The UNDP’s project is Cyprus has become a model for embedding sustainability into both programmes and day-to-day operations. And as active supporters of Greening the Blue, they are keen to share their story with other UN colleagues around the world.
So here's what's happening. On 1 October 2005 UNDP launched its peace building project in Cyprus, Action for Cooperation and Trust (ACT). The purpose of ACT is to create opportunities for Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to work together on projects that will benefit everyone on the island, whilst promoting inter-communal tolerance and mutual understanding.
The UNDP-ACT office has enforced strict environmental impact guidelines on all their projects. This involves the environmental focal point playing the role of environmental compliance officer, producing an initial environmental assessment for all proposed projects, and implementing a long-term environmental plan.
On the operations side, all procurement is now in line with UNDP’s corporate green procurement guidelines and UNDP-ACT participates in the Regional Bureau for Europe and the CIS’ Environmental Community of Practice, which allows environment practitioners to exchange ideas and knowledge.
In addition to the environmental impact assessment and mitigation plan, the ACT office has implemented recycling schemes for paper and plastic. Staff are encouraged to print double-sided when they can, and to use recycled paper whenever possible. And the office recycles aluminium drinks cans as part of their “cans for kids” project, the proceeds of which go towards a local cancer research scheme for children.
The office has participated in several tree planting events and has planted trees around the UNDP ACT premises and beyond. Already, they have contributed 30,000 trees to UNEP’s “billion tree” campaign. In addition, the environment is a recurring theme in all their peace-building projects. These include an island-wide water awareness campaign (a confidence-building measure emanating from the ongoing reconciliation talks on the island), as well as research and advocacy on common approaches for both communities (Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots) towards sustainable development.
Tzvetan Zafirov, Operations Manager at ACT, sees the greening work as core to achieving their mandate:
“We do not see greening our activities just as a corporate requirement, but it is essential because it allows us to practice and set examples for what we promote to people as “environmental sustainability”.
The UNDP-ACT office is a keen supporter of Greening the Blue and has registered more Green Champions than other UNDP offices.