The incidence and intensity of natural disasters, such as the flash floods last month that killed 12 people in Samsun, Turkey, are expected to increase as climate change intensifies.
A two-year project to improve the disaster response capacities of Turkey and the Western Balkans has just been launched, reports the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). Co-sponsored by UNISDR and the World Meteorological Organization, the project will receive 2.2 million Euros ($2.8 million) from the European Commission.
Preparing for the worst
Turkey and its Balkan neighbors are already hit often by natural disasters — earthquakes, floods, flash frosts and heat waves, droughts, and forest fires. Increased climate variability, as well as new land-use and settlement patterns, “may compound such problems,” according to the UNISDR press release about the project.
The project will place special emphasis on cross-border cooperation during times of disaster. The meteorological and hydrological capabilities of each participating country will also be strengthened.
One potential result of the project will be a multi-hazard early warning system that all countries can access. On the local scale, the project will increase disaster risk awareness in urban settlements and encourage the spread of disaster insurance among farmers, small and medium enterprises, and homeowners.
In addition to Turkey, the countries set to benefit from the project are: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, and Kosovo.
Climate change prevention: Better than preparedness
Unfortunately, the UNISDR’s project does not include any measures to forestall climate change in the beneficiary countries.
Turkey, in particular, has long resisted policies to reduce its rising greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions. The country’s addiction to petroleum, which greatly adds to its overall GHG emissions, is even holding Turkey back from its full economic growth potential, according to recent analysis.
The fact that Turkey’s local climate already inclines the country toward natural disasters should be a wake-up call to the government: Don’t contribute to increased climate variability! Instead, investing in renewable energy and limiting GHG emissions will put Turkey on an economically stronger — and safer — path.
Read more about Turkish climate policy:
Image via World Bulletin