Whilethe Conference of the Parties (COP-12), the 12th session of which was held this year, was underway under the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, Öz Orman-İş Trade Union conducted the Side Event Meeting entitled as the ‘Function of TradeUnions To Combat Desertification’
The Side Event Meeting, held by Öz Orman-İş Trade Union which is accredited for the Conference of the Parties as a civil society organisation in compliance withits responsibility related there upon, took place on the 13th of October 2015 with the participation of senior trade union managers from Turkey and from almost 20 countries around the world.
In the meeting in which Hak-İş Confederation Leader Mr. Mahmut Arslan and Secretary General Dr. Osman Yıldız and various other senior managers from trade unions under Hak-İş participated, many unionists from many countries in Asia, Europe and Africa took the floor and expressed their opinions on what trade unions should do about combatting desertification.
Mr. Settar Aslan, the Union Leader of Öz Orman-İş, pointed out in his presentation during the meeting that the non-governmental organizations, especially trade unions, constitute a bridge between the countries’ governments and the community, and in a sense, they function as an ‘early warning system’ of the community and thus, trade unions and CSO’s should be more and better employed and benefited to combat desertification.
Pertaining to the measures to be taken in regards to desertification and land degradation, Settar Aslan who set forth that CSO's mayfunction as a significant tool in ‘education’and ‘creating awareness’ in a socialsense, stated that transferring resources from national and international funds into CSO’s to this effect may be beneficial. Mr. Settar also stated that “We must accelerate the rural developmentin order to preserve the earth. States must find out ways to render the people living in the rural areas ‘happy and prosperous’ in places where they live for the sustainable use of soil, nature, forests, air and water, andthe most important executing tool of such policy is the ‘intensive and strong employment’ strategy”.
A COMBAT LASTING A YEAR INSTEAD OF 6 MONTHS
Settar Aslan explained that better quality services should be provided for the forests for the purpose of effectively combatting desertification and added the following:
“In addition, intensive efforts can be exerted in order to preserve our forests and the wildlife and develop such and make them more utilizable. Workers employed in the forestry administrations can be recruited on a permanent basis rather than ‘temporary status’ in order to ensure they render services for our forest asset for the year long. Some of the population in forest villages maybe employed for the purpose of improving the status of our forests.
Therefore, our forests will become better well-groomed, more productive and utilizable in socio-cultural terms. Increase in utilization in socio-cultural sense will increase the social awareness in combatting desertification.
These kind of policies will result in a decrease in rural unemployment, improvement in the rural welfare, reduction in emigration into cities and alleviation of stressof rural poverty upont he use of natural and forest resources. On the other hand, rural employment intensive policies will ensure that the welfare becomes wide spread and will give rise to positive developments like a fair distribution of national income.”
In the meeting, Mr. Mahmut Arslan, whois the Confederation Leader of Hak-İş made a speech and stated that Hak-İş attaches great importance to international relations and assumes responsibilities for social and environmental issues. Arslan, drawing attention to the importance of holding an international meeting with the participation of many unionists from various countries around the world, congratulated Öz Orman-İş for its successful efforts.
Another participant, Mr. Marcos Montoiro, NGO and Civil Society Liaison Officer expressed his pleasure and gladness in respect of the great interest shown in the meeting and of the organizational success of Öz Orman-İş Trade Union.
In the Side Event Meeting held by Öz Orman-İş, Professor Erdinç Yazıcı, an academic member of Gazi University,made a scientific presentation about the policies to be conducted in erosion and land degradation.
Afterwards, foreign unionists participating in the meeting to represent their countries took the floor in turn and spoken out their opinion and suggestions regarding the relation between both desertification, degradation and labour factor as well as how nature and soil can be preserved.
During the meeting, a Turkish-English film prepared by Öz Orman-İş entitled as ‘First Souls Became Desert’ was presented to the participants. Furthermore, the DVD of the film along with the English brochure introducing Öz Orman-İş Trade Union and Turkey and a booklet containing the texts in English and Turkish of the presentations made during the meeting were distributed. All opinions and suggestions expressed during the meeting, having being summarized in a form of a ‘Final Declaration’ to be presented to the General Assembly of the Conference of the Parties COP-12.
SIDE EVENT MEETING WITH CSO’s
On the other hand, again in the afternoon of the 13th of October 2015, Öz Orman-İş, Green Turkey Foresters Association, Central Union of Turkish Agricultural Credit Cooperatives, Aegean Forest Foundation, Or-Koop and TEMA Foundation conducted a Side Event Meeting on the concept of the ‘Importance of Employment to Combat Desertification’.
Mr. Settar Aslan, the Union Leader of Öz Orman-İş, emphasized that the combat against desertification and land degradation must be ‘labour intensive’ thus, providing more employment and ensuring better well-groomed and quality forests and natural resources, and giving rise to both keeping the populationin their geographical inhabitation as well as decreasing the welfare inequalities among social segments of the community.