The concept of climate justice is quite new to social movements in Turkey. There are many demographic segments in the country that are vulnerable and are affected by ecological destruction and the climate crisis. These vulnerable communities also take longer and are more difficult to recover from environmental damages. For example, in the most recent earthquakes in Van and Elazıği, people who lived in unfavorable houses remained homeless for a while after the earthquake.
The war in Syria, which began in 2011, caused a migration wave of around 3.6 million people. But refugees in Turkey are not limited to those from Syria: around 2.1 million refugees from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and from African countries are trying to survive in difficult living conditions in Turkey’s big cities. Some of them have migrated to Turkey from their countries due to the climate crisis. These immigrant communities face injuries, death, and financial losses due to damages from sudden climate disasters.
Kurdish cities also are especially affected by the climate crisis as water sources in their region are often sacrificed to dams and hydroelectric power plants. Hasankeyf, a carrier of a 10,000-year-old cultural memory, has recently been flooded due to the construction of the Ilısu dam and the people living in this area were forced to migrate. This is also a typical example of forced displacement policies against Kurdish people. This kind of dam project is clearly an unnecessary investment since installed power capacity is already bigger than power demand.
Farmers and villagers are also among the most vulnerable groups in the climate crisis in Turkey. These communities have to struggle with issues such as faulty irrigation techniques, lack of an integrated health and food policy, soil destruction caused by industrial agriculture, and the inability to compete with imported products.
Turkey is hampered by the lack of an organized effort to address climate justice. Therefore, the most important step for the climate justice struggle in Turkey is to help at-risk communities advocate for changes in policies that will lessen the impact of global warming on their livelihoods and well-being.
Activity Rating: * Needs Urgent Improvement
Since state policy in many areas prioritize protecting the economic gain for the benefit of a wealthy minority, no effective policy has been developed to address the unfair effects of the climate crisis. Major steps should be taken to address the disadvantaged position of refugees, urban poor, ethnic and religious communities, farmers and peasants, women and children.
Dear Mr. Albayrak and Mrs. Selcuk,
Climate justice should be a founding principle of Turkey’s environmental and climate policies. In Turkey, vulnerable sections of society, including refugees, urban poor, women, LGBT+, children, peasantry, ethnic and religious minorities, are forced to face climate disasters and ecological destruction under difficult living conditions. Any climate policy that does not address the problems of these people is doomed to fail. We wish you would take appropriate action to address this situation.
1) Republic of Turkey Ministry of Treasury and Finance, Emek Campus
Emek Mahallesi, İsmet İnönü Bulvarı, 06490 Çankaya/ANKARA
+90 (312) 204-60 00
2) Republic of Turkey, Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services
Emek Mahallesi 17. Cadde No:13, 06520 Emek/ANKARA
+90 (312) 296 60 00 (pbx)
Fax: +90 (312) 296 18 60 – +90 (312) 296 18 61
This post was submitted by Turkey Country Manager Ozlem Duyan