Öykü Tural: “The environment has no borders, a greener Cyprus is possible”
Öykü Tural is a young Cypriot and an environmental activist who is passionate about raising awareness towards a sustainable and more resource-efficient society on the island. She does so by advocating simple steps that can be taken in young people’s daily lives to be more environmentally friendly.
“I believe small actions can create a big impact, and by spreading knowledge and inspiring others, we can collectively work towards a greener future,” Öykü says.
In late 2022, she joined the third edition of the UN Youth Champions for Environment and Peace programme, which aims to bring young people to work together on shared environmental concerns, helping to build trust and confidence between young people across the divide.
She acknowledges the importance of such intercommunal initiatives: “by bringing young minds together and fostering discussions, the programme encourages innovative solutions. It goes beyond the conventional format of lectures and embraces an interactive approach that enhances engagement and collaborative thinking,” she explains.
The programme comes as part of UNFICYP intercommunal initiatives to promote the Youth, Peace and Security agenda and to encourage youth participation across the island. For Öykü, “this programme ignites a collective effort towards a more ecologically conscious future.”
Öykü also speaks loudly about environment issues and uses her social media platforms to share articles, tips, and success stories related to sustainability. “The programme honed my leadership skills, enabling me to initiate and organize local events and workshops. I've also gained a better understanding of teamwork and collaboration through its activities, which helps me work with community members to achieve common goals. Overall, these skills have empowered me to actively connect with and inspire others in my community to contribute towards a more sustainable future,” Öykü describes.
Despite the programme’s conclusion, her engagement never stopped: “My commitment to fostering a more environmentally conscious world remains unwavering: I engage actively in endeavours that promote ecological well-being. As Youth Champions, we convene regularly to share insights and collectively address pressing environmental issues. This ongoing engagement serves as a testament to the impact of the programme on my active involvement in creating a greener world,” Öykü highlights.
As the world is embarking on a green transition, young people such as Öykü serve as active agents in their communities to lead a shift towards an environmentally sustainable and climate-friendly spaces. Young people like her are not only for responding to the global climate crisis but are also advocates in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The United Nations marks the International Youth Day on 12 August every year. Today, we celebrate the efforts of all young Cypriots like Öykü, who participate as active agents in decisions affecting them, and to advance issues such as climate action on the island.
For UNFICYP, engaging with young Cypriots plays a vital role to foster meaningful interactions and increase understanding and trust between the communities and, in the case of the Youth Champions initiative, it provides them with the necessary tools to help amplify their voices and inspire a transition towards a greener future.