Annual Turkey-UNDP consultations, Syria crisis response and socio-economic development in southeast Anatolia top the agenda

Ankara, 1 February 2019 - Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, U.N. Assistant Secretary-General and Director of UN’s Development Programme’s (UNDP) Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, finished her visit to Turkey where she reviewed UNDP’s partnership with the government and visited key programme sites in southeast Anatolia.

In Ankara, Ms. Spoljaric Egger joined the annual consultations of the Partnership Framework Agreement of UNDP and Turkey, co-chaired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Signed in 2011, the Partnership Framework Agreement (PFA) enables both parties to expand their cooperation at the national, regional and global level.

As part of the framework, Turkey has contributed US$15 million towards UNDP’s regional programme in Europe and Central Asia and is supporting the Istanbul Regional Hub. The country has also become one of the top non-DAC donors to UNDP core resources, having contributed US$15 million since 2013.

“UNDP has leveraged Turkey’s financial contributions to establish a solid regional presence in Istanbul, and the best functioning regional hub among all five hubs. With the unique nature of our partnership at the global, regional and local level, we believe that we have achieved a strong synergy and cooperation between the Istanbul Private Sector Centre at the global level, Istanbul Regional Hub at the regional level and Country office at the local level”, said Mirjana Spoljaric Egger.

“I hope that in 2019 and beyond we will expand our partnership with Turkey’s generous support to global, regional and country level priorities in support of Agenda 2030.”

While in Turkey, the Regional Director also visited programmes aimed to advance the situation of Syrian and Turkish nationals in southeast Anatolia, an area directly affected by the influx of displaced Syrians. As of January 2019, Turkey, the country with the world’s largest number of refugees, is hosting over 3,6 million Syrians. The country provides a rights-based legal framework through the Temporary Protection regulation, which offers access to education, health care, employment and social security to Syrians. Turkey is also the largest donor of humanitarian aid in the world in proportion to its national income.

The only international organization with a continuous presence of more than 20 years, contributing to the socio-economic empowerment of the southeast Anatolia region, UNDP is supporting the government as it works to increase self-reliance among Syrians – most of which reside in urban areas – while strengthening the capacities of host communities and municipalities to provide public services and boost the local economy.

The work of UNDP in the field enhanced with a shift from humanitarian to sustainable-development-based approach to Syria Crisis Response. UNDP works with a wide range of local and regional development actors in the region to develop inclusive and sustainable policies to empower Syrian refugees and the host communities.

In Şanlıurfa, Ms. Spoljaric Egger met with Mr Abdullah Erin, the Governor of Şanlıurfa and Mr. Sadrettin Karahocagil, the President of the Southeast Anatolia Project (GAP) Regional Development Administration. She discussed with the latter major programmes on entrepreneurship, industrial and rural development, tourism and energy efficiency. These programmes have been expanded since the beginning of the conflict in Syria to mitigate its impact on the region.

In Şanlıurfa, Ms. Spoljaric Egger also visited a centre that deploys renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies and practices to power strategic economic sectors including agriculture and food industry and public investments in the region.

In Gaziantep, UNDP’s Regional Director met trainers and trainees of a glass-blowing atelier that provides a vital source of income for locals and Syrians and attend a vocational training certificate programme, that UNDP conducts in cooperation of Gaziantep Chamber of Commerce. She met the Mayor Ms Fatma Şahin to discuss the opportunities for transfer of knowledge and hands on experience of the Municipality to other local authorities around the world, which faces similar challenges. The city, along with its neighbouring provinces, is known for its generous and hospitable approach towards the migrants from Syria since the beginning of the influx, demonstrating how key principles of the humanitarian reforms, including the New Way of Working (NWOW) have been put in practice in Turkey.

In Kilis, the Regional Director visited an organic olive oil production facility supported by UNDP and local partners. She also visited a community centre facilitating social and economic integration for Syrians and host communities. The border province hosts more Syrians than Turkish nationals.

As the Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Europe and the CIS, since October 2018, Mirjana Spoljaric Egger leads UNDP’s work and teams in 17 countries and one territory, spanning Central Asia, the Western CIS and South Caucasus, and Western Balkans. She paid her first official visit to Turkey with her new title, back in November.

Ms. Spoljaric Egger previously served as Head of United Nations and International Organisations Division of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, where she has been instrumental in shaping Swiss UN policies and priorities in support the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. She is the successor of Ms Cihan Sultanoğlu who was appointed as the new UN Representative to the Geneva International Discussions in 2018.

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