Rafail Dimitriou: “Green skills are the key to unlocking a sustainable world”
Rafail Dimitriou is a young Cypriot who is passionate about raising awareness and mobilising young people in Cyprus to tackle climate change and its effects while also advocating for the rights of youth across the island.
As a social and environmental activist, Rafael realises how important it is for his and future generations to empower young peoples’ voices to address climate change, so he joined the Local Conference on Youth in Cyprus (LCOY).
The LCOY conference hosted by UNFICYP in October 2022, at the Ledra Palace Hotel inside the buffer zone, saw the first group of young Cypriots come together and contribute to the fight against the climate crisis and advocate for an island-wide effort to empower young Cypriots and ensure their participation in decisions affecting their lives.
LCOY is an event under the umbrella of YOUNGO, the official youth constituency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and aims to be a space to boost youth climate action locally and create an input into the international conferences. It represents a national version of the international Conference of Youth, which takes place immediately before the Conference of Parties (COP), the annual UN-Climate Conference.
The aim of the conference is to enhance the global and regional contributions towards an environmentally sustainable and climate-friendly world that has as keys the Sustainable Development Goals.
Referring to the experience gained from the conference, Rafail says: “The LCOY served as a great source of multiple opportunities of awareness and education, knowledge exchange, strengthening of collaborative efforts, policy advocacy and empowering of young voices, youth engagement, social and economic inclusion, dissolvement of gender gap are some examples of practices that can recalibrate the social compass of our times.”
Rafail, who was born and raised in Limassol with roots from Famagusta, notes that “coming together with people from other communities in Cyprus and individuals from different nationalities can be a transformative and enriching experience. More importantly, engaging with individuals from different backgrounds helps bridge divides and fosters understanding, while it provides an opportunity to dissolve stereotypes and misconceptions that may exist among different groups.”
“As the custodians of tomorrow, we have a crucial role to play in safeguarding the environment, combatting climate change, and promoting sustainable practices. I strongly believe that together we have the power to create meaningful change and make a more sustainable and just world,” Rafail wishes.
For him, “green skills are the key to unlocking a sustainable world. By developing expertise in areas but not limited to renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, waste management, eco-friendly technology, and conservation each one of us, in our own field, can drive innovation and inspire positive change,” he concludes.
Every year, the United Nations marks the International Youth Day on 12 August. Today, we celebrate the efforts of all young Cypriots like Rafail, who help 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.