Young people in Cyprus join the 3rd edition of the UN Youth Champions for Environment and Peace
More than 30 young people from across the island joined the UN’s environmental peacebuilding initiative in Cyprus called the “UN Youth Champions for Environment and Peace programme”, now in its third year of bringing people together, nearly 100 young people having already completing the programme.
To welcome the new group of youngsters to Ledra Palace inside the UN buffer zone, where many had the chance to interact with members of the other community for the first time, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Cyprus, Colin Stewart, stated: “We know that protection of the environment can bring youth, civil society, and experts across the divide together. The environmentalist movement is perhaps one of the most promising channels to help bridge the divide between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and build open dialogue.”
The first weekend included workshops led by UNEP and the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform and participants joined sessions with environmental peacebuilding experts, participated in an interactive simulation game on climate action by Climate Interactive, as well as a panel discussion moderated by AVLI with young environmental activists from Cyprus, Ghana, Zimbabwe, UK, Israel and Palestine.
For Evie Theocharous, who is part of the new group of Youth Champions, being the programme exceeded her expectations: "It was intense and worth every minute of it. Brand new information was given to us at every session, and these are crucial in shaping us, young people, but also our future. Besides all the knowledge, I have gained experience in working and being surrounded by like-minded people. It is the spark that Cyprus has hope!"
During the second weekend, participants learned about the role of the UN in Cyprus, the role of the Environment Technical Committee and interacted with its members, but also had the chance to meet youth climate experts and activists from Cyprus, Ukraine, Turkiye and Moldova.
For Aytaç Aydoğdu, another newly arrived Youth Champion: "As a Turkish Cypriot, I’ve realized that there are NGO’s and civil society organizations working towards environment and doing sustainability projects around Cyprus, which I didn’t know they existed before. I’ve learned about their activities, participants, how to connect with them. I’m also more aware about UNFICYP’s activities and their mandate.”
The programme concluded on 4 December and was organized in cooperation with British Council Cyprus with the focus on environmental peacebuilding and climate activism. UNFICYP would like to thank AVLI, Civic Space, Friends of the Earth, LCOY Cyprus, YOUNGO, Geneva Peacebuilding Platform, UNEP, UNDP, Ghana Youth Climate Council, One Climate, Stop the Wall, Fridays for the Future, SG’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change and Generation17 for their valuable contributions and support during the sessions of the 3rd edition of the UN Youth Champions for Environment and Peace.