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03-05-2023 19:06

Address by the Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, Mr Petros Xenophontos, at the deliberations of the MountMed Spring School 2023

“Sustainable and inclusive development in the face of the climate crisis. Focus on Mediterranean mountain areas” 

It is with great pleasure that I welcome everyone this afternoon, in the beautiful village of Agros.
First and foremost, I would like to congratulate the MountMed Institute for the initiative to organize this important event, during which world-class experts in their fields will be given the opportunity to discuss the sustainable development of Mediterranean mountain areas.

The topic of the MountMed Spring School 2023 is of great interest to our Ministry, which is responsible for both the protection of the environment from climate change, but also for the development of rural areas including mountainous-areas.

Targeting a more sustainable global economy is the sole roadmap for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions and tackling climate change. It is, therefore, critical for the international community to work collaboratively in order to meet the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, and the targets for emissions’ reduction, as set in the Paris Climate Agreement.

The last five-year period was the warmest ever recorded. In addition, the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that a temperature rise above one and a half degrees, will lead to permanent damage of our environment and will put at risk our future on earth.

Our efforts so far to appropriately address environmental challenges, including biodiversity loss, climate change and pollution, are deemed insufficient.

Climate change impacts are constantly evident around us: high temperatures and protracted heat waves, desertification and land degradation, wildfires and deforestation, ice melt and sea-level rise, droughts, floods and extreme weather phenomena. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, the Mediterranean region is warming 20% faster than the global average. Impacts will exert additional pressure on already strained ecosystems and on vulnerable economies and societies.

Cyprus is a Mediterranean island state, located in an area that is already experiencing serious effects of climate change such as prolonged periods of drought, increased temperatures, degradation of forests and rare ecosystems. For this reason, Cyprus was one of the first countries to develop a climate change adaptation strategy back in 2017, which consists of targeted measures across all economic sectors. To address climate change, we fully comply with the relevant international commitments and the legislation of the European Union. We have also, collectively with the rest of the European Union member states, submitted a revised, more ambitious Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, of a binding target of an at least 55% reduction in the greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to the 1990 levels. However, our ultimately ambition is to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. Additionally, we are providing the adequate means of implementation for mitigation and adaptation action in developing countries including a particular focus on support to the poorest, most vulnerable and those with the least ability to mobilise other resources.

Dear friends,

Protecting and developing mountain areas is a fundamental challenge for the Mediterranean region, whose mountains have been for centuries a major economic and cultural resource, and also for the development of coastal areas. From an environmental perspective, it is certain that the attractiveness of this region, its sustainable development and the protection of biodiversity in the Mediterranean, also require care of its mountain regions.

Climate change will cause additional stress to the biodiversity of our island, yet state efforts are being considered to alleviate and revert its loss. As nations of the world agreed on a historic package of measures, which deemed critical to addressing the dangerous loss of biodiversity and restoring natural ecosystems, so has Cyprus been working towards its contribution for protecting 30% of earth’s lands, oceans, coastal areas, inland waters of particular biodiversity and ecosystem’s importance.

Recognizing the peculiarities of the mountain communities and the need for their adequate support, our Ministry also promotes programmes, in cooperation with the Commissioner for the Development of Mountain Communities, the Commissioner for the Environment and the Union of Communities, for the design and construction of a Recycling Corners Network to serve the rural communities in the Troodos area, as part of the implementation of the National Strategy for the Development of the Troodos Mountain Communities. Additionally, we promote a project for the construction of a Green Collection Points Network in remote rural communities. With developing the appropriate waste management infrastructure, we will further enhance the national efforts for emissions reductions.

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

We have great challenges and great opportunities ahead, and with good collaboration among the society, I believe we will meet them.

I wish you all the best for the Spring School.

Thank you.