Lütfi Elvan, Minister of Development of Turkey, at Istanbul Development Dialogues 2017

Mar 23, 2017

Her Excellency Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator and UN Under-Secretary-General,

Excellencies,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like to welcome you all to Istanbul and express my thanks and appreciations for coming to Turkey for this important event from different countries of the World.

Today, we gathered here to discuss an important topic, which takes place among most essential factors for designing development activities in the near future: Risk and resilience.

I would also like to thank UNDP and UNDP İstanbul Office Authorities for choosing this topic as this year’s theme of İstanbul Development Dialogue.

İstanbul Development Dialogues is a good example of an innovative tool for participatory development, which is an essential aspect for policy design, both at national level and at the global level for a better future for all humanity.

As The Government of Republic of Turkey, we attach utmost importance to participatory approach in the area of cooperation for development. Moreover, we usually support and collaborate with international development organizations to conceptualize new ideas and to make policy formulations directly for welfare of the people.

 

Dear Guests,

Resilience is ability to recover our social, political and economic systems from both expected and unprecedented negative risks, especially disasters. The importance of disasters in development policies is increasing due to its effects on all sectors by increasing the costs of economic, social and physical infrastructure.

Nowadays, unfortunately, there are numerous disasters and crises around, either man made or natural. As sudden shocks, disasters and crises may spoil positive environments and their negative effects may even cause a total loss of confidence in the governmental agencies, loss of confidence in the society, if we cannot adopt timely and efficient precautions. 

I firmly believe that there is a great scope for cooperation and learning from each other among ourselves in this important domain. As The Republic of Turkey, we always stand ready to share our experiences and learn from other countries in a full spirit of cooperation.  With this perspective, now, I would like to share some salient points from our experience in this field.

Turkey’s main goal on disaster management is; to take into consideration of disaster risks in macroeconomic, sectoral and spatial planning processes; to raise awareness and resilience against disasters. As a result of natural disaster reduction works in Turkey, The Urban Transformation Law (Law No. 6306) which sets out the principles and procedures for improvement, clearance and renewal to constitute healthy and safe living environments in disaster risk areas, was announced in 2012.

After adoption of The Urban Transformation Law, almost 12 thousand hectares of land was declared as risky areas. This law envisages almost 2.5 billion TL expenditures and investment through urban transformation financing.

 

Distinguished Participants,

As you all know, Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 was adopted at the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. Sendai Framework gives opportunities to the countries to identify modalities of cooperation based on commitments to implement a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.

The main goal of Sendai Framework is to prevent new and existing disaster risks through the implementation of integrated and inclusive economic, social, environmental policies and to increase preparedness for response and recovery, and thus strengthen resilience. In order to reach this goal, we are preparing National Disaster Strategy to be used as a guide in conducting disaster risk mitigation, response and post-disaster recovery works in coherence.

I would like to mention here that, there is a significant interconnection between natural disasters and climate change. Considering increased natural disasters all over the world, all nations need to prioritize the works of disaster risk reductions and increase efforts to remove the negative effects of climate change. Turkey have some experiences on the said negative impacts of climate change and challenges regarding international negotiation processes. Our country is one of most vulnerable countries to climate change. Turkey gives special attention to adopt immediate measures for climate change.

 

Dear Guests,

Ministry of Development of Turkey as the responsible body for macroeconomic plans, programs and projects, is supporting climate change related policies and projects. Projects for adaptation to climate change on water resources management, agriculture and food, forestry, natural disasters and ecosystem services are prioritized in Turkey.

On the other hand, Paris Agreement that is a new deal climate actions was adopted in December 2015. Before the Agreement adopted, Turkey submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution in order to support new climate regime. Turkey’s expectations during the implementation of Paris Agreement are mainly twofold: There is a need for taking into consideration the national circumstances and responsibilities should be allocated in a fair and equitable manner.

Paris Agreement requires low carbon development strategies, this issue is under consideration among developed and developing country partners through different perspectives. After the Paris Agreement entered into force, Turkey is closely following the positions and policies of both developed and developing countries in terms of their approaches to low carbon development.

Turkey is planning to consider carrying low carbon development discussion during coming National Development Plan process. 

 

Dear Participants,

 

Sustainable development concept has a long history in Turkish policy on environment. It has been reflected to numerous laws, regulations and action plans in a variety of fields and sectors. In this context, Turkey has made significant progress in achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) over the last 15 years.

Turkey is among the top ten performers in achieving MDGs especially eradicating extreme poverty, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and ensuring environmental sustainability.

In transition from MDGs to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Turkey has significantly improved social protection expenditures and elimination of poverty. The absolute poverty rate has decreased significantly in the last decade.       Percentage of poor individuals living below 4.3 dollars per day was 30,3 in 2002, this figure has dropped significantly to 1,58 in 2015

We wish to continue this success in obtaining SDGs with the same pace. 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development offers an ambitious framework that urges countries to take action at all levels. This new global agenda provides a unique opportunity for countries not only to integrate sustainable development policies into their national policy frameworks, but also to deal with global challenges.

In the implementation of SDGs, Turkey has determined to take necessary actions for the achievement of sustainable development by 2030. In line with the principle “Ensuring that no one is left behind”, Turkey promotes inclusiveness at both national and international endeavors.

As one of the 22 volunteering countries, Turkey presented its National Reviews on SDGs at UN High Level Political Forum last July. Our National Voluntary Review Report under the coordination of our Ministry of Development has considered all valuable cooperation with all stakeholders. Through all these attempts, Turkey demonstrated its political ownership, dedication and leadership at this initial stage of the implementation of the SDGs as well. 

Our National Development Plan sets out all macro-level national policies and priorities in the context of sustainable development, as well. I would like to mention that a preliminary analysis revealed that there is a high consistency between the 10th Development Plan and the SDGs.

We will take necessary actions for the achievement of SDGs by 2030 in line with our National Development Plan. We are currently in the stage of preparing long-term vision of the 11th Development Plan.

Ministry of Development of Turkey has started a project namely “Stock-taking of SDGs in Turkey” in February 2017. In this project, Turkey determine the existing situation with regards to SDGs in order to implement SDG targets that nationally appropriate, to find the policy, project and indicator gaps, and to develop policy proposals for overcoming these gaps.

Turkey is firmly dedicated to take action for the effective implementation of the SDGs with effective participation of all partners.  Our country will intensify its efforts for cooperation and engage a wide range of stakeholders including academia, civil society organizations, and private sector at local, national and international levels.

One of the goal of SDGs “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” is also a priority area for our country in line with the “no one left behind” principle. Mainstreaming gender equality in our policies and programs and increase the efficiency of the implementation of relevant regulations and strategies is our main goal for achieving gender equality. Our efforts on increasing the participation of women in labor force and decision-making positions, eliminating all kinds of violence against women, in short, empowering women will continue. 

Role of governments in this regard, is coordination of all actors including public sector, private sector, non-governmental organizations and universities, besides fulfilling basic responsibilities.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Risks do not occur only because of natural disasters. Social risks are considerably important like managing natural disaster risks. Since the beginning of Syrian crisis in 2011, Turkey has faced the refugee crises, and we opened our borders to Syrian people affected from the crisis and accepted them as our guests. Now, Turkey hosts approximately 3 million Syrian people and our expenditure so far has reached 25 billion US Dollars, accordingly.

We did not only provide shelter to our guests, but also provided and still providing development services in education, health, infrastructure and so on sectors with the understanding that keeping our Syrian guests’ well-being for a better future for them is our top priority.

Our support to Syrian guests is an example of an economic sacrifice, more than altruism. 25 billion USD is not a small amount, even considered for an investment budget of a big country such as Turkey. In fact, we are transferring our national resources, which would have been invested, in our economy for the sake of our Syrian friends, who are victims of a regional conflict. More importantly, our support is not just about transfer of financial resources. At the same time, all relevant Ministries, institutions, NGOs spend considerable amount of their energy for the well-being of Syrian people, which is beyond expression in monetary figures. It is very upset to see that our colleagues in Europe are not following same tendency with us.

Before concluding, I would like to reiterate that an analyzing risks and establishing resilience is not solely the responsibility of public sector, but also participation of all stakeholders such as private sector, NGOs, universities and other institutions. In addition, we are all aware that risks do not occur just within national boundaries; also appear at trans-boundaries. Thus, effective collaboration between governments against social and natural risks is necessary, if we look forward for a better future.

 

Distinguished Participants,

I would like to thank again for your kindness to participate in this important event. I wish a fruitful and effective dialogue meeting.

 

I thank you.

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