Speaking to participants in İstanbul at the first annual Global Human Development Forum on sustainability and equity, organized jointly by the Turkish Ministry of Development and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Babacan emphasized the importance of income distribution for countries that should be working on development models that focus on education and employment. He said, “In the last 10 years, we have mainly focused on the development of individuals and society.
Benefit packages were given to low-income families, macroeconomic policies were implemented and progress was made in the fight on poverty. Right now, no individuals have an income under $2 a day, and those who have an income of less than $4 is equal to only 3.6 percent of the country.” Noting the “Divided We Stand” report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which cited Turkey as an exception when compared to many other OECD countries whose income disparity is very high, Babacan underlined, “Turkey is one of the few countries who can balance income distribution levels among society. Despite the ongoing economic slowdown, we grew at the rate of 8.5 percent in 2011 and have generated over 3 million job opportunities since 2009.” He added, “Meanwhile, we still have problems in education, however, we will focus on the educational system and make reforms by placing importance hereafter on technical equipment and qualified teachers.”
The deputy minister complained about the development models that are currently being currently but fail to be sustainable, and explained: “Only focusing on economic growth damages the environment and income levels. The most important question that needs to be decided is, are we going to advance and develop economically for now, or are we going to focus on sustainable development while considering future generations? As long as development and the economy do not progress at the same pace, it is difficult to achieve prosperity.” He said UN reports indicate that by the year 2049, the world’s population will increase to 9 billion from the current 7 billion, and by 2030, the demand for food will rise by 50 percent, the demand for water by 30 percent and energy needs by 45 percent.
Answering questions regarding green development, Khalid Malik, the director of the UNDP Human Development Report Office, highlighted to Today’s Zaman the three main parts of “greening human development,” which are environment, social development and generational equity. He stated, “Integration of these issues is a must, and all the levers must be pushed at the same time.” He explained that financial challenges still continue to plague institutions at the global and domestic level, and they have shifted gears to find ways such as public-private partnerships as well as financial transaction taxes to fund additional solutions. “The private sector is recognizing the importance of sustainable business, and long-term growth depends on how society is progressing and creating a broader economy,” he said.
When asked about financing a green economy, Development Minister Cevdet Yılmaz told Today’s Zaman that the scope of the “green economy” will be defined at the Rio+20 conference in May, and that as long as public and private institutions cooperate, financing would become easily available for those interested. The minister also underlined that Turkey sets a remarkable example for growth and plays an important role in the region by sharing its growth experiences with other countries.
Meanwhile, Babacan also pointed out Turkey’s growing role in the Middle East and Northern Africa, and stressed that Turkey has become a donor country, sending aid to underdeveloped nations. He said, “Our contributions to over 100 projects in the fields of education and energy in underdeveloped countries is in excess of $1 billion.”