Applied Environmental Research
Conference Tourism is a major business sector; according to the International Congress & Convention Association, it has witnessed a rapid growth during the last decade. Although the conference & events industry is highly contributing to Cyprus economy, at the same time the arrival of hundreds of participants can overwhelm the local infrastructure, creating a significant amount of waste and generating a large amount of greenhouse gases, which leave behind a big carbon footprint.
Stakeholders involved in the sector need to understand the carbon impact of the Conferences & Events industry and undertake the responsibility of keeping the positive impact higher than the negative by educating themselves and by using the right tools to plan and manage their conferences/events in a sustainable way. Adapting sustainability in planning conferences/events will lead to financial advantages, environmental improvements, social benefits, the creation of a positive image for the stakeholders involved and help raise awareness of climate change issues and actions that must be taken to reduce or offset greenhouse gas emissions.
Although currently there are several sustainability standards and tools available in the market to help measure and track the overall sustainability of an event; standards like ISO 20121, the event management system and certification launched for the 2012 London Olympics, the Convention Industry Council’s APEX/ASTM Green Meeting and Events Standards, Cypriot enterprises in the tourism industry are not utilising them effectively for many reasons; lack of sustainability awareness, insufficient legal framework & policy enforcement, misconceptions about the cost of sustainability adoption and lack of easy “all-in-one” friendly user tools.
The Sustainable Conferences and Events Project
AKTI Project and Research Centre is a partner in the Sustainable Conferences and Events (SCE) project, which aims to substantially contribute towards the achievement of a Sustainable future according to the EUROPE 2020 Strategy through balancing the environmental, social and economic responsibilities of the conferences and events that are organized by Top Kinisis.
AKTI will lead on all the sustainability aspects of the project. Specifically, AKTI will be responsible for:
- – Mapping the event and conference sustainability status in Europe and elsewhere
- – Identifying best practices and determining their key factors for success
- – Mapping the sustainability level of the tourism and conference industry in Cyprus
- – Undertaking a survey to determine the awareness of key stakeholders in the conference and event sector in Cyprus on sustainability issues
- – Developing relevant training material that will be certified by CYCERT
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The project is funded by the Research Promotion Foundation of Cyprus, under the Restart 2016-2020 Funding Program.
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.
Zero Waste Future program in CY and MA: Zero Waste Beach in Cyprus and Zero Waste Cities and Zero Waste Campus programs in Malta
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. Recovery and recycling of the most common marine litter items, are important steps in halting the inflow of items into the marine environment and are also critical first steps in promoting the Circular Economy. Recovery and recycling are particularly critical in island countries, such as Cyprus and Malta.
To address the problems outlined above, the initiative proposed here aims to engage citizens, students, local authorities and businesses to take ownership of the environment they spend most time in so as to increase recycling and decrease land and marine litter, using the “producer responsibility” mentality, but through soft, awareness-raising and participatory measures.
Activities for Cyprus:
1️⃣. Strengthening and expanding the “Responsible Coastal Businesses Network” in Cyprus to reach at least 200 members. This will be achieved through extensive awareness-raising campaigns, where AKTI’s staff will liaise with business owners/managers, 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 involvement of local authority representatives will add particular clout to this activity. At least 65 new members will be added to the Network.
A prerequisite for registering a business on the network was only to “get informed” with the practices that can be implemented. For that reason, a Decalogue and Guide against plastic pollution of the sea were produced during the last implementation period of the project and will be distributed to the Coastal Businesses and other stakeholders. These, were developed as part of this activity and includes examples of best practices that can be implemented by Responsible Coastal Businesses to reduce marine litter, and especially plastics, as well as other practices to promote sustainability.
An electronic version of these, are available here:
2️⃣. Track and record recycling waste from the Responsible Coastal Businesses: The members of the Responsible Coastal Businesses network will be required, as a mandatory term of their network membership, to record the amount of plastic recyclables that they produce. This will be monitored with regular visits by AKTI’s group of experts, who can also provide with their expert suggestions on how the business can become more effective in recycling. In this way, they will be able to set goals and monitor their reduction in the long run, as a result of the implementation of plastic reducing practices. At least 2 tons of recyclables will be separately collected by the Responsible Coastal Businesses Network during the project’s implementation.
3️⃣. Beach cleanups in conjunction with the International Coastal Cleanup: AKTI will implement annual beach cleanups on selected beaches with the collaboration of the Responsible Coastal Businesses, local authorities, schools, and volunteers. AKTI is the national coordinator of the International Coastal Cleanup of the Ocean Conservancy in Cyprus. Therefore, all the cleanups will be implemented using the International Coastal Cleanup Protocol. The data will be included in the Regional Marine Litter Database and will also be submitted to the ICC. At least 10 cleanups will be implemented with at least 500 volunteer participants collecting at least 1 ton of marine litter.
📸🌊Some photos from the Beach and Seabed Cleanups, are available here.
4️⃣. On-the-go recycling through bins on coastal walkways and public coastal spaces: last year we installed 50 recycling PMD bins on 500 meters of walkways and public coastal spaces in two coastal Local Authorities. We worked with the local authorities and they supported us during the pilot implementation. We added a source identification activity, i.e. we separated the collected waste per source, so we started creating an innovative database with data that can be used for directing budget to the management of the most frequent litter. We will continue this activity for this year, running the collection and source identification throughout the year. At least 10 tons will be collected from the on-the-go recycling bins.
📸♻️More information and photos about “On-the-go recycling” research action, can be found here.
5️⃣. Launch the “Zero Waste Champions” Competition for the coastal businesses that have taken significant steps to manage/reduce plastic waste most effectively through synergistic activities with other key stakeholders; The ceremony is the flagship of the one-year effort for promoting recycling in Cyprus!
Activities for Malta:
1️⃣. Waste characterization: this activity will be carried out at Vittoriosa City in Malta and at the MCAST campus to identify the main types of waste disposed of and their relative percentages, depending on the type of establishment. This activity will provide a solid base of waste data and indicate where efforts must be focused for more effective recycling. The waste characterization study will be implemented with support from MCAST students, who will undertake this field work and data evaluation research as part of their course work. Waste will be sampled from at least 30 points, and each point will be sampled at least 5 times.
2️⃣. Beverage Container Return Scheme Pilot: Malta will introduce the Beverage Container Return System in April 2020. This activity aims to launch a Pilot Project, which will introduce 1 reverse vending machine, to be transported to key locations in Vittoriosa and MCAST to educate children, university students and the general public on how this system will work. This Pilot Project will cater for all beverage containers from different producers. At least 1 reverse vending machine will be installed, engaging at least 5000 users and collecting at least 10,000 containers.
3️⃣. On-the-go recycling: On-the-go recycling bins for PMD will be installed near the coastal pedestrian walks in Vittoriiosa and on MCAST campus. At least 20 bins will be installed, collecting at least 1 ton of PMD.
4️⃣. Beach cleanups in conjunction with the International Coastal Cleanup: annual beach cleanups on selected beaches with the collaboration of NGOs, local authorities, schools, and volunteers. All the cleanups will be implemented using the International Coastal Cleanup Protocol in order to be able to identify the sources of the collected litter and to begin compiling data on beach marine litter in Malta. The data will be included in the Regional Marine Litter Database and will also be submitted to the ICC. At least 5 such cleanups will be implemented, involving at least 100 volunteers.
5️⃣. Launch a robotic technology competition: This will involve collaboration with the Engineering Faculty of MCAST. Students will be asked to submit designs of a robotic technology with the capability to harvest a substantial amount of marine litter especially plastic debris and micro plastics. This technology has to be powered by renewable energy. The winning proposal will receive funding to build the winning design and launch the robotic technology along the Maltese coastal areas to collect marine litter. At least 20 entries to the competition will be received.
6️⃣. Educational Campaigns: Educational campaigns will be organized in the 3 schools present along the Vittoriosa border and on the MCAST campus. The educational activities will involve presentations on the topic of marine litter, awareness-raising about the beverage container return system, and involvement in beach cleanup activities. In addition to being involved in the waste characterization study and the competition, students will also participate at the beach cleanups and presentations on marine litter will also be implemented on campus. Additionally, the project team will work with the College’s environment club/committee and the students undertaking the waste characterization study on campus to determine the main types of waste produced on campus, and which could be avoided/ recycled. The students, with guidance from their teachers and the project team will then prepare posters to be placed around the campus urging their fellow students to minimize their waste production. A media event will be organized on this occasion. Finally, the students will also undertake a post-campaign waste audit on campus, to evaluate the impact of the educational campaign. At least 5000 students will be engaged through the project’s educational activities.
Common Activities in Malta and Cyprus Awareness raising:
This is a horizontal activity throughout the project. During last TCCF grant period in Cyprus (2018) awareness raising had great results. It is a solution-oriented awareness raising campaign, revealing the problems and suggesting solutions to tackle them. It is due to this innovation that the Mass/ Social Media promoted so much the initiative, achieving a 1.04 million euro equal advertising cost. By transferring this activity in Malta and boosting it across the actions described above, we expect a significant impact in the effort to change perceptions.
Turning a harmful waste, such as cooking oil, into biodiesel while promoting development and civic action
ARGONAFTIS is a 5 month in service training for young scientists in the field of environment!
An island-wide initiative as a confidence-building measure under the auspices of the Environment Technical Committee.
Cooperation for the conservation of rare endemic plants of Cyprus within the buffer zone
Increase awareness on environmental issues and trigger environmental-friendly behavior.
Cooperation on solid waste management, including recycling through a mobile information centre