What is Sustainable Development?
Sustainable development is programming for the present day and future life and development by observing the balance between human beings and the nature, without exhausting natural resources and thus making it possible for future generations to materialize their needs and fulfill their development. Sustainable development is a concept with social, ecologic, economic, spatial and cultural dimensions.
Initiated first as a project for the development of water and land resources, the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) was then transformed by the GAP Administration into a multi-sector and integrated regional development effort. The Administration integrated social-human dimension to its economic growth targets in line with the concept of sustainable development. This means that the ultimate objective of the GAP is not only economic growth but also improving the life quality of people. Al activities including those for infrastructure building, agricultural and industrial development, environmental protection, development of natural resources, social services etc. as well as other that directly contribute to economic growth are assessed in terms of their sustainability and contribution to improvements in quality of life.
Hence the ultimate objective of the GAP is to ensure sustainable human development in the GAP Region. Consequently, human being is placed in the focus of all development efforts. Physical structures that are already in the process of formation will lay the basis for human development. Sustainable development in the region will be achieved with the elimination of disparities within the region and with other regions, spread of equality and welfare, securing popular participation to the project and development of human resources.
The document "Agenda 21" had been adopted in the Earth Summit held in Rio in 1992. This document lays down some concrete principles on sustainable development that should be adapted to the specific circumstances of individual countries. These principles fully overlap with the principles of sustainable human development as adopted by the GAP, and early fruits of this approach are now being reaped.
Planning and implementation in GAP targeting sustainable human development upholds the following basic principles:
- Equality and Fairness
- Development of Human Resources
Participative approach should be understood as the presence of all parties affected by the project to all stages including early project design, implementation and monitoring-evaluation. This principle is observed in all projects. Success of individual projects is often safeguarded by raising the awareness of relevant parties, by observing the social feasibility of projects, reducing project costs and by solving problems stated by local people. This approach also contributes to the democratization of the society.
In the context of GAP, "equality and fairness in development" means the integration to the process of development of those sections of the population who are socially, economically and culturally disadvantaged. "Disadvantaged" groups in the GAP Region include women, children, landless peasants and small farmers, small-scale craftsmen and farmers living in non-irrigated areas. There are special programs developed with the participation of these groups.
To sum up, the sustainable economic growth perspective of the GAP envisages the following: Decent level of income for all; accessibility to social services including those in the fields of education, health and culture, sustainable utilization of natural resources; health environment; decent sheltering for all; mechanisms for ensuring the participation of people to decision-making and to create a sustainable society that can further develop on its internal dynamism.
This sustainable development approach adopted by the GAP has started to attract the attention of international organizations. For example, the UNDP has developed interest in the project and is now supporting it in various ways.
The GAP Administration and UNDP jointly organized the seminar "Sustainable Development and GAP" in March 1995. There were many participants from universities, governmental organizations, private sector and local governments. The seminar discussed the principles of sustainable human development in the GAP Region.
This seminar laid the basis of the joint GAP-UNDP Program for "Sustainable Development in the GAP Region", which was put in implementation starting from March 1997.
The program supports the implementation of 29 different projects that can be grouped under the following 5 headings.
- Promotion of social sustainability and development of social services,
- Promotion of agricultural sustainability and improvement of agricultural productivity,
- Promotion of local entrepreneurship and industrial development for economic viability,
- Promotion of sustainable human settlements, and
- Ensuring optimal and sustainable utilization of natural resources.
Examples of projects implemented through the approach of sustainable human development.
Projects listed below are in fact linked to each other in the context of human development. The grouping below is only for analytical purposes.
1. Projects for Environmental Protection: Outputs of these projects may be envisaged in the context of (i) creating conditions in which future generations may benefit from natural resources; and (ii) creating health living conditions for human beings.
- Management, Operation and Maintenance of GAP Irrigation Systems (GAP-MOM),
- Regulation of Water in Irrigation Canals and Methods and Technologies for Water Saving,
- Treatment of Urban Waste Water,
- Re-use of Irrigation Discharge Water,
- Protection of Biological Diversity,
- Environmental Work in the GAP Region,
- Environmental Work in the GAP Region - Tigris Basin,
- Assessment of Climatic Conditions in the Region for Present Day and Future,
- Adiyaman-Kuyulu Region Erosion Control Project,
- Adiyaman-Diran Micro-Catchment Rehabilitation Project,
- GAP Afforestation Project,
- GAP Agricultural Research and Development Project, A, B.
2. Urban Planning and Infrastructure Projects: These projects are developed and implemented with the participation of people. Participation makes up the social feasibility of these projects and helps in the development of a democratic culture in urban life and government. The projects envisage improving the quality of urban life.
- Participation in urban planning and zoning,
- Resettlement and employment of people affected by dam lakes,
- Atatürk Dam Lake Sub-Regional Development Plan,
- Eco-city and eco-village planning and development in pilot localities.
3. Projects Designed to Eliminate Disadvantaged Positions and Alleviate Poverty: These projects observe such fundamental principles as gender balance, closing the gap between the rich and the poor; ensuring access to education, health and other social services; contribution to the realization of an equitable process of development and creating awareness.
- Establishment of Multi-Purpose Community Centers (ÇATOM) for Women,
- Improving the Income Level of People in Non-Irrigated Areas,
- GAP Entrepreneur Support and Guidance Centers (GAP-GIDEM),
- Project for On-Contract Animal Husbandry (GAP Rings Model),
- Project for Joint Machinery Use (GAP OMAK),
- Sub-Regional Development Plan Comprising Return to Villages and Rehabilitation,
- Project for the Rehabilitation of Children Working in Streets.
4. Development of Human Resources and Institutional Arrangements: These projects enhance both efficiency and income level and also prepare the ground for both internal and external participation: