Address by the Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, Dr. Costas Kadis, at the press conference for the 9th UNECE Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Before I start let me extend a warm welcome to all of you and wish you a pleasant and fruitful staying in Cyprus.
It is with great excitement that we are here today, on the opening of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Ninth “Environment for Europe” Ministerial Conference. The preparations of the Republic of Cyprus in the past four years, with the enormous support of the Committee on Environmental Policy of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, have brought us here today, hosting this pivotal Conference. Our aspiration is on the one hand to carry out the conference successfully and on the other hand to deliver outcomes, which will enhance the efforts of the governments, organisations, academic institutions, the industry and other involved stakeholders of the pan-European region to effectively protect the environment and to support the development of sustainable, resilient and inclusive communities.
It is a great honour for Cyprus to host this conference which takes place for the first time in the Mediterranean region, with participants beyond the geographic limits of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. We welcome today, Ministers of Environment, Education, Infrastructure, Tourism, Foreign Affairs, as well as participants from the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Asia, and of course Europe. Dear colleagues, your presence here is a great honour for us.
The reasoning behind our extended invite is that most environmental challenges the invited countries are facing are common. Our key objective is also common: to fully achieve the sustainable development goals of the twenty thirty (2030) United Nations’ Agenda. Τhis Conference is an opportunity to work together and share experiences and best practises at the inter-ministerial level for delivering sustainable solutions in the fields of the environment, circular economy, tourism, infrastructure and education that will transform the planet.
This Ninth Ministerial Conference marks thirty years of environmental cooperation in the pan-European region. The discussions during the plenaries and the eight sessions of the Conference will provide significant input for important policy documents, the Ministerial Declaration for the Environment, and the Ministerial Statement for Education for Sustainable Development. These political documents will be adopted by all the participating countries by the closure of the Conference and will provide the supporting framework for developing our national strategies.
The first thematic area of the Conference focuses on sustainable infrastructure. Greening the economy by investing in sustainable infrastructure is becoming more important in this economic, environmental, climatic and social crisis era we are going through. During this time, when governments around the world focus on recovering their economies and on building their resilience for the current and future crises, it is crucial to ensure that this recovery follows a sustainable path. We need to adopt systemic and life-cycle approaches from the early conceptual and strategic planning stages of infrastructure development and invest in nature-based solutions. This approach will minimise potential environmental impact accounted for by the development of resource-intensive infrastructure, while at the same time it will ensure alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals.
The environmental challenges of the tourism sector will be discussed during the second thematic area of the Conference. Tourism destination countries like Cyprus, face additional environmental challenges, especially in the sector of waste management. The adoption of the circular economy concept across all economic sectors, and especially the tourism sector, and the transition of the business models from linear to circular, create additional opportunities. Circular economy enhances the sectors’ sustainability, productivity, employability and competitiveness, while reducing their environmental footprint. The relevant sessions during the Conference will discuss ways to support the tourism industry as a main driver for economic development, while working with various stakeholders to adopt circular economy tourism models.
Before I conclude, I would like to thank Ms Olga Algayerova, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Europe and acknowledge the tremendous work undertaken by the Director of the Division of Environment, the Chief of Section of the Environment Division, the Chair of the Committee of Environmental Policy and all the team from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. We really appreciate their excellent collaboration with the Cyprus Government. I also want to thank my colleague, Mr. Prodromou, the Minister of Education, Sports and Youth, the team from his Ministry the team from the MARDE and all the involved Ministries, governmental organisations and companies of the private sector of Cyprus as well as our volunteers for working hard for realising this Conference.
I look forward to the discussions and the outcomes of the Conference that will definitely contribute towards transforming our planet.