The 1st Local Climate Action Conference was held on 15-16 March in Belek, Antalya. Approximately 250 people of representatives of public institutions, local governments, universities, private sector, NGOs and international organizations participated in the event carried out within the scope of Enhancing Required Joint Efforts on Climate Action Project (IklimIn) by Turkish Republic Ministry of Environment and Urbanization within the framework of financial cooperation between European Union and Turkey.
Opening speeches of the conference made by Vice Minister of Environment and Urbanization Mehmet Emin Birpınar, Deputy Chairman of the Financial Cooperation of the European Union Delegation to Turkey Angel Gutierrez Hidalgo de Quintana and Antalya Metropolitan Municipality Deputy Chairman Ruhi Beşiktaş.
Vice Minister of Environment and Urbanisation Mehmet Emin Birpınar began his speech by mentioning that the climate change is experienced significantly. Referring to the importance of local climate plans, Birpınar said, “If you fail to do something at the local level, you will clearly see that there is no importance of decisions taken internationally”.
Stating that as the Ministry, they started mobilization for fight against climate change with Metropolitan Municipalities and local governments as of today, Birpınar said “After that, the first thing we will do is to send a declaration to all our municipalities. We want our municipalities to contribute to the activities of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change.”
Stating that they have been in a serious fight in climate change negotiations for the last five years, Binpınar said that they want to be a party of the Paris agreement but they need international financing for both adaptation and emission reduction. Birpınar said “They are telling us to give up on coal, give up on fossil fuels and go towards renewable energy, solar, wind, geothermal or hydroelectric power plants. But the cost of going towards them is $10 billion annually. International financial resources, banks or funds must help Turkey.” Telling that Turkey is a country where trace emissions are growing very fast, Birpınar said that the emissions are expected to reach 1 billion 200 million tons in 2030 due to the rapid development.
Explaining that we have mega cities today and the industrial activities are increasing, Deputy Chairman of the Financial Cooperation of the European Union Delegation to Turkey Angel Gutierrez Hidalgo de Quintana said “We have a big problem to face. Instead of being afraid of natural disasters, we have to take precautions and consider remedies.”
In the second part, which started with the climate-themed sand show of sand artist Veysel Çelikdemir, the global studies related to local climate action were explained by the representatives of international organizations. Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Ovais Sarmad and the Coordinator of United Nations Habitat, Urban Planning and Design Unit Dr. Shipra Narang Suri discussed climate actions from global to local in the panel led by Vice Minister Birpınar. Jose Ramon Picatoste Ruggeroni, representative of European Environment Agency, talked about local climate action policies and practices in the European Union.
The first day of the conference ended with the panel on Local Governments in Turkey and Climate Action Policies and Practices carried out under Rıfat Ünal Sayman, Director of REC Turkey with the participation of representatives of the relevant local authorities.
Taking the stage after dinner, Dance group Fire of Anatolia gave enjoyable time to the guests with its climate-themed show.
On the second day of the conference, local disaster management, low-carbon transportation, green infrastructure, best practices regarding energy and agriculture were presented to the guests by academics and the role of women, media and youth in the fight against climate change was discussed. At the Local Level Participation Panel in the afternoon, children and young people who participated in the grant projects supported by the project answered the questions of Meteorologist Bünyamin Sürmeli about their projects. In the last panel, the representatives of Garanti Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Industrial Development Bank of Turkey and Türkiye İş Bankası evaluated the local climate financing opportunities under moderator Talat Yeşiloğlu.
During the two-day conference, grant projects supported by the İklimIN Project promoted in the foyer area. The presentations of the projects were appreciated by the participants.