Turkish first lady addresses urgent need for environmental action at New York event

Turkish first lady addresses urgent need for environmental action at New York event

'The critical threshold of the climate crisis is upon us,' says Emine Erdogan

By Cahit Oktay

NEW YORK (AA) - Turkish first lady Emine Erdogan emphasized the critical importance of addressing climate change and environmental preservation during an event Monday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

"Our shared home, the world, is increasingly reminding us that climate change is our most pressing issue," said Erdogan, citing "extraordinary disasters" that hit Türkiye, Libya, Greece, Bulgaria and Georgia.

The first lady made the remarks during the "Path to Global Zero Waste Movement" event at the Turkish House attended by top UN officials, diplomats and New York City Mayor Eric Adams.

"The critical threshold of the climate crisis is upon us, and today, we must move beyond discussion and assessment to implement urgent action plans," she added.

Highlighting the necessity of escaping the spiral of industrialization's excesses for the sake of environmental preservation, the first lady noted that humanity has turned into a consumer society surrounded by disposable products.

She shared the staggering fact that every second, the world produces 127 tons of food, with 41 tons wasted, while 820 million people struggle with hunger.

The first lady also revealed the alarming statistic that 1 billion plastic bottles are sold every minute globally.

She expressed concern that a significant portion of this waste finds its way into the seas and oceans, endangering marine life.

She also predicted that the annual production of 2 billion tons of domestic waste could surge to 4 billion tons by 2050, underscoring the adverse effects of such high consumption on both waste management and natural resource depletion.

Turkish authorities implemented the Zero Waste initiative in Türkiye in 2017. The first lady said it helped prevent the unnecessary use of 650 million tons of raw materials and saved water equivalent to the needs of 2 million families.

- Reversing the global trend

"Today, we are witnessing the zero waste seed we planted in my country growing into a mighty tree whose shade will offer refreshment to the entire world," she said.

The first lady also pointed out that while these gains in Türkiye are significant, they are not enough to reverse the global trend. She emphasized that the countries contributing significantly to global pollution should take greater responsibility.

The New York City mayor, for his part, thanked the first lady for her efforts, saying it is crucial to prevent waste to ensure people have the opportunity to maintain a healthy diet without harming the environment.

"We have two mothers. One gave birth to us and the other sustained (us), and what the first lady is doing is stating it clearly," said Adams.

"We cannot continue to produce the highest level of emissions and disruptive behavior to the planet," he said, adding "I thank you for your vision, for your wisdom and understanding that we have an obligation to sustain the life of the mother.”

*Servet Gunerigok contributed to this story

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