Thursday, 26 May 2016 19:04

From activism to politics

Roxane Coudounaris Roxane Coudounaris

With a name familiar to many Cypriots  because of ‘The Fountain of Roxane Coudounaris’ in Platres, built in honour of her great grandmother, Coudounaris hopes to do the monument and her ancestor proud.

She aspires to help bring positive changes to Cypriot society as a Member of Parliament.

An architect by profession, Coudounaris had her first ‘love affair’ with the green movement while studying regional development in Germany in the early nineties. And she hasn’t stopped her involvement with environmentalism since.

Early environmentalist

The daughter of a New Zealander-Irish-English mother and a Cypriot father studied architecture in Greece – a field which to her automatically involves sustainability.  Her passion for activism in the name of nature was kindled before she even entered school by her mother.

She told Roxane her own story of how she, upon finding out that pine trees grew from the seeds in pine cone scales, planted her own tree which was later cut down as it was encroaching on a telephone post.  Roxane was deeply touched by this injustice and has grown up with a love of nature.

Today she appreciates the intrinsic value of nature and feels a strong need to connect with it. She enjoys swimming, long walks with her dogs and travelling to places of cultural interest with her husband, a professor of political science currently working in the US.

When returning from her studies to Cyprus as a ‘green thinker’ in 1996, she was already a seasoned environmentalist with experience in the restoration of monuments and sites.

Coudounaris became one of the founding members of the Cyprus Green Party which secured its first seat in Parliament in 2001.

“We as party members all seek to protect the environment and then move toward sustainability through our actions.

“As a politician one has to reflect these values and we can proudly say that over the last 20 years our party has been the only one who has actually ‘thought sustainability’,” said Coudounaris.

“We need to be more concerned with the big picture,” she explains. “We are strong, committed and knowledgeable and the less committed and less knowledgeable simply need to be replaced.”

There are 12 candidates of the Green Party for the Limassol district – four women and eight men. Coudounaris believes there is a need for a stronger presence of women in parliament and is running because she feels she is able and has the knowledge and the willingness to tackle matters in terms of sustainable development.

Working towards sustainability

Some of the main issues the Green Party is dealing with are: our built-up environment including archaeological spaces being encroached by development, biodiversity being threatened and human health being endangered on by our industrialised way of life and the examining of more energy efficient ways of running our world.

“With EU regulations being constantly ratified, those in power need to be in a certain state of mind to actually operate within that framework and be vigilant of cross policy compliance,” says Coudounaris.

According to her, a lot has been achieved and a lot remains to be done. The EU acquis (the constantly evolving body of common rights and obligations that is binding on all the EU member states) has been ratified.

The position of the Environmental Commissioner has been instated as pre-runner for the Cyprus Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), requiring all public and private bodies involved in any development of over €500,000 to prove its sustainability.

Many other issues, however, need following up and one of the first points Coudounaris is planning to look into if elected, is a citizen’s right of access to prevention – a 2005 EU ratified Cyprus legislation which is included in the charter of the rights of the patient and not up-to-date in Cyprus.

Encouraging people to vote

“Our legislation is in place, but there is a lack of transparency and follow up and too much nepotism. People are frustrated by it and do not vote out of protest when they really should be voicing their opposition.

“Greens believe in the work they have done and encourage citizens to vote and be the change they wish for. Otherwise citizens are punishing themselves, allowing the whole situation to repeat itself.”

She argued that we can no longer regard humankind as the central or most important element of existence.

“Man is a curator of the environment which exists, not only for mankind. We need to change the way we inhabit this planet for our own benefit and the survival of the coming generations.”

Article as published in The Cyprus Weekly of May 13th 2016

Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

Email Me · Linked In · Twitter · Facebook