NGOs, Academic Institutions and Civic Leaders Join Forces to Promote the UN Sustanble Development Goals
On Friday, 12th of June 2020, the official launching ceremony of the Cyprus Chapter of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN Cyprus), was held virtually via teleconferencing in the presence of H.E. The President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Nicos Anastasiades, leading economist, Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, Global Director of UN SDSN, and Member of the CyI Board of Trustees, and the Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, Dr. Costas Kadis.
SDSN Cyprus is hosted by the Cyprus Research and Educational Foundation (CREF), and co-chaired by Dr. Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, Member of the CyI Board of Trustees and Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, who also attended the teleconference, and Prof. Costas N. Papanicolas, President of The Cyprus Institute, Advisor to the President of the Republic of Cyprus and Special Envoy on Climate Change. The event was also virtually attended by Prof. Angelo Riccaboni, Chairman of SDSN Mediterranean, and Mr. Markos Kyprianou, Member of the SDSN Cyprus Leadership Council. The event was moderated by Dr. Constantinos Kounnamas, co-manager of the SDSN Cyprus, Member of the Nature Conservation Unit and Professor at Frederick University.
The Leadership Council of SDSN Cyprus currently has 17 members, from five universities/ research organisations (Frederick University, Neapolis University Paphos, Cyprus University of Technology, University of Nicosia and the Cyprus Institute), 3 NGOs (Birdlife Cyprus, CYMEPA, AKTI) and 10 representatives from the public and private sectors in Cyprus.
In his welcoming address, the President of the Republic of Cyprus Mr. Nicos Anastasiades stated that the launching of SDSN Cyprus, is an extremely important milestone for our country as well as a tangible proof of the particular interest, methodical actions as well as the will that we, as a government have, to strengthen our efforts so that we can improve the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in our country. “Taking into consideration the scientific expertise of our resident experts, Cyprus has a great potential to contribute actively as an important partner in promoting these noble ideals and elevate these as development goals both nationally and internationally”, he mentioned.
Dr. Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis highlighted that unfortunately, in the 2019 Report on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the European Union, Cyprus ranks last among the list of Member States, based on the specific index which measures the performance and level of implementation of the Goals. “This has to change! Our country's commitment to the achievement of the Goals by 2030, must become a reality through courageous policies covering the whole range of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals”, she added.
In his talk, the Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, Dr. Costas Kadis noted that “it should be understood by all that Sustainable Development and its Goals, is not only about environmental issues, but for all areas of economic and social activity. The Goals are about how we need to function as a society and as an economy, to meet our own needs, without depriving future generations of the opportunity to meet their own needs. After all, Sustainable Development itself is based on the three pillars of environmental sustainability and sustainable use of natural resources, social welfare and economic stability. Therefore, in the effort to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, as identified by the United Nations, both the public and private sectors and the whole of civil society are broadly involved. The Sustainable Development Solutions Network of Cyprus will handle very important parameters to achieve these goals, such as collecting and disseminating best practices, raising public awareness, cooperating with youth, the private sector and civil society organizations, in order to achieve the integration of the Sustainable Development Goals in their daily activities”.
The Chairman of SDSN Mediterranean Prof. Angelo Riccaboni stated that SDSN launched aiming to bring us and make us work together. “We need to stop thinking only our country and our region, and we need to start thinking more in general for the greatest good. Cooperation is the key to acheve sustainable development, so we need deep trasnformations and policies”, he stated.
Mr. Markos Kyprianou said that adopting the SDGs was no easy task, but the greatest challenge is their implementation. “Unfortunately, we have seen on many occasions, world leaders quite willing and eager to adopt targets and goals, that are eventually shelved to give way to other more politically expedient priorities. This is why the role of the SDSNs is very important for the implementation of the SDGs, both at global and national level”.
In his talk, Prof. Costas N. Papanicolas announced that Prof. Riccaboni has entrusted CyI with developing on of the five regional centres of excellence of the Network, the extremely important “Harnessing the Digital Revolution for Sustainable Development” center which will be developed in close collaboration with the High Performance Computing Center of The Cyprus Institute. “I can also announce that the youth branch of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network of Cyprus is in the final stages of its formation and its operation will be announced soon. It is extremely important that the younger generations will be actively involved in achieving these goals”, he noted.
Finally, Prof. Jeffrey Sachs stated that “it means a lot for Europe and for Cyprus the launching of SDSN Cyprus. SDSN Cyprus was already leading the effort for Eastern Mediterrenean Climate strategy. This is now more timely than ever because there will be a European Green Deal, there will be a European investment fund. So by putting forward specific proposal for investments is absoulutely timely now, taking into consideration the situation and the economic crisis that COVID-19 pandemic caused”.
SDSN Cyprus promotes the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
, which was adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015. The Agenda provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 SDGs, which are an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.
Led by U.S. Economist Prof. Jeffrey Sachs
, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)
was set up in 2012 under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General. SDSN mobilizes global scientific and technological expertise to promote practical solutions for sustainable development, including the implementation of the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement. SDSN works closely with United Nations agencies, multilateral financing institutions, the private sector, and civil society. SDSN Cyprus will work with all sectors of society to improve the country’s performance in implementing the SDGs, collecting and disseminating best practices, raising awareness, promoting sustainable development education, engaging with youth, and assisting the authorities, the private sector and civil society organisations in mainstreaming the SDGs into their daily operations.
In 2019, SDSN published a report about the implementation of the SDGs in Europe, which shows that Cyprus is ranked last out of the 28 EU member states. Even before this report was published, and following the participation of Prof. Jeffrey Sachs (special adviser to the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General on the SDGs), in the May 2018 Climate Change Conference
organised by The Cyprus Institute
, it had been decided to establish an SDSN chapter in Cyprus.