May 27, 2024

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Commonwealth and Cyprus sign MOU on Blue Charter Centre of Excellence

The Commonwealth and the government of the Republic of Cyprus have signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish a Blue Charter Centre of Excellence in Larnaca to strengthen governance for a sustainable blue economy and support scientific research on ocean protection.

Under Cyprus, the Centre of Excellence will take an active lead in developing policies around marine conservation, restoration and sustainable resource management that will benefit Commonwealth island and coastal states. The Centre will also focus on sustainable aquaculture and marine research, development and innovation in support of the country led Commonwealth Blue Charter Action Groups.

The MOU was signed today at the inaugural Commonwealth Ocean Ministers Meeting by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, the Shipping Deputy Minister of Cyprus Marina Hadjimanolis, and the CEO of the Cyprus Marine and Maritime Institute, Zacharias Siokouros.

Speaking at the meeting, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, said:

“Science is critical for addressing ocean-related challenges, yet there is a wide gap between countries’ ability to participate in global debates on the ocean. The Blue Charter Centre of Excellence will help to reduce the inequalities around access to marine knowledge and scientific capacity.

“The Centre will also contribute to improving coordination between policymakers and scientists and position the Commonwealth as a collective lead on evidence-based approaches to tackling ocean challenges.”

Shipping Deputy Minister of Cyprus Marina Hadjimanolis said:

“Cyprus recognises that the challenges our oceans are facing are monumental and cannot be tackled single-handedly by any nation. It is for this reason that we have embraced the Commonwealth Blue Charter.

“I am very excited to announce that after recent intensified efforts, we are ready to establish a Blue Charter Centre of Excellence in Cyprus, by signing the relevant MoU.”

The Centre of Excellence aims to strengthen governance for a sustainable blue economy and to support marine research that will facilitate a fair and sustainable approach to ocean protection and a carbon-neutral sustainable blue economy.

The signing of the MoU is another testament that the Government of Cyprus stays firm in its commitment to navigating a course towards a more efficient, sustainable and prosperous future for our ocean and the blue economy.”

CEO of the Cyprus Marine and Maritime Institute, Zacharias Siokouros said:

“CMMI’s broad research goal is to solve the most important challenges linked with the Blue Economy. These challenges are many, multidimensional and require collaboration not only across disciplines but also across different geographies.

“There is so much knowledge to share and capacity to build across the Commonwealth, and this Centre of Excellence will facilitate in bringing this together, and support Commonwealth countries work together for a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable approach to ocean protection and economic development.”

At the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda, governments reiterated their support for the Commonwealth Blue Charter and progressing ambitions towards Sustainable Development Goal 14 (Life Below Water).

At the same meeting, Cyprus offered to host a Blue Charter Centre of Excellence to support Commonwealth members in developing ocean research and education.

Commonwealth Ministers responsible for ocean affairs are meeting in Cyprus for the first-ever Commonwealth Ocean Ministers Meeting to agree on a Commonwealth Ocean Declaration that will be taken forward to leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, being held in the Pacific Island country of Samoa in October.

Watch the Commonwealth Ocean Ministers Meeting Video

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