Spotlight Activity: The Social Cost of Climate Change in Turkey
According to the UNDP, Turkey is highly vulnerable to climate change. As part of the southern belt of Mediterranean Europe, the country is already facing an observed warming trend in temperatures and a decreasing trend in precipitation. This is having a major negative effect on water availability for food production and rural development, further exacerbating the social and regional disparities in a country characterized by a wide (and widening) gap between the eastern and southeastern provinces and the rest of the country.
According to the study ‘Climate Change and Interconnected Risks to Sustainable Development in the Mediterranean’ published in October 2018, temperature in the Mediterranean region, including Turkey, has increased by 1.4 degrees on average compared to the pre-industrial period. A 10% to 30% reduction for rainfall is expected in the coming years. In particular, these risks increase the existing water scarcity in southern countries such as Turkey and could mean the reduction of agricultural productivity. It will deepen the existing problems such as urbanization, agricultural production, increasing population and declining biodiversity.
Rising water temperature, caused by climate change, has had an effect on Turkey’s marine ecosystem. With the increasing temperatures, the number of occupying plants and animals in the Mediterranean has exceeded 700. These tropical invasive species, more than half of which enter the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal, cause environmental problems while adversely affecting the fisheries sector.
Due to the increase in the length and intensity of the hot and dry circuit, the frequency, impact and duration of forest fires may increase and potential for agricultural production may vary. Sea level rise will affect the intense settlement areas which are linked to the tourism and agriculture sectors. In addition, climate change, desertification particularly threatened by Turkey’s semi-arid and sub-humid regions (Central Anatolia, Southeast Anatolia, Aegean and Mediterranean regions), can lead to negative effects in terms of forestry and water resources.
Status: Right Direction
In terms of economic and social stress, the agricultural sector is the most vulnerable sector to be affected by climate change. General Directorate of Agricultural Research and Policies has been organizing workshops to develop a strategy to combat this problem. The strategy includes the sustainable development of agricultural land and water resources, using drought-resistant varieties of plants and also food security policies.
Turkey’s climate will become warmer in the near future with uncertain rainfall. Food production in agriculture and fisheries in the Mediterranean region has been changing due to social, economic and environmental changes. It is foreseen that there will be significant reductions in agricultural and animal production due to climate change and other stress factors in the region. To avoid water scarcity, available water resources must be managed well during the rainy and dry periods. For this purpose, continuously increasing water demand should be managed well, water should be saved, water usage efficiency should be increased in all sectors, and an integrated watershed management approach should be implemented urgently.
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Contact Person: Özkan KAYACAN
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“Climate Change and the Interconnected Risk to Sustainable Development in the Mediterranean, “ by Wolfgang Cramer, Nature: Climate Change, October 22, 2018
Climate Change Adaptation, Turkey, UNDP