We are all bearing witness to a worsening climate emergency that is deeply affecting the planet Earth, our only home. Unfortunately, climate change brings along many global environmental and social issues such as biodiversity loss, degradation of marine and coastal ecosystems, drought and desertification, endangered food security and increased mass migration, and the situation is no different in our country, Turkey.
Instead of thinking that we as individuals are not affected by climate change, we need to be aware of our changing world and take action right away. If we keep on ignoring the impact of climate change on the environment; water, soil and atmosphere, it will only be a matter of time before our way of life is shaken to the core.
Since day one, the Sabancı Foundation has believed that social development can only be achieved with empowered individuals. We have carried out many activities to serve this purpose, and one of them was the Sabancı Foundation Short Film Competition in 2016. Organized to draw attention to social issues through art, the Short Film Competition stands out with themes of a different global issue for each year. To that end, the Sabancı Foundation 5th Short Film Competition in 2021 was held with the theme of “Changing Climate, Changing Lives” in consideration of the global climate emergency and the ensuing disasters that require us to take action. The climate emergency is no longer a looming threat; it stands before us as a major issue that is already impacting our lives. That is why it was so nice of young filmmakers to set their sights on the issue of climate change, and shoot creative films on its causes, impact and solutions. When we saw the projects they came up with, we knew we had made the right call.
The competition received great interest from young filmmakers, as 13 films made it to the finals. In the finals, we wanted to go beyond the scope of the competition and offer a new perspective for filmmakers in their seventh art journey by bringing them together with environmental and cinema experts. These gatherings enabled them to improve themselves and take their artistic vision one step further.
With a jury of renowned names from Turkey and all over the world, the competition also hosted Macedonian director Tamara Kotevska as an “Opinion Leader.” Kotevska pours her heart and soul into tackling one of the biggest issues of our time, and is known for her original films that focus on the power of nature and the human-nature relationship. The successful director revealed the extent of the impact of climate change on human life with a video message: “Human greediness is changing nature. People must understand that climate changes are a direct effect of our actions, and it always pays back in human destinies. We must not forget that if one breaks the rule, everyone pays the price.”
Drawing attention to climate change with the theme of “Changing Climate, Changing Lives” and raising awareness by addressing this critical issue through means of art has been a very valuable experience for all of us.
Inspired by this important theme of the Sabancı Foundation 5th Short Film Competition, we have also conducted a public awareness survey on climate change. I would like to share this survey and its results as well.
In the Climate Change Awareness survey conducted as part of the Short Film Competition, the respondents were asked about climate change. The survey was conducted with 502 respondents aged 18-50, living in urban areas.
The survey revealed a shocking truth, as it has shown that climate change is not regarded as a priority or an urgent matter in Turkey. Unfortunately, people only realize the more “visible” problems that they encounter more frequently in their daily lives, and describe only those problems when asked about the consequences of climate change. That being said, the survey shows that drought, freshwater scarcity and seasonal changes are believed to be the biggest consequences of climate change.
The survey also shows that people expect the government and the relevant institutions to take action on the climate emergency. Even though 9 out of 10 people believe that they have a personal responsibility for climate change, 1 out of 5 people states that measures taken by individuals will not contribute to the solution. Meanwhile, respondents believe that solving the issue will only be possible with measures taken by the government (82%), measures taken on an international scale (77%), and measures taken by the private sector (74%). Looking at personal measures, water and energy savings stand out as the most common with a rate of more than 70%. According to the survey, only 1 in 5 people say that they make an effort not to fly in order to reduce their carbon footprint. Another interesting result of the survey was that young people and young adults aged 18-34 tend to put less emphasis on climate change than individuals aged 35-50.
Based on these striking results, it is safe to say that if we start working towards a solution only at the time of crisis, it will be too little, too late. Individuals, institutions and governments need to make a joint effort to solve this issue. There is a saying we keep coming back to; “this world is our only home, we have nowhere else to go.” Right now, our home is sustaining damage, and it’s up to us to change that.
With this awareness, the Sabancı Foundation has taken and will continue to take significant steps in its climate efforts. To serve this end, we became a member of the F20 Platform. We have started to evaluate all aspects of our activities from a climate perspective. Considering the disasters we have experienced to date, we have established a Disaster Relief Emergency Fund that hopefully will not be needed. We have decided to add the fight against the climate crisis to the sub-themes of our grant program, and support the projects of NGOs working in the field.
In a world where designing new models for solutions and increasing international collaboration is more important than ever, Sabancı Foundation will continue to demonstrate its emphasis on the climate in all its activities, and carry out projects that will raise awareness on the issue.