Reverend bishop, representative of the Metropolitan of Limassol Mr. Athanasiou, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends
It is really a pleasure to attend the awards of Green City and Green Community of Cyprus for 2017. A process that goes beyond the moral reward dimension, reflects the collective effort to upgrade the environment and the quality of life of the city and the community.
The fact that the initiative of the Cyprus Center for Environmental Research and Education of the Metropolis of Limassol, for the establishment of these awards, is supported by the Commissioner for the Environment, the Union of Cyprus Municipalities and the Union of Communities, highlights collectivity as the most basic tool to be able to shape and implement a specific and coherent policy for the Environment and Sustainable Development.
I realized that the award categories that have been codified by the Cyprus Center for Environmental Research and Education correspond to a series of decisions and plans that the Government applies to environmental issues. There is a lot that I could say and cite, which demonstrate the methodical reaction, sensitization, but also the particular interest we show in environmental issues and the need to cultivate the same environmental consciousness.
I will briefly mention the national strategy for adaptation to climate change, the green fund through which we finance green actions and infrastructures, the implementation of the biodiversity strategy, the creation of a transport authority in order to achieve the use of public transport at a rate of 10% of transports, so as to reduce the number of private car journeys and, consequently, the pollution, the modernization of public transport, the sponsorship for the electricity market subsidy, the extension of cycle networks in 47 km with provision for extension of other 26 km in 2018, and finally the creation and strengthening of environmental research and education centers.
Let me specifically mention the issue of waste management, which is also included in the prize categories, that we draw up and implement, in cooperation with the European Union’s approval, the municipal waste management plan and the National Waste Prevention Program. We implement similar strategies through concrete planning and decisions for the management of water resources, but also for sustainable tourism. Our developmental plans, relating to the environment, create the conditions for making our cities and communities more sustainable and friendly in the context of balanced development. In the capacity given to us by the improvement of the economy, with the cooperation of all the political forces and sacrifices of our people, as well as with the exploitation of european resources, we promoted the realization and design of hundreds of projects in every corner of Cyprus green, modern parks and squares, as well as the restoration of municipal and community centers.
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to draw attention to the work that the Cyprus Center for Environmental Research and Education of the Metropolis of Limassol has been producing for 14 years, a center that consistently promotes the environmental education and education of the people of our country, especially young people and more specifically our students. Within the framework of this consistent action of the Center, the institutionalization of the prizes to be awarded today will be included. I would like to congratulate the Metropolitan of Limassol for the work she is doing, the Center’s Scientific Director, Dr. Andreas Hadjihabis and his colleagues, and I would like to invite them to continue with the same dedication, this important and creative work. I congratulate TEPAK, ETEK and the Cyprus Citizens’ Energy Bureau, which was the scientific evaluation committee for the award of the prizes and, of course, the Union of Cyprus Municipalities and the Association of Communities participating as co-organizers.
I also want to emphasize the excellent cooperation we have with the Environment Commissioner, my dear Ioanna, whom I received a few days ago and her annual office report. As I mentioned, she, at the time of receiving the report, contributed significantly to the Government’s environmental policy. I congratulate her on the actions and efforts so that our country is fully in harmony with what we as a member of the European Union, we have an obligation to implement.
Reverend father, friends, municipalities and communities play an important role in sustainable development and the cyclical economy as the EU encourages. They have the organizational background and the human resources that can help in the implementation of policies related to waste reduction, water saving, promotion and agrotourism exploitation of biodiversity and cultural monuments in our country, energy saving and transition towards a carbon-neutral economy. It is important for local authorities, businesses and citizens to work together towards sustainable urban development by exchanging and promoting good practices that have proven positive impacts on both the urban environment and the quality of life.
The Green Flag, which you will receive in a few minutes, ladies and gentlemen, mayors, community leaders, green municipalities, will be waving tomorrow in the respective town halls and community councils, making recognition of the efforts you have made to ensure that your citizens have a better quality relationship with the environment.
As a government through the adoption of green policies and actions as well as with local government reform, we not only recognize but also support your plans for sustainable development and the creation of green jobs. With your action, which strengthens our own design, you can make living in our cities and communities more sustainable and more eco and human friendly .
Let me congratulate again, I proclaim the Green City and Green Community Awards for 2018 for which our Municipalities and Communities will be able to start submitting their candidatures in the next few days and at the same time I want to announce that for the first time the title of the green capital of Cyprus for 2018 will also be awarded. Again, I warmly congratulate those who will be awarded and I wish everybody a good “green” success.