Final Grantees Meeting

09 Nov 2010

Final Grantees Meeting, 9-11 November 2010, Gazi Park Hotel, Ankara
Speech of Mr. Shahid Najam

Dear Mr. Deputy Undersecretary
Honourable Guests

There is now overwhelming scientific evidence that the world is moving towards the point at which irreversible ecological catastrophe and associated socio-economic damages becomes unavoidable. The expected changes to climate systems over the coming decades will have a profound effect on the development prospects of many countries and can go as far as unprecedented reversals in human development in our lifetime, and acute risks for next generations. The 2007/2008 Global Human Development Report also underlines that climate change is not just a future scenario. Increased exposure to droughts, floods and storms is already destroying opportunity and reinforcing inequality as climate change continues to have its wide-ranging effects on the environment and on socio-economic and related sectors including water resources, agriculture and food security, human health, terrestrial ecosystems and biodiversity and coastal zones.

Like all other countries, Turkey also gets her share from the adverse effects of climate change. Turkey’s First National Communication submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) draws attention to changing precipitation regimes and erratic rainfall, increasing water stress, increasing desertification and decreasing livestock due to climate change. Such changes are especially apparent in the coastal areas of Turkey where over 30 million people live. Infrastructure and agricultural land in these areas are potentially more vulnerable to incidents of sea-level rise, flooding and coastal erosion.

A study in the Seyhan River Basin conducted by the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN, Japan), the Scientific and Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) and Çukurova University between 2002-2007 states that the basin is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. In this sense; adaptation to climate change will be crucial in reducing vulnerability and managing the unavoidable impacts of climate change.

In this regard the United Nations and the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Forestry initiated a UN Joint Programme on “Enhancing the Capacity of Turkey to Adapt to Climate Change,” in June 2008. This was funded by the UNDP/Spain MDG Achievement Fund aiming to develop national strategies to combat and manage the impacts of climate change and to develop capacity for managing climate change risks to rural and coastal development in Turkey. Within this UN Joint Programme a community-based adaptation Grants Programme was initiated in the Seyhan River Basin aiming to enable communities to enhance their own adaptive capacity as well as empower their communities thus increasing their resilience to the current and future impacts of climate change. The main themes supported under this Grants Programme were agriculture and food security, water resources and quality, public health, disaster risk management, basin and coastal zone management, natural resources management and infrastructure which we will see examples of in upcoming days. It made us very proud to see so many applications to the Grants Programme. This is clear evidence of the significant awareness on the issue at the local level. Those who are sitting among us today are the most successful and promising recipients who have helped us in making this Grants Programme a reality.

We have come to the point in which the Grants Programme has formally come to an end. The local communities where the pilot projects have been implemented are already harvesting the fruits of their unyielding and dedicated work. I therefore strongly believe that all involved institutions and project partners will sustain their dedicated work by integrating these successful initiatives into their daily work as well by replicating these accomplishments. I would therefore like to take this opportunity to express my genuine/sincere gratitude to all of you who have acted as pioneers in this promising initiative. Setting forth from these successes, I am hoping that these valuable efforts will have a multiplying effect in future endeavours.

Thank you