By Akif Õzkaldi, Undersecretary & GEF Operational Focal Point, Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs
Turkey both actively works to eliminate the negative impacts of today’s industrialized world on the environment and to conserve its basic components - such as water, air, earth, and flora and fauna - against them. And it attempts to provide substantial contributions to environmental protection, nationally, regionally and globally.
The Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs, our Operational Focal Point, has led the way in many well-planned and notable environmental projects by coordinating effective communication between the GEF secretariat and Council, the relevant government bodies, NGOs, the private sector, academia and the implementing agencies. The GEF 2020 Strategy says: “understanding the causal chain of factors that cause environmental degradation allows us to have a holistic view and to identify the targeted upstream interventions…”. Based on this philosophy, the GEF's main objective is to focus on the drivers of global environmental degradation and then to implement effective projects on a global scale. In this perspective, Turkey has always given priority to projects dealing with the key drivers during all GEF periods, and especially in GEF-6.
From GEF's Pilot Phase onwards, Turkey has adopted certain principles throughout the entire project cycle and placed special importance on particular criteria when proposing or endorsing projects. These include: whether projects give priority to economic growth without sacrificing the environment; whether they serve the economic and social development of disadvantaged communities or support renewable energy and the green economy; whether they are feasible and result-oriented for concrete outputs; and whether they are able to mobilize multifocal areas and mechanisms other than the System for Transparent Allocation of Resources. Turkey also attempts to balance co-financing of the projects to the extent desired by GEF-Secretariat and focus on solving global challenges at the national level, while promoting the involvement of different stakeholders and elaborating projects in line with the priorities of the Council and Secretariat.
Many strategies and action plans on combating climate change and land degradation, and on conserving biological diversity, have been developed with the support of GEF and will light the way to 2020. Concrete examples so far developed in Turkey are: “In-Situ Conservation of Genetic Biodiversity”, “National Capacity Self-Assessment for Global Environmental Management”, “Development of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan”, “Implementation of the National Biosafety Framework”, “Alignment of National Action Programs with the UNCCD 10-year Strategy and Reporting Process”, and “Update the National Implementation Plan for the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants” Another project, launched in the GEF-5 Period, is developing a national strategy on conserving and sustainably managing the country's steppe ecosystems.
GEF-funded biodiversity projects have enabled us to perform gap analysis for our protected areas, to improve their national network, and to increase the number of steppe and marine ones. Projects on mitigating the impacts of climate change include promoting clean technology and energy efficient motors for small and medium sized enterprises, and the market transformation of energy efficient appliances and energy labelling to reduce carbon emissions. Global approaches on sustainable forestry have been integrated into Turkey’s perspective with sustainable management of high conservation value forests in the Mediterranean Region, thus providing efficient carbon sequestration. As for combating desertification, a specific project will implement the concept of “Land Degradation Neutrality” in Turkey. There are also many other projects in these thematic areas.
Turkey’s vision for subsequent GEF periods will be developed on the basis of an integrated approach underlining green growth, renewable energy, water efficiency, food security and climate change issues. In summary, the lessons and experiences learned through GEF-funded projects enabled us be able to leverage their qualitative characteristics during the GEF-6 Period. The projects in Turkey have contributed, or will contribute, to eliminating existing environmental problems. Thus the GEF functions as a key mechanism for fulfilling the the country's obligations under the international environmental conventions.