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THE ROLE OF CIVIL SOCIETY IN RAISING AWARENESS OF THE GREEN TRANSITION ΙΝ OSCE REGION.
 
   
 
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Ημερομηνία: 03-12-2021
 
 

THE ROLE OF CIVIL SOCIETY IN RAISING AWARENESS OF THE GREEN TRANSITION ΙΝ OSCE REGION.

 

 

Kyriakos Hadjiyiannis

Special Representative for civil society in OSCE PA

 

Civil society organizations (CSOs) are considered vehicles of change. Alongside governments and the media, they play an active role in identifying local community needs and designing and implementing collective actions. CSOs are also beneficiaries of sustainable development. However, CSOs in many Countries face several challenges that affect their work and effectiveness. Moreover, they have been deeply affected, like other sectors, by the COVID-19 pandemic. CSOs can play an important role in the green transition. However, in order to fulfil their potential, more support from their governments and other regional and international agencies to enhance their capacities.

To begin with, Civil society organizations (CSOs) in our Region (Eastern Mediterranean) and OSCE countries often lack the adaptive management capacity that is essential to become effective agents for coordinated and long-term development processes. This leads to haphazard, uncoordinated interventions and a lack of shared goals. By working in silos, CSOs risk duplicating efforts, missing out on opportunities to capitalise on the work of other CSOs, and potentially undermining initiatives. CSOs in the region also struggle to apply innovative practices and methods given their limited financial resources and lack of synergies with other institutions and organisations. Additionally, existing legal frameworks in some countries region limit innovative practices and hamper CSOs’ agency to address environmental challenges.

Recently, civil society has been considered to be under serious attack in several countries and civic actions in societies around the world are impacted by the “shrinking space” effects, which also apply to Eastern Mediterranean and OSCE countries. CSOs in the region working on environmental issues, in relation to the green transition are particularly vulnerable to this shrinkage because of the lack of vision
on environmental issues, which are not considered a priority in most countries especially non-EU members.

Furthermore, governments do not consider CSOs as key partners in the field of environment and sustainable development. Other obstacles stem from the limited resources available for CSOs working on the green transition in comparison to those working on charity issues and health, which poses additional challenges for CSOs in this field. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, societies around the globe were put under lockdown for different periods. The work of many CSOs was stunted, as crucial activities were put on hold
and communities that were usually served were left unattended. CSOs have faced serious challenges, such as delays in operations, funding shortages, difficulties in cooperation and coordination with partners, downsizing for failing to pay staff salaries and rent, and lack of technological platforms to operate efficiently respecting social distancing measures.


The new Agenda for Cyprus and the green transition Based on the conviction that, sustainable prosperity and resilience can only be built in strong partnership across the country and the Region. The above Agenda for the Mediterranean and OSCE countries highlights opportunities for new partnerships on strategic priorities of green and digital transition. Although COVID-19 has had devastating effects on the world economy, it also offers opportunities for the green transition in the recovery process.

While the 2008 recession led to a “grey” transition scenario, the post-COVID-19 context can be the occasion to boost the transition to a sustainable and green economic model by investing in clean-energy jobs, healthcare for all, ensuring safety and civil rights, and positioning climate justice high on the
priority list.

According to this approach, on the 23rd of September 2021, the Cyprus Parliament voted for the enactment of the new legislation regarding the liberalisation of the electricity market in Cyprus, which provides the opportunity to individuals and legal entities to obtain licence for the production, transport, distribution, supply and storage of electricity and providing third parties access to power transport and distribution infrastructures.

The new legislation aims to enhance the position, rights and role of the end customers of electricity with the introduction of further protection, new rights and provisions. Specifically, it aims to offer the opportunity to all consumers to have a direct stake in producing, consuming or sharing energy as well as to deliver real choice for all end customers, new business opportunities, competitive prices, efficient investment signals and higher standards of service. Having said that, citizens will have the chance to take ownership of the energy transition, benefit from new technologies to reduce their bills and participate actively in the market.

The new legislation also provides for the establishment and operation of citizen energy communities by which certain groups of household customers are enabled to participate in the electricity market, who otherwise might not have been able to do so, and have access to a citizen energy community's network on fair and cost-reflective terms.

Moreover, the Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority is the competent energy regulatory authority in Cyprus whose main objective is to ensure the smooth operation of the energy market in Cyprus. The new legislation that was voted by the Cyprus Parliament provides that Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority is legally distinct and functionally independent of any other public or private entity, it takes autonomous decisions independently of any political organization, it draws up separate budget forecasts, with budgetary autonomy and with sufficient human and financial resources to accomplish its duties. Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority aims, amongst others, in protecting the final consumers including vulnerable customers. It also encourages and facilitates genuine competition in the electricity market, avoiding adverse discrimination and aiming ultimately at reduced prices of electricity.

Role of CSOs Over the years, CSOs have proven to play an important and unique role among other stakeholders as they advocate for change and raise public awareness on existing challenges; provide services to meet social needs; act as experts given that they bring unique knowledge and experience to shape policy and strategy as well as identifying and suggesting solutions; contribute to capacity-building of various segments of society; and represent and give power to the voice of marginalised or under-represented communities.


In conclusion, to fulfil their roles and address existing challenges, CSOs contribute to policy analysis, policy-making and strategy formulation at international, regional, national and local levels; assist in the implementation and localisation of policies in collaboration with national and local governments; develop innovative approaches, good practices, participatory methodologies and multi-stakeholder partnerships; enhance the resilience and meaningful participation of vulnerable and marginalised communities; facilitate knowledge exchange and sharing of good practices and lessons learned; and support monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
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