Adapting Turkey to climate change

01 Jul 2008

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The first project dedicated to climate change adaptation in Turkey was launched on 10 June 2008 in Adana, southern Turkey.

New Horizons - The project is supported by the Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund (MDG-F) jointly established by the Government of Spain and UNDP. The MDG-F was established in December 2006 to accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals at a global level. In this context a total of US$ 7 million was awarded to Turkey in April 2008 through a project.

The kick-off meeting of the project entitled “Enhancing the Capacity of Turkey to Adapt to Climate Change” was attended by Prof. Dr. Lütfi Akça, Director General for Environmental Management at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Manuel Larrotcha Parada, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Spanish Embassy, İlhan Atış, Adana Governor, Ulrika Richardson-Golinski, Deputy Resident Representative of United Nations Development Programme, Tsukasa Kimoto, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations Representative, Celal Armangil, United Nations Industrial Development Organization National Coordinator in Turkey as well as by representatives from the Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Energy and Natural Resources, Industry and Trade and from the State Planning Organization, Çukurova University, NGOs and the private sector.

During her opening remarks, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Ulrika Richardson-Golinski explained the threats caused by climate change and said: “climate change has significant impact on our daily lives whether we are living in cities or rural areas and whether we are poor or rich”. Golinski added that “no one is immune from the results of climate change and mankind can not reverse the effects of climate change but that the best way to reduce its effects is focusing on mitigation and adaptation”.

Following UNDP Deputy Resident Representative’s speech, FAO Representative Tsukasa Kimoto stressed that high food prices were causing socio-economic problems and said: “I hope that the project will encourage high agricultural productivity and helps communities to better adapt to the changes and negative effects that climate change brings”. Deputy Chief of Mission of the Spanish Embassy Manuel Larrotcha Parada on the other hand pointed out to the appropriate timing of the project, reminding that the Environment Day had been celebrated a week ago and drew attention to the words of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon that “it is time to wake up before it’s too late”.

Parada reiterated that climate change is not only a threat but a reality and that creative initiatives are needed. Parada stressed the importance of “thinking locally and acting locally” and added that the Government of Spain is eager to support Turkey’s modernization process. Director General of Environmental Management of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Prof. Dr. Lütfi Akça on the other hand restated the importance of the timing of which the project was launched and reminded that Turkey had taken a few steps forward in signing the Kyoto Protocol. Akça explained the importance of signing the protocol and why Turkey should sign it.

Following the welcoming remarks, the project manager Atila Uras gave widely acknowledged definitions to climate change and adaptation and explained the brief history of Turkey and climate change. Uras described the project and the expected outcomes as:

  • Integrating adaptation to climate change into Turkey’s national development plans,

  • Enhancing national, regional and institutional capacity,

  • Implementing community-based pilot projects in the Seyhan River Basin and

  • Integrating adaptation to climate change into all UN programmes.

The Regional Coordinator of the project Alper Acar on the other hand, provided more technical information on the Seyhan River Basin, gave definitions for natural disasters, risks and adaptation capacity and explained why a community-based adaptation is needed. Acar also briefed the participants on the processes and phases of the project.

Following the kick-off ceremony, the participants visited the Akyatan Lagoon, which is one of the largest wetlands in Turkey, located in Karataş town of Adana. Akyatan Lagoon that is an important example where the effects of human activities related to climate change can be seen hosts the biggest dunes of Turkey, as well as important bird and vegetation sites and is one of the worldwide important breeding sites of the green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas). The Akyatan Lagoon that is a natural asset vulnerable to climate change is protected under the Ramsar Convention.

In the framework of the project, efforts will be made to develop a National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. The project will also develop and carry out early warning systems against natural disasters, climate change adaptation works on the use of water, land and energy as well as community based pilot projects, primarily in the Seyhan River Basin, on the use of agricultural, urban and industrial water, ecosytem services and nature protection fields. Campaigns will be initiated to raise awareness among local population. The project also envisages studies on how to minimize the negative effects of climate change on groups such as women, children, the elderly, the disabled and youth. Central and local government, national and local NGOs, universities, the private sector and academics will contribute to project success through active participation  and ownership in planning and implementation.

This project is the first project dedicated to climate change adaptation in Turkey and is a joint UN initiative with the participation of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as the leading agency and coordinator of the project, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other stakeholders.