Sustainability in Turkey

Sustainability in Turkey

The argument on how to assess countries performance has been one of the long-debated issues.  Argument that GDP is not sufficient to measure well being of the human-kind is no longer a unorthodox point of view.

Even though it is largely accepted that we need to beyond the current economic model and measure ‘what matters’ for the longer-term, it is not easy to come up with a widely accepted and universally calculated measure such as the GDP.

In a recent article in Project Syndicate, S. Zadek comments on the topic (1):

The question now the question on how to change the economic rules of the game to provide incentives for potential winners to drive progress – or at least neutralize likely losers’ ability to obstruct (green economy).

… markets alone should not decide on our collective fate; non-economic goals and metrics – both social and environmental’ should be used to guide countries….

Global Competitiveness vs. Sustainability Competitiveness

Against this backdrop, any measure, which compares countries on metrics other that GDP and other well-established macroeconomic data, need closer attention.

WEF’s global competitiveness index has been around for a while, but the recently announced sustainability adjusted indices, enable us to compare countries performance on social and environmental topics.  In the report (2), these indices are defined as measuring sustainable competitiveness, which make a nation remain productive over the longer term while ensuring social and environmental sustainability.

Below are some tables (3), using the database at WEF.  Looking at these tables, we reach a few conclusions regarding Turkey’s relative performance within the emerging countries on sustainability.

  • Of the 15 countries that are shown, only five have higher sustainability-adjusted GCI scores that the traditional GCI score: Malaysia, Chile, Brazil, Poland and Hungary
  • Turkey’s competitiveness ranking is worse in sustainability-adjusted index compared to the conventional GCI.
  • Within the sub-indices of sustainability-adjusted index, Turkey does worse on the environmental-sustainability adjusted index compared to social-adjusted one.
  • In the social-sustainability adjusted GCI, Turkey’s worst rankings are in income inequality, youth unemployment and vulnerable employment, and informal economy.
  • In environmental-adjusted competitiveness index, Turkey’s performance on high CO2 emissions, intensive use for agriculture, limited protected area and commitment to international environmental agreements, bring overall average down.

So Much To Do in Turkey on Sustainability

The above indices give a good starting point for positioning countries in social and environmental aspects of sustainability. What the above indices tells us is that Turkey needs to learn integrate sustainability targets into its economic growth model, especially on the environment side (and probably on the governance side as well) as quickly as possible.

This is not a role that will be executed only by the public sector; private sector as well needs to define environmental, social and governance sustainability aspects into their company strategy.  Potential winners in Turkey and in the world will come out of companies, which see that the rules of the game are already changing.

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(1) S. Zadek, ‘Post-Growth Growth Models’, Project Syndicate, Feb. 11, 2014

(2) Definitions and data tables below are brought together   from the chapter on ‘Assessing the Sustainable Competitiveness of Nations’ in WEF’s Global Competitiveness Report 2013-14

(3) This is a modified version of the article written in in November 2013,

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