A series of discussions “2040” organised by the NGO Oxygono address the need to formulate a long-term vision for four cities of Cyprus supported by their citizens. The series started with “Larnaca 2040” and then expanded to Nicosia, Limassol and Paphos.

In addition to organising high-level discussions on current issues that concern each city, the “2040” series aims to mobilise authorities to set-up strategy groups that will maintain long-term plans for cities.

A “Nicosia 2040” event hosted by the NGO last Thursday, brought to the fore the possibility of exploiting unused spaces and restoring historic and other buildings as a solution for housing young people.

According to a press release of the NGO on Tuesday, Nicosia mayor, Constantinos Yiorkadjis, said that the municipality had already purchased two buildings with the aim of renovating and turning them into student hostels.

The president of the Cyprus Youth Council, Maria Kola, said that the legislative and regulatory framework needs to be upgraded, and simultaneously the views of youth on the issue of multiculturalism needed to be heard.

Architect Eleni Maistrou, professor at the Technical University of Athens and president of the council the Architectural Heritage, outlined an initiative being prepared in Greece whereby abandoned buildings can be used for up to 50 years, without loss of property rights.

Constantinos Constantis, president of the Cyprus Scientific and Technical Chamber (ETEK), said that although there is interest in restoration of buildings in Nicosia, the procedures currently required are a deterrent.

Officer of municipal technical services, Dinos Logidis, said that the municipality could make use of houses and buildings within the city walls, but the difficulty was convincing young people to live in the old town.

Oxygono was founded in 2014 and consists of people from various academic, social, political, and professional fields. The NGO was founded with the aim to improve the quality of public debate and thereby achieve reform that improves the quality of life of Cypriot citizens in multiple ways, including health, economy, education, justice, foreign policy, research and entrepreneurship.

Oxygono works closely with the University of Cyprus, Organised Youth, and the Cyprus Youth Council.