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GİLA BENMAYOR

gbenmayor@hurriyet.com.tr

GİLA BENMAYOR > Sustainable tourism

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The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil, known in short as Rio 20, is reported to have been a total disappointment. Non-governmental organizations that participated at the meeting in Rio share this opinion.

The biggest criticism toward the Rio 20 Summit is that the “Green Economy” - said to be the model for the future - does not serve humanity.

According to experts, the fact that the summit yielded no concrete results about renewable energy, the increasingly polluted seas in the world (particularly in Turkey), and the extinct forests, is a major loss for the future of the earth.

If we look at the glass as “half full,” the steps taken so far in the name of “Sustainable Development” are quite precious. I will give two examples from Turkey that have both affected me.

Fest Travel, based in Istanbul, is no doubt the number one company name in “cultural tours” here.

I know that my friends who joined the Uzbekistan and Peru travels of Fest Travel, despite sleeplessness, have been to places they had never even dreamed of.

The founder of Fest Travel, Faruk Pekin, also founded the “Cultural Awareness Foundation,” in the name of preserving our “cultural heritage.”

I know very well that Pekin expresses his unhappiness at every opportunity about carbon dioxide emissions caused by the air travel we use while exploring the world.

“Are we going to stay at home? Of course not. Tour operators and tourism investors should also exert efforts to decrease greenhouse gas emissions,” says Pekin. He has launched a campaign to erase the “carbon footprints” of globetrotters.

Fest Travel, in cooperation with the forestry ministry, has planted 4,000 trees in the first stage near the Marmara town of İzmit, for its customers who join overseas tours.

We could say that this is the first example of “Sustainable Tourism” in Turkey.

What Borusan Holding has done, on the other hand, is an important step in the name of “Sustainable Art.”

Borusan, which is among the Turkish companies that have signed the UN’s “Global Principles Compact,” recently organized a competition to create sculptures using scrap metals.

According to Borusan Holding’s Public Relations Director Þule Yücebýyýk, students from several universities situated all over Anatolia have shown huge interest in the competition.

“We have opened new horizons for young artists with the ‘sustainable art’ concept. They loved the idea of using scrap metals,” Yücebýyýk said.

As a result, 90 students participated in the competition with 114 sculptures.

The judges, made up of Turkey’s prominent sculptors, found 26 of these sculptures worthy of exhibiting.

There was quite a turnout at the “Sustainable Art” exhibition organized with these sculptors in Istanbul, Yücebýyýk added.

Another pleasant development in Turkey in the name of “sustainability” is here: Duygu Erten, Ph.D., the founding vice president of the “Turkish Green Building Council,” has been awarded the World Green Building Chairman’s Award recently. Erten received her award in Stuttgart the other day for her efforts in “building green,” both nationally and internationally.

June/27/2012

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