Of all European citizens, Cypriots are the least likely to be active in public processes. In a 2015 EU survey, just 2.1 per cent of Cypriots stated that they had been involved in volunteer work, attended community meetings or initiatives, signed petitions, or otherwise participated in public processes. Not much seems to have changed since then.
Work on active citizenship, implemented by the Cypriot NGO AKTI Project and Research Centre earlier this year, identified reduced civic appetite and a very limited knowledge base in adolescents and young adults in Cyprus regarding active citizenship in general, and specifically on environmental issues. In other words, the majority of Cypriot youth feel that environmental policies are either none of their business or that there is not much they can do about them.
Yet, neither of these is true. In a historic move, on 28th July 2022, the United Nations General Assembly declared access to a healthy environment a human right (United Nations Environment Programme, July 2022). So, environmental sustainability is not only our business, but also part of our basic freedoms, just like access to education, and freedom of expression.
The UN resolution aims to empower citizens to hold their governments accountable for environmentally destructive policies, under the premise of human rights violation (UN News, July 2022). So, why does Cypriot youth feel so disempowered and reluctant to act against destructive environmental policies? Why don’t we see more active participation in the social, economic, educational issues that affect citizens’ lives?
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