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UN official urges change in lifestyle to combat climate crisis

Anadolu Agency WORLD
Published May 23,2024

Humanity must change its lifestyle to cope with the environmental crisis brought about by climate change, a UN official warned.

In an interview with Anadolu, Tatjana Hema, the coordinator of the UNEP-MAP (United Nations Environment Program-Mediterranean Action Plan) Barcelona Convention, who visited Istanbul for Mediterranean Green Week, shared her evaluations of climate change and its impact on the Mediterranean.

Hema said that the measures under the Barcelona Convention and in collaboration among all contracting parties -- 21 Mediterranean countries and the EU -- address biodiversity conservation, the protection of the ecosystem, the establishment of marine protected areas, the protection of species in danger, the prevention of pollution from land-based sources or from shipping from the sea.

Emphasizing the important decisions taken in their last two meetings, Hema said: "There is a very strong commitment, but in order for the decision to be implemented, there is a need for support. And this is why we, as UNEP-MAP, do our best in order to provide the necessary technical and financial assistance to the countries in order to implement."


Hema highlighted the dire situation in the Mediterranean, one of the regions most affected by climate change.

"Mediterranean temperature is growing faster than compared to other regions. And this, of course, poses big challenges to the region from an environmental perspective, from an economic perspective, and from a health perspective. So the situation is that we definitely need to take measures. Of course, climate change is a global phenomenon, and many actions are being taken at the global level, and the Mediterranean is not an exception."

She also mentioned that UNEP-MAP is focusing on adaptation to climate change, considering revising the existing strategy, gathering resources, and taking concrete adaptation measures.

"We need to change the lifestyle. We cannot continue with the same patterns. This is why education is important. The involvement of young people and women is important. Because we need to think not only for now, but for the future as well."

"The living pattern we have is not sustainable. It has been already proven, and this is why there is a very strong commitment to moving towards the circular economy, towards sustainable consumption and production. And this requires a very good effort. Our focus is to take the necessary and adequate measures to protect the sea and the coast, but we do not look at it in isolation."


The official stressed that there is no room for pessimism and that there is still time to take the necessary action.

"I believe that we are late, we know that we are late, but we are still in time to take the necessary action in order to achieve what we want and this an important transformational change."

"Measures should be taken to minimize pollution, to minimize the generation of waste, to minimize the energy consumption. This is what we are all working for."

She emphasized that the entire world is aware of those objectives and that they cannot be achieved without working together.

The circular economy is an economic system that encourages the reuse and regeneration of materials or products in a sustainable or environmentally friendly way.

"There is a room for everybody to play their role, for all categories of society, and in particular also for the private sector… The solution is not just to have a business, to get some profit and then to destroy the environment. There is a much better understanding that we have to work with the prevention in mind, with the sustainability in mind, with the circular economy in mind."

She concluded by noting: "A lot of work has been done in raising awareness of decision-makers, raising awareness of the public, of women, young people, businessmen, industry, and things are progressing. But as I said, there is an implementation gap that we all need to work harder in order to overcome. And the message is that it cannot be just the government, it cannot be just the citizens, it cannot be just the business. We need to commit and work together."