United Nations Environmental Program
Access to Water
Republic of Turkey
Forest Hills Eastern High School
The Middle East is a region characterized by water scarcity; with only about 1,400 liters of renewable freshwater resources available per capita, it is one of the areas of the world under the most water stress. While relatively water-rich, Turkey’s large population stretches its resources thin, and water demand has doubled in the last 50 years. Many regions in Turkey also report having unusable freshwater, especially in near the Black Sea. Turkey is thus concerned not only about securing freshwater for its own citizens, but also understands the gravity of this issue on a global scale. The risk of water has increased, and will only continue to increase, due to ongoing worldwide population growth and industrialization. Seeing as half the world may be, according to a report issued by the United Nations Environment Program, living with a water shortage by 2050, Turkey strongly encourages an immediate response to this ever-growing problem.
In the past century, the Republic of Turkey has worked to improve freshwater access for its citizens –– most notable of which is the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP). GAP is an excellent example of how efficient water management can be introduced to a country to improve a wide variety of sectors, including agricultural irrigation, hydropower generation, and public health and education. Turkey has poured its resources into dams, power plants, and irrigation networks to lift up its southeastern region and its 9 million inhabitants, which has a history of economic struggle. Irrigation sourced from the Atatürk Dam has already tripled cotton, wheat, barley, and lentil yield. Since GAP was implemented, the southeastern region has transitioned from a net importer to a net exporter. GAP is also responsible for making freshwater more accessible and more sanitary for domestic use. Turkey has also occupied itself with smaller projects since the late 20th century, developing infrastructure for both its urban and rural centers to improve water access and quality. As a result of these efforts, 90% of all Turks have access to water and sanitation resources.
The Republic of Turkey sees the issue of water scarcity not as a source of tension in the global community, but rather an opportunity for cooperation. Focus on the regulation of transboundary water sources is thus especially recommendable; Turkey encourages cooperation between countries that share water resources to enact common legislation or create organizations among themselves to ensure water safety for all parties. While Turkey values sovereignty in how water is used in each state, we believe that transboundary water sources must be used in an equitable, efficient manner that will not significantly harm others who also rely upon them. Turkey also calls for both financial and technical support from developed countries to help developing countries with water access, especially for regions that are at most risk of water shortages –– something that should be qualified by the committee as a whole. Only through collaboration will struggling countries and regions be able to implement improved infrastructure that will support the sanitation, sustenance, and agricultural needs of its citizens.
- Natalie Robbins