Strengthening the System of Marine and Coastal Protected Areas of Turkey Project Closure Meeting

16 Apr 2014

Opening Remarks for Mr. Kamal Malhotra
UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Turkey
16 April 2014, Ankara


Your Excellency, the Minister for Environment and Urbanization
Representatives of Government Agencies,
Representatives of Academia,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentleman,

  • Let me start by extending my appreciation to the Government of Turkey, particularly the General Directorate for Protection of Natural Assets of the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization for a decade of partnership with the United Nations Development Programme and for its commitment to marine biodiversity conservation and enhancing the marine and coastal system in Turkey.
  • It is well known that the Mediterranean region has been the cradle of many civilizations for thousands of years - the heart of trade, transport and cultural exchange between diverse people and communities; an interaction point for religions, languages and continents. Being the source of the first human settlements, world empires and one of the hotspots of global biodiversity, the Mediterranean offers a great heritage for human kind, among the most beautiful landscapes on earth, the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea and fine beaches.
  • However, despite its rich biodiversity and cultural importance, the Mediterranean Sea is subject to intense human pressure, driven by urbanization and tourism development and resulting in habitat loss and degradation, overfishing and pollution. 
  • Therefore, all Mediterranean countries are committed to contribute to the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity, through the Barcelona Convention and its Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean. 
  • There are several important international commitments for the protection of marine and coastal areas. Let me note the key ones. 
  • For example, in order to improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity, global biodiversity targets were set in Nagoya in 2010. These targets, known as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, aim to conserve 10% of the planet’s coastal and marine areas by 2020.  
  • The importance of marine ecosystems was also reinforced at the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio+20. As you recall, the political commitment of governments to sustainable development was renewed and strengthened at Rio+20. This was by far the largest ever UN gathering of this kind, and culminated in the adoption by 193 UN member states of the outcome document titled “The Future We Want”. 
  • The document stressed that conservation and the sustainable use of marine ecosystems contribute to poverty eradication, sustained economic growth, food security, creation of sustainable livelihoods and decent work, while protecting biodiversity, the marine environment and addressing the impacts of climate change. It also reaffirmed that area-based conservation measures, including marine protected areas, consistent with international law and based on the best available scientific information, are an important tool for conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of its components. 
  • Turkey took actions and actively engaged in translating this into practice and this is clearly spelled out in its key policy documents. Let me quote the vision spelled out in Turkey's 2023 Strategy Document: “A country, which has ensured the sustainability of marine and coastal assets for future generations”. 
  • To enable this, in November 2012, Turkey hosted the Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Forum during which the Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas community reviewed the status and developed a regional roadmap aimed at establishing an effective and sustainably managed ecological network of Marine Protected Areas.
  • Further, in 2013, Turkey hosted the Barcelona Convention COP 18 meeting in Istanbul. The key two outcomes of the COP 18 were: the "Istanbul Declaration", through which Parties adopted decisions to protect and conserve marine species (including monk seals and marine turtles). The Parties also agreed to develop a representative network of coastal and marine protected areas, to protect the Mediterranean Sea coral habitat and to increase the number and visibility of the Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMI).
  • We are gathered here in relation to another specific action of Turkey – the project on “Strengthening the System of Marine and Coastal Protected Areas of Turkey", reflecting joint cooperation between the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Government of Turkey and UNDP. 
  • This project implemented by the General Directorate for Protection of Natural Assets of the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization in partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) aimed to strengthen Turkey’s national marine and coastal protection system and to ensure its effective management.
  • It is my great pleasure to share some of the concrete and successful results of this project:

- Before the project, 2.8% of Turkey’s coasts were under protection; this went up to 4% after the declaration of Saros Bay a Special Environmental Protection Area and expansion of Gökova Special Environmental Protection Area.

- Turkey’s Marine and Coastal Protected Areas network has been expanded by 100,000 ha; which means an increase of 45% compared to the baseline level.

- After the declaration of 10 no-fishing zones in Gökova and Datça-Bozburun Special Environmental Protection Areas a total of 4,000-ha area is now protected.

- For the first time under the project, an environmental economic valuation was conducted for the Marine Protected Areas in Turkey.

- The Marine Protected Areas in Turkey now offer a wide range of services and products and contribute both to the individual and social welfare of the local population. Economic valuation of the project confirms that the total annual value of the marine ecosystem services amounts to 800 million TL.

- Before the declaration of the “no-fishing zones” in Gökova Special Environmental Protected Area, the monthly income generated per boat was 1,485 TL; it went up to 2,267 TL after the declaration, which means an increase of 1.5 fold.

- The first ever Marine Protected Areas International Training Center was established to serve national and regional capacity building needs.

- Turkey's National Marine and Coastal Protected Areas Strategy and Action Plan was drafted, aiming at ensuring the protection of Turkey’s cultural and natural marine assets as well as the sustainability of the Marine and Coastal Protection Areas Network.

  • These are just brief highlights of the achievements of this valuable joint collaboration, which I believe will help Turkey fulfil its commitments to protect the health, wealth and sustainability of marine ecosystems, as well as the biodiversity, goods and services they provide in order to reach its 2023 targets.
  • We are very proud of the project outcomes. The project will leave a legacy and many outputs which will need to be further sustained and supported by the authorities – like the operations of the Training and Implementation Centre, the Local Working Groups, as well as the permit and management division established under the DG for Protection of Natural Assets. We also hope that the National MCPA Strategy and Action Plan will soon be formalized and that financial support will be provided to the Marine and Coastal Protection Areas in Turkey.
  • I hope that our successful cooperation will continue and that the example of this project will be shared at regional and global levels as a practical demonstration of how global measures for the protection, sustainable development and management of the marine and coastal environment can be adopted and bring many benefits for people.
  • Once again, on behalf of UNDP let me thank the Ministry, colleagues in Ankara and in the field, and all the local communities for their continuing support for this initiative. A special thank goes to fisherwomen working under the Fishing Cooperatives for their valuable support and commitment despite their difficult endeavour.
  • Thank you.