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Cyprus can become a leader in sustainability – but we can’t afford to be complacent about climate change

As CEO of Invest Cyprus, the National Investment Promotion Authority of Cyprus, Marios Tannousis plays a key role in transforming the country into a top choice for international investors.

“We must develop a more holistic set of reasons why it makes sense for businesses to come here and grow from here.”

Invest Cyprus focuses on highlighting Cyprus’ advantages as an up-and-coming tech hub and dynamic financial centre. This includes strengths in fund and asset management, along with promoting green field investments and international collaborations across diverse sectors like energy, hospitality, healthcare, education, and shipping, within the European Union framework.

Under Tannousis’ guidance, Invest Cyprus is dedicated to boosting Cyprus’ position on the global economic stage. It achieves this by showcasing investment opportunities in critical areas and offering end-to-end support to investors on their business development journey. Through Tannousis and his team’s efforts, Cyprus is establishing itself as an ideal location for business and investment, contributing to economic expansion, job creation, and attracting foreign direct investment, thus underlining the country’s potential as a prime business and investment destination.

“Our primary objective is to attract and facilitate Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), a mission that involves not only showcasing Cyprus’ strategic advantages as an investment destination but also providing comprehensive support to investors,” he said. “We work closely with various stakeholders to ensure a smooth investment journey, enhancing Cyprus’ reputation as a competitive and attractive location for international business.”

“In a sign of its growing success in developing a green economy, Cyprus was recently named among six European Union countries making the biggest strides towards hitting sustainability energy targets for 2030.

According to the survey, Cyprus has made big gains towards providing access to “affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”, the UN’s seventh sustainability development goal. This is a fantastic achievement, not least because ten years ago Cyprus was deemed to be among the worst countries placed for reaching these sustainable development goals.”

“Cyprus has committed to spend €500 million by 2026 to combat climate change and foster the green transition, prioritising the use of cleaner fuels, such as natural gas and renewable energy sources, and investment in sectors such as transport, agriculture, industry, land use, forestry and waste management.

Huge strides have already been made towards ending poverty and reducing inequality, as well as ensuring access to affordable and clean energy, edging Cyprus forward in its mission to meet the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Over half (54.7 per cent) of our SDG targets were achieved or on track.”

“But despite our island’s successes, there is no room for complacency. Cyprus still has a long way from reaching those crucial 2030 sustainability targets.

Last month, the Europe Sustainable Development Report highlighted Cyprus’ excessive nitrogen use in agriculture, compensatory water imports, municipal waste recycling rates, plastic waste exports and CO2 emissions, contributing to a lower ranking than we’d like.

This clearly has to change.”

“The green transition is among Invest Cyprus’s key priorities. Our strategy for the coming years is fully aligned with the goals of “Vision 2035” which aims to make Cyprus the best place in Europe to live, work and do business.

Central to this vision is a transition towards a renewable energy system, improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions across large sectors of Cyprus’ economy.”

“There is also a drive towards a circular zero-waste economy across businesses and households.

The implementation of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria in all sectors of the economy reflects Cyprus’ determination to tackle the climate crisis by attracting investments that contribute to the green transition, and through scientific research and innovative solutions.

Last year Cyprus received €257m from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to improve economic competitiveness and combat climate change.

Of this, €130m will support the THALIA programme which concentrates on smart and green investments, water management, energy efficiency and environmental protection.

Another €100m is being allocated to wastewater infrastructure projects in Nicosia, Limassol and Larnaca.

With an overall budget of €1.8bn between 2021-2027 to drive forward the THALIA programme of economic resilience and competitiveness, this is the investment we need to address the gaps identified by SDSN and continue our progress to meeting sustainability targets.”

“We must not forget that Cyprus is strategically positioned at the apex of the Middle East and North Africa, regions already impacted by climate change. As well as being in a unique position to help, Cyprus is also highly vulnerable to the environmental pressures on Mediterranean ecosystems.

To deliver on Vision 2035, Cyprus needs to introduce fundamental changes which reflect the ambitions of its society and become more sustainable, liveable and resilient to shocks.”

“In a 2022 report for the European Union, three possible growth models were identified which could make this happen, the adoption of any of which could see the Cyprus economy grow by 10 to 12 per cent.

The first is aimed at building Cyprus as Europe’s business and trade hub, attracting multi-national companies to key sectors such as accountancy, risk management, fund administration and strategic consulting.

Secondly, the island has become a leader in sustainability – a cutting edge centre for solar and other renewable energy research.

Included in this is a dramatic improvement of circular economy practices, with significant progress in water and waste management so they cover the whole island and all sectors of the economy.

In manufacturing, under this model Cyprus also becomes a medium-sized producer of equipment needed for solar energy as the demand for solar panels, circuit boards and batteries grows across Europe.

Thirdly, there is the transformation of the country into the high-tech capital of Europe where Cyprus is the best place to fund and grow hi-tech IT businesses focused on e-health, green and agricultural technology.”

“I am optimistic that Cyprus can carve out a reputation globally as a leader in sustainability. It’s an ambitious vision, but the tools and services we need are in place, including our centres of excellence, for example, CYENS  which are cultivating a culture of innovation and creativity. A private-public collaboration involving all sectors of our economy – from tourism to shipping – must be a crucial part of this.

Cyprus can no longer rely on its traditional advantages, such as our low tax rate. We must develop a more holistic set of reasons why it makes sense for businesses to come here and grow from here.”

“Times have changed and unlike in 2013, our island can no longer rely on construction and real estate to build itself out of trouble.

Diversifying its economy is imperative if our country is not to falter when the Mediterranean’s traditional sectors of agriculture and tourism are stress-tested by some of the worst effects of climate change in Europe.

Doing nothing is not an option.”

“Invest Cyprus strategic plan 2024-2026 is fully aligned with the vision 2035 of the Republic of Cyprus and have applied sustainability criteria for all the investment projects for all our strategic sectors which are:

Hi Tech &b Tech related investments/Innovation/R&D as well as startups

FDI Strategic Projects into Energy, Tourism, Heathcare, Education, Shipping

Regulated Services such as Banks & Financial Services, Insurance Companies, Wealth Management Services and Investment Funds.

One of the issues with sustainable finance and ESG until recently was the availability of credible and universally accepted metrics used to be able to have a measure. This was a headache to regulators and corporates alike because of greenwashing. Nowadays there are international companies and consultants doing metrics for sustainable finance and ESG producing great results.

We are pleased to see some of these international companies investing in Cyprus and international experts in the field relocating to Cyprus to cover EU and MENA markets and not only from Cyprus.

On Tuesday, April 9, an indispensable event is set to take place in Cyprus, “The International Conference on Sustainable Finance”. This conference, focusing on “International Perspectives on Sustainable Finance,” and organised by ISO & CYS, is poised to be a pivotal moment for the Cypriot business and finance community.

It’s noteworthy that Invest Cyprus, as the strategic partner of this event, lends its full support to the conference’s objectives. Their endorsement underscores the importance of sustainable finance for Cyprus’ financial industry and the nation’s broader economic goals.

With the engagement of the business & investment world, the society, and the right policies we can achieve economic growth with sustainable planning and at the same time making Cyprus more sustainable and resilient and a good example on the world map.”

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