Cyprus

   

Environmental Policies

#38
Key Findings
With fragmented and badly coordinated strategies, Cyprus falls into the bottom ranks internationally (rank 38) with regard to environmental policies. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.1 point since 2014.

Despite local and international pressures, the country has continued to prioritize financial interests over environmental protections, failing to meet EU obligations. The realization of CO2-reduction plans will require very significant action. The economic crisis has been used as a pretext for the relaxation of environmental rules, with new development projects threatening ecosystems.

Water management is a serious issue, with illegal water drilling and water-intensive development projects undermining progress. The EU has repeatedly threatened sanctions if waste-management problems remain unresolved.

The country has ratified international conventions, and participates in numerous environmental organizations. However, officials have asked for exemptions from EU environmental-protection rules.

Environment

#38

How effectively does environmental policy protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment?

10
 9

Environmental policy effectively protects, preserves and enhances the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 8
 7
 6


Environmental policy largely protects and preserves the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 5
 4
 3


Environmental policy insufficiently protects and preserves the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 2
 1

Environmental policy has largely failed to protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
Environmental Policy
4
The absence of a comprehensive and coherent policy, dispersed responsibilities, and political expediency favoring financial interests at the expense of environmental protection place Cyprus very low on many relevant EU ratings. The country is failing its EU obligations, despite warnings from Brussels and pressure from local and international organizations. Awareness-raising efforts and pressure from environmental groups since the late 1980s have failed to convince the authorities to halt projects with a destructive environmental impact. Politicians and representatives from both public and private institutions are persistently seeking that the Commission relax environment protection rules.

The country’s response to demands for climate protection remains insufficient in many respects. According to the European Commission (2017), promising plans to reduce gas emissions require more action, including a reduction in fuel dependency and access to good public transportation infrastructure. The use of environmentally friendly energy showed some progress recently. The Commission also points to eco-innovation as an opportunity for development, since Cyprus currently ranks 26th.

Despite the Commission’s view that the major environmental challenge for Cyprus is water management, given its dependence on rainfall, new water-intensive projects (e.g., golf courses) continue to be approved. Desalination and limited wastewater reuse do exist and are increasing, but these also have negative environmental impacts. Illegal drilling for water also negatively affects efforts toward sustainable water management.

Forest protection under a national program for the 2010 – 2020 period aims at reforestation, the reduction of fire hazards, and protection from pollution and other risks. A major challenge is the adequate protection of Natura 2000 areas, which are at risk from projects promoted without impact assessment studies. Areas such as the Akamas peninsula remain unprotected and are at risk from government decisions and the activities of private developers. Local authorities and communities often align with developers in seeking profit at the expense of environmental protection.

Waste management, including avoiding the expansion of landfills, is a third major challenge. Despite Commission threats of sanctions, the waste management problem remains unresolved. The subject was also addressed in a report by the auditor general in late 2017. Furthermore, in 2018, Cyprus received warnings from Brussels for failing to integrate EU directives on the environment into national laws, failing to meet recycling targets, and failing to efficiently manage waste.

The authorities continue to use the economic crisis as a pretext as they proceed in relaxing or canceling environmental protection rules. Warnings by experts and the existing EU rules are often ignored and new projects are approved with additional negative effects on ecosystems. A 2017 law leaves the door open for the privatization of beaches, while recent decisions to allow the construction of 30- to 40-floor skyscrapers without proper environmental impact analyses has run contrary to significant elements of town planning legislation.

Citations:
1. European Commission, Environmental Implementation Review, Cyprus, 2017, Environmental Implementation Review
2. Cyprus on EU radar over failure to transpose environment directives, Cyprus Mail, 17 May 2018, https://cyprus-mail.com/2018/05/17/cyprus-on-eu-radar-over-failure-to-transpose-environment-directives/
3. Environmental decisions placing Cyprus on path to self-destruction, Etek says, Cyprus Mail, 29 March 2018, https://cyprus-mail.com/2018/03/29/environmental-decisions-placing-cyprus-path-self-destruction-etek-says/

Global Environmental Protection

#38

To what extent does the government actively contribute to the design and advancement of global environmental protection regimes?

10
 9

The government actively contributes to international efforts to design and advance global environmental protection regimes. In most cases, it demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, fosters their advancement and initiates appropriate reforms.
 8
 7
 6


The government contributes to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes. It demonstrates commitment to existing regimes and occasionally fosters their advancement or initiates appropriate reforms.
 5
 4
 3


The government demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, but neither fosters their advancement nor initiates appropriate reforms.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes.
Global Environmental Policy
4
Cyprus has ratified many international conventions and protocols related to environmental protection as well as participates in numerous international organizations and meetings. However, policies are not proactive and though authorities appear concerned with meeting obligations to the EU and other bodies, they often fail to act efficiently. Poor performance in this respect means that Cyprus is not an agenda setter, although it occasionally takes an active ad hoc role in international meetings. One area where the republic has contributed to shaping EU policies is integrated maritime policy.
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