Earth Day was not celebrated on a large scale in the country, and the Turkish branches of prominent international environmental organizations, such as World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Turkey, did not organize a single major event marking the day.
First celebrated in the US in 1970, Earth Day was little known in other countries until recently. Last year, the United Nations proclaimed April 22 International Mother Earth Day.
In Washington, D.C., members of Congress and community leaders representing faith-based groups, labor unions, civil rights activists and business groups gathered on the National Mall for a 40th anniversary event called the Earth Day Citizens’ Climate Congress on Thursday. Around the world, the Earth Day Network and its partners orchestrated large Earth Day events in New York City, Rabat, Kolkata, Buenos Aires and Tokyo.
Speaking to Today’s Zaman, Elif Sezginer Verün, the media officer of the Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion, for Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats (TEMA) said April 22, which is celebrated as the symbolic birthday of the Earth, was also recognized in Turkey. Noting that their main theme this year is “Green Economy,” Verün said TEMA volunteers celebrated Earth Day and April 23 Children’s Day together. The sixth National TEMA Children’s Festival, held on April 20-21, marked both Earth Day and Children’s Day, Verün said, noting that this year’s festival was attended by prominent officials, including TEMA head Hayrettin Karaca, as well as 215 children from 42 Turkish provinces. Stating that TEMA celebrates Earth Day extensively, Verün said nearly 3,000 children “gave the Earth a birthday present” by planting trees at the 66th Armored Regiment in İstanbul on Thursday.
Greenpeace Turkey and the Society for the Protection of Nature (DHKD) were not immediately available for comment on their Earth Day activities when contacted by Today’s Zaman, while both WWF Turkey and the Nature Association said they did not organize any Earth Day events this year.