Collaborative approach to climate change adaptation in Turkey

Data needed for nutritionists, dietitians, and gastronomes to address influences of expected climate changes 

Health Sciences Faculty, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University, Turkey

Turkey’s initiatives, such as becoming a party to international mitigation strategies on climate change, can be traced back to the 2009 Kyoto Protocol and 2012 National Climate Change Action Plan. There are clear indications that climate change is taking place in Turkey (e.g., spring rainfall is arriving later than it used to, delaying the harvest period) and Turkey is projected to be at high-risk by 2050.

Some influences will affect individuals, but most will have an impact nation-wide, including food security and dietary choices, and citizens need to be aware that some foods might not always be available. Climate-smart management measures also need to be oriented towards nutritional, dietary, and gastronomic activities, but knowledge and understanding of climate change is poor amongst these audiences. Thus, we need multidisciplinary collaboration to advance knowledge and understanding about the impact of climate change on food and work together to address the various challenges.

Success in delivering climate-change sensitive services depends on learning around environmental sustainability, but this topic is not included in curricula for these disciplines and climate change is ranked low against other priorities, and this must change.

The challenge of meeting individuals’ needs and preferences, while minimising related impacts on health and environment, requires an understanding of how consumption of diets/ foods impact human health and environment. Also, better exploitation of species and/ or varieties adapted to climate changes will help address food security and environmental conservation. In this respect, FAO HORTIVAR database is a useful resource.

Developing smart nutritional, dietetic, and gastronomic options (at reasonable cost, time, and effort) with advanced computational tools will help tackle impacts of climatic variables on dietary patterns as well as addressing any sensory, food safety, health, and gastronomic concerns. These also provide a robust background for more advance research methods. Working with nutritionists, dietitians, and gastronomes is important, because they are trusted by the wider community and can deliver information about how to avoid over-consumption and inefficient use of water, and reduce food losses and waste.

The EU contributes to international climate finance funding (ca. €100 bn yearly) and manages a €864 million programme (LIFE climate action) to develop and implement innovative responses to climate challenges. At least 20% of EU expenditure was climate-related in 2014-2020, and the EU provides financial assistance to Turkey through the seven-year multi-annual operational IPA programmes. Since 2002, €6 billion in pre-accession financial assistance has been allocated to Turkey, 15% per cent of which (about €1 billion) was for the environmental sector. Among EU-funded projects in Turkey, major themes include agriculture, environmental-energy, and climate change mitigation, but there is not a collaborative approach to climate change adaptation yet, which would help protect natural resources and ecosystems. The campaign for this is on-going.

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