other countries, we have been too late”, he characteristically said.

    Asked if there is hope, Mrs. Theodosiou said “there is hope of holding down the temperature, but I consider it very difficult to overturn the data. And we must understand that we cannot with the same lifestyle, by making some small changes, bring results. Drastic changes must be made in our practices”, he stressed.

    Noting that this presupposes proper education,Mrs. Theodosiou answered in the affirmative, adding that she is “always terribly impressed every time I meet the children, whether in elementary, high school, high school, private or public schools, how much information they have”.

    He praised the work done by the environmental education centers of the Ministry of Education,because “they are doing a terrible job”, as he said, and he mentioned to KYPE that he intends to make proposals to the Ministry of Education in the next few days “because we know that education is a cornerstone for tomorrow's citizens, which I will not say are that tomorrow's , they live among us, and they are already educating the parents”.

    In her interview, Mrs. Theodosiou also referred to the topic of architecture and quarries as well as the materials used. “I had already made some efforts before I was appointed as Commissioner to introduce physical building courses in technical schools. It is an area that we must develop”, he noted.

    “Cyprus was born from brick and stone and wood. And today the materials we use are completely different. While in countries like Switzerland or Germany where I studied already from the time of my studies, they were dealing with standards for brick, the raw bricks that the energy to manufacture, to produce and the carbon footprint is zero”, he pointed out.

    He also said that the model of climate neutral communities, a “model with important specifications from the European Commission, is already in the priorities” of “ and I have already made contacts with some communities that need to develop a plan of action and practices , so that their carbon footprint will be neutral by 2050 but by 2035 reduced by 55%”. He described the communities as “very receptive”.

    As for the Municipalities, he said that although some programs are running, they are piecemeal and for this reason he will have to do serious campaigns and partnerships with local communities.

    It was mentioned in the announcement that Kato Pyrgos is developing a program with a consultant to make Tellyria green and climate neutral and said that after contact with the community “some meetings have already been held, we have agreed on cooperation” and “we will proceed very soon, piloting with the Tellyria. But initiatives are also being taken by other communities in Larnaca and Paphos,” he said, to draw up programs to gradually become climate neutral.

    Regarding agricultural and livestock production, he said that it should be done in a more environmentally friendly way, without harming the farmers. “There must be a golden ratio way. If we turn more towards organic crops, saving water etc. Agriculture is very important for every country and we saw it during the intense period of COVID-19 but we also see it now with the conflict in Ukraine how much we are dependent on production and in other countries, and we should be more autonomous in Cyprus, he said.

    At this point, Mrs. Theodosiou said that we focused too much on tourism, which in Cyprus is not sustainable. There are serious efforts by the Ministry of Tourism for nature tourism, but we realize that the mass and large numbers of tourists do not help much in its sustainability, he said.

    When asked if Cyprus will be able to reach the Fit for 55 goals by 2030, he replied that “I think it will be difficult to reach them. We will ask for a derogation again. But that doesn't mean we won't try. And it is not only Cyprus at this point”.

    For Akamas, an area for which she was the Manager of the Sustainable Community Development Project for five years, she said that “that which we agreed with the communities” is that it can only bring benefits to the villages located on the perimeter of these areas” the project.

    There is of course the issue of properties, but in each region it is good to examine the properties that have been included in the Natura 2000 network, what development possibilities they had before, he noted.

    Because, he added, “we have to get away from the concept that 'where I have land I build' and this is an issue which I think has been consolidated in and by the actions of the Ministry of the Interior, not only for the Natura protection areas but also throughout Cyprus there has been a great discussion about the individual residence”.

    < p>In Akamas, he said, there are over 1 million visitors to the protected area from studies prepared by companies, and these tourists do not go to the villages.

    “What is important is to develop synergies between villages and protected areas, so that on the one hand the villages have income from visitors, and visitors are not only foreign tourists, they are also Cypriots, it is also internal tourism and on the other hand they develop businesses that belong to them , to be able to manage them”, he said.

    Mrs. Theodosiou reminded that approximately 50% of the Akama peninsula, an administrative area of ​​10 villages, is a protected area and 75% of this percentage is state forest land. This state forest land has been declared a national forest park, the 25% that is private is of course still Natura, he said.

    Answering the question of what she can do from the position of Commissioner for Akamas, she said that she participates in the relevant committees, either internal or with the participation of environmental organizations, and “we examine how the projects that have been executed and frozen for the roads in the Akamas National Forest Park”.

    At the same time, he said, perhaps the review of the projects that were planned to continue after the first phase of the road execution is being considered and I consider this very important.


    Also, what he will seek to examine is the income that the state will have from the traffic in Akamas and how they can be distributed to the maintenance or creation of community projects in the villages, he said.

    Projects that have been completed , he said, is the Center for Rural Life and Tradition and Educational Centers in Drusia which has thousands of visitors in its two years of operation and has received two awards, the Center for Terrestrial Flora, Fauna and Avian Fauna in Kathika, the Center for Geology and Paleontology in Arodes. Ms. Theodosiou said that the canyons in Androlikou, part of which is a quarry zone, have paleontological remains of fossils.

    The beds of most of the canyons and the banks are in the Natura 2000 network, she said, “but the highlands between the canyons are still threatened today by the creation of new quarry zones”. He expressed the belief that in cooperation with the Herpetological Association and the Community Council of Neo Chorio, the park will be operational soon.

    Source: cyprustimes.com

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