Cablegate: Turkish Environment Ngos More Concerned About

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O.12958: N/A

1. Summary. Many of the 30 Turkish NGOs and other
organizations participating in a recent UNDP meeting in
Ankara expressed concern over the Black Sea coastal
environment, their limited participation in environmental
management, and several proposed environmental laws and
regulations. They expressed no concern about the BTC
pipeline but plan to track its construction closely. End

2. About 80 representatives of 30 NGOs, foundations,
associations and other organizations from across the country
participated in a UNDP meeting (4/12- 13) to review 77 small
grants funded through the Global Environmental Facility
(GEF) and UNDP. Most of the NGOs operate on a local rather
than national level. They are currently implementing 34 GEF
projects totaling $800,000 that address a host of issues,
from the creation of an eNetwork to research on birds to the
development of environmental plans.

--------------------------------------------- --
3. The NGOs expressed greatest concern about the general
environment of the Black Sea coastal region and the
proliferation of polluting sources. Despite research that
finds a decrease in rates of pollution, representatives of
the Black Sea Environmentalists Association (KARCEV) and the
Turkish Environmental Protection and Woodlands Association
(TURCEK) believe otherwise based on:

-- the emergence of a new "hot spot" (point source of
pollution) near Samsun created by a mobile power plant that
uses 1,000 tons daily of fuel oil #6, a particularly heavy
and potentially environmentally damaging oil.

-- leakage from improperly disposed of hazardous waste on
Sinop's shores that increases cancer risk;

-- the continual improper disposal of domestic wastewater in
Trabzon, a municipality unable to design a much-needed deep-
sea discharge facility for its domestic wastewater;

-- degradation and erosion of the land and sea ecology of
the East Black Sea coastline due to the construction of a
shore-hugging motorway.

4. The 20 participants we spoke with -- without exception -
- expressed no immediate concerns about BTC. In fact, they
characterize the project as "beneficial to the whole
region." However, the NGOs will monitor construction
closely to determine if they will need to take future
action. None of the NGOs at the meeting are located along
the pipeline route. (Comment. Local NGOs are unfamiliar
with the EIA format for projects that are internationally
funded, such as BTC. They are more familiar with the
simpler format that the Ministry of Environment (MOE)
requires for domestically funded projects. End comment.)

5. Limited Participation in Environmental Projects. As an
example of the limited role that NGOs play in major
environmental projects, an Istanbul based NGO, the Hunting
and Wildlife Protection, Development and Promotion
Association, cited the $20-million World Bank/GEF
Biodiversity and Resource Management Project. The project
is being implemented in Kayseri, Antalya, Artvin, and
Kirklareli/Igneada but is managed centrally out of Ankara's
Ministry of Forestry (MOF). Midway through the six-year
project, only national level NGOs, such as WWF and the
Turkish Foundation for Combatting Soil Erosion, for
Reforestation and for the Protection of Natural Habitats
(TEMA) have been involved.

6. Proposed Laws Pending in Parliament. Turkey's
environmental NGO community is concerned that several
proposed amendments to existing laws -- specifically, the
mining law and tourist area laws -- may relax environmental
standards in sensitive areas. NGOs are also concerned that
a proposed amendment regarding the sale of forest areas
could deflect their efforts to purchase and protect that
land from development or further degradation.

7. Lack of Effectiveness of the Civil Society. The MOF and
MOE are developing Turkey's first biodiversity strategy but
only three NGOs are actively engaged in the process: WWF;
the Rural Environment and Forestry Problems Research
Association (KIRCEV), and TEMA. Some NGOs simply decline to
participate in the development of new strategies or to
comment on proposed laws based on past experiences in which
their voices are not heard. Others learn of new issues too
late to participate. The result is an ineffective
environmental civil society.


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