CHARALAMBOS Theopemptou, who served as Environment Commissioner since the creation of the post in 2006, received hundreds of messages of support from well-wishers on his Facebook page and blog site after it was announced that his term would not be renewed.
The new president appointed the leader of the Green Party, Ioanna Panayiotou to the post and there are plans to set up an Environment Council to support the Commissioner. The government’s objective is to upgrade the post and give it more powers, including managing a fund relating to environmental issues in different government departments.
Many people expressed disappointment at the decision to remove Theopemptou from the post because he was considered a very effective commissioner, who had singlehandedly raised environmental awareness on the island. Without any staff apart from a secretary and no resources Theopemptou was a successful one-man show, undertaking many awareness initiatives, expressing views through his blog on a range of environmental issues, organising campaigns and visiting schools to explain green issues to children.
We do not know how effective the new Environment Council would be, as committees are notorious for their inability to take quick decisions, let alone be pro-active. Theopemptou, who was commendably pro-active throughout his six-and-half-years in the post, was a very successful Environment Commissioner because he was not answerable to any committee or Council. We can only hope that the new structure introduced by the government will not prove an obstacle to action and restrict initiatives by the new Commissioner.