Environmental NGOs network at bi-communal meeting

Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot NGOs who promote environmental actions, such as recycling, reducing and reusing waste, cleaning up Cyprus’ natural environment, sustainable development, as well as the protection of nature and wildlife, met at the Fulbright Center in the buffer zone in a networking event and presented their work, marking the World Environment Day.

Addressing the event on behalf of the organisers, the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Environmental Engineers, Yasemin Cobanoglu explained that the meeting was organised so that we can coordinate our activities in order to be more efficient in Cyprus.

She spoke, among others, of a campaign the Chamber led to eliminate the use of nylon for packaging, as well as to promote composting. On the management of waste and hazardous waste she pointed out that cooperation between the two communities will only enhance the effort island wide.

Presenting the work of the Cyprus Green Action Group, established in 1988, Ersun Aytag said that throughout the years the NGO has organised events and activities to protect the environment, to save wild donkeys in the Karpas peninsula, to stop the use of asbestos in construction and of stone mines, to prevent nuclear plants, to protect loggerhead sea turtles known as Caretta Caretta, and cooperated with the recycling charity Cans for Kids in the bicommunal project Cans for Hope.

Representing Green Dot, Kyriakos Parpounas said that the during the ten years of its operation the NGO had to work on changing the attitudes of society on recycling. We had to follow the well-known European hierarchy of waste, he noted, aiming to reduce, reuse, recycle, recovery and then landfill. He spoke of the EU goal of nearly abandoning landfills keeping them to 5% by 2030, which will be a major challenge for Cyprus. Referring to Green Dot he said that it started with the participation of 30 companies and now represents 1,000 companies covering all the cities and the biggest villages of Cyprus. We are on a good track, he said, adding that if we keep up with the work and other measures we can do much better.

On her part, Androulla Shiati from Anakyklos Perivallontiki said that when the NGO started working, in July 2010, there were no other organisations recycling textiles. We started with six recycling bins and six employees and we now have 450 bins and more than 30 employees, she said, stressing the not-for-profit and social character of the organisation. Good quality clothes and items such as bags, shoes and belts are either given for free to those in need or are sold in very low prices, she said, adding that other textiles are sent abroad to be resorted for recycling purposes.

Representing Vouno Nature Park zoologist Mert Besiktas explained that the NGO was established in 2016, is a not-for-profit organisation and is dedicated to wildlife conservation in Cyprus. The NGO cares for all injured wildlife with the aim of re-introducing it back to its natural habitat, he said. They have treated snakes, hedgehogs, chameleons, owls and falcons. Their next project is to open a marine turtle rehabilitation center, he added.

Marios Philippou presented the work of the EU funded project Rethink: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle which is due to be completed in early August and takes place in both Cyprus and Belgium. The project, which aims to raise awareness about recycling, reducing and reusing in a wide range of ages and target groups, has already produced three documentaries, a series of environment related tv shows, has run a radio campaign, has published news items, reports, interviews and newsletters in electronic media, has a social media presence and a website and has organised a number of events to raise awareness in society.

Presenting the Organisation for Sustainable Development, Enver Ethemer said it was established in 2009 and works regionally giving advice on how to sustain and protect the environment’s biodiversity in a holistic fashion, in order to create a sustainable future for Cyprus. He spoke of a project promoting ecological farming practices and a workshop the NGO hosts on permaculture.

On behalf of AKTH (Coast), Marilena Papanicolaou presented a European funded project the NGO ran from July 2014 to May 2017 in the context of which beach clean-ups and seabed clean-ups took place, as well as an interactive marine litter exhibition. She noted that the main outcome was the fact that a database of marine litter was created. The NGO which has held educational workshops and games in classrooms all over Cyprus continues its work trying to keep Cyprus’ beaches and sea clean.

Presenting the work done by the Chamber of Landscape Architects, Buket Asilsoy said that it was established in March 2014 and is a member of the Cyprus Turkish platform of Environment. The chamber raises awareness for rural and urban landscapes in panels, holds seminars and workshops about different issues of landscape planning and design, and also has meetings with decision makers and other NGOs.

On his part, Nuri Silay from the Future Worlds Center said the NGO’s aim is to promote and to support active global citizenship through local and European initiatives, as well as “to reflect on our role within a global behavioural change towards a more sustainable lifestyle.” The organisation engages citizens through workshops, training sessions, campaigns, advocacy.

Source: Cyprus News Agency