Being part of a global network of organizations, is one of Cyprus Environment Foundation’s (CEF) greatest assets. In fall 2021, CEF was established as a charity branch of the Conservation Collective (CC). The CC consists today of 18 non-for-profit organizations, each one working to tackle local environmental challenges in their region.
An integral part of the CC is to provide support and growing opportunities for its branches and affiliate organizations. The annual CC global gathering, provides the ground for its network members, to learn new skills, exchange best practices and form new synergies between them.
The 2023 gathering, was hosted by the Ionian Environment Foundation at the charming island of Kerkyra. Representatives from the CC core and 17 different foundations, travelled from all across the world including Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, UK, Sicily, Spain, Greece and Cyprus to attend the global gathering. During 4 days, CC members were immersed in learning sessions on fundraising strategies, theory of change and leadership coaching. Foundation’s got to present their work through Spotlight Presentations. This year the CEF talked about the successes and lessons learnt of its project “Environmental Awareness through the Creative Arts” run in collaboration with Enalia Physis organization.
An integral part of the gathering was conducting site visits to some of the Ionian Environment Foundation’s projects. The team had the opportunity to visit the SIN. PRAXI – Sinies Community Project where volunteers, out of their sheer love for the island, set up a recycling center to reduce and properly manage waste produced in the region. During our tour on the island, we visited the pristine northeastern coastline of Corfu where Erimitis is located – an area of outstanding beauty and high environmental importance. Unfortunately though since 2012, the area has been under the thread of unsustainable development. Erimiti Plous, an activist group consisting of local people, guided the CC group through their long legal battles to protect the area from destruction. The Corfu Butterfly Conservation talked to us about how during the 10 last years of their activities on the island, they identified 74 different species of butterflies and are now raising awareness on the importance of protecting the island’s biodiversity.
Complementary to the CC team’s vision and mission for protecting the environment, the global gathering took place in one of Corfu’s leaders in sustainable hospitality: Kontokali Resort & Spa. The hotel uses solar energy to heat 80% of its water, recycles its own organic waste, serves local and seasonal produce where possible, produces its own roses for decoration and supports local economy with 90% of its staff being permanent and consisting of locals.
The global gathering ended with a fabulous celebration: The 2023 Collectives Awards. This is the second year this term is celebrated where the best projects in 6 different categories were awarded across the CC network. The CEF was this year’s winner of the “Preserving, Protecting and Regenerating Natural Habitats” category with its project “Greening Cyprus in the Fire-Affected Areas.” The awards were judged by CC’s Global Advisory Panel and were awarded by the famous conservationist Lee Durrell, wife of the late Gerald Durrell, naturalist and author of the book “My Family and Other Animals.”
With the conclusion of this second CC global gathering, we return back to Cyprus inspired and highly motivated to keep up the much-needed conservation work. We look upon the second half of 2023, aiming for an even greater impact through learning from and replicating our network’s best practices and forming effective synergies wherever possible.