Cyprus: Focus Friends of the Earth Cyprus
Loukia Pavlidou, President of the Friends of the Earth, Cyprus talks about accession to the european union and genetic modification
Friends of the Earth Cyprus was established in the early eighties when the environmental movement in Cyprus was still in its embryonic stage. We are part of the Friends of the Earth European Network and a member of the international network, the largest grass roots environmental movement with members in more than 68 countries and millions of members all over the world. It's gratifying to feel part of this international environmental movement. This the feeling of solidarity inspires us, and guides our actions to tackle the pressing
environmental problems on a local, national, regional or an international level.
Often, however, our enthusiasm is overtaken by frustration and disappointment when under pressure from urgent problems, when we don't get enough support from our government or can't recruit enough volunteers to bring about the changes we want quickly enough. read more
Friends of the Earth Cyprus has around 300 members, including institutional members such as schools, and private companies. We are a member of the Federation of Ecological and Environmental Organizations of Cyprus, and of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). Our overall goal is to raise public awareness on the importance of preserving the natural environment, and to campaign for solutions to environmental problems, by promoting sustainable policies. As a member of the European Union, we are committed to the principles and policies set out by the 6th Environmental Action Plan of the DG Environment of the European Union.
One of the new challenges is the harmonization of Cyprus with the European Environmental Acquis, which includes the implementation of important legislation on subjects such as Biodiversity, Natura 2000, GMO and Water, which we hope will benefit Cyprus.
We actively participated in the European enlargement process, and worked closely with Friends of the Earth organizations in all candidate countries to assist in the harmonization process with respect to the Environmental European Aquis. We are happy that Cyprus is now a full member of the European Union, believing that our membership will have a positive impact on the state of the environment in Cyprus. In addition, we expect to benefit from the funding of environmental projects.
Under the general theme of Sustainable
Agriculture, this year we put emphasis
on Food Safety, Organic Agriculture and GM
Our purpose is to raise public awareness and to put pressure on the government to declare Cyprus a GMO free zone. The campaigns have received strong local and national support. We are carrying out a number of activities which include presentations to school groups, workshops, seminars and round table discussions. We made several TV and radio appearances, often with experts who we brought from Greece. Among the most effective programs is our monthly lectures which we hold at the specially renovated premises in our head office in Limassol.
Educational weekend in Agros - explanation of the production of rose water and other rose products. Other campaigns include waste management and recycling, sustainable tourism, sustainable agriculture and food safety, climate and environmental education. Particular emphasis is given to the preservation and protection of two important ecosystems, the Akrotiti wetlands, and the Akamas Peninsula. These two ecosystems that provide habitat for millions of migrant birds every year and host important species of indigenous plants and wildlife, are threatened by military installations by the British Bases in Cyprus, and by unsustainable tourism and land development activities.
Friends of the Earth Cyprus is a partner to the European Community Centers project, coordinated by the University of Malta under the Grundvig program. This is a “bottom up” approach of strengthening the civil society and building democracy by drawing citizens and NGOs into the decision making process at the community level. The accomplishments of this pilot project in its first year have been very significant in promoting sustainable tourism and among others, in supporting prevention and rehabilitation programs for drug users.