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A Review on NGOs Operating in Environment in Turkey - Nur Durmaz

Did you know that a total of 322,000 non-governmental organizations have been opened in Turkey so far? Currently, about 122 thousand of them are actively working. Professional and solidarity associations come first among non-governmental organizations (38 thousand), while environmental, natural life, and animal protection associations constitute 2.1% of them with 2.663 communities. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs ) are recognized as third sector actors in many areas of public action. NGOs are best known for two different but often interrelated types of activities: the delivery of services to people in need and the organization of policy advocacy. NGOs are also active in various other specific roles such as democracy building, conflict resolution, human rights work, cultural protection, environmental activism, policy analysis, research, and information provision. When we look at the most known environmental NGOs in Turkey, they differ in content, and the setting for transparency towards people changes.

On the website of TEMA (Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion), it is possible to see a lot of information. These include financial reports. In the current economic troubles, seeing the income-expenditure table helps investors and donors to understand how loyal they are to those companies or organizations, thanks to the ratios given. It's also a good way to understand where donations go. However, not every non-governmental organization in Turkey does this. Even if TEMA and TÜRÇEK (Turkish Environmental and Woodland Protection Society) do not do this every year, they do not hesitate to show it to individuals. In contrast, NGOs such as Çevko Foundation (Environmental Protection and Packaging Waste Recovery Foundation) and Doğa Society do not share them. This is one of the obvious examples that their transparency is less than other institutions. WWF-Turkey, namely the World Wildlife Foundation, is a part of a large international organization and maintains its transparency to maintain its sustainability. However, individuals do not need to just look at the financial report to see where their money is going. The projects carried out the size and content of these projects are as important as the openness of institutions to individuals and members.

The NGOs that are about the environment, look for necessary solutions to environmental problems, and to what extent they adhere to the aims of their establishment, even if they do little. Social media and the website offer this resource to people adequately. For example, TEMA and some NGOs continue to work in the legal context. Institutions apply to the necessary channels, not only by protesting but also by suing the necessary places. They aim to give people peace and happiness by resorting to legal means when the state could not afford them when people were victims. In addition to law, NGOs continue to raise awareness by providing convenience to people with information and news on their internet pages. Many Turkish non-governmental organizations do this. Some NGOs publish magazines and periodically offer them to their readers. There are different methods of raising people's awareness, and in any case, if the issue is to take Turkey and the world one step ahead, sharing news, publishing magazines, and informing people through many other methods should be one of the goals of an NGO.

Some institutions, sticking to their names, were not interested in the environment in general but operates in specific areas. For example, Turkish Marine Environment Protection Association (TURMEPA), even if it is an environmental institution, is specifically interested in the seas and draws its projects accordingly. ÇEKÜL, the Foundation for the Protection and Promotion of Environmental and Cultural Heritage, is an environmental organization that aims to initiate projects related to culture, preserve and maintain the culture, and restore cities. This caused their projects and the news and information works they wrote to look slightly different. But at the same time, it has played a major role in the afforestation of Turkey with the 7 Tree forests program. As the Çevko foundation is an organization that focuses on waste, it has provided people with a map showing where they can recycle with ÇEVKO Waste Collection Points. While doing this, it also obtained the usage rights of the international Green Point, which is a globalizing project, in Turkey in 2003. The "Green Dot" mark on the packaging indicates that the company or business that puts the product on the market fulfills its legal obligations regarding the environment and packaging recycling. With this project, it is possible to say that the Çevko foundation approached its goals at one point in line with its name. In addition to the internationally working Çevko foundation, there are also the only environment and natural life NGOs that are trying to globalize. Even if NGOs act within the country, solidarity with other countries is very important for a global problem such as the environment. After all, only Turkey does not have this problem and will not have it.

Today, while many people are aware of the international organizations Greenpeace and WWF, they are unaware of the non-governmental organizations in their own country. This situation causes many NGOs to close before they can develop themselves. But for an organization to carry on an activity, even a small one, is a profit for humanity in every way. Environmental problems and the disasters that they will bring are issues that many people should be aware of now. NGOs play a huge role here. For a better world, it is much better for people with the same thought and purposes to meet on common ground and present their thoughts to the public in different ways than to wait for the problems to be solved by themselves.


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