Entrevista concedida a jornalista Fabiana Ceyhan
Mr. AKIF OZKALDI
Undersecretary of the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs of the Republic of Turkey
1) Could you please tell us about your experience as the country that hosted the 5th World Water Forum?
It has been 9 years since the 5th World Water Forum which we organized in Istanbul in 2009 and hosted over 30,000 participants. Today Turkey and Istanbul is a center where water experts are gathering at numerous important events on water. Following the success of the 5th World Water Forum we have continued this position of Istanbul as a global and regional water hub by organizing Istanbul International Water Forum every three years, one year prior to the World Water Fora to discuss current international water-related issues.
Last year, in 10-11 May 2017, we organized the 4th Istanbul International Water Forum with the main theme of “Water and Peace” with a specific focus on the WASH needs of refugees. The last decade has brought along a significant increase in the number of people fleeing wars and conflicts. Turkey today hosts the largest number of refugees in the World as the number of Syrian refugees in our country has now reached over 3.5 million. Mass population mobility not only carries water issues to the global humanitarian agenda but also effects how water is used and managed. Turkey allocated 30 billion USD for the humanitarian relief action for Syrian refugees, of which %5 used in the water field. From this point on, the 4th IIWF addressed the refugee issue that has arisen by demographic pressures resulting from forced displacement with their humanitarian, theoretical, financial and legal aspects. The Forum enabled ample exchange of experiences and success stories on the challenge of providing water and sanitation services to the refugees among the refugee hosting countries.
The outcomes of the 4th IIWF was carried to the 8th World Water Forum at all levels with the intention of sharing Turkey’s experience with the international water community.
2) What Turkey thinks about transboundary water issues?
Turkey has 5 transboundary river basins. As being both an upstream and downstream country in our region, we have good dialogue with all riparian countries and we are open to cooperation in water field. We are committed to sustainable and responsible use of our water resources. We have combined the importance that we attach to water with our technology, knowledge and experience. We are ready to share our know-how and experience in the water field with all our riparian countries.
3) What is the role of the World Water Forum from your perspective?
We hosted the 5th World Water Forum with the intention that increasing awareness about the global water challenges, enhancing solidarity among countries and developing a platform for exchange of know-how and technology between the developing and developed countries. Additionally, through the World Water Forum institutions have the opportunity to evaluate their performance and short-comings and accordingly improve their capacities.
4) What Turkey brings to this forum as her own experiences?
I would like to reiterate that our outmost contribution to the Forum has been carrying the outcomes of the Istanbul International Water Forum as it focused “WASH needs of refugees” which is one of the most critical global challenges.
We emphasized the priority of meeting the WASH needs of the refugees and the necessity of sharing responsibility regarding this issue and reflected the vision of the host countries at Ministerial level here in Brasilia.
We also had a chance to share success stories and introduce our projects in the water field.