2019 Cyprus (RC)

On September 25, the town of Ayia Napa, Cyprus, or more precisely the  Thalassa Municipal Museum, hosted the central regional celebration of  the Mediterranean Coast Day 2019 which was attended by 60-odd  participants. This celebration was organised by PAP/RAC, in  collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and  Environment and specifically the Department of Environment. This year’s  event was an opportunity to promote the Integrated Coastal Zone  Management Strategy for Cyprus 2018-2030 and to raise awareness of the  necessity to be more strategic in the use of the precious national  territories that are coastal zones. Thus, the topic of the event was  “LET’S BE STRATEGIC”.

The participants in the morning conference were greeted by Ms Natasa Pilides, the Shipping Deputy Minister to the President. Being an island state, Cyprus is called upon to move forward with the sustainable management of coastal resources, aware that coastal zones are considered the most productive areas of a state, offering a wide variety of habitats and ecosystems, and attracting significant economic activity which puts considerable pressures through increased population concentration and over-exploitation of natural resources. It leads to loss of biodiversity, destruction of natural habitats, degradation of water quality and marine environment, depletion of water resources, acceleration of erosion, accumulation of pollution from various sources, increased risk of climate change, as well as conflicts between different land uses. The welfare of the populations and the economic viability of the activities in coastal areas depend on their environmental status, so it is necessary to implement Integrated Coastal Zone Management. ICZM and the Maritime Spatial Planning are complementary tools of the Integrated Maritime Policy, the environmental pillar of which is the Framework Directive on Maritime Strategy. The National Strategy for Integrated Maritime Policy, implemented by the Deputy Ministry of Shipping, was approved by the Council of Ministers in 2014 and aims at the sustainable development of the Cypriot seas. The Strategy aims at coordination, cooperation and collegiality, developing common goals and appropriate cross-cutting tools. At the same time, an Action Plan with 160 actions based on the five thematic priorities of the Strategy has been prepared and takes into account the economic, social, cultural and environmental contexts of Cyprus and the Mediterranean. Ms Pilides concluded with the wish that the Coast Day will provide an opportunity to further the awareness that the Mediterranean coastal zones are a common natural and cultural heritage of its countries, which must be protected and used wisely for the benefit of today’s and future generations.

Ms Natasa Pilides, the Shipping Deputy Minister to the President

Mr. Costas Hadjipanayiotou, Director of the Department of Environment, informed that, as part of a strategic planning of coastal zones, their natural and cultural heritage is promoted, the anthropogenic pressures are recognized and degraded, biodiversity loss is reduced, the risks posed by climate change are assessed, and particular geo-morphological features and measures are introduced to reduce their negative impacts by various pressures. As a Contracting Party to the Barcelona Convention, Cyprus implements the resulting obligations. Although Cyprus has not signed and ratified the ICZM Protocol, it is implementing some of its provisions. To enable the ratification of the Protocol, a Commission was set up to examine its technical aspects in relation to the national laws in force. He reminded the audience that the first national strategy was developed with the CAMP-Cyprus, in cooperation with the PAP/RAC in the period 2006-2008. Following this Strategy, a second strategy, namely the National Strategy and Action Plan for Integrated Coastal Zone Management for the period 2018-2030 is being prepared. The two Strategies aim at adopting integrated coastal zone planning and management, in conjunction with achieving better coordination of all processes and competent bodies or policy-making mechanisms that have an impact on the coastal zone, to ensure their sustainable development through integration. The second strategy, presented at the current event, sets goals and reasoned priorities, identifies coastal ecosystems that need to be managed, lists the measures to be taken, analyzes the institutions as well as legal and available financial and other instruments, and identifies appropriate indicators of progress and effectiveness. With the approval of the Strategy by the Council of Ministers, the implementation of the Action Plan will begin in 2020. Finally, he mentioned the start of Cyprus' cooperation with Israel, as a regional coordinated action, with a view to the establishment of a joint programme for integrated coastal zone management of the two Mediterranean states, the so-called Transboundary CAMP Programme. He concluded by inviting the relevant actors to enhance efforts to achieve cohesion in the integrated management of the coastal zones of Cyprus and other Mediterranean States, and to ensure that the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols are implemented.

Mr. Costas Hadjipanayiotou, Director of the Department of Environment

Mr. Yiannis Karousos, Mayor of Ayia Napa, the host-city of the event, welcomed the participants stressing that in that municipality lies one of the 50 best beaches in the world, the Nissi Beach. Also, the Ayia Napa coastline is considered the finest in Cyprus with regard to sandy beaches. All along these beaches facilities for all sea sports and sun beds are provided. All the beaches of Ayia Napa have been awarded with the EU blue flag for their level of cleanliness and the brilliant facilities offered in line with the uniform standards set by the European Union. In the near future the municipality will designate “Green Beaches” under certain criteria that cover sand and water quality, green facilities, noise pollution, local food and drinks, sustainable transport, eco beach furnishings, vegetation and planting, public environmental information/education, and green signage, etc. He concluded by wishing that the event will aware the public on the importance of sustainable coastal management.

Mr. Yiannis Karousos, Mayor of Ayia Napa

Mr.  Gaetano Leone, the UNEP/MAP Coordinator, observed that the Coast Day  has become a tradition for many years now around the Mediterranean. A  tradition that helps us reflect on the state of the coastal areas of the  Mediterranean and think together what measures can be taken to reduce  pressures being exerted on them. Mr. Leone stressed the importance of  the ICZM Protocol as an instrument for sustainable coastal development,  and for the implementation of national integrated coastal and marine  management policies. The ICZM Protocol of the Barcelona Convention  constitutes the umbrella under which tools such as the  Ecosystem-Approach, climate change adaptation and mitigation, disaster  risk reduction and Marine Spatial Planning can be applied in harmony to  protect the coastal and marine ecosystems at national level and across  the entire Mediterranean basin. “What is good is that there is a real  commitment on the part of governments, a commitment that resulted more  than forty years ago in developing and signing the Barcelona Convention  that brought us the ICZM Protocol. Some aspects of our work are not  media-friendly. You probably will not read in the newspapers about the  Common Regional Framework, about ICZM or about the ratification of the  ICZM Protocol and yet these are real things that provide a framework for  action and a legally binding commitment for governments that allow us  to move forward. And we move forward with all of our partners, with all  of you", remarked the UNEP/MAP Coordinator. On climate change  adaptation, which is a key aspect of the ICZM Protocol, the UNEP/MAP  Coordinator noted that Coast Day 2019 coincided with the release of the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate by the IPCC. He recalled that the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report notes  that the Mediterranean Region is “highly vulnerable to climate change”  and that it will suffer multiple stresses and systemic failures due to  climate change.

Mr. Gaetano Leone, the UNEP/MAP Coordinator

Ms Željka Škaričić, PAP/RAC Director, reminded the audience that for the last twelve years the 25th of September has been a day when we meet to engage and to invigorate  the dialogue on the theme of sustainability, to convey the message to  decision-makers, professionals and civil society that our Mediterranean  is unique and precious, and that it is time to radically change our  modes of living, managing and consuming its resources. She was happy  that this year’s celebration was taking place in Cyprus, the country  that is in the process of preparing a national strategy for a more  coordinated and more efficient planning and management of the use of its  coastal and marine resources. Large public deserves to learn about it,  other countries too, to draw inspiration from it. She added that the  responsibility for strategic thinking was on governments but in the  Barcelona Convention it is strongly believed that the role of the civil  society is crucial if negative trends are to be reversed. Strategies are  done for people and therefore should be done in close cooperation and  with active contribution of the people concerned. Strategies oblige  governments, but also the civil society. The civil society has the  obligation to demand action, but must also be responsible for its own  acting and behaving, and this in everyday life too. The  awareness-raising campaigns such as the Mediterranean Coast Day are  important because a well-informed, highly aware and ready-to-act society  is the best guarantee that things can change for better. Ms Škaričić  concluded by thanking the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and  the Environment for hosting this year’s edition of the Mediterranean  Coast Day, and in particular the colleagues from the Department of Environment and all those who had worked on the organisation of this  important communication event.

Ms Željka Škaričić, PAP/RAC Director

After  the welcome addresses, the “Ambassador for the Coast” 2019 was  nominated. This year it will be Ms Xenia I. Loizidou, civil/coastal  engineer (PhD). For 30 years she has been a researcher, a European and  international expert, a volunteer and an activist in the fields of  coastal zone management, marine environment and dynamics, climate  change, participatory decision-making for common natural resources and  sustainable development strategies, policies and practices. She has  worked in more than 50 countries, travelling the coasts and the seas of  the world. She holds several offices and has received numerous  international awards for her work on the protection of coastal and  marine environment, such as the Iconic Woman Award by the Women Economic  Forum in 2016. Her work is included in the U.S. State Department’s  ‘1000 Ocean Actions’ initiative and she is highlighted in 20th  anniversary report of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Report GEM  2018/2019. She is the author/co-author of more than 200 published papers  in Scientific Journals and International Conferences, of books (e.g.  IPCC publication) and Technical Reports. Since 2015, she is the first  Greek Cypriot coordinator of the Technical Committee for Gender Equality  within the peace-building negotiations for Cyprus. Ms Loizidou said she  was very honoured to accept the title of Ambassador for the Coast 2019  and would work hard to make the most of this honorary title, to advocate  and spread the word: “Our coasts are our home. Mare Nostrum is in danger. Act!”

Ms Xenia I. Loizidou awarded “Ambassador for the Coast” 2019

The key note speeches followed and the first one was given by Ms. Škaričić entitled “ICZM and MSP within the Barcelona Convention”.  She briefly introduced the legal framework of MAP with special focus on  the ICZM Protocol and its principal provisions. Then she passed on to  the Marine Spatial Planning as an important tool of ICZM. Ms Škaričić  also informed the audience of the Common Regional Framework for ICZM, a  policy document in preparation, intended, among others, to strengthen  integration and cooperation, promote eco-system based management,  introduce MSP for the marine part of the coastal zone, address natural  risks including climate change. As means of implementing ICZM, she  mentio0ned CAMP, MedOpen on-line training course on ICZM, and Coast Day  as an awareness-raising campaign on the importance of the coastal zones  and the risks they face. Her presentation is available here.

Ms. Irene Constantinou presented ICZM Policy in Cyprus.  She started by briefly presenting the situation of the Mediterranean  coast regarding population density, ratio of natural and built-up areas  and the relevant changes that occurred in the recent times. She then  presented the situation in Cyprus and the pertaining planning system,  focusing on the legislative framework for ICZM. With a brief reference  to the ICZM Protocol that Cyprus has not yet signed but implements some  of its provisions. One of those is the preparation of the National  Strategy for ICZM that is expected to be adopted in the near future, as  well as the signing of the ICZM Protocol. Her presentation is available here.

Ms  Athena Mourmouris presented in greater detail the National ICZM  Strategy and Action Plan for Cyprus, prepared by the Consortium of ALA  Planning Partnership and the Greek Biotope Wetland Centre for the  Department of Environment. The work started in 2016 and the Strategy,  covering the period 2018-2030, was completed and approved by the  Department of Environment in 2018. Ms Mourmouris explained the current  situation in Cyprus and the challenges facing the coast, and informed  the participants on the process of the preparation of the document. She  then introduced the main objectives of the whole work and the next steps  to be taken in order to achieve the set objectives. Her presentation is  available here.

The  next point of the agenda envisaged presentation of other countries’  experience in preparing and implementing the National ICZM Strategies.  First presentation was by the case of Croatia. Ms Snježana Dominković  Alavanja of the Ministry of Environment and Energy of Croatia and Ms  Vesna Marohnić Kuzmanović of the Ministry of Physical Planning and  Building of Croatia made the presentation. They first presented briefly  the situation and problems of the Croatian coast. Then they explained  how Croatia decided to combine the provisions of the ICZM Protocol and  the Marine Strategy Framework Directive in one document with the  principal aim to achieve coordination and coherence of actions for  sustainable marine and coastal protection and management. They then  presented the document in greater detail. Their presentation is available here.

The  case of Lebanon was presented by Mr. Adel Yacoub of the Ministry of the  Environment of Lebanon. After a brief introduction in which he  presented the situation on the Lebanese coast including its values and  pressures it faces, Mr. Yacoub presented the vision of hi Ministry for  the Lebanese coast and what they want to see there. One of the ways of  achieving the desired goals was the preparation of the National ICZM  Strategy, as required by the ICZM Protocol ratified by Lebanon in 2017.  His presentation is available here.

Promotion  of ICZM is the main goal of MAP CAMP, and a new generation of  transboundary projects is in preparation, two to be precise: between  Israel and Cyprus, and between Albania and Italy. The first findings and  proposals regarding the transboundary CAMP project for Cyprus and  Israel were presented by Ms Ioanna Constantinidou of the Ministry of  Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment of Cyprus and Ms Maayan  Haim of the Ministry of Environmental Protection of Israel. They first  informed the audience of the CAMP projects implemented in their  countries: in Israel in the period 1996-2000 and in Cyprus 2006-2008.  They briefly described the projects, their results and follow-up. They  also introduced the legal framework of their countries regarding the  coastal zone planning and management. Finally, they explained how it  came to the transboundary CAMP, what its goals were and what has been  done so far. Their presentation is available here.

The  other transboundary CAMP in preparation is the one between Italy and  Albania covering the area of Otranto Strait. The presentation was made  by Ms Daniela Addis, consultant to the Ministry of Environment, Land and  Sea Protection of Italy. She first presented the project area which  includes the Puglia Region of Italy and the Vlora County of Albania. A  feasibility study was prepared giving an overview of the main  characteristics of the proposed CAMP area: geographical description,  hydrography and geomorphology, history and cultural legacy, economic  activities, and main environmental issues. She then focused on the  relevant legal basis in the two countries, with special focus on ICZM.  Finally Ms Addis presented the goals of the CAMP Otranto and the next  steps to be taken. Her presentation is available here.

The final presentation of the day was SEAWatcher - The web and mobile geographical data application on Marine Litter by  Mr. Alessandro Lotti of INFO/RAC. INFO/RAC and the Department of Life  Sciences of the University of Trieste undertake to implement the  application that will be integrated in the InfoMAP system to collect  mainly the geographical data on "MARINE LITTER" (IMAP Indicator  EO10 and Descriptor 10 of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive)  through the development of a multilingual APP (English, French, Arabic  and Italian) for the collection of geo-referenced information. Having  presented the general concept of the APP, Mr. Lotti explained in detail  how it is to be used. His presentation is available here.

In  the discussion that followed a number of questions were raised by the  participants. Most of those regarded the experience of the countries  that are implementing the ICZM Protocol and that have prepared the  National Strategies, especially with regard to the national legislation  and previous international agreements. An issue that was most prominent  was the enforcement of the 100 m coastal setback. Additional  explanations were also asked regarding the SEAWatcehr presented by INFO/RAC .

In  the afternoon a field trip was organised for the participants to the  Environmental Information and Education Centre at Kavo-Gkreko natural  forest park. After a very educational tour of the visitor centre, the  participants could take a brief walk in the area. After that, the  participants were taken for a boat trip from Ayia Napa harbour along the  coastline where they were able to admire the beautiful coast from the  sea, as well as a romantic sunset.

Boat tour

Media link to Coast Day events in Cyprus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DD32Gz74kEk