Sustainability Steps Association (Sürdürülebilirlik Adımları Derneği-SADE) received a core grant from our Environmental Sustainability Fund to reactivate and further develop the Environmental Events (Çevreci Etkinlikler), an online platform providing information on environment-related activities, to turn it into an enrolment-based online education platform and share climate-related events in Turkey.
Read below our interview:
We know that within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), sectors such as fashion, textile and food have switched to sustainable business models. As an association that works with companies from various sectors, how much do you think sustainability and SDGs are understood in Turkey?
We have been working on sustainability for 10 years. When we look back, we watch with hope the development of sustainability-related studies in our country and the adoption of sustainability by companies. Companies once considered this issue as corporate social responsibility, and they were trying to compensate for the damage they have caused while producing.
With the demand of consumers, retailers and suppliers came into play. Obligations and sanctions were introduced. Companies’ transition to inclusive and sustainable business models started. They included sustainability in their governance models. Companies are putting a system in place to serve their customers, suppliers, employees, other companies, and society, and protect the planet’s interests simultaneously. When companies act by taking everyone’s demands into account, everyone wins because then their work is long-lasting.
Although the private sector plays a major role in achieving the SDGs, the issue must be embraced at the government level. Obligations and demands come to the fore in the transition to sustainability. Governments are accelerating these obligations with the legislation and policies they enact. Local governments also have great influence, since they involve the affected people in the process of finding solutions to regional problems. We can solve a global problem only by becoming local.
Although the private sector plays a major role in achieving the SDGs, the issue must be embraced at the government level.
We see that Generation Z is more visible in climate change activism. Considering the young people you work with, can you say that they are more sensitive to the environment?
Young people are now our leaders in the climate struggle because they know that every step taken today will affect their future. They place great value on the sustainability efforts of brands when choosing what to buy. Young people are much more aware of the need to reduce waste and energy consumption and want to minimise their impact on the planet. They turn to brands that make fair production and have ethical values. They expect companies to take action, too.
If a company is transparent about its initiatives, then it gains consumers’ trust, especially young people. Research shows that 73% of young people are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable or socially conscious company. 81% of young people expect brands to be transparent and actively discuss their sustainability impact.
With the grant and capacity development support of our Foundation, you have renewed the infrastructure and contents of the Environmental Events platform, a project of your association. Can you tell us about this platform and your work in this context?
Environmental Events was established in 2013 as Turkey’s first environmental events platform gathering the activities of different civil society organisations (CSOs) and civil initiatives in one place. Visitors of the platform can access training videos and job postings while following the sustainability-oriented activities carried out by different individuals and institutions throughout Turkey.
Sustainability-oriented activities of CSOs and civil initiatives and sustainability-focused job postings of corporations are shared on the platform. With the sustainability-oriented digital education archive created on the platform, individuals who are interested in this subject and need Turkish resources can benefit from the training videos free of charge.
Young people are now our leaders in the climate struggle because they know that every step taken today will affect their future.
How has the support you received from the Environmental Sustainability Fund contributed to your association and your work? Do you have a message for our donors who supported the fund?
With the grant support, we have renewed the award-winning Environmental Events platform, which has achieved great success in the past. This support enabled us to get to know new institutions working in our field. We have updated and strengthened our existing database. Especially the mentoring process was very beneficial for us. Our meetings with our mentor, her guidance, and her belief in us further increased our energy and motivation to work.
What will be the areas and activities prioritised by the Sustainability Steps Association in 2022?
Since 2018, we have been continuing our Solutions to Problems Meetings, to make good practice examples visible and strengthen cooperation among stakeholders specific to the SDGs. With the partnership of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Turkey and the support of Zorlu Holding, we will organise six events this year with the Solutions to Problems Meetings. You can watch our past meetings here. The live broadcasts of the Sustainability Agenda, which we started on our Youtube channel in April 2020, will continue. In 2022, we will host experts to talk about developments in the field of sustainability, offer solutions and share good practices.
We will continue our projects, trainings, and workshops to strengthen the place of newly graduated young people in society and business life and to ensure that they are pioneers in the dissemination of sustainability. We are also starting a new project to enable young engineers to experience how they can find solutions as a team to the problems they face in water management and access to water, one of the important outcomes of the climate crisis.
Sustainability Steps Association was established to promote the development of studies on sustainability, contributing to the necessary transformation in institutions and community life and supporting individuals and organisations working on this issue. The association develops projects, organises trainings and workshops, and shares inspiring practices regarding sustainable development, to contribute to the transition towards sustainability.