UNDP can benefit from Turkey

01 May 2010

UNDP Turkey Office hosted the Director of UNDP's Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States Kori Udovicki in April.

New Horizons - Udovicki visited many government officials in Turkey, including the Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan and Minister of State Cevdet Yilmaz, to speak about UNDP's ongoing programme in the country. According to Udovicki, Turkey can become a significant global partner for UNDP.

What is the purpose of your visit to Turkey?

My visit to Turkey had two purposes. Firstly, I attended a stakeholder workshop on the Assessment of Development Results report which evaluates UNDP’s contribution to development cooperation in Turkey over the past five years. I found the workshop very beneficial in bringing together our partners to discuss what have been UNDP’s achievements, and what can be done to advance our cooperation even further. The participants made some excellent suggestions, not only for the Country Office, but also for the wider UNDP, and we are looking forward to the next five years of our cooperation.

Secondly, I was here to meet with UNDP’s counterparts to discuss a different kind of partnership that we can have with Turkey, taking into account its status as a “middle-income” country and donor and its growing role in the international development cooperation.

I have also, of course, met with the team of UN agencies in Turkey, as well as the staff of the UNDP Country Office.

Can you describe the general impressions of your meetings with Turkish officials? What did you talk about? What are their expectations from the UNDP Turkey office?

During my visit, I have spoken with many government officials, including the Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan and Minister of State Cevdet Yılmaz, regarding our ongoing programme in Turkey, as well as the prospects for a more strategic partnership. They have all expressed their appreciation for UNDP assistance in the country and confirmed interest to develop in further, exploring new regional and global dimensions of our cooperation.

In particular, in line with the new United Nations Development Cooperation Strategy and UNDP Country Programme Document, UNDP looks forward to a stronger partnership with the State Planning Organization (SPO), based on Turkey’s potential to become a hub for knowledge transfer and South-South cooperation. Energy, environment, disaster risk reduction and private sector development are among areas we could explore. Turkey, in particular, has a strong private sector tradition and much can be shared with other countries. With SPO, we also agreed to continue advance our cooperation in the GAP region and in strengthening regional development.

With Musa Kulaklıkaya, the President of the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TİKA), we discussed UNDP’s cooperation to develop TİKA’s capacity in line with the Paris Declaration and Aid Effectiveness principles, and our commitment to contribute to the South-South cooperation and the strengthening role of TİKA and Turkey in providing development assistance as an emerging donor. Sharing Turkey’s experience in development and transition can provide benefit to many countries inside and outside the Europe and CIS region.

Our efforts to tackle climate change together with our partners are ongoing. In speaking with Sedat Kadıoğlu, the Deputy Undersecretary of Ministry of Environment and Forestry we emphasized the need to move forward towards a programmatic approach which will encompass two main pillars: Market Transformation toward Low Emission Economy; and Capacity Development for a climate resilient economy. On the former, Turkey in becoming a leader in the region and a knowledge hub to promote solutions in this field. On the latter, we expressed a desire to develop national capacity to initiate pilot Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions for the waste, forestry and energy sector, to continue to work on setting the framework of evolving carbon market structure for Turkey, and to launch the national carbon registry system in June 2010.

As a fairly recent area of cooperation for UNDP in Turkey, I spoke with Galip Tuncay Tutar, Deputy Undersecretary of Ministry of Justice and we agreed in our meeting to move towards a strengthened programmatic approach to our partnership in strengthening rule of law and access to justice for all.

Finally, with several partners we discussed the upcoming regional meeting that the Government of Turkey is organising with the UN family on the Millennium Development Goals ‘MDG+10 Review Conference for Europe and the CIS – Status of the Region: What works and what Does Not?’ in Istanbul in June. We hope that the conference that is expected to bring together representatives of over 20 countries will contribute to identifying the main challenges in achieving the MDGs in our region and to finding policy-oriented solutions.

Turkey, as an emerging donor, has recently achieved an upper middle income country status. How will this affect its status within the global UNDP network? How will Turkey benefit from this status?

UNDP resources are allocated to countries in part based on their GNI per capita and their population levels, and we revise these allocations every four years. According to the latest statistics from the World Bank, Turkey has a GNI per capita of $9,340 which is roughly equivalent to Spain’s GNI per capita in 1989 (three years after joining the European Union). As a “middle income” country, Turkey is eligible for a limited amount of resources from UNDP, although less than a “low” income country . As such, UNDP’s partnership with Turkey is focused less on resource transfer, and more on providing capacity building and technical support to the Government to achieve its national priorities.

But “status” is more than GNI per capita: Turkey is a unique country, a country with a majority Muslim population, yet a European outlook, that bridges Europe and Asia. It is increasingly visible on the international stage, and is playing a constructive role in the neighbourhood with its “zero problems” policy. It is also a country that has weathered well the recent financial and economic crisis. Turkey has experiences that both UNDP and other countries can benefit from. When viewed from this perspective, Turkey can become a significant global partner for UNDP.