Turkey, WWF and climate change

Turkey, WWF and climate change

After two weeks of negotiations, an agreement was reached over the weekend in Poland on a set of rules that are supposed to help curb global warming. 

But NGOs are not happy since they, and even official delegations, know that the so-called “Paris Rulebook” won’t be enough to stop carbon pollution from reaching critical levels.

Turkey also left the climate change summit unhappy, but for other reasons. It failed yet again to change its official status as a developed country since this makes it ineligible to access some financial sources to fight climate change.

Turkey remains among the very few countries to not ratify the Paris agreement and says it won’t do unless it has access to climate cash.

Meanwhile, with each passing day, it feels more and more the damaging effects of climate change.

Lionfish, which has already caused serious economic and ecological problems in other parts of the world due to its voracity, is being seen around the Kaş area in the Mediterranean. It is detrimental to the native marine diversity. One of the reasons for its appearance in the Mediterranean is climate change, according to the experts from WWF Turkey.

The widening of the Suez Canal, resulting in the disappearance of the salt barriers and increase in the sea water temperatures due to climate change, pushes lionfish to migrate to the Mediterranean.

The World Wide Fund for Nature celebrated its 40th year in Turkey last year, and fighting invasive species and increasing marine protected areas have been one of the top issues on their agenda.

In an interview published on Dec. 17 in the Daily News, Aslı Pasinli, the general manager of WWF Turkey, spoke about some other priority projects they have been undertaking. One of them, which was not mentioned in the interview due to the limitation of space, entails the introduction of technology to agriculture.

“Our aim is to improve agricultural productivity and reduce agricultural input like water, pesticides and fertilizers through the use of technology. In collaboration with Anadolu Holding, we started placing soil censors in farms through which farmers get a message telling them for instance how much fertilizer is needed. The censors will also warn about whether there might be rain the next day or the risk of humidity, so the farmers can get preventive measures,” said Pasinli.

That way they expect the cost of input to reduce between 20 to 30 percent. “We have 20 farms as a pilot project and we hope to get data in 2019 and use it as a showcase for other areas,” she said.

“We want to create success stories that can be used as models,” Pasinli said, adding that one aim is to show that environmental projects can also mean profitable business.

The prejudice that environmentally friendly projects are not profitable is changing, according to Pasinli. “You can make money, save the environment and be profitable,” she said.

While Turkey has a bad track record as one of the fastest growing polluters in the course of the past two decades, talking to Pasinli I realized it is blessed by a location that can help offset the negative consequences of climate change.

I thought the protection of sea turtles was important in the general sense of protecting biodiversity. But it appears they are also crucial in terms of the air we breathe. “Sea turtles eat sea grass [that makes them grow again] and they are the biggest provider of oxygen to our seas.”

I did not know seas produced as much oxygen as forests.

Fifty percent of the nesting of sea turtles is done in Turkey and WWF Turkey is making sure 15,000 baby sea turtles reach the sea every year.

We are a nation that expects everything from the government. Yet NGOs like WWF is playing a crucial role in our lives. While 50 percent of WWF’s revenues in the world come from individual donations, this ratio in Turkey is only 20 percent. That fact itself speaks volumes about our approach to environment, civil society organizations, and the culture of donation.

World Wildlife Fund,