Friends of the Earth Cyprus

Along the current

Growing up on a small island with hot, dry summers and sunny, blooming winters and springs, Athina Papatheodoulou has always been fascinated by nature – especially water bodies, which are scarce in countries like Cyprus. This led to her academic interest in both biology and the environmental management of water, in which she is doing a PhD.

Athina campaigns to preserve Cyprus’s water bodies on many different fronts. Together with Friends of the Earth Cyprus, she works to increase awareness of the negative impact of the use of bottled water – particularly in coffee shops, restaurants and taverns where clean tap water is available. In Cyprus, besides the various environmental problems arising from the inadequate recycling of plastic bottles, Athina’s concern is that extensive use of bottled water in everyday life draws the attention of people and authorities away from the crucial problem of pollution in the island’s scarce fresh water bodies.

Monitoring and conserving water bodies is not only important in terms of scientific interest, biodiversity protection and legislative obligations, but there is also a duty to future generations. In recognition of this, Athina is actively working with university and school students to introduce them to the fascinating world of aquatic ecology and complex water systems, in order to increase awareness and put them in touch with nature through hands-on experiences. Being in the field – becoming wet and muddy while learning – can help students visualise the impacts of human actions on water bodies and engage them with environmental causes. In this way, Athina helps make sure that environmental protection schemes in Cyprus are truly long-lasting.

Over the last few years, people have begun to realise more and more that water management is one of the most important challenges humanity will have to deal with. Athina is one of her island’s pioneers, with the long-term sustainability of Mediterranean water courses in her sights.

“The quality of water in Cyprus is very important because water provides lots of ecological services. We have a water shortage in Cyprus, and only five or six rivers here have a continuous flow. These rivers are also highly polluted, which affects this generation as well as those to come.”ATHINA PAPATHEODOULOU

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