UN Rapporteur invites Cyprus to be leader in promoting Aarhus Convention (video)
08:01 - 07 February 2024
Michel Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on Environmental Defenders under the Aarhus Convention, has invited Cyprus to lead a group of countries that will promote the implementation of the Convention.
This was noted by Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, Maria Panayiotou after a 6 February meeting with Forst. She added that this is a proposition that will be considered in a positive light.
The Minister also noted that Cyprus was the first country to extend an official invitation to Forst, who is scheduled to meet with stakeholders and NGOs during his stay in the country. He is also going to participate in an 8 February conference themed “Access to environmental law and protection of environmental defenders”, which is co-organised by the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, the Environmental Commissioner and the Federation of Environmental Organisations.
Panayiotou underlined the importance of Forst’s visit, saying that he has recently been appointed as an independent Special Rapporteur for defenders of the environment, aiming to establish a rapid response mechanism for the protection of environmental defenders from sanctions, prosecutions, or other forms of harassment. She said that during the meeting with Frost, they had the opportunity to exchange views on the Ministry’s and other authorities’ efforts to raise awareness and develop skills within the Cypriot society, around environmental law, and access to justice for environmental issues.
On his part, Forst said that he was “pleased to have received very strong political commitment from the Minister on the political backing to the mandate, but also financial support to the mandate.” He also noted that, at the end of his mission in Cyprus on Friday, he will share with the government the first findings and appeared hopeful that these will be a positive contribution, for both the government and the people in Cyprus.
He also noted that he is looking forward to receiving testimonies and information from his meetings with different stakeholders, defenders, and organisations “on how they see the situation in Cyprus,” and added that he will also share with the government any good ideas and good practices that stakeholders and organisations will share with him in their meetings.
Their comments can also be seen in the video below, Panayiotou's comments are in Greek, Forst's comments are in English: