Sustainable development mobilization in Turkey

01 Jul 2007

Who would have known that the hardest pronounced and hardly remembered project title of the UNDP/Turkey would be well-understood and spread from mouth to mouth in the mountains of the eastern city of Erzurum, the primary schools of western city Bursa and the households of Central Anatolian city Kayseri...

New Horizons - While UNDP and environmentalists try to find ways to explain to the media and the public the concept of “sustainable development”; with the help of this project, they themselves are learning from the public, local municipalities and organizations how sustainable development could be explained.

Conducted by UNDP and Turkish State Planning Organization, and financed by the European Union, the ‘Integration of Sustainable Development  into Sectoral Policies Project’ has not only realized 23 sub-projects throughout the country but also reached beyond its initial targets.

In Erzurum alone, the sub-project ‘Building and Expanding Mobile Agricultural Laboratories’, originally planned for a target group of 600, actually reached 3000 people. Thanks to this project, Erzurum’s agricultural sector which previously produced only for the regional market, is now getting ready to sell to international markets. ‘Participatory Education for Sustainable Environment’ sub-project in Bursa targeted only 12 schools but reached 50. Another sub-project, entitled ‘If Edison Knew’ initially aimed only the city of Kayseri, but the success of the project has reached beyond the city limits. In the ‘Training of Local Community for Transition to Organic Agriculture in Kocaeli/Yuvacık Dam Basin’ sub-project, 83 of the total of 100 trainees were estimated to successfully complete the courses, yet the success ratio was 100%.

Last month in June, 23 project leaders from 18 provinces came together in Ankara and shared their success stories and experiences. At the UNDP meeting, Project Manager of ‘Integration of Sustainable Development  into Sectoral Policies’ Atila Uras said, “Turkey, with its young and dynamic population and fast growing economy, sees the generously rich and unique nature of Anatolia not only as a consumable resource, but as the source of sustainable life itself. Turkey aims to increase the competitiveness of its economy and the life quality of its citizens, while respecting and protecting the well-being and prosperity of its future generations.”

The pilot sectors of the EU-funded projects are agriculture, energy, urbanization, environment and information technologies. The main objective of the projects is to determine Turkey’s leading strategies in the sustainable development efforts and to raise public awareness in related issues. However, each local project slightly differentiates and adds its own contributions and innovations to the overall concept. The general objectives of the ‘Integration of Sustainable Development  into Sectoral Policies Project’ are increasing the existing energy potential in each of the 18 provinces in a correct and nature-compatible manner, reducing Turkey’s dependency on foreign sources for energy, correct utilization of geothermal resources, proper treatment of solid wastes and creating safe disposal facilities for industrial waste materials, training women to acquire skills that will enable them to contribute to the family economy, protection of nature, combating erosion, improving forestation, raising awareness among people, especially children, for preventing the loss of water with correct management, training and encouraging farmers to adopt organic farming, promoting eco-tourism, cleaning and capacity increasing of dam basins, and training young people in innovative entrepreneurship.

Special attention is given to the publicity of the projects in the local media and television in order to further increase awareness among local people. Conferences, seminars, symposiums and training courses are organized; posters, brochures, booklets and children’s painting books are produced; special t-shirts are handed out; essay, painting and knowledge contests are held for young people; and documentary films and CDs are released as part of the publicity campaign. Although most of the 23 projects are nearly completed, locals’ enthusiasm doesn’t seem to wane…

The concept of “sustainable development” was first introduced at the World Sustainable Development Summit in Rio in 1992, then in Johannesburg in 2002.  In Turkey, efforts in this area started in 2006. A 20-month period was foreseen for the completion of all the sub-projects within the framework of the ‘Integration of Sustainable Development  into Sectoral Policies Project’, conducted jointly by UNDP Turkey and State Planning Organization. EU’s total grant for the Project is 910 thousand Euros. The sub-projects each have three dimensions: policy making, local implementations, and communication and information activities. All projects strongly encourage the participation of NGOs, local administrations, academics and private sector companies, as well as local individuals from children to women and the elderly.

Organic Agriculture in the mountains of Erzurum

One of the projects that benefits from the sustainable development funds is the Organic Agriculture Project that is being implemented in North Eastern Anatolia... In the context of the project, 4 agricultural engineers who visited each village in the region looking for soils appropriate for organic agriculture, were indeed unaware of the international attention the region would receive when they came across the untouched lands of Erzurum and with the establishment of Turkey’s first Soil Bank in Erzurum, local farmers started an intensive work in these lands. A mobilization was initiated to widen the range of organic products by making use of the existing potential for organic agriculture in Erzurum, to make producers and consumers conscious of organic products and to increase the production and consumption of organic products.

Erzurum is a city in North Eastern Anatolia with a 2000 metres altitude and where brutal climate conditions rule the region but the poverty and the continental climate in Erzurum and its region bring a huge advantage. Farmers can not buy chemical manure and hormones for their lands due to poverty. Moreover, the cold weather that drops down to minus 45 degrees makes it impossible for insects and pests that harm the crops to sustain their lives. As a result of this, the lands in Erzurum and North Eastern Anatolia have managed to stay intact and chemical-free. The fact that the ecological system of this region is intact creates an environment that has a high potential for organic agriculture.

In the context of the Organic Agriculture Project, an Organic Agriculture Centre was established as a first step to make use of the region. This centre supports organic agriculture in Erzurum while on the other hand it started its works to increase land efficiency in the long term using only natural means, prevent soil erosion, maintain quality and quantity of water and increasing the income levels of farmers thus ensuring their security. Soil analysis were conducted by mobile laboratories and trainings for farmers were initiated. Meanwhile, all works were given extensive coverage in the local and national media in the context of the project’s presentation studies.

Through this project, wheat flour, rye flour, corn flour, peas, lentils, wheat, white beans, meat, milk and animal feed all of which are organic are now being produced in Erzurum. Moreover, methods of agronomy, manuring, irrigation, plant protection and harvesting in organic corn production are being taught. But the project did not settle for just these.

The Organic Agriculture Project in Erzurum undersigned unprecedented successes. While the lands of 600 farmers were targeted, 3000 farmers were reached. While the city only had the capacity to sell products in its own boundaries, today Erzurum started to sell its goods to international markets. The success of the projects caught the attention of international parties as well. The project received the social initiative awards from an American NGO called ASHOKA and from the NGO called Neil Armstrong in Davos. Countries like Italy and Germany are already waiting in line to buy the organic products that are being produced in Erzurum. In the context of the project, a facility for processing and packaging organic products will also be established in Turkey.

The beneficiary of the “Establishing and Expanding of Mobile Laboratories for Scientific Production in Agriculture Project” (Organic Agriculture) is the East Anatolian Agricultural Producers and Stockfarming Union and the project budget is 104 thousand 13.70 euros...

The sun is rising in Diyarbakır

The Diyarbakır Solar House Project is a study compatible with human health and nature in which clean and inexhaustable energy resources are being assessed and put to good account. The aim of the project that was initiated with the sustainable development funds is to increase the education and conscience for the use of solar energy in Diyarbakır in the short term and in South Eastern Anatolia in the long term, to build capacity for the use of solar energy as well as for the designs that are compatible with natural climate conditions and to create employment in this sector... The Solar House that was built in this cotext constitutes the basis of the project and is a first in Turkey.

The importance of Diyarbakır is of great size in this project. While Turkey receives sunlight for 2609 hours a year, Diyarbakır alone, receives 3016 hours of sunlight annually; therefore the Solar House that will be built will also be used as a scientific laboratory and a research centre. In this context the Solar House will be a structure that receives all its energy from the sun and converts this into electric and hydrogen energy and will also be able to benefit from neighbouring water pits, use the wind energy from the wind mills to create and save energy. The Solar House has the attribute of being a first implementation in Turkey that is being realized by the local administration and 60% of its construction is completed. The internet system that will be planted in the house when the construction is complete, will provide information for Turkey and the whole world.

A consulting commission was established in the context of the Diyarbakır Solar House Project. Moreover, a documentary, an exhibition, booklets, cds, trainings on solar energy and alternative energy resources were prepared. A conference on Energy and Ecology was also organised in which the aim was to attract attention to the region with the participation of experts that have national and international publications and implementations. The Diyarbakır Solar House Project succeeded in making its voice heard in local channels and newspapers as well as in national channels.

After the completion of the project, the Solar House will be given over to the Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality Directorate of Environment Protection. Other partners of the project include the Kayapınar and Yenişehir Municipalities, Dicle University South Eastern Anatolia Project Implementation and Reseach Centre, South Eastern Anatolia Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association, Diyarbakır Chamber of Electrical Engineers, Diyarbakır Chamber of Mechanical Engineers, Protection and Sustenance of Natural Beings Association and Environmental Volunteers Association. The duration of the project is 12 months and its budget is 91 thousand 677.60 euros.

Decontamination in Konya

The Konya Solid Waste Management Training Project was designed to make the public more conscious and aware regarding the saving of energy, raw material and natural resources through solid waste management. Through the solid waste management and treatment project; recycling is realized, employment opporutinities are being created, environment pollution is being prevented to a great extent and the ecological system is preserved to some extent.  In this context, the first aim of the project is to decrease the production of solid wastes to a minimum as well as reducing to a minimum the harmful effects that solid wastes create through a sustainable solid waste management system. Among the other objectives are reminding companies about their duties and informing them on issues of sustainable development and industry-environment relation.

With this aim, Konya Waste Exchange that was established to provide an environment for industrialists to offer and supply their wastes and for companies to access these supplies has been idle until the project but today the exchange has 11 members. Through the exchange many wastes such as paper, wood, metal, leather, glass, plastic, rubber, constructional wastes and other wastes are expected to be recycled.

In the framework of the project, cds were prepared for all member sectors of the chamber of industry regarding regulations, environment regulations and employer safety in solid waste management. In addition trainings were given in two groups one of which was held on 14-15 February and the other on 21-22 February.

The project has a budget of 11 thousand 549.46 euros and its duration is four months.

 Clean Water for a Clean Future in Düzce

The “Clean Water for a Clean Future Project” executed by the Düzce Municipality aims the correct management, protection and conscious use of water supplies in Düzce (North Western city of Turkey). In addition, the project aims to build corporate capacity for an effective water management, determine local water policies,  economical use of water and knowledge and experince transfer from Europe’s successful implementation models.

The expected outcomes of the project are the changes in consumption behaviours, initiation of training programmes in schools, taking of appropriate measures by industries, increase in the number of farmers who perform organic agriculture, reduction of illegal water use, reduction of water loss as Düzce is a region prone to earthquakes and determining of local water policies. The project targets a wide range of audience. Some of these are decision takers and managers regarding water administration, local administrators, housewives, farmers, involved chambers, non-governmental organizations, teachers, students and industrialists.

To introduce the project to the public, press conferences were organised, billboards were hung around the city, seminars titled “Ladies you are invited to a Seminar –Protect your water resources” aimed at women and women’s associations and “Farmers you are invited to a Seminer” aimed at farmers were organised, social debates were realized and the project team visited households around the city and gave out 10 thousand brochures. In addition Cinzia Federici an expert of an Italian environment organisation called Legambiente came to Düzce and realised educational activities with students and picture contests were held. In the context of the project, trainings were given to 80 teachers during 2 days. Moreover the drinking water of Düzce was analyzed.

Through the project, which has a 92 thousand euros budget, sustainable development was introduced in many local newspapers such as Öncü (Pioneer), Düzce Manşet (Düzce Headline), Düzce Damla (Düzce Drop), Düzce’nin Sesi (Voice of Düzce) and Düzce Postası (Düzce Post).