REC Turkey takes huge steps in just half a decade
By Yesim Caglayan
A lot can happen in five years. To cite just a few examples: a baby learns to walk, talk and behave independently within five years' time; in the animal kingdom, many species mature and reproduce over a similar span; and some fast-growing tree species are already tall enough to be harvested for timber. Five years is equally significant in business terms: after initial phases of 'forming, storming and norming' comes 'performing' - which takes about a half-decade to accomplish.
REC Turkey was established in May 2004 and began operations two months later in July. Since then, REC Turkey has carried out successfully more than 15 projects, five of which are particularly noteworthy. These key achievements (highlighted below) provide assurance that REC Turkey will continue to collaborate and establish partnerships with Turkish environmental stakeholders, and that the organisation will play an important role in future efforts toward creating a sustainable future
1. Supporting Turkish environmental stakeholders in being part of international efforts to address global climate change
In efforts to tackle climate change, REC Turkey has organised more than 40 meetings, run capacity-building programmes and produced several publications. The important reference publications have been delivered to more than 1,500 individuals and institutions. At a time during which climate change has rested at the bottom of Turkey's political agenda, REC Turkey has aimed to raise awareness and increase knowledge of global climate change among the public sector, private sector and NGOs. REC Turkey has also played a key role in encouraging Turkish decision-making institutions to place climate change higher on the agenda. Specifically, REC Turkey has shared its climate change information with the Turkish Grand National Assembly.
2. Offering new perspectives on environmental education toward sustainable development
The Green Pack, an environmental education project for elementary schools, has been realised with the collaboration of the Turkish Ministry of Education and Ministry of Environment and Forestry. As a result, more than 8,000 teachers and 800,000 students have received environmental and sustainable development training. The Green Pack has developed into a unique, comprehensive educational toolkit that is used by teachers from all branches of instruction; it aims to create a lasting shift from rote-learning behaviour by encouraging active participation among students and the use of innovative methods and examples. REC Turkey's Green Pack-related efforts will continue in coming years.
3. Supporting businesses and other stakeholders in the EU accession process
REC Turkey lends support to all environmental stakeholders, particularly regarding the EU accession process. The organisation has contributed to EU accession process capacity-building efforts by producing more than 50 publications, by preparing and distributing a comprehensive e-newsletter since 2004, and by delivering hundreds of training programmes to public and private sectors, local administrations, NGOs and the media. More than 50 NGOs, CBOs and municipalities have received grants through REC Turkey's Grant Programme. REC Turkey has paved the way for all stakeholders to come together to exchange ideas and freely express opinions. Another organisational aim is to raise awareness of businesses and to facilitate their transition to a green economy: this will be accomplished through the EU Business Awards (an honour presented to the most successful businesses) and by organising corporate sustainability seminar programs in 2008 and 2009. The new bridge between environment and the business community will be strengthened further in coming years.
4. Improving partnerships in Central and Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region
REC Turkey has accelerated experience and knowledge sharing within Central and Eastern Europe, Turkey and the Black Sea region as a whole. It has implemented regional projects and training programmes, supported the realisation of cooperative efforts, and contributed to the development of partnerships. The first regional training programme (organised in 2008) and the second programme (planned for fall 2009) are strengthening Turkey's regional leadership in the area of sustainable development.
5. Providing a distinct voice through Yesil Ufuklar (Green Horizon)
Yesil Ufuklar magazine (the Turkish-language affiliate print publication of the REC's Green Horizon online news magazine) has been a strong communicative channel between Turkey and Europe. Published since 2005 and read by environmental decision makers, academia, civil society and educators, Yesil Ufuklar includes many special dossiers, regional and local news items, articles, interviews, columns and expert opinions on new environmental technologies, nature protection and international environmental legislations and practices.
REC Turkey looks forward to many more years of supporting Turkey's environmental stakeholders, and is proud to be a trusted partner.
REC Turkey organised a cordial reception in Istanbul on June 8, 2009 in order to celebrate five years of operation and to share these achievements with supporters, associates and colleagues. REC Executive Driector Marta Szigeti Bonifert and Stefania Romano from the Italian Trust Fund were also present at the reception. During the event, Szigeti Bonifert expressed her appreciation for REC Turkey's past successes, as well as excitement about the REC's future operations in Turkey. The event itself proved an excellent opportunity to strengthen REC Turkey's stakeholder network.