Public Outreach and Advocacy
Ocean Conservancy: Citizen-science, Advocacy and Social Co-Responsibility for Trash Free Seas in Cyprus
A recent EU survey on the environment demonstrated what we have long known: while Cypriots express concern about the environment they are unlikely to act on environmental issues at the individual level. In the run-up to the 2019 ICC, AKTI launched a media campaign to encourage individuals to act spontaneously, as responsible citizens, against marine litter. The campaign was named “#potavristou”, which literally means “reach out” in the Cypriot dialect, but also has the meaning of “giving a helping hand”. AKTI, through its social media and with the support of several public media (TV & radio), asked individuals to simply “reach out”, anywhere they were on September 21st, collect the litter lying around them, take a photo and post it on social media using the hashtag “#potavristou”. Facts on marine litter and plastic pollution were shared on social media in the week leading up to the event to exemplify the #potavristou meaning. Over 500 people posted pictures and data on collected litter all around the coastline of Cyprus. It was a great achievement for Cyprus! This was the first campaign that targeted the self-responsibility of Cypriots as citizens, without organized groups or beach clean-up events on specific beaches. It is obvious that there is public sensitivity on the issue. And there is a definite need for more concerted actions, awareness, and stronger advocacy work. Cyprus has one of the lowest recycling rates in Europe. While lack of citizen action plays a role in this, inappropriately enforced legislation is also an important contributor. A striking example of this is the fact that the hospitality sector (HoReCa) is not obligated to separate and recycle their waste! With this proposed activity, capitalizing on the success of #potavristou, AKTI aims to strengthen its outreach for enhancing citizen engagement and its capacity to offer broader advocacy to a larger spectrum of citizens groups through (1) empowering/encouraging citizens to act against marine litter, (2) gathering important-for-research citizen-science data that are scarce in Cyprus, (3) liaising with key stakeholders to identify effective measures to stop the flow of litter to the marine environment.
The proposed activity is supported by the Cypriot Commissioner for Environment.
– Instill a sense of social co-responsibility about marine litter by capitalizing on the success of the 2019 ICC in Cyprus and the #potavristou campaign.
– Collect important citizen-science data to inform AKTI’s future actions/messages on marine litter.
– Advocate for stricter measures to reduce the flow of litter to the marine environment.
A. Call to Action for the 2020 ICC and #potavristou initiative using the “Clean Swell” application to record the litter collected.
B. Brand Data Surveys: AKTI will select 3 beaches around the island and implement the Ocean Conservancy Brand Data Survey in October/November 2020, identifying the main brands but also determining whether this litter originates in Cyprus or is washed ashore from neighboring countries.
C. Policy Tool Development: In the winter 2020/spring 2021 AKTI will implement 3 specially designed workshops to gather stakeholder opinions on suitable, effective and applicable measures to address the marine litter issue. The first two workshops will take the form of ‘Blue Cafes’ i.e. get togethers at informal settings where participants, comprised of a mixture of local decision-makers, business owners (i.e. hospitality sector), NGO representatives and citizen groups will discuss the issue of marine litter within their area (sources, impacts) and identify potential solutions. The third workshop will be the wrap-up event: it will bring together decision-makers at the local and national level. Based on a dedicated decision support method and the suggestions from the Blue Cafes, the participants will identify and select the most effective measures to address marine litter in Cyprus. The outputs from this workshop will be used to form a Policy Tool i.e. an Advocacy Tool for AKTI to present to high-level decision-makers. The support of the Cypriot Commissioner of the Environment is a very important asset for the action’s success.
Το Κέντρο Μελετών και Έρευνας ΑΚΤΗ ξεκινά σήμερα εκστρατεία για την υποστήριξη μιας μεγάλης ομάδας συμπολιτών μας που έχει πληγεί από την καραντίνα: οι μικροί παραγωγοί της Κύπρου, βρίσκονται σε όλη την επικράτεια, παράγουν καταπληκτικά προϊόντα και αυτή τη στιγμή έχουν αποκλειστεί από τις αγορές και δεν έχουν τρόπο πρόσβασης σε πελάτες.
Η ΑΚΤΗ εδώ και 5 χρόνια έχει αναπτύξει την πλατφόρμα μικρών επιχειρήσεων της Κύπρου, Green Cluster (http://www.greenclustercy.org) που σήμερα αποτελεί το μεγαλύτερο δίκτυο μικρών επιχειρήσεων της Κύπρου με 380 μέλη. Με βάση την πατφόρμα μας, ξεκινάμε σήμερα μια προσπάθεια να φέρουμε σε επαφή τους «αποκλεισμένους» καταναλωτές με τους «αποκλεισμένους» μικρούς παραγωγούς. Έχουμε ήδη μιλήσει με πάνω από 50 παραγωγούς, που είναι σε απόγνωση και πιστεύουν σε αυτή την προσπάθεια: μέλι, χαλούμι, τυρί του Πάσχα, χαρουπόμελο, τραχανάς, ραβιόλες, λάδι και άλλα πολλά. Δεν έχουν μεν δίκτυο διανομής, αλλά αν έχουν παραγγελίες θα συνεργαστούν και μεταξύ τους και θα βρεθεί μια λύση.
Καλούμε τους συμπολίτες μας να επισκεφθούν την πλατφόρμα της ΑΚΤΗΣ, www.greenclustercy.org, και να ακολουθήσουν την ΑΚΤΗ στο fb ΑΚΤΗ / AKTI Project and Research Centre, στο Instagram https://www.instagram.com/akti_ngo/. Κάθε μέρα θα παρουσιάζουμε παραγωγούς από τα μέσα κοινωνικής δικτύωσης και την ιστοσελίδα μας. Ο κάθε πολίτης ας κάνει την προσπάθεια, να βρει τους παραγωγούς που είναι όσο το δυνατό πιο κοντά τους ή και μακρύτερα, να επικοινωνήσει, να προσπαθήσουν μαζί να βρουν λύση για το πώς θα γίνει η διανομή. Εμείς στην ΑΚΤΗ θα επικοινωνήσουμε με εταιρείες διανομής, π.χ. φαγητού, μεταφορικές εταιρείες κλπ για να μπορέσουμε όλοι μαζί να βρούμε τη λύση. Καλούμε όποιον μπορεί να βοηθήσει να επικοινωνήσει μαζί μας.
Η κοινωνική αποστασιοποίηση δεν σημαίνει να κλειστούμε στο καβούκι μας και να μιζεριάσουμε.
Σχετικά με την πρωτοβουλία της ΑΚΤΗς, παρακολουθήστε τις πιο κάτω συνεντεύξεις της Προέδρου του Δ.Σ. της ΑΚΤΗς, Δρ. Ξένιας Ι. Λοϊζίδου:
Let’s #PersistTogether: We support small Cypriot producers
AKTI Project and Research Center is launching a campaign today to support a large group of our quarantine-affected citizens: the small-scaled Cypriot producers all over the country, are producing great products and are currently excluded from the having no way to reach their customers.
AKTI has developed during the past 5 years the Cyprus Small Business Platform, Green Cluster (http://www.greenclustercy.org), which is today the largest small business network in Cyprus with 380 members. Based on our platform, today we are starting an effort to bring ‘excluded’ consumers into contact with ‘excluded’ small producers. We have already spoken to over 50 producers who are in despair and believe in this endeavour: honey, halloumi, Easter cheese, carob syrup, tarhana, ravioli, oil and many more. They do not have a distribution network, however if they have orders they will cooperate with each other and a solution will be found.
We invite our fellow citizens to visit AKTI’s platform, www.greenclustercy.org, and follow AKTI on Facebook ΑΚΤΗ / AKTI Project and Research Centre and on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/akti_ngo/. Every day we will present producers on our social media and website. Let every citizen make the effort to find the producers that are close to them or even further away, contact them and work out a solution on how to get their products delivered. We at AKTI will contact distribution companies, e.g. food, shipping companies etc so we can all come together and find a solution. We invite anyone who can help to reach us. We can set up this network of mutual support.
Marine litter is an environmental, economic as well as human health problem with no simple solution. It poses a global, complex and multi-dimensional challenge with significant implications for the marine and coastal environment and human activities all over the world. Single-use plastic products constitute more than 70% of all marine litter items. The European Commission in May, 2018 proposed new EU-wide rules that target to reduce the ten most common single-use plastic products found on Europe’s coastal areas and seas.
This year-long project funded by the Beyond Plastic Med Foundation aims to raise awareness on the impact of single-use plastics on the environment and consequently on human health and provide practical solutions to the problem targeting key stakeholders of the Cypriot society, specifically coastal businesses.
📌The specific OBJECTIVES OF THE PROJECT are:
1️⃣. Awareness-raising of key stakeholders who contribute to, are affected by and are responsible for taking decisions regarding the usage of single-use plastics, particularly coastal businesses and local authorities, as well as the general public. Promote the need to reduce the use of single-use plastics, presenting their detrimental effects on the marine environment and offering a solution oriented campaign (as presented in following points (2) and (3).
2️⃣. Collection and dissemination of best practices for the reduction of single-use plastics through synergistic, novel and practical solutions to the problem. Collaboration of the key stakeholders will be encouraged and recorded.
3️⃣. Expansion of civic engagement through capacity building and skills development in conscious single-use plastic usage, in order to have a societal level change (i.e. coastal business owners, beachgoers, local authorities, students) in regards with the latest proposed EU Directive which aims to reduce marine litter.
📌 The six activities that were implemented over the duration of the project are:
1️⃣. Field trips for marine litter assessment and source identification were implemented, engaging coastal business owners, beachgoers and local communities. More specifically, AKTI implemented annual clean-ups on selected beaches with the collaboration of the Responsible Coastal Businesses, local authorities, schools, and volunteers. A total of 13 marine litter assessments were implemented: 12 beach clean-ups and 1 seabed clean-up, with the participation of almost 400 volunteers, including representatives of 10 local authorities.
AKTI is the national coordinator of the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) of the Ocean Conservancy in Cyprus. Therefore, all the clean-ups were implemented using the International Coastal Cleanup Protocol. The data have been included in AKTI’s Regional Marine Litter Database and have also been submitted to the ICC. Over 18,000 litter items were collected, weighing more than 300 kilos.
📸🌊Some photos from the Beach and Seabed Cleanups, are available here:
2️⃣. A Guide that highlights the practices that can be applied by each stakeholder/target group in order to reduce the use of single-use plastics, has been developed, printed and distributed to all the Network Members as well as the coastal authorities we visited and informed about single use plastics. The Guide developed as part of this activity, aims to support businesses that are members of the Cypriot Responsible Coastal Business Network to implement practices that will minimize their consumption of single-use plastics, reduce the amount of litter that they produce, and thus contribute to the overall reduction of marine pollution. In so doing, the guide will help prepare coastal businesses for the Single-Use Plastics Directive of the European Union, which will come into force in 2021 and that will ban the use of the most common types of single-use plastics that end up in the marine environment. In summary, the guide seeks to fill a significant information and awareness gap by engaging key stakeholder groups and encouraging them to make a difference by incorporating more sustainable practices in their operations and thus contributing to the fight against plastic marine pollution.
200 copies of the Guide (100 copies in English and 100 copies in Greek) were produced and distributed to the Members of the Responsible Coastal Business Network, and other stakeholders
An electronic version of the Guide, is available here:
3️⃣. Strengthened and expanded the «Responsible Coastal Businesses Network» to 204 members, through the implementation of an Extensive Awareness-raising Campaign, which was implemented from May 2019 to September 2019 (in the tourist season) targeting all coastal businesses on the island. In these campaigns, AKTI’s staff liaised with business owners/managers/employees, informing them about marine litter (sources and impacts) as well as about the upcoming European legislation on single-use plastics and how it affects them, and assisting them in implementing practices that will minimize their plastic production and thus minimize the potential for marine plastic pollution from their operations and their customers’ activities. The aim of the Network is to engage businesses in the fight against marine litter, by (i) raising awareness about the problem,(ii) sharing some best practices and examples on how to actively minimize their contribution to the problem through the Guide which was developed during the implementation of the project and distributed to coastal businesses and (iii) getting them invested in the protection of their nearby coastal environment as a means of securing and expanding their business.
✅ The Responsible Coastal Businesses Network is visible on this Map.
The awareness raising campaign also included visits to 16 Coastal Authorities to inform them about the project and the serious problem of single-use plastics, their impact on the environment and consequently on human health.
The involvement of representatives from these local authorities in the awareness raising visits to coastal businesses, added particular clout to this activity.
4️⃣. School visits were implemented to inform and raise awareness in children and youth about the problem of single-use plastics and its negative impacts on the marine environment. Dr. Michael Loizidis and Dr. Xenia I. Loizidou prepared an interactive presentation on marine litter and provided a ‘train the trainers’ workshop to AKTI’s team so they could more effectively engage students of all ages during the school visits. Presentations were given at 10 schools reaching 1244 students.
During these interactive presentations, children learned about marine litter and specifically the impact of single-use plastics on the marine and coastal environment, through fun games and hands-on activities. The presentation finished with ways to reduce single-use plastic consumption and a call to action.
📸Some photos from the Training of the Trainers by Dr. Michael Loizides and Dr. Xenia Loizidou for the presentations in schools, are available here:
📸Some photos from the School Visits, are available here:
In the framework of the project, an additional action was implemented which was not included in the project’s specific goals. An awareness raising campaign on marine litter was implemented in 2 Cypriot Universities, twice at Cyprus University of Technology and once at University of Cyprus, to inform and raise awareness in 400 students about the problem of single-use plastics and its negative impacts on the marine environment.
📸Some photos from the Awareness Raising Campaign in Universities, are available here:
5️⃣. A highly publicised Final event was implemented at the end of the project. The ceremony took place on June 5, 2020 on the occasion of the World Environment Day, at the Municipal Beach of Geroskipou in Paphos. During the event, the overall results of the initiative were presented, and two artistic installations on marine litter were inaugurated. For the installations, AKTI Project and Research Centre collaborated with the Municipality of Geroskipou and the Second Primary School of Geroskipou, under the supervision of Ms Elena Daniel, a Cypriot artist.
The philosophy behind the installation, is the participation of visitors to the beach in the drastic reduction of the inappropriate disposal of plastic waste. The installations are a fun and interactive way to engage children and adults alike in the fight against plastic marine pollution, and act as a reminder that we must find ways to adopt a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. The event took place in the presence of the Environment Commissioner of Cyprus Mrs. Klelia Vassiliou and was attended by over 60 people (observing social distancing practices), including the Geroskipou Mayor Mr. Michael Pavlides and council members, the artist of the installation Ms. Elena Daniel, the Chairperson of Fishermen Federation in Paphos Mr. Leonidas Leonidou, Koloni Green Point manager Mr. Michael Michael, media (TV, radios and newspapers/e-media), Members of the Paphos Winter Swimmers Association, Members of Paphos Fishermen Association, representatives of the First and Second Primary School of Geroskipou, the Gymnasium of Agia Paraskevi and Giannaki Talioti High School in Geroskipou, Members of the Cultural Movement of Geroskipou and Local Community Members. The Ceremony was hugely successful with high Media coverage and publicity, and all stakeholders gave AKTI very positive feedback!
You can find below news clips, about the final event:
📸Some photos from the Final Event, are available here:
6️⃣. Extensive communication and dissemination activities took place over the duration of the project, and especially at times when important activities were implemented, e.g. the project launch, the participation of a representative of ΑΚΤΙ in the Ocean Week in Monaco, the cleanup events, the plastic free July campaign through marine litter facts and tips about single use plastics, the awareness raising campaign against single-use plastics in Universities, the interactive presentations in schools about marine litter and the final event.
Communication and dissemination activities were inclusive of all means and media (print, online, social etc) and included 30 publications about the project by third parties (national circulation newspaper articles, online news portals etc.), 1 TV and 4 Radio appearance, 37 Facebook posts by AKTI with a total reach of 63,529 and 1238 likes, 16 Instagram posts by AKTI with a total reach of 6,168 and 665 likes, 9 YouTube videos uploaded on AKTI’s channel.
MarLitCy ‘Marine Litter for Synergies, Capacity-building and Peacebuilding’ building on the success of the MarLitCy (2014-2017), is a 36-month long, bi-communal project funded by the European Union, under the Civil Society in Action VI Programme.
MarLitCy aims to use the problem of marine litter as a tool for promoting dialogue and building closer relations between various unconventional target groups in Cyprus. This will be achieved through the implementation of activities that aim to raise awareness to key target groups and the general public about the issue of marine litter, and to promote the uptake of practices that aims to minimize the creation of marine litter across the island.
This project aims to enhance the role of civil society in active citizenship and decision making and to promote grassroots bi-communal collaboration, focusing on an environmental issue of European importance: marine litter. Marine litter is a powerful peace-building tool that has the potential to combat hatred and prejudices, while fostering cooperation among the two communities, providing a common win–win goal for all: keep our seas and coasts clean!
The project will contribute to the enhancement of the role of civil society in democracy, governance and peace building by using marine litter as a tool:
– To create an enabling environment to reduce marine litter
– To equip CSOs and other key stakeholders with the skills and tools to improve the marine environment
AKTI and the other project partners, Famagusta Walled City Association (MASDER), Enalia Physis Environmental Research Centre and Scuba Divers Association will focus their actions on the following target groups:
University students, children and youth are particularly important, since environmental awareness and consciousness are formed from an early age. The project will therefore encourage children and youth to become involved in voluntary activities, such as beach cleanups, promote active citizenship through the involvement of university students in the decision- making workshop, and support children and youth to express their views and opinions, share them with their peers and take action in identifying solutions through the joint competitions. The project places significant emphasis in creating opportunities for collaboration of children and youth across the divide, in a safe environment that will allow them to build group dynamics and work as a team, through the up- cycled competition, the field activities for university students and the joint final exhibition and event.
Coastal enterprises, the fishing industry and divers are directly exposed to the problem of marine litter. Marine litter can pose a threat to their business through the loss of tourism, loss of fish stocks, or risk to their customers. Project activities that involve the implementation of best practices, such as the “Responsible Coastal Businesses” campaign, the “Fishing for Litter” initiative and “Dive Against Debris”, have been developed with these target groups in mind. Not only will the involvement of coastal enterprises, fishermen and divers in these activities educate them, but it will also build capacity as they will learn new management tools and techniques and they will engage with their local community, other enterprises and university students, enhancing or even creating links between public-private sectors, youth and entrepreneurs.
Coastal local bodies will therefore have an important role to play in the implementation of these best practices and will thus become both project target groups and beneficiaries. The enhancement of collaboration between local bodies and coastal/marine entrepreneurs will lead to the mutual understanding of the issues faced and how to address them. Additionally, participation of local bodies in a workshop that will bring together key decision-makers and stakeholders to discuss the current problems and provide suggestions on the reform of relevant ‘legal text’ in the northern part of the island, to bring it in line with European Directives, will benefit local bodies both in terms of greater understanding and collaboration and in terms of cleaner and safer beaches/sea.
The activities of the project have been designed to meet the needs, capacity and expertise of each target group, and particularly the unconventional target groups such as coastal local bodies, coastal businesses and the fishing industry. Societal needs are coupled with environmental concerns, environmental education and entrepreneurial development, through an integrated set of activities that promote the benefits resulting from cooperation and synergies, while providing solutions and structures to support peace-building and reconciliation.
The proposed activities include:
1. The Responsible Coastal Businesses Campaign and associated Award scheme
2. The expansion of the Fishing for Litter initiative to more ports/harbors in Cyprus
3. A decision-making workshop in the northern part of Cyprus that will bring together local/central decision-makers and key stakeholders
4. Capacity building and educational activities targeting children, youth and university students, an extensive and innovative island-wide awareness campaign
5. Joint competitions and exhibitions on marine litter
The autonomous but inter-connected activities have been designed to engage these target groups in a way that develops synergies and networks.
AKTI Project and Research Centre implemented the project «ZERO WASTE BEACH», which was supported by Coca-Cola Foundation in an attempt to tackle marine litter.
Hub: the effective centre of an activity, region, or network
“The Hub” is the Cypriot Women’s Leadership Network to provide opportunities for networking, engagement and advancement. The overall aim of the network is to become the hub, the reference and the supporting mechanism to boost Cypriot women leaders to become active participants in decision making at all levels: public, private and civil society sectors. ‘The Hub’ was established in 2015, designed and developed by AKTI Project and Research Centre, with the support of the US Department of State, under the program Global Women, Peace and Security Initiative.
”The Hub” is being created within a framework of a wider project. Read below about the project.
About the Project
This project addresses the second pillar of the UN Security Council Resolution on Women, Peace and Security, ”Participation” which states that ” Women participate equally with men and gender equality is promoted in peace and security decision-making processes at national, local, regional and international level”
What is the Goal?
The overarching goal of the project is to empower Cypriot women to become active participants in decision-making at all levels: public, private and civil society sectors more broadly.
What are the Project Objectives?
The main objective of the project was to provide much needed opportunities for networking, engagement and advancement of women on the island, introduce innovation, as well as successfully tackle gender bias. This was achieved through the following:
The Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies (MIGS) conducted a study through desk research and enhanced with experts opinions. This study focuses on gender inequality in decision-making and leadership and provides an understanding of the root causes in such inequality in Cyprus,the main barriers to women’s leadership and possible strategies to overcome gender inequality and increase the participation of women in decision-making at all levels.
- Desk based study to identify successful leadership networks in Cyprus, Europe and internationally.
This study helped to identify Best Practices of Leadership Networks, from Cyprus, Europe and Internationally, which could be emulated by the pioneering Cypriot Women’s Leadership Network. The best practices are presented in the map below.
- The identification of effective Cypriot woman leaders in different sectors to participate in the Cypriot Women’s Leadership Network “core group”.
- Regional and International Networking.
- The organisation and implementation of a number of training and networking events, bringing together Cypriot Women Leaders.
The trainings, events and meetings aimed to allow women leaders to exchange views and opinions and identify opportunities for collaboration and mutual support.
Cluster: a bunch, a bundle, a collection… a group of similar things or people positioned or occurring closely together.
Green Cluster is a new initiative being developed by AKTI Project and Research Centre. It is a dynamic form of collaboration aiming to strengthen joint activities, to increase innovation, networking, trust building, business development and business environments.
The Green Cluster emerges from a need to bring together businesses with a common interest, the environment, in a collective that will promote business growth and extroversion, will allow access to funds and will encourage and support the creation of start-ups. Watch our Green Cluster video.
Green Cluster Cluster Activities
The Green Cluster aims to bring together individuals and companies working in the environment and green sector in Cyprus. The aim is to identify individuals that could both contribute and benefit from the creation of the Cluster, since it is envisioned that the Cluster will work symbiotically.
The main activities of the Cluster will involve:
- The identification of opportunities and market needs in the green sector in Cyprus;
- Sector-specific and solution oriented networking events;
- A host of online tools, the Green Cluster e-platform, to share knowledge and information;
- A web-database of green best practices, and
- much much more.
The Green Cluster Sectors
One of the first actions of Green Cluster is the identification of promising green sectors, i.e. green sectors with potential to be expanded in Cyprus, which will cover nano and small enterprises, green workers and green leaders.Click here to view the sectors.
For more information and to apply to become a member, visit the Green Cluster website.
MarLitCy is a 28 month long project, funded by EuropeAid Programme.
The EU funded project ‘INTERACT’, focuses on social inclusion through environmental activities. Continue Reading