Presidency of the Republic of Cyprus

Brest, France

It is a great pleasure to be with you in the beautiful port city of Brest, in Brittany.

Before getting into the basics of my intervention, allow me to thank President Macron for convening the One Ocean Summit. Despite other unfolding and critical issues, climate change remains one of the biggest challenges that humanity faces.

And I am pleased to inform you that my country has just joined the “High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People”, co-presided by France and Costa Rica, which aims at addressing the enormous economic and geopolitical impact of climate change

Today’s event provides an important opportunity to stress the connection between climate and a wide range of maritime issues, including the sustainability of our seas and oceans.

Cyprus appreciates that our marine ecosystem is a valuable resource and an integral part of our economy, not to mention our identity. It is also a bonding heritage that is shared with all the nations. Therefore, we treat all related issues as a high priority.

As a leading maritime nation, my country feels responsible to accelerate the transition of shipping to a low carbon and climate resilient industry. Maritime transport has, of course, an international character, while climate change knows no borders. So it is obvious that we need to act together to agree on targeted international measures. Such a course of action will allow us to achieve our emissions reduction targets, while ensuring a sustainable future for maritime transport.

The use of cleaner fuels, the deployment of relevant fuel infrastructure, the electrification of ships, and the use of energy efficiency technologies is the way forward. A combination of all the above, coupled with the industry’s initiatives and commitments, such as the Green Marine Label, does have the potential to improve the commercial and environmental sustainability of the sector.

At the national level, my Government has already devised our long-term strategy for shipping under the title “SEA Change 2030”. The main objectives thereof have to do with the responsible management of the open seas and the oceans, as well as of the environment. Our national strategy incentivizes and rewards investments through protective and proactive actions, whose goal is to accelerate the use of environmentally friendly technology and the development of non-fossil alternative fuels.

Cyprus and the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East belong to the same “climate hot spot” with a particularly high sensitivity to the effects of climate change.

Thus, at the regional level, there is an ongoing Cypriot initiative to coordinate climate change actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. This project aspires to encourage and provide incentives to the countries of our region to prepare their own “Regional Action Plan”, on the basis of their specificities.

We are also extremely pleased that, after several years of systematic deliberations among the Mediterranean states through the Barcelona Convention System, a proposal has been recently submitted to the International Maritime Organization for the designation of the Mediterranean Sea as Sulphate Oxides Emission Control Area (SECA).

This would be extremely significant to protect public health and the environment in the Mediterranean, by reducing exposure to harmful levels of air pollution resulting from these emissions. I wanted to seize the occasion to reiterate Cyprus’ readiness to work towards ensuring that this proposal will be approved and enter into force, by 1 January 2025.

In the same direction, we also urge the Contracting Parties of the Barcelona Convention to commence, the soonest possible, work for designating a Nitrogen Oxides Emission Control Area in the Mediterranean Sea. Such a proposal is expected to minimize further the emissions from maritime transport, achieving significant health benefits and protecting the marine environment.

Final point on the Mediterranean: Maritime safety, protection of the environment and maritime security are persisting priorities for the development of a sustainable blue economy in the basin. Towards this direction, I wish to flag the importance of the MoU on Port State Control in the Mediterranean Region. In this context, we have submitted a proposal that aspires to raise standards on maritime safety and the protection of the marine environment and to ensure a harmonized approach across the Mediterranean.

On the wider international stage, and as an active member of the IMO Council, Cyprus will work towards ensuring that shipping will make a meaningful contribution to the protection of the oceans and to minimizing the adverse effects of climate change. To this end, we will continue to focus on bridge-building initiatives through the promotion of regional cooperation.

It is my Government’s and my personal conviction that the international community ought to demonstrate a genuine understanding of each other’s priorities and to foster diversity and inclusion. Reaching a unified sustainable path should be our first and foremost priority towards achieving the objectives of the United Nations 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development with respect to our seas and oceans.

Let me wrap up with the following: Not much can be done, unless we see ambitious and concrete commitments by all. It is up to each and every one of us to prove, particularly to the younger generation, that our ambition to deliver “blue diplomacy” is matched by tangible actions.