Cypriot scientists and peace activists gathered at the Ledra Palace Hotel on 26-27 October 2023 to discuss ways of increasing bi-communal co-operation on Cyprus's water, waste management, and energy infrastructure.
The event, organised by the Cyprus Peace and Dialogue Center, the Glafkos Clerides Institute, the Next Century Foundation, and the University of Aberdeen, also attracted leading experts and academics from around the world.
The Representation of the European Commission in Cyprus, the European Parliament Liaison Office in Cyprus, and the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) supported the conference.
Professor Frithjof Kuepper, Chair in Marine Biodiversity at the University of Aberdeen and lead organiser of the conference, said: "Finding shared solutions to Cyprus’s water scarcity issues is eminently possible – we hope to build on the precedent of Nicosia’s bi-communal wastewater treatment infrastructure to increase island-wide access to facilities such as desalination, as well as a joined-up approach to waste management, recycling, and energy issues."
Also in attendance from the University's School of Biological Sciences were Eleni Avramidi, who co-organised the conference alonside Professor Kuepper, Dr Vasilis Louca and PhD student, Kleopatra Grammatiki.
Opening speeches were delivered on the first day by Colin Stewart, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) in Cyprus and Head of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), by Myrto Zambarta, Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Cyprus, and by prominent politicians Ioannis Kasoulides and Özdil Nami.
In a joint communiqué, Ms Katherine Clerides of the Glafkos Clerides Institute and Dr Meltem Onurkan Samani of the Cyprus Peace and Dialogue Center, said:"We were incredibly privileged to welcome Cypriot technical specialists and organisations from across the island as well as international experts for a series of presentations and fascinating discussions. All our speakers had a common, and powerful, message: we live on an island with a shared environment which transcends political boundaries. What affects the environment in one part of the island automatically affects the other."
"In the context of the increasingly manifest effects of the global climate crisis, co-operation on environmental issues such as water, energy, and waste management is a matter of real mutual interest and utmost urgency."
As a result of the conference, Dr Onurkan Samani and Ms Clerides announced that they would continue to facilitate and support this dialogue with the idea of forming a bi-communal group of experts on water and energy sustainability and waste management. This group will bring together Cypriot and international specialists, under the auspices of the local leaders of the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities of Nicosia, and will be moderated by Professor Kuepper.
Site visits to the Mia Milia/Haspolat and Larnaca Wastewater Treatment Plants, alongside the Dhekelia Desalination Plant, took place during the weekend, giving attendees insight into exciting technical developments and encouraging the exploration of new possibilities for sharing infrastructure and expertise throughout the island.