Yuva Association (YUVA) received a grant from our Turkey Wildfire Relief and Mitigation Fund in 2021 to raise awareness about natural disasters caused by climate change, along with the measures and response methods for these disasters. YUVA will organise Climate and Nature Literacy training for 960 beneficiaries with different socioeconomic and demographic characteristics.
Read below our interview:
Yuva Association implements programs to assist nonformal education of adults and young people via lifelong learning and to help reduce poverty. You also work on environmental awareness. What is environmental awareness? What does Yuva Association do in this regard?
Several threats that our world is currently facing, including climate change, air and water pollution, excessive use of natural resources, and the extinction of biodiversity, jeopardise the long-term viability of our planet. Increased numbers of environmentally conscious people who can examine nature and human relations critically, generate and research ideas for solving these problems, and demonstrate a responsible attitude and understanding within this framework are critical to the future of our planet.
Since 2010, YUVA has been organising adult trainings and campaigns by coordinating a network of 54 institutions involved or interested in environmental education in Turkey and Europe. We provide capacity support to these institutions and provide Ecology and Climate training to citizens, teachers, and students across Turkey. Likewise, in the context of climate change mitigation, we are conducting research titled the Future Without Coal to defend the right to life of all living beings against coal-fired thermal power plants. Currently, we are undertaking an exchange program on climate change between Turkey and Europe, and introducing ideas that can serve as positive examples in Turkey.
Several threats that our world is currently facing, including climate change, air and water pollution, excessive use of natural resources, and the extinction of biodiversity, jeopardise the long-term viability of our planet.
You are implementing the Climate and Nature Literacy Education project with our grant. Can you tell us about the aim and activities of the project?
As is the case worldwide, we are witnessing the repercussions of climate change in Turkey, which will only intensify in the coming years. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that Turkey’s climatic structure will soon become hotter, drier, and more unpredictable in terms of precipitation. According to the IPCC’s data, a 2°C increase in average annual temperature will result in unexpected weather events, heat waves, reduced water resources, drought and desertification, loss of biodiversity, loss of agricultural yields, and an increase in the number and impact of forest fires. Climate change had a significant role in the outbreak of more than 100 forest fires in several provinces of Turkey in July 2021, which resulted in more than 178 thousand hectares of forest land damage.
We will provide Climate and Nature Literacy trainings on climate change, natural disasters induced by climate change, and mitigation and coping strategies for these disasters through our project. By increasing public knowledge and encouraging environment-friendly habits, we want to help diminish Turkey’s greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the consequences of climate change.
We believe that climate change is everyone’s problem.
The participants will be selected from local community leaders, such as mukhtars, imams, and teachers, to maximise the multiplier effect. What impact do you expect from this approach?
We believe that climate change is everyone’s problem. As a result, through our training, we will bring together young and adult citizens from diverse ethnic, social, and political groups over the age of 18 who live in Muğla and Antalya, from every business sector, socioeconomic category, and educational level. We believe that this is possible by collaborating with local community leaders. Mukhtars, imams, and teachers can speak and be heard in public due to their professions. Our main objective is to connect with local community leaders and, ultimately, to connect with youth and adults from all areas of life. Thus, we seek to ensure that all segments of society prioritise climate change and the fight against it.
As a civil society organisation that provides climate literacy trainings, to what extent do you think society has learned about the causes of the climate crisis? What is needed to increase awareness?
Research in Turkey suggests that society increasingly recognises that climate change is a human-induced problem and that extreme weather occurrences have risen and are linked to climate change. To make our planet a better place, we must promote activities that will allow us to take responsibility for our actions, make us active individuals, and remind us that we are part of a greater good. So, right now, we need projects that provide answers and encourage people to live more ecologically responsible lives.
To make our planet a better place, we must promote activities that will allow us to take responsibility for our actions, make us active individuals, and remind us that we are part of a greater good.
Turkey recently ratified the Paris Agreement. We can say that the Paris Agreement has ensured the globalisation of the fight against climate change. What kind of changes awaits us with this agreement?
With the ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement, we can say that President Erdogan’s goal of becoming a carbon-neutral country by 2053 has made Turkey’s transition from fossil fuels to clean energy and efficient use of energy mainstream. We are no longer arguing whether coal-fired power facilities will be shut down; instead, we are asking when this will happen or when internal combustion engine automobiles will be removed from the streets. We are exploring how to make this transition a fair and environmentally friendly one, as well as how to help the impacted groups. In 20 years, we shall witness days when all of our houses’ heating systems and cars are powered electrically, and our cities are free of pollution and noise.
YUVA generates holistic and sustainable solutions to environmental problems, education, and social issues. The association also works to support the personal development of adults and young people through lifelong learning, raise awareness regarding the environment, and contribute to eradicating poverty.