Cyprus is one of 20 locations collaborating to run 9 Journeys. Because of challenges caused by climate change and the country’s booming entrepreneurship environment, this host country is ready to convert Journey participants into 'Change Agents’ at once. Stelios Yiatros, Education Lead at EIT Climate-KIC Cyprus gave us his insight on the value that the Journey - residential summer school - adds to the country and businesses.
Located at the South-Eastern front of the European Union, Cyprus experiences climate change first hand; longer and warmer summers, prolonged droughts and dust storms coming from North Africa and the Middle East. Stelios said: “Working with such an inspiring group of people towards such an important task is extremely inspiring because the stakes are high! We need to educate and inspire young professionals to innovate climate solutions.”
The latest CEO survey undertaken by PwC Cyprus (2019), showed that climate change is the fourth most important threat to local companies and their profitability. Companies and startups also play an important role by introducing the participants to new business models and how to adapt to climate change. “Every year, we aim to have founders and employees from relevant startups and companies to join the Journey for input and advice to the future generation of business leaders”, he said.
Building the local community of climate leaders is an important part of the Journey experience in Cyprus. Stelios explained that the participants from last year took part in climate and innovation activities long after the Journey ended: “The Limassol Journey of 2018 created a very enthusiastic community of talented, young individuals. They became so inspired by Climate-KIC that 13 out of 40 participants joined the ClimateLaunchpad Grand Final in Edinburgh in November 2018, either as participants or as volunteers. This is an amazing outcome!” Thus, other than learning innovative ways and tools to tackle climate change, joining the Journey Community is another benefit of taking part in this summer school. Stelios has been supporting the Journey the last three years and has experienced how the participants keep in touch and develop their business ideas.
Previous examples of climate change innovation include the Climate4Business initiative that helped over 50 SMEs in Cyprus to calculate baseline carbon emissions and to develop action plans. Stelios explained that this is a project led by Climate-KIC and the Federation of Industrialists and Employers: “By getting the companies to take a stand on their carbon emissions, the project is creating awareness about the companies’ responsibility and the tools and methods they can use to address these issues.”
Finally, Stelios also gave us a teaser on what participants can look forward to this summer. This summer, participants will experience several initiatives happening right now in Cyprus: “Journey participants will get a taste of the initiatives we have been working on, for example, sustainable historic urban districts, circular economy thinking in the construction sector, and collaboration with clean-tech startups in energy saving, food security and renewables.” He expects that participants will get a unique insight on how Cyprus is taking action through climate innovation and for many Journey participants, this will be the first step to becoming an agent of change to trigger climate action.