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.

Apart from relatively frequent earthquakes, Turkey is vulnerable to natural disasters such as floods, increasing water stress in parts of the country, and land degradation. Economic losses from flooding and landslides as a proportion of GDP have historically been among the highest in Turkey compared to other countries in Europe and CIS. Landslides and floods have accounted for 25% and 10%, respectively, of Turkey’s natural disasters over the last 25 years. Increasing temperatures coupled with decreasing precipitation are leading to serious water stress, particularly in the southern and western parts of the country. This situation will be exacerbated by sharply rising demand, particularly from farmers. It is projected that nearly 20% of the surface water in some basins will be lost by 2030. The results of climate change will also seriously affect land use and land cover of the basins. Turkish shorelines, particularly in the Central and Eastern Black Sea, the Northern Aegean Sea, and Eastern Mediterranean, are negatively affected by coastal erosion and flooding. In the Mediterranean coastal zones, the demand for water is lowering the water table and leading to sea water intrusion in most coastal aquifers.

Turkey’s Ninth Development Plan (2007-2013) highlights the critical importance of environmental issues, including climate change, cleaner production, waste management, and efficient and sustainable use of water and other natural resources. The National Rural Development strategy for Turkey (2006) also prioritizes natural resources based rural development as key to overcoming rural and urban disparities. Consequently, UN support to the Turkish authorities on climate change issues through the proposed program will build on national efforts already underway. Like most EU candidate and accession countries, Turkey recognizes the criticality of environment for the success of its reform agenda. UNDP has been asked specifically by the Government, largely through the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, and the EC to assist the country’s efforts in identifying priority areas for intervention and further investment, mainly in the areas of sustainable development and climate.

Source: MDGF-1680: Enhancing the Capacity of Turkey to Adapt to Climate Change. Accessed on 23 July, 2010 at: http://sdnhq.undp.org/opas/en/proposals/suitable/176