President Erdoğan: “Environmental degradation is one of the reasons why the Mediterranean, the cradle of civilisations, has become a refugee graveyard”

President Erdoğan: “Environmental degradation is one of the reasons why the Mediterranean, the cradle of civilisations, has become a refugee graveyard”

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, “Environmental degradation is one of the reasons why the Mediterranean, the cradle of civilisations, has become a refugee graveyard.”

President Erdoğan sent a video message to the “15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15)”.

Starting his address by greeting all participants, President Erdoğan expressed his gratitude to President Xi Jinping of China for his kind invitation and wished for the 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to be auspicious.

Stating that humanity was faced with challenges such as climate change, environmental disasters, pollution, water and food safety, and the loss of biodiversity, President Erdoğan pointed out that recent natural disasters in various parts of the world that resulted in significant loss of life demonstrated the gravity of these issues.

President Erdoğan added, “Natural disasters not only harm the environment and the ecosystem but also pose a direct threat to human life and property. It is a well-known fact that everything in nature is interconnected in the same way as links in a chain are. The destruction of biodiversity results in a polluted environment, as well as the scarcity of food and water.”

Explaining that this situation created conflict and forced people to migrate, President Erdoğan noted, “Environmental degradation is one of the reasons why the Mediterranean, the cradle of civilisations, has become a refugee graveyard. Those who bear the historical responsibility for the emergence of issues that lead to climate change must, of course, be the first to take action in the face of this threat to our future. The struggle against climate change and environmental issues, on the other hand, cannot be attributed to certain countries. Regardless of their economic power, geographical location, or historical responsibility, all countries must take on responsibility.”

Emphasis on rich biological diversity

Drawing attention to the fact the conference's theme, "Ecological Civilisation: Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth," was well-chosen in this sense, President Erdoğan continued his remarks as follows:

“With its philosophy of ‘love the created for the creator’s sake,’ Türkiye is determined to preserve its rich biological diversity both on land and at sea. Our starting point in doing so is the recognition that all living beings, not just humans, have the right to life. We believe that the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which is based on minimising biodiversity loss by 2030, will duly serve that purpose. Türkiye has forests, mountains, steppes, wetlands, coastal and marine habitats, as well as their many forms and combinations, due to its location in three different climate zones and biogeographical regions. Of the eight world centres of origin, three of them intersect in Türkiye. Anatolia is the home of wheat, lentil, chickpea, olive, apple, cherry, and hundreds of more plants too long to list.”

Stating that while the entire European continent had approximately 12 thousand plant species, Türkiye was home to 12 thousand plant species, approximately 4 thousand of which are endemic, President Erdoğan added, “We have taken an inventory of our biological diversity thanks to our National Biodiversity Inventory and Monitoring Project. Among the species identified in the inventory, 428 of them are local endemic, and 3 thousand 275 are endemic, and they all grow only in Türkiye.”

Emphasising that having such diverse biodiversity placed specific responsibilities on their shoulders, President Erdoğan said, “To that purpose, we design and implement long-term, realistic strategies for biodiversity conservation as well as for ensuring its sustainability and economic integration. In accordance with the importance we attach to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, we will host the 16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties next year and assume Convention’s Presidency for the 2022-2024 term.”

Noting that, in this period, they would take the lead in undertaking necessary actions for the conservation of biological diversity both at home and abroad, President Erdoğan reiterated his hope that fair, equitable solutions that are also merciful would be found to all global challenges they face.