| Akif Özkaldı Deputy Director General of State Hydraulic Works(DSİ): “The Second İstanbul International Water Forum is The Indicator of Turkey's Reputation on the World”
Akif Özkaldı Deputy Director General of State Hydraulic Works (DSİ), answered the questions of ORSAM Water Research Programme. Highlighting the fact that Turkey's great success in organizing the 5th World Water Forum created a remarkable effect on the global water community Özkaldı mentioned that the 2nd İstanbul International Water Forum to be organized in May would consolidate the positive image about Turkey. Özkaldı stated that the Forum contributed to all of the countries to a large extent in terms of acting in parallel with the common goals related to water.
ORSAM: Could you tell us about yourself?
I graduated from İstanbul Technical University Faculty of Civil Engineering in 1986. Within the same year I started to work as an engineer within the General Directorate of DSİ Project and Construction Department. During my post as an Engineer, I went to the United States of America by the scholarship that I won, and in 1991 I got a master's degree from Utah State University Department of Irrigation Engineering. Between 1992 and 1993 I completed my military service as a reserve officer in the Turkish Air Force Command, in NATO Inf. Office. In 1998 I was appointed to the DSİ General Directorate Office in Ankara as a Project Department Manager. In 2002 I worked as a Project Department Manager in the Head of Department of Water Supply and Sewage Disposal . In 2003 I was appointed as the co-head of Design and Construction Department, and in 2004 I became the Head of Deparment. On November 2007 I became the Deputy General Director of DSİ and I still continue this task. I worked in the process of the 5th World Water Forum by actively participating in the process. I am the General Coordinator of DSİ of the İstanbul International Water Forum, and also I am the CO-Chair of the Steering Committee.
How was the idea of May 3rd-5th May 2011, the 2nd İstanbul International Water Forum brought forward? What was the reason of requirement for such a forum?
We successfully carried out the 1st İstanbul International Water Forum on February 2009, right before the Fifth World Water Forum. The goal of our international Forum is both to lay the groundwork for the World Water Forum, to exchange information; and also to organize an international activity with a great participation that we could turn it into a brand in order to find a solution for the global water problems. Thanks to the outstanding success and effort in the Fifth World Water Forum, Turkey's important role related to water was seen again on the international platform, and the continuance of the efforts became indispensable in order not to lose this gained role. Therefore, these information and experiences that were gained from the World Water Forum underpinned the 2nd İstanbul International Water Forum. The İstanbul International Water Forum is going to be organized a year before each World Water Forum.
When and where was the First İstanbul International Water Forum, held? Could you inform us on this subject?
The first of the İstanbul International Water Forum, whose second will be organized on May 3rd-5th 2011 in İstanbul Haliç Congress Center, was carried out on February 14th-15th 2009 in İstanbul as preliminary for the Fifth World Water Forum. In the course of this Forum, which was a preliminary meeting for the Fifth World Water Forum, the participants were informed on which extent the participants could assume an effective role during the thematic period of the Fifth World Water Forum. They also gave information to the coordinators of the Fifth Forum about the activities carried out within the scope of the regional process. Besides, during the 1st İstanbul International Water Forum, the representatives of the non-governmental organizations participating from Turkey exchanged opinions upon what kind of method they are going to follow in the course of the Fifth World Water Forum.
What has been the contribution of the 1st İstanbul International Water Forum to the 5th İstanbul Water Forum?
As mentioned in the answer of the previous question, in fact the 1st İstanbul International Water Forum took place as a coordination, opinion exchange conference among the stakeholders between the components in the regional and thematic processes of the Fifth World Water Forum. Thanks to the conference, the participants were informed about the process and this conference contributed to the fluency of the 5th World Water Forum.
The İstanbul Water Forum is demanded to be turned into a traditional event, has any bounding structure been created to make the Forum perpetual yet?
The 1st İstanbul International Water Forum was mainly agreed to be triennially carried out a year before the World Water Forum. Its administrative structure is ready, and the legal infrastructure has still been worked on.
What are the themes that are going to be handled in the Forum in May, and what are the criterium on the designation of these themes?
The İstanbul International Water Forum, whose main theme is “Istanbul Perspective on Regional Water Challenges and Solutions”, is going to take place on May 3rd-5th 2011. The Forum is composed of political, thematic and regional processes. While the political process is estimated to be composed of the minister-level meetings; the thematic process is aimed to be composed of 26 meetings that will be assessed under 6 sub-headings. As for the regional process, closed private meetings are going to be held as a follow-up of the preliminary meetings that were carried out on Turkey and her surrounding regions. The subjects, which the İstanbul International Water Forum will deal with, are primarily the existing water problems in Turkey and in her neighborhood; and their solutions. The outputs of the Forum would constitute a regional input for the Sixth World Water Forum as well.
Could you inform us about the “İstanbul water agreement”, which was signed in the 5th World Water Forum?
The “İstanbul Water Agreement”, which was signed by the mayors of 52 countries during the Local and Regional Administrations conference of the İstanbul 5th World Water Forum, demands the signatory provinces to develop their water management strategies in parallel with the Millenium Development Goals; and to handle urbanization, climate change and the other global pressures on local level.
The İstanbul Water Agreement, which has already been signed by more than 700 provinces, is a written contract which argues that accessing to quality water is one of the most fundamental rights of every human being as water is a public property; and which brings urban and rural water problems up to the local, national and global agenda. This agreement aims at inviting mayors and local authorities to a common commitment related to urban water resources management by underlining the fact that cooperations are needed on a state level in order to enable the equal distribution of the resources, and the fact that greater missions fall to municipalities because of the climate change.
Is this Agreement going to be included in the 2nd İstanbul International Water Forum, which is going to be carried out in May, as well?
The İstanbul Water Agreement, which is a new agreement composed upon the action planning of the local and regional administrations to analyze and to be able to deal with the problems, is still open to signature. The 2nd İstanbul International Water Forum is also going to be an opportunity to reevaluate the İstanbul Water Agreement and the İstanbul Water Guide. A special session entitled “İstanbul Water Agreement” is going to be carried out during the 2nd İstanbul International Water Forum and under the responsibility and coordination of the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality.
Which countries are going to participate in the Minister level meeting in the course of the Forum, and what is going to be the content of the meeting?
The participant Ministers, who are related to water and environment issues, invited from the neighbor countries of Turkey are also going to be hosted in the Inter-ministerial Meeting that is going to be held in Conrad İstanbul Hotel, on May 3rd 2011. More than 30 Ministers were invited to the Inter-ministerial meeting entitled “Regional Cooperation for Water”. Among the invited Ministers, there exists the Ministers coming from the countries such as Uzbekistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, France, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria, Morocco, Greece, Algeria, Syria, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Jordan, Macedonia, Libya, Iran, Russia, Kosovo, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Georgia, Armenia, Lebanon, Mongolia, Republic of Korea, Niger, Djibouti, Burkina Faso, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and Australia.
To which extent are the other countries and the water organizations interested in and supporting the 2nd İstanbul International Water Forum?
The 2nd İstanbul International Water Forum is going to provide an environment of platform where international organizations and local authorities from the Middle East, Central Asia, Eastern European regions and Turkey could come together in order to find solutions to the aforesaid problems by focusing on the water related problems of these regions. Thanks to the Water Expo to be organized as well, the global water companies will find a chance to introduce themselves. During the Forum in parallel with thematic sessions, panels and other activities; a range of extra activities are going to be carried out both by various national and international organizations. The participation of the other countries and the other international water organizations in the components of the Forum is on a quite satisfying level.
What is going to be the effect of this Forum on Turkey's water policies?
The 5th World Water Forum's great success created a great effect on the global water community, and it pointed out the position of Turkey among the leading countries in terms of water again. In the 2nd İstanbul International Water Forum that is going to be held on May 2011, Turkey is going to use the approaching feature of water once again; and she will consolidate the understanding of acting in parallel with the common goals by positively influencing all of the countries' both their own water policies and also the other countries' water policies. No doubt that this entity is going to contribute to the development of Turkey's own water policies to a large-extent as a think-tank organization.
Thank you for your answers. We wish you success with your studies.
* This interview was carried out on April 2011 in Ankara by Dr. Tuğba Evrim MADEN, ORSAM Water Research Programme Hydropolitics Advisor