UNFICYP commemorates World Environment Day
5 June is annually celebrated as World Environment Day; the UN Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) held a Town Hall meeting to mark the occasion at its headquarters in Nicosia, Cyprus, while the Mission’s military and police peacekeepers carried out hands-on environmental work by cleaning two beaches close to UNFICYP locations.
The event, held under the global theme, “Beat Plastic Pollution,” included a presentation by the Environmental Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment on the issue of plastic usage in Cyprus as well as a screening of a video by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The meeting was attended by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and Head of Mission, Elizabeth Spehar; UNFICYP Force Commander, Mohammad Humayun Kabir; Senior Police Adviser, Ann-Kristen Kvilekval; the Chief of Mission Support (CMS), Joel Cohen as well as UNFICYP personnel.
In his opening remarks, Joel Cohen, CMS, spoke about the initiatives undertaken by UNFICYP to strengthen environmental management within the mission, which include a reduction in the number of generators within the Mission area and installation of photovoltaic panels and infrastructure to generate electricity from renewable energy sources, along with the creation of a Green Park where all Mission recyclables are collected and removed by a recycling specialist. In his remarks Mr. Cohen reminded us that “UNFICYP continues to advance efforts to integrate environmental measures into our planning and operations to avoid and minimize the impact of activities carried out by the Mission on the environment and to protect human and animal health from such environmental impact – effectively reducing our environmental footprint.”
For her part, SRSG Spehar highlighted the range of UNFICYP’s environmental activities which spans the implementation of projects using renewable energy sources to the protection of rare orchids in the United Nations Protected Area. “Keeping the Buffer Zone clean is a Mission priority, not only for the safety of UNFICYP personnel operating in this area, but most importantly, for the health and safety of the local population and the preservation of the environment,” she stated.
Ongoing environmental activities at UNFICYP, facilitated by the Mission's Environmental Committee, include a cleanup campaign targeting surplus or damaged assets and premises to reduce environmental waste and prevent health hazards as well as a tree-planting drive across the Mission. Furthermore, the Mission has installed photovoltaic street lights to replace conventional street lights and is due to start two environmentally-friendly waste water treatment plants.
In future, the Mission aims to establish close communication with local communities, especially youth, with a view to promoting environmental awareness as well as identifying and resolving related problems.