Presidency of the Republic of Cyprus

The President of the Republic, Mr Nicos Anastasiades, on Tuesday, 8 November 2022, hosted a side event for Cyprus’ Climate Change Initiative in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East (EMME), held on the sidelines of COP27 which takes place in Sharm el Sheikh, in Egypt.

The sideline event was also co-hosted by the President of Egypt, Mr Abdel Fatah al Sisi, and was attended by heads of state or government and other high rank government officials and organisation representatives.

Speaking at the event, President Anastasiades said that «at the outset, I would like to once again convey my sincere congratulations to the President and the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt for hosting COP27.

As I would also like to warmly thank and extend my sincere gratitude to the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, my dear friend Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who, through his personal interest and efforts, made it possible to hold today’s event as part of the COP27 deliberations.

The fact that Egypt undertook to organise such an important international event, which receives the attention of the entire world, constitutes a yet again tangible proof of the leadership characteristics and the widespread respect and appreciation that President Sisi and Egypt enjoy by the international community and the United Nations Secretariat.

It is an honour and a great pleasure to welcome you together with President Sisi at the Summit Meeting for the adoption of the Cyprus’ Climate Change initiative for the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East.

Your presence is indicative of our collective determination to address the dire effects of the challenges we are facing in our neighbourhood, taking also into account that our region is classified as a global “climate change hot-spot”.

Consequently, our countries are already suffering from common worrying phenomena, such as: record high temperatures and protracted heat waves, devastating fires and deforestation, increased water scarcity, droughts, floods and extreme weather phenomena.

To this end, in 2018, responding to the urgent call of the international scientific community, which has now been joined by our peoples, we recognised the need to immediately act and effectively address, or mitigate to the extent possible, these catastrophic phenomena.

More than 240 scientists, principally from the countries of our region, responded to this call and prepared relevant thematic reports on issues such as Agriculture and Food, Education, Health, Technology, Migration, Energy, Tourism, Health, Cultural Heritage and, of course, Water.

Through the scientific work that is available to us now, beyond gaining a better understanding of the situation and how the crisis will unfold in the near future, we are also far more well-informed on which actions to implement.

And now, through the Political Declaration to be adopted in a while, we are fully equipped to proceed with the implementation of the relevant Action Plan, which sets out specific policies and projects that will have practical, achievable and enduring benefits to our citizens.

Through the implementation of the said Action Plan, which emphasises on transboundary actions, we hope and expect that our countries will:

• Succeed in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and our carbon footprint, adhering to the Paris Agreement;

• Adapt to some of the unfortunately unavoidable climate change impacts;

• Establish the necessary mechanisms for more resilient and competitive economies by switching to renewable and cleaner energy;

• Obtain access to appropriate climate change financial instruments and mechanisms;

• Provide incentives to our businesses and industries so as to adapt and shift to sustainable and green technologies in order to increase their competitiveness in the global markets, and;

• Create new green employment opportunities.

The signing of the Political Declaration by the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, will earmark the official launch of the initiative undertaken by Cyprus and constitutes a historic milestone for the resilience and prosperity in Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.

A historic milestone, which fits perfectly in our collective vision, which is none other than:

To look to the future with optimism and to use common challenges as an opportunity to proudly demonstrate what our countries can achieve when they join forces by cooperating and acting together.

Once again, I would like to thank President Sisi, whom I can proudly call a “brother”, for his invaluable support to our initiative, but I particularly would like to thank him for hosting and co-organising today’s event.

In concluding, I have no doubt that we shall act with urgency, collaborate and coordinate our efforts so as to deliver to the next generation a better and greener future».

On his part, the President of Egypt, speaking through an interpreter said, among other things, that Egypt was very eager to participate in this initiative, adding that our region is a climate change hot spot with consequences at all levels, and pointed out that we all witness extreme weather phenomena.

He added that the initiative is a major global mechanism when it comes to actions to deal with the impact of climate change.

He noted the importance of such initiatives, pointing out that the scientific component this initiative includes is indispensable.

Concluding, he said that he looks forward to learning more about the initiative and the actions it includes, noting the common interests and collaboration between Cyprus and Egypt.

The President of Iraq Mr Abdul Latif Rashid, the Prime Minister of Greece, Mr Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of Jordan, Dr Bisher al Khasawneh, the Prime Minister of the State of Palestine, Mr Mohammad Shtayyah, the Minister of Environmental Protection of Israel, Mrs Tamar Zandberg, the Secretary General of WMO Professor Petteri Talas, the Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean Mr Nasser Kamel, the President of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UN SDSN), Mr Jeffrey Sachs, the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Cooperation for Europe, Mrs Olga Algayerova, the COP 26 Regional Ambassador for the Middle East and Africa, Mrs Janet Rogan and the Deputy Director General of FAO, Mrs Maria Helena Semedo, also addressed the event.

It is noted that the Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment Mr Costas Kadis, and the Presidential Envoy of Cyprus on Climate Change, Dr Costas Pananicolas, made presentations of the Cyprus initiative, and the policies and actions of the Republic, respectively.

In his closing remarks, the President of the Republic said that «today’s Summit and the Declaration of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East Climate Change Initiative constitute a historic milestone.

Through the guidance of my Minister of Agriculture and Environment, Mr. Costas Cadis, and of my advisor and Special Envoy on Climate Change, Dr. Costas Papanicolas, we joined forces and through the work of renowned scientists, to whom we are immensely thankful, we delivered a regional climate action plan.

And today’s Summit and Declaration mark the common effort to turn the plan into concrete policies and projects.

As leaders of our countries, we are obliged to guide and lead our peoples into progress through difficult paths and challenging times.

Today’s Summit and the Sharm el-Sheikh Declaration of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East Climate Change Initiative, are such an act of leadership.

At the same time, we are called to listen to our scientists and our youth and the most vulnerable. And today’s Summit and Declaration are also the result of listening and responding to the call for responsible actions towards this existential danger.

In parallel, as national leaders we also each have a particular responsibility towards our nations and societies. At the same time, in an interconnected world and region, we have a collective responsibility, especially when dealing with global challenges that transcend boundaries.

And I am pleased, but mostly proud, to assess that today’s Summit and the Sharm el-Sheikh Declaration of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East Climate Change Initiative demonstrated how we can deliver on both our national obligations towards the Paris Agreement and on our regional responsibility to collaborate in concerted actions as neighbours and friends in at the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East.

Once again, President Sisi, my brother, thank you for your catalytic support for the adoption of the Declaration and for your warm and generous hospitality».

The event was also attended by the Prime Minister of the Holy See Pietro Parolin, Ministers and government representatives from Oman, Lebanon, Bahrain, as well as representatives of international organisations.