Speaking in the panel discussion at the opening of the Cyprus Forum Cities in Limassol on 7 April 2023, Congress Vice-President Harald Sonderegger (Austria, EPP/CCE) stressed the importance of building more resilient and sustainable communities, able to overcome the crucial challenges that are threatening societies. Among these challenges, he underlined in particular global warming and environmental degradation, with their devastating consequences.
Vice-President Sonderegger said the Congress was convinced that environmental protection was part of good governance, and, in this regard, local and regional authorities had to be considered as key actors and participate in the decision-making processes. “We urgently need an effective multi-level governance and a human rights-based approach to the protection of the environment,” underscored the Vice-President, adding that local and regional authorities have a significant role to play because of their responsibility in managing public environmental services.
“We must ensure that local and regional authorities are sufficiently aware of the environmental issues and of the extent of their competences in this area, with sufficient resources, and we must involve citizens and youth in designing policies for their communities,” he continued. Vice-President Sonderegger underlined that for the Congress, sustainable societies are communities where all citizens are involved in decision-making processes from an early stage, including at the level of their neighbourhood, the closest to them. He welcomed initiatives such as the Cyprus Forum Cities because they contribute to inter-municipal exchanges of experience and good practices, mutual support and the building of networks.