UNDP Turkey announced the World Record Holder Free Diver Şahika Ercümen as “Life Below Water Advocate”.

8 June 2020 - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Turkey continues to cooperate with leading successful personalities in the society to assume advocacy for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to encourage individuals and institutions to take action on important matters affecting the world and humanity.

UNDP Turkey organized an online appointment ceremony and press conference on June 8th World Oceans Day to announce the star who will act as advocate for “Life Below Water”, the fourteenth of SDGs. In the ceremony held on this symbolic day, the World Record Holder Free Diver Ms. Şahika Ercümen, who has dived in many places from Lake Salda of Turkey to Antarctica to draw attention to issues such as environmental pollution, plastic usage and global warming, was designated “UNDP Turkey’s Life Below Water Advocate”.

Mr. Claudio Tomasi, UNDP’s Resident Representative in Turkey also participated in the ceremony moderated by UNDP Turkey’s Goodwill Ambassador Mr. Mert Fırat.

Mentioning that her new duty makes her very proud, the World Record Holder Free Diver Ms. Şahika Ercümen said: “I can say that seas and oceans are my habitat. 95 per cent of seas and oceans that cover 70% of our Earth’s surface, and 86% of the species living there have not yet been discovered. But at this rate, there will be more plastics than fish in the oceans soon. The blue world is threatened by ocean warming and acidification, overfishing and illegal fishing, extinction of millions of species, invasive alien species and of course plastics. In the record and discovery dives I made in the beautiful seas and lakes of our country, that need to be protected, and especially with the ‘Zero Waste’ project, my goal was to inspire the promotion and protection of the life below water. It is a great honor for me that these efforts coincide with the goals of the United Nations Development Programme and I am given the duty to advocate for the life below water.”

The Resident Representative of UNDP in Turkey, Mr. Claudio Tomasi, made the following statement on the announcement: “Today, to mark the World Oceans Day, I am honoured to name, 10 times World Free Diving Record holder Ms. Şahika Ercümen as Life Below Water Advocate of United Nations Development Programme in Turkey. Ms. Şahika Ercümen has been selected as UNDP Turkey’s Life Below Water Advocate because of her success in one of the world’s hardest sports: freediving. However, her sports career was not the only reason: Besides her commitment to show us the beauty of Life Below Water, she has warned us on many occasions for plastic pollution and biodiversity threat, and for invasive alien species in marine ecosystem.

Healthy oceans and seas are essential to our existence. Yet, we have caused tremendous damage to these precious resources. Saving the planet and its life resource waters from climate change and pollution is still possible. How we manage this vital resource is essential for humanity as a whole, and to counterbalance the effects of climate change. I believe that Ms. Şahika Ercümen will contribute greatly to the promotion of Sustainable Development Goals, particularly highlighting the Goal 14: Life Below Water. I look forward to working together to raise awareness on the important role that Life Below Water plays in the health of our planet and people.”

The complete video recording of the press conference can be accessed from this link.

For more information: UNDP Turkey Head of Communications Faik Uyanık, faik.uyanik@undp.org

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