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12° Nicosia,
13 June, 2024
 
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Cyprus pledges to plant 100,000 trees annually to combat climate change

Green Agenda Summit 2024: Cyprus focuses on sustainable development

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The Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development, and Environment has introduced a series of ambitious green initiatives aimed at enhancing Cyprus's green capital and reducing its carbon footprint. The plans, unveiled at the "Green Agenda Cyprus Summit 2024" by Vice-Chancellor Maria Panagiotou, include planting 100,000 trees annually, promoting green roofs in urban areas, and developing zero-emission vessels for short-distance shipping.

Since 2019, the Ministry has been spearheading the "Plant for Climate" program with the goal of planting 100,000 trees each year from 2020 to 2030. The initiative aims to create a green capital of one million trees by 2030. However, Panayiotou acknowledged significant challenges in tracking and implementing the program.

"There was no systematic record of tree planting, making it difficult to assess the target of 100,000 trees per year," she said. Additionally, there were issues in finding suitable land and updating planting methods. To address these problems, the Ministry is developing a database and coordinating efforts with the Cyprus Forest Association. The initiative includes identifying appropriate land, not only in state forests but also in communities and abandoned mines.

The Ministry plans to pilot these new strategies from November 2024 to February 2025, with full implementation expected in November 2025.

The Ministry's second strategic goal is to increase green roofs in urban areas to reduce the urban heat island effect and promote sustainable development. Using research from the Agricultural Research Institute and collaborating with other Mediterranean countries like Greece, Cyprus aims to transfer urban green technologies effectively.

A pilot project has already begun with the installation of a self-sustaining system using selected plant species, in partnership with Kinetic Organizations 360 Innovation Culture and Interstellar Institute. "Our goal is to provide the public with the best methods for green roofs, which can help reduce energy consumption and promote green development," Panayiotou explained.

In the shipping sector, the Ministry is targeting small and medium-sized vessels, which, although accounting for less than 3.5% of the EU's total greenhouse gas emissions, are rapidly increasing in number. The focus will be on short-distance and coastal shipping, as well as recreational boats.

To this end, the Ministry is collaborating with the Cyprus Marine and Maritime Institute (CMMI) to develop battery-powered vessels equipped with photovoltaic panels. These vessels, including an 8.5-meter-long catamaran, feature real-time power consumption monitoring systems and emit no pollutants, thus protecting marine life.

"Our aim is to integrate these innovations locally, identify and resolve any issues, and promote them as Cypriot solutions that can significantly reduce emissions from small and medium-sized vessels," Panayiotou said.

By implementing these green initiatives, Cyprus aims to make substantial strides in environmental conservation and sustainable development, aligning with global efforts to combat climate change.

[This article is a summary of Pavlos Neofytos' original story in Greek published in Kathimerini's Cyprus edition]

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