Applied Environmental Research
Astrotourism is a 36-month long project funded by the Research and Innovation Foundation.
The project aims in using a professional approach in astrotourism product research and development for Cyprus along with a high-end astrotourism policy and governance.
Astrotourism’s research objective is to initiate a new section in the Cyprus tourism industry by increasing the number, the quality, the expenditure of the tourists and the number of local jobs in the periphery. Within this objective, we aim to research and create direct and indirect experiences within real, virtual and blended augmented reality environments where the visitor could expand his/her astronomical knowledge in a practical, simple and efficient way. This experience will be an added value tool for Cyprus, where the weather conditions secure clear skies for most of the days and nights. The overall goal is to conduct research that will focus on “beyond the state-of-the-art” innovation in the field of astrotourism leading Cyprus to be added on the world map of the astrotourism “hot” destinations and creating the proper environment to host and offer astronomy experiences for both experts and enthusiasts at an entry level.
Cyprus has one of the clearest night skies as well as optimal geographical location in the world, offering great advantages for astrotourism development.
Added value of the project:
- will strengthen the tourism competitiveness in Cyprus;
- will research and develop an innovative product that will give Cyprus the leverage to include itself in the international arena of astrotourism destinations;
- will provide solutions in diminishing the long-standing problems of tourism in Cyprus, i.e. the low-income tourism & and the seasonality issues;
- will give dedicated care for the environment;
- will provide the opportunity for many local citizens to experience and learn about the universe in both real and virtual environments;
- will be the driver for the creation of local jobs.
- Astro-Parks & Astro-Villages Eco-System set-up.
- Astro-Tour Guides, Material and Training: fun-and-learning activities for age groups 3-5, 6-9, 10-12 to be implemented in Astro-Parks.
- Astro Programme & Astro Events: Yearly Calendar of Astronomical Events and a calendar specifically highlighting high-profile astronomical phenomena visible from Cyprus.
- Astro-Tourism Packages: for attracting visitors to the astroparks and astrovillages, and to be used for the pilot study.
- Material on augmented reality/virtual reality.
- Strategic Business Plan: for the commercialization of the Astrotourism project.
The project consortium is composed by seven partners with different expertise in relation to the project. Along with AKTI, Project and Research Centre, the project’s consortium is consisted by Top Kinisis (coordinator), the Research Centre on Interactive Media, Smart Systems, and Emerging Technologies (RISE), the University of Nicosia Research Foundation, the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago, Adelve and 1010 Asteroskopeion.
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.
SEALIVE: Strategies of circular economy and advanced bio-based solutions to keep our lands and seas alive from plastics contamination
SEALIVE aims at demonstrating innovative circular strategies for bio-based plastics in land and sea applications. The project will be driven by economically and technically sustainable business models based on materials with advanced properties, design for circularity techniques and end-of-life solutions. It will establish a partnership of raw material providers, convertors, end-users, recyclers, policy experts, certification organizations and NGOs to demonstrate solutions within a shared vision for circular plastic strategies. Solutions for reusable, recyclable and biodegradable bio-based plastics to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds will be demonstrated in four pilot territories (Cyprus, Ireland, France and Denmark, or Non-European site) and will be applied to 8 end-applications with high potential for pollution reduction of soils and water media: rigid food containers, flexible packaging, agricultural films, fish crates, fishing nets and aquaculture mesh bags. Pre-normative research will be carried out to improve current standards for biodegradation, composting and recycling with regards to eco-toxicity, safety and influence of plastic ageing. Policy recommendations at EU and global level will be provided in order to build a common framework enabling pollution reduction of land and sea via sustainable bio-based plastics solutions.
SEALIVE’s General Objective:
The general objective of SEALIVE is to develop innovative business models for advanced bio-based plastics directly supporting the Plastics Strategy set by the EC. The project aims at standing as a reference to be disseminated and widely used in Europe and beyond.
To achieve this goal SEALIVE will implement sustainable solutions based on novel bio-based plastics to avoid plastics ending-up on land and sea. Along the SEALIVE project, we will join the ambition of biopolymer producers with cutting-edge processing technologies, to follow the best end of life channels, targeting to build up a strong reference framework for the policy-makers and harmonisation.
AKTI’s Specific Objectives:
AKTI Project and Research Centre as a Partner to the Project will be involved in policy formulation and knowledge transfer to end-users. Specifically, AKTI will be responsible for:
– identifying the barriers, opportunities, synergies and coherence problems, the relevant legislation and policy instruments related to bio-plastics;
– proposing policy recommendations at the EU and global level, supporting the development and the uptake of new materials needed to unfold the full potential of bio-based plastics in the context of the existing policy framework;
– organizing media events in non-partners countries to create a network that will facilitate the expansion of the Project and contribute to the sustainability of SEALIVE and its outputs/products during and after the funding period.
SEALIVE_Press Release_KoM_FINAL_16 01 20
For more details about SEALIVE and for updated information on the project’s progress please visit www.sealive.eu
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.
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’s 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 to raising awareness of climate change issues and actions that must be taken to reduce or offset greenhouse gas emissions.
The Sustainable Conferences and Events Project
AKTI Project and Research Centre is a partner in the Sustainable Conferences and Events (SCE) project, which is being led by Top Kinisis Travel. The SCE project 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 Travel and other conference organisers.
Details about the project can be found in this presentation.D2.4-SCE-DISEMINATION-Presentation-updated April 2020_AKTI
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
- – Ensuring that sustainability principles are incorporated into all the project’s outputs and activities.
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The project is funded by the Research and Innovation Foundation of Cyprus, under the Restart 2016-2020 Funding Program.
ARGONAFTIS is a 6 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.