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Issues and Resolutions of Rights-Based NGOs in Turkey

Issues and Resolutions of Rights-Based NGOs in Turkey

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Published by Uğur Özkan

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Published by: Uğur Özkan on Jul 07, 2011
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12/10/2011

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The decisions taken for the planning and implementation of activities are not based
on short / long-term strategic planning and institutional goals. Unfortunately, the
conditions and sources of the organization rather than the needs and the problems
determine the tendencies and activities. Hence, we have to admit that the increasingly
popular rhetoric on ‘institutionalization and strategic planning’ fall a prey to concerns
on funding. Methodological mistakes such as taking daily decisions, leader-based
decision making mechanisms or creating projects based on the grant profile are com-
mon mistakes in the planning and implementation of activities. Those organizations
which do not benefit from grants of funding agencies design and develop their acti-
vities to minimize financial sources and receive support from the public sector and
local governments. Such organizations often have activities in education, awareness

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raising, awareness meetings, lobbying, or activities with in kind donations (such as
reforestation with donated tree saplings).

A positive development for the environmental NGOs in Turkey in 2000s is the change
in the perception about environmental protection and the move from a “protection
from human” or “protection despite human” mentality towards community based
environmental protection. This has resulted in the rise of the significance of local
actors and acknowledgment that environmental movement can be successful in the
long run only with the support at the local level. We can also state that the participa-
tion of local stakeholders and target groups have increased in the problem analysis,
decision making and action planning stages. To achieve these, various mechanisms
such as diverting attention to the problem and creating public opinion at the local
level, and orienting the movement from the local to the national as the demand /
source of movement comes from the local level.

Impact and Efficiency of Environmental NGOs
(Institutional and Political Sustainability)

Institutionalization seems to be the main problem of all NGOs in Turkey, and it is
not possible to make an exception about environmental organizations. Some NGOs
define institutionalization whether their strategic plan documents exist of not. Some
of the NGOs contacted for this study have showed us pages of bound documents on
their mission-vision and their action plans. However, it was obvious at first glance that
most of the statements in those documents have not been implemented.

We think that institutional sustainability is a problem because NGOs have not defined
institutionalization as one of their needs. A general habit of environmental organi-
zations is to react to emerging environmental problems. However, when addressing
the problem, the reacting NGO usually ignores the causes of the problem or is weak
in activities to change main policies. A typical and known environmental action is
to organize a press meeting with some volunteers of the NGO and its director in a
polluted area. It is rare that such actions turn into a campaign consisting of lobbying
and communication strategies, and we can talk about only a few examples of such
actions by big NGOs: i.e. TEMA’s activities on Pasture Law, TURÇEP’s (Turkish
Environmental NGOs Platform) campaign in Akkuyu.

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