Statement by the Representative of Cyprus
to the 2nd Committee Mr. Agis Loizou
on Environment and Sustainable Development

October 21, 1998

Thank you Mr. Chairman,

Mr. Chairman, my delegation has aligned itself with the statement made by the distinguished representative of Austria on behalf of the European Union. In addition we would like to inform, through this statement, about our national strategies and experiences on this important issue.

Mr. Chairman,

In 1992, in Rio de Janeiro we were at critical crossroads. We still are. Our environment continues to be treated as dispensable, a consumer good ripe for exploitation.

All definitions of sustainable development encompass collective responsibility: national, regional, international responsibility.

At the national level all our countries should practically endorse, with strong and lasting political commitment, the principles of sustainable development.

In Cyprus we are guided by Rio's Agenda 21 and our active participation in the evolution of the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, the Tunis MED-Agenda 21 of the Mediterranean countries and the Council of Europe's Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy.

An Environmental Action Plan has been adopted and the main thrust of my country's latest Strategic Development Plan is the further incorporation of sustainability into social and economic policies. In this respect a new comprehensive Bill for the Protection of the Environment has been drafted.

Mr. Chairman,

Today, after a lot of effort and hard work the state of the environment in Cyprus can be described overall as satisfactory. In my country the pressures for development in many areas, are affecting especially the coastal environment. The economic activities in Cyprus, with environmental effects have proved to be: the urbanization of the coastal areas, land use, infrastructure projects, the production of energy, the overuse of natural resources and tourism.

Mr. Chairman,

The current decade has been a determining one for Cyprus, where much emphasis has been given to the social perspective of development. In this respect, major emphasis has been given to the environment. The results of the 1992 Rio Convention and the start of the accession negotiations with the European Union have determined the basic aims of the development process for Cyprus, which are the improvement of the standard of living and the growing importance of the protection of the environment and our cultural heritage.

Mr. Chairman,

Cyprus is associated, among others, with UNEP's Mediterranean Action Plan, the European Union's Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation and the "Environment for Europe" process. Our regional priorities, as adopted by the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development, mainly relate to coastal area management, awareness and participation, water management and integration of environmental concerns upstream in the region of development policies. We have also reaffirmed our commitment to reinforcing the role of institutions responsible for the environment and for Sustainable Development.

Mr. Chairman,

Environment and fundamental human rights are indivisible, as also shown by the UN General Assembly's Declaration on the Right to Development, which recognized the right to an environment of high quality as a human right. Sustainable Development has also linked the right of permanent sovereignty to one's natural wealth and resources, with the right to a secure environment, free from external security threats, as declared, inter alia, in the communique of the Heads of State of the Alliance of Small Island States, at the 1994 Barbados Summit. Cyprus, because of its experiences, understands fully the concerns, especially of the Small Island States, which face increasing vulnerability both to their environment and their security. My country is unfortunately very much aware of how aggression and occupation can cause extreme suffering to people, destruction of economic resources and great damage to the environment, as well as cultural heritage.

Furthermore, a grave concern of ours, is the plan for the construction of a coastal nuclear power plant in an area of high seismic risk, opposite our northern coast.

Mr. Chairman,

Another environmental concern in my country is the intense drought we have been experiencing for the last four years. Lacking in fossil fuels, we have been making notable progress in the use of solar energy, a field in which Cyprus has become one of the leading countries in the world and we are more than willing to share our experience and expertise with small countries facing similar predicaments.

Also in this respect, my government is considering holding a meeting in Cyprus, after the Review Conference of the Barbados Programme of Action, for finding practical solutions to the challenges facing Small Island States.

Mr. Chairman,

The heightening of environmental understanding and perception at all levels of the public and the private sector needs to be enhanced, through interactive communication.

In our efforts to protect the environment, we note the increasing adoption of environmental legislation, rules, regulations and standards. We welcome this evolving corpus of environmental law and at the same time we stress the necessity for cooperation, consultation and discussion with the private sector.

We also encourage the activity of Non-Governmental Organizations in the field of ecology, whose contribution we consider significant.

Mr. Chairman,

Education is the ground pillar at enduring environmental protection and national, formal, well-organized environmental education programmes need to be seen as an investment aimed at inculcating awareness of the environment and at inducing in the current generation and future decision-makers, the values not only of their country's, but also of the world heritage.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

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