Ladies and gentlemen
First of all I need to thank you for the great honour of inviting me here tonight and for the opportunity to be among you and share a few thoughts.
I am sure you have heard by now how important this stage of your life is, and how it will define your future.
Well let me tell you how it was for me at this time in my life.
After some very difficult months during the Turkish invasion and a body full of adrenaline, my parents were telling me that it was time for me to decide what I wanted to do with my life.
All I kept telling them was that I wanted to study in London.
So one fine day, my parents were driving me to the airport and I remember my mother thinking that I was flying to London to study medicine and become doctor.
My sister was thinking that I would become an aircraft engineer and my dad was just driving quietly.
What none of them knew, was that I had absolutely no clue what I wanted to do with my life, and the only reason I wanted to go London, was because I loved rock music and London was the place to be!
Two weeks after my arrival I managed to get tickets and got a good seat to watch Led Zeppelin in London's Earls Court.
Eventually I went to a library and started reading about possible studies. In one of the books I read that if the only thing you know is that you like engineering go for this 2 year course.
I did the course, and then went on to study Electronic Engineering at the university.
When I came back to Cyprus I did a few odd jobs and eventually I ended up a lecturer at the Higher Technical Institute teaching computer hardware and telecommunications.
My involvement in environmental groups led me to become the first Cyprus Government Commissioner for the Environment. After that I was appointed a lecturer at Cyprus University of Technology and then got elected as a member of Parliament and here I am.
And in case you are still wondering, none of my parents understood what it was that I finally studied at University.
All I am saying here is that its OK if you don't know what you want to do with your life, or if you are not sure about your study choices.
What is important however, is that you should try to get to know yourself, your likes, your dislikes and most importantly what makes you happy.
Find what interests you, get involved, widen your horizons, see what others are doing, look and try to understand the world and what gets you excited.
Most of all do your best, at whatever you decide to do.
From what I have learned, some of you will have the opportunity to study at some of the best universities both in USA and the UK.
Those of you that didn't get into a prestigious university, should know that some people claim that about six years after graduation, what makes a difference is not the university you graduated from, but how good a professional you are, what experiences and knowledge you acquired and how well you progressed in life.
However, no matter whether you become a mathematician, an economist, you get into business or study music, there are certain qualities that are important for you to acquire.
First of all we need graduates with higher ethics and professional integrity.
Remember, an ethical professional will keep doing what is right no matter what is happening around him or her, in the workplace.
If you don’t do this, you will soon become one of the people that most us dislike.
And I guarantee you in the coming years others will dislike you intently.
If you really love your country you must try to be professional in what you do, follow the latest developments and practices in your profession, base your decisions on science and good practice, and try to be as ethical as possible in all aspects.
You must also be able to differentiate pseudo science from real science and of course be able to identify conspiracy theories.
When people started using fossil fuels during the industrial revolution they did not know the damage they were doing to our planet. All the people promoting private car ownership in the 1960s or used coal for electricity production or massive industrialisation, agriculture and farming, they simply did not know the damage they were causing.
But from the mid 90s we do know the damage we cause to our planet and in great detail.
It is for this reason that some say that our times will be remembered as the age of stupid!
Climate change is a huge threat to all of us, but it would be even tougher for our part of the world, as this side of the Mediterranean is expected to be one of the worst hit areas on the planet.
Scientists predict higher temperatures for us, with increasing number of tropical nights.
Summer will be 6 weeks longer and a hot day will not be around 40oC but 5oC to 6oC degrees higher.
On top of that, we expect to have lower rainfall and conditions of flooding.
It is obvious to anyone that with such conditions, we are bound to loose vegetation, wildlife will suffer, and agricultural production will be minimal.
Cyprus will not be a good place to be.
On top of everything else, changes are happening faster for us than the rest of the world.
And if you want to see how Cyprus changed over the last years, just talk to your grandparents and they will describe to you how it was when they were at your age.
We mastered the science!
We have events all over the world that prove that climate change is upon us and yet we are not doing anything significant other than just talk and make promises. And I am afraid its too late.
We have done tremendous damage to our planet in other ways too.
Humans appeared in the last 200 000 years out of the many million years that this planet existed before us.
And what have we done?
Species are becoming extinct a 100 times faster just because of us.
In the last fifty years alone, wild animal populations are halved and human population doubled.
We are living through the sixth mass extinction of species with the last one being the dinosaur era.
Why is it important for you to aware of all these changes?
Because we hope that you will take action and try to help.
There are important things for you to do.
First you need to show interest, learn about the problems, big or small, and apply this knowledge to your professional life.
What ever your field of study, you will find relevant sustainability issues that you can address within your work.
In order to achieve sustainability we all need to work together and find solutions.
The European Union Directives and regulations give you all the legal tools to get up and fight for a good cause, and you should use them.
Get to know your environmental rights. People who exercise these rights, give governments great headaches to start with.
Another important action is to show interest, get involved learn about problems and fight for a solution.
Seek out the opportunities and participate!
Join and support Non Governmental Organisations whose action you agree with, and help push changes through.
We rely on you to fight for a change, to lead the way forward to new sustainable future and put a stop at the damage my stupid and greedy generation has done.
And dear graduates, you should never ever forget what Mahatma Gandhi, this great leader, once said:
“Be the change you wish to see in the world”
Κινήματος Οικολόγων-Συνεργασία Πολιτών.