Statement by H.E. Ambassador Baki İlkin, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN, Thematic Debate "Addressing Climate Change: The United Nations and the World at Work" at the 62nd Session of the General Assembly

Baki İlkin 13.02.2008
Mr. President,
Distinguished Delegates,

It gives me further sense of responsibility to address the General Assembly on one of the most pressing global issues of our time. My Delegation has fully aligned itself with the statement delivered by the distinguished Representative of Slovenia on behalf of the European Union. I still would like to add my voice to the debate and share some of our views on this vital issue.

Especially after the Bali Agreement, today's thematic debate provides us with opportunity to further reflect on the United Nations' pivotal role in climate change. It is amply evident that we face an enormous threat posed by climate change. Its effects are already being felt and if not properly tackled, will worsen over time as indicated by the 4th Assessment Report of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). And we are not left with any option other than to act collectively and decisively according to our common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

IPCC report makes it clear that future climate change could critically undermine efforts for sustainable development throughout the world and especially in North Africa and in the Mediterranean region. In particular, climate change may add to existing problems of desertification, water scarcity and food production, while also introducing new threats to human health, livestock, ecosystems and national economies of countries.

Turkey itself is indeed one of those countries highly vulnerable to climate change. Our location in the eastern Mediterranean Basin obliges us to pursue policies in dealing with infrequency of rainfall as well as decreasing trend in precipitation, scarcity of water and desertification.

Adverse effects of climate change in terms of extreme weather events, temperature increase and sea level rise are also a grave concern especially for small island developing states. Devastating impacts of recent disasters that these countries have experienced over the past years further highlighted the particular significance of this issue. Turkey fully shares their concerns and is committed to support the global efforts addressing their urgent needs in the face of climate change and mutually reinforcing their sustainable development.

Mr. President,

While mitigation is one of the major aspects of the fight to limit global temperature increase, the adaptation to climate change is equally important and constitutes a demanding agenda for the developing countries. In this regard, the developed countries will have to shoulder a bigger responsibility, but the developing countries will also have to play their part. Our joint efforts must be commensurate with economic growth and social development. Without investment in capacity building for adaptation and proper technology transfer, development efforts will be undermined.

It is evident that Turkey's sustainable development will depend on its adaptive capacity to climate change. In recent years, the Turkish Government has made serious efforts to introduce and implement adaptive measures ranging from effective water management, irrigation to national and international afforestation campaigns.

In this regard, Turkey has become a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. However, Turkey's status as an Annex-1 party in the framework of this Convention does not reflect the actual industrialization level of my country. Although Turkey is an OECD country, it is neither a fully developed industrialized country yet, nor in the group of countries, the economies of which are in transition. Being so, we rely mainly on our national resources for adapting to climate change whereas non-Annex-1 party countries are able to benefit from the relevant mechanisms of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol.

Thus, one might say that Turkey is in a sui-generis situation vis-à-vis the current international climate change regime. We hope that the post-2012 regime will re-categorize the countries on the basis of their different development levels instead of merely listing them as Annex and Non-Annex parties.

Distinguished Delegates,

Turkey fully supports and actively participates in the global efforts under the guidance of the United Nations towards adapting to the adverse consequences of climate change while combating desertification as well as implementing policies for mitigation.

This year Turkey will host the 7th session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification in Istanbul from 20 to 29 October.

We would like to take this opportunity to inform you all that we are very pleased also to hold the 30th Session of the IPCC in Turkey, in 2009.

Furthermore, it gives me pleasure to invite all participants to the 5th World Water Forum to be held in Istanbul in March 2009, which will provide us with the opportunity to share our experiences for a better water management that will take into account the concerns for climate change and desertification.

Mr. President,

Climate change has become a part and parcel of sustainable and social development as well as economic prosperity and energy policies. Its cross-cutting nature requires integrated approach and concerted action across many fora in the United Nations. As the UNDP's 2007/2008 Human Development report rightly warns, we should focus on the wide-ranging negative implications of climate change on the overarching endeavor of attaining the Millennium Development Goals. Otherwise we might risk bringing unprecedented reversals in poverty reduction, nutrition, health and even education. Therefore, we must ensure that the issue of climate change be included in all relevant policy debates and planning studies in a coherent fashion.

With its outreach capacity and legitimacy, we believe, the United Nations is best-suited and well-equipped to rise to the daunting challenge that climate change poses. I am sure we all have the ability and the political will to further strengthen the United Nations' central role in coordinating and leading our response to this threat.

Thank you.