ICI Organized A Sustainability and Business World Web Seminar through the Perspective of Turkey and EU

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In order to draw attention and create awareness of industrial firms on sustainability, Istanbul Chamber of Industry (ICI) organized a web seminar on “Sustainability and Business World through the perspective of Turkey and EU”. Gonca Yılmaz Batur, the Deputy Miniter of Trade and Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, Chairman of The European Union (EU) Delegation to Turkey participated in the seminar which was hosted by Erdal Bahçıvan, ICI Board of Directors President as speakers. Representatives of industrial companies and experts working on sustainability showed great interest to the seminar.

In his speech Bahçıvan, the ICI President said that the concept of sustainability has become a critical subject in today’s world. Drawing attention that they face with a new world order where countries which do not involve environmental problems and climate changr within their development understandings and production and industrial strategies will lose in the international competition, Bahçıvan said that the most crtical point is to guarantee the life of humanbeing while ensuring the maintenance of the production and variety. 

ICI Board of Directors President
Erdal Bahçıvan

Bahçıvan stated that the sustainability, in other words, means to meet our own needs without making any sacrifices from the needs of next generations. Stating that while the states are expected to formulate policies and take action to achieve sustainable development goals, sustainable living practices and priorities have been developed in individuals, Bahçıvan expressed that the key point lays within the questions of how we produce and how we consume. Bahçıvan added that it would not be an exaggeration to say that the new meaning and understanding attributed to production and consumption determines our future. 

Stating that they are taking decisions which might impact the environment, climate and other living species in our daily life, Bahçıvan pointed out that such decisions are being questioned now. Bahçıvan said that many subjects varying from our consumption habits to our eating preferences and water usage are walked through and environmental-friendly living understanding is very popular among the young people. 

Mentioning that the daily preferences of today's young people shape them as “green consumers”, Bahçıvan drew attention that industrial companies should pay attention to this subject as well. Reminding that the next generation will be both the consumers and the human resource to be employed in the companies, Bahçıvan said that it is necessary to develop the models matching with the preferences of this generation without losing time.

Underlying that instead of Global Warming and Climate Change, the definition of Climate Crisis has come to the fore, Bahçıvan told that it is often emphasized that they have only 10 years left to prevent humanity from going on an irreversible path. 

Stating that the world is getting ready for the transformation to be experienced in a great variety from building low-carbon and zero-waste cities to energy efficiency; from circular economy to technology adaptation of industry in a fast and decisive manner, Bahçıvan expressed that the said transformation which might be defined as a new generation “business model” for businesses, will require business partnerships with finance, information and communication technologies, and will also bring new and different opportunities.

Noting that this transformation which is defined as the "green race", will enable business leaders to not only see local and global problems as a source of cost and concern, and that they will be a part of the solution, Bahçıvan expressed that in this transformation process which will make itself be felt like a domino effect, radical changes are predicted to be experienced in issues which will impact production such as legal regulations, markets, consumer preferences, input prices, profit and loss. 

Stating that in each field of production, a new order where sustainability criteria are at the forefront in product, raw material and technology selection has already been initiated, Bahçıvan drew attention that technology-based production is of great importance in terms of sustainability as well. Stating that in the Europe which is the largest export market of them, it is strongly underlined that competitiveness on the global arena is based on the industry being greener, more cyclical and more digital, Bahçıvan expressed that considering the green and digital transformation as a twin transformation in the new industrial strategy shows the the strong connection between sustainability and technology. 

Stating that the period of thinking more about sustainability and producing discourses is now replaced by practice and application, Bahçıvan said that: “European Green Deal by European Union and IMF's encouragement of green recovery place the climate crisis at the heart of the economic crisis exit strategies. European Green Deal plan puts forwards the route map to achieve EU's target of being carbon neutral-zero emission by 2050. The transformation expected by the European Union under the roof of European Green Deal covers many strategical regulations at many aspects from industry to transportation and from energy to agriculture. The deal is not only an “environment” strategy, but it is seen as a new international trade system that closely concerns our country, and comes to the forefront as an important step requiring our industry sector to be prepared from now. 

Bahçıvan continued: 

“Both the decisions taken by the European Union and the recent announcements of Korea, Japan, China and the UK which make up 44 percent of the world's carbon emissions together with Europe about their aim to reduce their net carbon emissions to zero show us that the irrevocable transformation has already begun. The Democrats, who won the elections held in the USA last November are predicted to attach importance to the fight against the climate crisis during the period of their power which will start in January. In this regard, a program called green production support program should be initiated for companies in our country and support should be given for their all expenditures and investments in order to adapt to green production conditions. In this way, the adaptation of Turkish industry to the green transformation process which has been facilitated in the whole world especially the European Union will be realized swiftly and our country will get to the point it deserves in the competitive new trade race.”

Emphasizing that European Green Deal is a risk for Turkey and might be a brand-new opportunity to serve as a transformation instrument aiming sustainable development, Bahçıvan explained that it is possible to establish a carbon pricing system and to use amounts to be paid to EU under the Carbon Border Adjustment for the transformation process of Turkish sectors and use the taxes received for the environmental protection purposes with different names. 

Stating that tax advantages that encourage investment in alternative technologies to facilitate the transition to a low carbon economy will bring a great benefits, Bahçıvan told that as ICI, they are well aware about the situation and they aim to discuss the sustainability issue as the most important agenda item in 2021 by renewing their structures and planning various activities. 

Deputy Minister of Trade
Gonca Yılmaz Batur

Gonca Yılmaz Batur, Deputy Minister of Trade who took the rostrum said that pandemic has impacts on the world in economical terms as well as the health. Stating that trade wars and the increase in protectionism practices before the pandemic made the global economy and trade difficult and such difficulties become more intense, Batur expressed that according to the December report of the OECD, the global economy shrank by 4.2 percent and the Euro Area by 7.5 percent in 2020. 

Stating that the sustainability is the act of not sacrificing the long term impacts on the social life for short term gains, Batur said that the EU has set its goal of becoming the first carbon neutral continent in 2050 through the European Green Deal. Besides, stating that South Korea announced a new green deal in July 2020, Batur informed that a 135 billion dollar package was offered to promote construction, energy, transportation, industry and green transformation. 

Stating that China which is responsible for 28 percent of the carbon emissions in the world, has set the goal of being carbon neutral by 2060, Batur reminded that World Economic Forum has initiated a big reset initiative. Noting that the EU’s carbon border adjustment has a great impact on the exporters, Batur told that the working group established within the ministry attaches importance to the opinions of private sector in addition to the technical negotiations. Stating that they have held meetings with the sectoral representatives to be firstly affected by the European Green Deal, Batur noted that they have come together with the steel, aluminum, ceramic, plastic, chemistry, construction materials, automotive, white goods, textile, apparel, agriculture and transportation sectors. Batur added that they will announce action plan regarding sustainability soon.

Chairman of The European Union
(EU) Delegation to Turkey
Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut

Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, Chairman of The European Union (EU) Delegation to Turkey said that they are going through a process transforming the world and they have observed how much fragile the economies and health systems are. Mentioning that the EU has not forgotten its long-term promises despite the partial closures in Europe, Meyer-Landrut expressed that they are discussing how to ensure inclusive and sustainable growth. 

Emphasizing that European Green Deal is not only a climate and environment agreement but also the new growth strategy of EU, Meyer-Landrut noted that the EU cannot achieve these goals alone and it needs to establish international cooperation in this regard. Expressing the importance of adaptation of companies in the realization of this transformation in addition to the EU funds, Meyer-Landrut said that EU desires to be the center of sustainable financing. Reminding that Turkey is an important country in the EU supply chain, Meyer-Landrut added that they want Turk to join them in the EU's sustainability journey. 

Chairperson of Business Council
for Sustainable Development
Turkey Ebru Dildar Edin

Ebru Dildar Edin, Chairperson of Business Council for Sustainable Development Turkey who took the rostrum said that it is impossible to ignore climate change after pandemic. Stating that this year was one of the hottest three summers according to the World Meteorological Organization, Edin noted that companies that comply with digitalization and sustainability criteria will be more prominent in the post-pandemic period. Reminding that it is necessary to reduce emission release by 7 percent in each year in order to keep the global warming at 1.5 degree according to Paris Treaty, Edin informed that during this year when people mostly stay at home, this has decreased by only 8 percent. Edin added that the EU envisages a carbon border regulation in order to maintain their competitive advantage while making them compatible with sustainable development with the loans it provides to their companies.

Head of Sustainability Working
Group of Turkish Investor
Relations Society A. Cenk Göksan

A. Cenk Göksan, the Head Head of Sustainability Working Group of Turkish Investor Relations Society said that they are in need of a new policy because of the climate and environmental obligations. Stating that there is a risk of ending up for humanity and other living creatures towards the end of this century, Göksan stated that this problem can only be solved globally. Pointing out that companies which cannot be adapted themselves into this transformation will face with great challenges in the next 10 years, Göksan emphasized that it is necessary to adopt the approach of profit optimization instead of profit maximization and creating value for all stakeholders not only for shareholders. Telling that the investors are looking for the thing behind the profit now, Göksan added that social and environmental practices of companies and their approach towards the human capital and their prestiges have gained importance. 

S360 CEO Kerem Okumuş

Kerem Okumuş, S360 SEO presented his speech. Okumuş said that they will go through a big break in the following period which will take place between profit-oriented companies and stakeholder-oriented companies. Noting that new regulation environment has served as a trigger in this regard, Okumuş reminded that vehicles with internal combustion engines will not be available on the market in 2030 in line with the decision taken in the UK. Pointing out to the importance of customer demands, Okumuş stated that new generation is asking for the story behind the production now. Okumuş added that demands such as using less water, using less chemicals, and human and labor rights are increasing rapidly. 

And the questions of the seminar participants were answered by the speakers.