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Stephanie Panayi: How Invest Cyprus is accelerating climate action

Stephanie Panayi, the Head of Strategic Projects Unit at Invest Cyprus, recently talked about how the organisation promotes greener business in Cyprus.

She was speaking to London-headquartered Climate Action, an organisation which uses its media and event platforms to help forge public-private-partnerships, towards scaling impact and aiming to deliver real change on the ground when it comes to tackling climate issues.

See the interview below:

What is the role and mission of Invest Cyprus?

Invest Cyprus is the investment authority of the Government responsible for raising awareness for Cyprus as a business and investment destination, attract FDI into priority economic sectors and facilitate businesses and investors to expand in the country. Invest Cyprus acts as the first point of contact for investors, provides guidance and support regarding the business framework in Cyprus but also about the existing local investment opportunities. Our strategy is focused on three pillars: Attracting international companies and highly specialized employees, supporting foreign investment in strategic sectors for the economy, including the green and digital transition, maintaining the country’s competitiveness as a jurisdiction for international financial services.

Can you tell us a little more about your new strategy which prioritizes ESG and green/energy projects?

Invest Cyprus' strategy, is fully aligned with the priorities of the plan “Vision 2035”, that envisages a transition to a modern, diversified growth model and aims to make Cyprus the best place to live, work and do business.

“Vision 2035” sets clear goals for a Greener Economy:

  • Transition to a renewable energy system
  • Improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions across large sectors of Cyprus’ economy including transport and the built environment
  • Drive the transformation towards a circular, zero-waste economy across businesses and households
  • Develop environmental resilience in people, businesses and ecosystems against the risks and uncertainty posed by climate change

Among the objectives of our strategy is the further development and implementation of ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) criteria in all sectors of the economy. The same applies to the sectors of green growth and energy transition. Cyprus is trying to develop these areas, implementing certain programmes for sustainability and environmental development. As Invest Cyprus, we accentuate our efforts in attracting investments into viable and sustainable projects that contribute to the new growth model and the sustainability of the country's economy. We are also striving to render Cyprus as a technology hub and to create further ecosystems of highly specialised companies. Investments in education, health, and tourism are also a priority. Ultimately, we want to make a positive contribution to the national strategy. To create a more diverse, resilient, and sustainable economic growth model.

Describe your role with investors and project owners when it comes to aligment with the UN SDGs?

As the national promotion agency, our role in aligning with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) when working with investors and project owners is multifaceted. Our work includes identifying and promoting sustainable investment opportunities, particularly in areas like renewable energy, sustainable tourism, and healthcare.

We support the development and implementation of projects in line with the SDGs, by providing support, best examples of sustainable practices, and fostering partnerships. Additionally, we serve as a collaborative platform, that brings together investors, project owners, government agencies, and NGOs to work towards the SDGs.

Our role is to collaborate with investors and project owners in their journey to achieve the SDGs, ensuring that their investments also contribute positively to sustainable development. It’s all about being able to contribute.

How do you cooperate with your stakeholders and partners to advance the green jobs agenda in Cyprus?

As I already mentioned, Cyprus places great significance to green growth and energy transition. Equally important are the efforts and initiatives aimed at creating employment opportunities in fields that contribute to the conservation and

improvement of the environment. Invest Cyprus works with stakeholders and partners to advance Cyprus’ green jobs agenda through a variety of strategies. We are focused on attracting specialized international companies, especially in the technological, to promote the green and digital transformation of the economy. Launched in 2019 and updated recently, this approach aims to develop sectors like high-tech, shipping, pharmaceuticals, innovation, and research and development. We work with the Government to proactively resolve issues for foreign investors and continuously monitor and update our strategies to attract foreign direct investment. Additionally, Invest Cyprus recognizes important investments in Cyprus. This underlines our commitment to continuously improve investment opportunities and foster cooperation with diferent sectors in order to increase Cyprus' attractivness for green jobs and sustainable investments.

What specific initiatives have you undertaken to advance global transformation and help mitigate the global climate crisis?

Let me answer that by saying that Cyprus as a country and other local Governmental authorities are working towards specific policies in tackling with climate crisis and implement specific initiatives. Specifically, Cyprus has committed more than €500 million by 2026 to combat climate change and foster the green transition. The funding will go towards introducing new policies to promote the use of cleaner fuels, such as natural gas and renewable energy sources, and necessary investments in sectors such as transport, agriculture, industry, land use, forestry, and waste management.

Given that Cyprus seeks to tackle the climate crisis, our objective and strategy is to attract investments that contribute to the green transition and through scientific research and innovative solutions. We must not forget that Cyprus is strategically positioned at the intersection of the Mediterranean, Middle East, and North Africa, regions where climate change is already having a significant impact. At the same time, we encourage the implementation of environmentally related state projects, in order to facilitate our work when we present Cyprus economy facts to potential investors.

(The original version of this interview was on the Climate Action website. Click here to view it)

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