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Blue Charter Centre of Excellence to be set in Larnaca

marina hadjimanoli

The Commonwealth and the Republic of Cyprus have taken a significant step forward by signing a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the establishment of a Commonwealth Blue Charter Centre of Excellence in Larnaca.

This initiative aims to strengthen governance for a sustainable blue economy and support scientific research for ocean protection.

Notably, under Cyprus’ proactive leadership, the Centre of Excellence is set to play a crucial role in developing policies for the conservation, restoration, and sustainable management of marine resources, which will greatly benefit the Commonwealth’s island and coastal states.

Moreover, the Centre will focus on sustainable aquaculture and marine research, development, and innovation in support of the Commonwealth Blue Charter Action Groups led by a Commonwealth country.

During the inaugural Commonwealth Oceans Ministerial Meeting, the MoU was signed by the Commonwealth Secretary General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, the Cypriot Deputy Minister of Shipping, Marina Hadjimanolis, and the CEO of the Cyprus Marine and Maritime Institute (CMMI), Zacharias Siokuuros.

Speaking at the Summit, Secretary-General Scotland highlighted the importance of science in addressing ocean-related challenges, emphasising the large gap between countries’ capacity to engage in global ocean debates. She said, “The Blue Charter Centre of Excellence will help reduce disparities in access to marine knowledge and scientific capacity. The Centre will also help improve coordination between policymakers and scientists and position the Commonwealth as a collective leader in evidence-based approaches to addressing ocean challenges.”

Hadjimanoli added that “Cyprus recognises that the challenges facing our oceans are immense and cannot be tackled by any one nation in isolation. This is why we have adopted the Commonwealth Blue Charter.”

She expressed great pleasure and satisfaction in announcing the establishment of the Blue Charter Centre of Excellence in Cyprus, underlining that the signing of the relevant MoU confirms the government’s secure commitment to chart a path towards a more efficient, sustainable, and prosperous future for our oceans and the blue economy.

Furthermore, Siokouros explained the broader research objectives of his institute, which aim to solve the most important challenges related to the Blue Economy.

These challenges are numerous, and multidimensional, and require cooperation not only between different scientific fields but also between different geographical areas. “The establishment of the Centre of Excellence will contribute to promoting cooperation between Commonwealth countries, as well as to developing and transferring expertise for a fair, inclusive, and sustainable approach to ocean protection and economic development,” Siokouros said.

Meanwhile, at the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit in Rwanda, governments reiterated their support for the Commonwealth Blue Charter and the ambition to achieve the desired progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 14 (Life in Water). At the same Summit, Cyprus offered to host a Blue Charter Centre of Excellence to support Commonwealth members in developing and supporting ocean research and education.

The Ministerial Meeting is being held on Friday, at Aphrodite Hills resort in the Petra tou Romiou area, where a meeting of senior Commonwealth officials took place yesterday, ahead of the official proceedings.

Paphos’ meeting is considered a major issue, given that one-fifth of all maritime trade and one-fifth of seaports are located within the Commonwealth. In total, 49 of the 56 Commonwealth member countries border the ocean and are home to 47 per cent of the world’s coral reefs and 34 per cent of the world’s mangrove forests. One-third of the world’s marine waters are within national jurisdiction.

Highlighting the importance of the Centre of Excellence, Hadjimanoli pointed out upon her arrival at the Summit venue in Paphos that it is “very important for the country because we are highlighting the expertise that we have as a scientific resource and in this way, we will help other countries, smaller or larger, which do not have this expertise so that they can progress from the practices that we use to progress themselves.”

She also referred to the significance of organising the Summit in Cyprus, noting that it was essential that “the Commonwealth trusted us to organise this very big event,” with the participation of 33 countries and 17 Ministers who will exchange views and decide on joint actions leading up to the Summit of Heads of State in Samoa.

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