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Turkey has vast potential for sustainable development

Turkey has vast potential for sustainable development
Ankara, November 3, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Bahattin Gonultas & Zeynep Beyza Kilic - Anadolu Agency

Turkey, as a growing economy, has a better chance of supporting sustainable development compared with developed countries, because developing countries like Turkey have an incredible head start, Peter Bakker, president of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.

"Developed countries already have installed infrastructure and energy systems which are totally unsustainable, whereas a growing economy still has the opportunity to put in place a better and new infrastructure and create a much more sustainable society," Bakker said.

"If fast-growing economies develop with the wrong energy infrastructure in place, they are just replicating the mistakes of developed countries," Bakker said.

In September, U.N. member countries agreed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)  to be applied in the next 15 years.

"These goals apply to every country on the planet, not just the poor ones. Every country must look at these 17 goals and decide which of these goals are most relevant for their society," Bakker said.

"But only a few will be relevant. Sustainable cities, land degradation, climate change, water must be on top of the list for Turkey,” he suggested.

"After choosing the relevant goals, you need to make sure that every major infrastructure project conforms to them. Every aspect of the project should take them into consideration, including financing and the process for issuing permits," he said. "Then you will be building a stronger country."

"Governments, local governmental institutions and civil society should work together to create the solutions for each of those plans that will work in Turkey, and end up making Turkey a more competitive country that will open new export opportunities for Turkey’s businesses," he added.

Businesses can start to invest once the right solutions are discovered, he said.

Bakker believes sustainability for companies should be financially sustainable.

"The first step is to do philanthropic work," he said, and added that the second step is social responsibility. "I think that may well be where Turkey’s companies are."

Implementing social responsibility into the way we define the performance of a business is the next step, and it will take a few more years, he said.

"Forming a language to turn the sustainability concept into numbers quantifiable in the real word, would not only help with making informed decisions, it will also put accountability where it needs to be," Bakker said.

Globally, $90 trillion will be invested in the next 15 years in infrastructure, energy systems, roads and rail projects, Bakker said citing The New Climate Economy Report, published in September 2014.

"If we make better decisions now, with infrastructures having sustainability aspects in mind, we won’t need to invest more money, we can invest similar amounts of money but with much lower environmental risks attached to it," he argued.

Ebru Dildar Edin, Vice President of Business Council for Sustainable Development Turkey (BCSD) and Turkey's Garanti Bank commented in an interview with Anadolu Agency that there is lack of attention for sustainable development in Turkey. "This is probably due to the fact that individuals, and media do not see the goals as making much difference, to their lives, work, income and over-all well-being," she said.

“Parallel with Turkey’s 2023 Development Goals, we do projects within our 12 working groups, such as energy, water, climate smart agriculture, circular economy and sustainable finance,” Edin explained.

"The Turkish banks are providing long-term financing for these projects. The problem is not the financing, it is the equity. Unfortunately, everywhere in the world, you need to have a certain percentage of equity, and a certain percentage of external financing. Unfortunately,Turkish investors often do not have enough equity." Edin said.

“At BCSD Turkey we organize annually Sustainable Finance Forums to help develop sustainable finance in the country.”

Source: The Journal of Turkish Weekly

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