The cooperation of the Republic of Cyprus with the United Nations System dates back to the year 1960, the year of Independence. The new member of the United Nations Organization made its first request for technical assistance to the then United Nations Technical Assistance Board, which later evolved to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). In response, a wide ranging study of the economic potential of Cyprus, known as the "Thorpe" report, was to constitute the basis for the country's first development programme. The Economic Planning Commission was set up and in close cooperation with the United Nations System identified the priority areas for assistance and interaction. The UNDP/Cyprus partnership involved almost the entire UN System of organizations and agencies and covered many socio-economic sectors. FAO, ILO, UNIDO, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNCHS (Habitat), WHO, UNDTCD, ITU, UPU, WMO, ICAO, WFP, IAEA, IFAD, UNFDAC, the World Bank, UNFPA, UNV etc., are but a few of the partners represented by the UNDP Resident Representative under his special mandate as United Nations Resident Coordinator for Operational Activities for Development.
Cyprus itself has a solid presence in these international bodies and cooperation has become a two-way process. Today, Cypriot institutions and consultants/ experts are regularly called upon by the United Nations System to render their services to other countries and Cyprus is often a host to many regional and intercountry conferences, training activities and seminars.
What follows does not set out to be exhaustive, nor an account of the interaction between Cyprus and the United Nations. It is only an attempt to highlight a few selected areas of cooperation between Cyprus and the United Nations System.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the UN's largest source of grants for development cooperation. According to its Executive Board "The overall mission of the UNDP should be to assist programme countries in their endeavor to realize sustainable human development, in line with their national development programmes and priorities". The UNDP also serves as the central coordinating agency for development cooperation for the entire United Nations System. With some 136 offices worldwide, it has the greatest on-the-scene representation of any development assistance organization.
Cyprus has had a long-standing cooperation with the UNDP ever since the year of Independence. This cooperation has resulted in a legacy of self-reliance in many different fields, with Cyprus now not only receiving but also extending its services and expertise through the UN System to other countries. It often hosts many regional and intercountry conferences, seminars and training activities. Many Cypriot institutions which were originally set up with assistance from the UNDP and the UN System, such as the Planning Bureau, the Agricultural Research Institute, the Higher Technical Institute, the Hotel Institute, the Cyprus Productivity Center and many more, are now offering their knowledge and experience to other countries.
In the early sixties and right after the first UN study on the economic potential of the island - the Thorpe Report - the cooperation of Cyprus with UNDP and the UN Development System covered a wide variety of activities in many socioeconomic sectors. From agriculture to industry, from macro-economic sectoral planning and policy formulation to institution building, from natural resources surveys to pre-investment studies, productivity improvement and vocational training. Thirty-five years of cooperation and interaction in almost every facet of development make the listing of the partners difficult. These partners included among others: The Water Development Department, the Meteorology Department, the Agricultural Research Institute, the Veterinary Department, the Fisheries Department, the Cyprus Tourism Organization, the Public Works Department, the Thalassaemia Center, the State Laboratory, the Department of Statistics, the Postal Services, the Handicrafts Service, the Nicosia Sewerage, the Industrial Training Authority, the Cyprus Forest Industries, the Handicrafts Service, the Civil Aviation Department, the Land Development Corporation, the Housing Finance Corporation, the Antiquities Department, the Cyprus Development Bank, the Department of Customs and Excise, the Drugs Squad, the Nicosia Municipality with the Nicosia Master Plan etc.
In the seventies and eighties there was an increasing focus on industrial and agricultural development and on the development of natural and human resources. Training became a dominant feature and many Cypriots benefited from training and interaction with UN System Organizations and bodies but also served as trainers themselves at many fora, both in Cyprus and abroad.
In the later years the focus increased mainly on three multi sectoral themes:
- Economic restructuring and increased competitiveness in order to meet the challenges of changing markets and international economic relations, especially with regard to the European Union.
- Long-term resource management of renewable and non-renewable resources, with emphasis on environmental issues.
- Public Sector efficiency in order to match the increased productivity in the private sector.
Moreover, the UNDP continued to provide access to and coordination of the United Nations System funding programmes. Training, study tours, participation in UN workshops and conferences and the provision of information on current programmes of the UN System continued to play a dominant part. Initiatives in support of the private sector, include interaction between Cyprus and countries of Eastern Europe - such as Krasnodar -. Also, and in cooperation with the Cyprus Development Bank, initiatives were taken to stimulate interaction between the private sectors of Cyprus and other countries in the Eastern Mediterranean, such as Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The Nicosia Master Plan continued under the auspices of UNDP to address the problems and needs of the last divided city in the world.
The UNDP also hosts and administers the very successful UNICEF Greeting Cards Operation and the Cypriot people have been very supportive of the needy children of the world. One out of two Cypriots buys a UNICEF card and often cultural events donate part or all of their proceeds to UNICEF.
The following highlight some of the areas of cooperation between Cyprus and the UN Development System:
Management of Water Resources
Through two large-scale projects, the "Survey of Groundwater and Mineral Resources in Cyprus" (1962-1969) and "Surveys, Demonstration and Planning of Water Resource Utilization" (1966-1973), a masterplan was formulated for the management of the island's water resources. As a result, other related fields of cooperation were identified and at the end of the surveys, the Geological Survey Department and the Water Development Department had grown into strong technical organizations, fully equipped to undertake further studies on their own.
The Paphos Irrigation Project with UNDP technical assistance and a World Bank loan of $14 million provided sprinkler irrigation to some 5,000 hectares of farmland, raising the income of 3,500 farm families.
The Khrysokhou Watershed Irrigation Project (FAO/UNDP/Government) provided for feasibility and engineering design studies from 1979 to 1982. Construction began in January 1984 with the World Bank financing $16 million of the $49 million cost.
Under the Vassilikos - Pendaskinos Project construction of the dams was completed in 1985. This project increased the irrigated area in the Larnaca region and the domestic and industrial water supply of three cities.
The Southern Conveyor Project is the most ambitious water development project ever attempted in Cyprus. It started in 1984, and the first phase was completed in 1989, providing water from 2,600 farm units. About 600,000 consumers also benefited from increased water supply. For the first phase, loans with a total value of $61 million were secured, of which $27 million was provided by the World Bank, $10 million by the Kuwait Fund and $24 million by the European Investment Fund. For the second phase, loans of $42.5 million were secured. UNDP continued to provide consultancy services in strengthening the capacity of the project management in terms of tender evaluation, contract award, supervision of consultants etc.
The Agricultural Research Institute was established in 1962 with the cooperation of UNDP and FAO. It is now a regional research center and many of its staff provide their expertise to the United Nations agencies and organizations. Agriculture remains one of the mainstays of the Cypriot economy. Plant protection, aquaculture, fisheries, animal newborn diseases, veterinary, meteorology are some of the areas where cooperation has been long standing.
In cooperation with UNDP and UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) policy studies were undertaken on the main environmental issues facing Cyprus. Also a Tourism Master Plan was drawn, with the assistance of UNDP and WTO (World Tourism Organization). With assistance from WFP (World Food Programme), a systematic soil conservation and tree planting programme was undertaken. Marginal and mountainous lands were brought back under cultivation and rural roads were constructed in these areas. Environmental concerns are also addressed under the regional UNDP/IBRD/EDI project "Mediterranean Environmental Technical Assistance Programme (METAP)".
Human Resources Development
This has been an area of continued cooperation from the very early days till now. From on-the-job training, to workshops, fellowships or study tours and participation in regional and world conferences and seminars to the establishment of local institutions such as the Cyprus Productivity Center, the Hotel Institute of Cyprus, the Higher Technical Institute, the Industrial Training Authority and others. Apart from the development of human resources in the private sector, the needs of the public sector were also addressed through projects such as the Computer Master Plan, the Statistics and economic Management project, and support to institutes such as the Cyprus International Institute of Management and the Civil Service Academy. Most of the Cypriot training institutions are increasingly becoming regional training centers.
Economic and Industrial Restructuring
The efforts of Cyprus to broaden the country's economic base were assisted through the cooperation and technical assistance of UNDP. Special mention is due to projects such as the "Industrial Development Services" with assistance in the fields of plastics, ceramics, bentonite, ship-building, quality control, promotion of industrial free zones etc. UNIDO (UN Industrial Development Organization) was a full partner in most of these projects. The "Industrial Strategy" known as the Sussex or Murray Report was formulated with assistance from UNDP and UNIDO. To complement the above strategy, UNDP financed under its UN Fund for Science and Technology Development (UNFSTD) the "Science and Technology Strategy". Private sector involvement was addressed throughout the formulation of these strategies and the input of trade unions, the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Cyprus Employers and Industrialists Federation was instrumental in these areas of cooperation. The project "Strengthening the Competitiveness of the Cyprus Industry" is still an area of fruitful cooperation between the Government and UNDP.
Having now graduated to net contributor country status the Cyprus Government expresses deep gratitude to the UNDP which has made valuable contribution to the developmental process of our country.
Cyprus, with its new status, is looking forward to contributing positively to the work of the UNDP, its programmes and development efforts.