ATAA UN Related Announcement# 17

In support of the #UN2023WaterConference and in connection with the
INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE THEME 5 – Water Action Decade (2018 – 2028):
Accelerating the implementation of the objectives of the Decade, including through the UN Secretary-General’s Action Plan.

Four core #WaterAction ideas toward contributing in #WaterQuality and #WaterSustainability

By the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA), Associated with the United Nations Department of Global Communications & Special Accredited Organization to the #UN2023WaterConference.


1. Proposed #WaterAction ideas #Municipal Solid Waste Dumping polluting waters, impacting health, and endangering wildlife

Solid waste contributes directly to greenhouse gas emissions through the generation of methane from the anaerobic decay of waste in landfills, and the emission of nitrous oxide from our solid waste combustion facilities.

Climate change has severely impacted our water supply. Due to more severe storms, high winds, tornadoes more of the MSW to be carried into lakes, rivers, oceans and polluting them.

Question: How much municipal solid waste (MSW) is generated in US per year?

Answer: The total generation of municipal solid waste (MSW) in 2018 was 292.4 million tons.

Question: Where does all this MSW come from?

  • Over 14.5 million tons of plastics waste produced in 2018, 69 million tons were recycled
  • 67.4 million tons of paper and paperboard in 2018, Approximately 46 million tons of paper and paperboard were recycled in 2018. In 2018, landfills received 17.2 million tons of MSW paper and paperboard


  • Approximately 22.3 million tons of yard trimmings and 2.6 million tons of food waste

Question: How does (MSW) pollute water and endanger wildlife?

Answer: When debris—plastic bags, bottles, cigarette butts, etc—is thrown on the ground, it gets washed into storm drains and directly into our waterways. In addition to potentially choking, suffocating, or disabling aquatic life like ducks, fish, turtles, and birds, litter decreases oxygen levels in the water when it decays. When exposed to trash pollution, wildlife in aquatic and terrestrial environments face physical hazards from ingestion and entanglement.

Question: What needs to be done to reduce MSW dumped into landfill?

  • Increase % recycled amounts in each category
  • Built clean emission plants that converts energy from MSW
  • Change packaging regulations to minimize plastics, paperboard instead use biodegradable materials.
  • At individual level educate, encourage to minimize MSW


2. Proposed #WaterAction ideas #Increase Urban Tree Canopy Coverage and Protect Forested Land for Ground Water

Whether we drink water from a well or a municipal supply, trees keep that water clean and abundant. They do this by capturing rainwater and recharging underground aquifers. They also act as a natural filter as water moves over land, cleaning it of pollutants so it arrives at our lakes, rivers and streams in a better condition.

Urban Tree Canopy (UTC): Percentage of ground area that is covered by tree crowns. Enhance urban tree canopy by tree preservation, tree planting, and improving tree health

UTC benefits: Water filtration and retention: Intercepts rainfall and reduces storm water runoff, and flooding, increases water quality. Protects the banks of creeks.

Climate change: Trees sequester carbon, reducing the overall concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere

Energy Conservation: Trees are natural air conditioners

Public Health: Trees reduce air pollution, provides clean air

Economic benefits: Increases property values

What do we need to do?

  • Go to the EPA site and find where your land drains to and get educated
  • Create a plan for your property and utilize best management practices
  • Keep native trees along streams to prevent pollution
  • Plant a tree in your yard, in a nearby park, at your school
  • Take out species such as bamboo, privet, English ivy or Japanese stilt grass that can harm the biodiversity of your forests
  • Get involved in your local conservation initiatives


3. Proposed #WaterAction ideas # Stop using harmful fertilizers and pesticides polluting waters and endangering wildlife and develop methods to improve farming practices to produce more with less water

Nutrient pollution affects air, water and health. In many cases, the European Union (EU) regulates pesticides more tightly than Canada or the U.S.

Fertilizer Use

Question: What is the problem of using chemical fertilizers?

Answer: Too much nitrogen and phosphorus in the water causes algae to grow faster than ecosystems can handle. Significant increases in algae harm water quality, food resources and habitats, and decrease the oxygen that fish and other aquatic life need to survive.

Question: What is effects of fertilizers on health?

Answer: Drinking water can be a source of exposure to chemicals caused by nutrient pollution. A 2010 report on nutrients in ground and surface water by the U.S. Geological Survey found that nitrates were too high in 64 percent of shallow monitoring wells in agricultural and urban areas. Water affected by a harmful algal bloom can cause serious health problems.

Question: What is effects of fertilizer on environment?

  • Algal blooms can reduce the ability of fish and other aquatic life to find food and can cause entire populations to leave an area or even die.
  • Nutrient pollution fuels the growth of harmful algal blooms which have negative impacts on aquatic ecosystems.
  • Nutrient pollution can create dead zones – areas in water with little or no oxygen – where aquatic life cannot survive, also known as hypoxia. Over 166 dead zones have been documented nationwide, affecting water bodies like the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf of Mexico dead zone is the largest in the United States, measured to be 5,840 square miles in 2013. It occurs every summer because of nutrient pollution from the Mississippi River Basin, an area that drains 31 upstream states.
  • Acid rain, caused by nutrient pollution in the air, damages lakes, streams, estuaries, forests and grasslands across the country.
  • Airborne nitrogen compounds like nitrogen oxides contribute to the formation of other air pollutants such as ground-level ozone, a component of smog which can restrict visibility. Wind and weather can carry ozone many miles from urban to rural areas. Ozone pollution can damage trees and harm the appearance of vegetation and scenic areas.

Question: What is effects of fertilizer on economy?

  • Nutrient pollution can have severe economic impacts, U.S. economy, impacting tourism, property values, commercial fishing, recreational businesses and many other sectors that depend on clean water.
  • Nitrates and algal blooms in drinking water sources can drastically increase treatment costs. For example, nitrate-removal systems in Minnesota caused supply costs to rise from 5-10 cents per 1000 gallons to over $4 per 1000 gallons.

Question: Where does nutrient pollution occur and what are the effect on health and environment?

  • Lakes and rivers are common sources for drinking water supplies. Both algae and high nitrate levels cause problems in sources of drinking water. EPA’s 2010 National Lakes Assessment found that almost 20 percent of the 50,000 lakes surveyed had been impacted by nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. 2006 Wadeable Stream Assessment, 30 percent of streams across the country had high levels of nitrogen or phosphorus.
  • About two-thirds of the nation’s coastal areas and more than one-third of the nation’s estuaries showed impairment from nutrient pollution, according to a 2009 EPA report.
  • Surface waters, like lakes, rivers and streams, provide drinking water for about 170 million people in the United States. EPA’s 2010 report on nutrients in the nation’s streams and groundwater found that nitrate contamination of ground water used for drinking water, particularly shallow domestic wells in agricultural areas, is a growing concern.
  • Airborne nitrogen compounds, especially nitrogen oxides, contribute to the formation of air pollutants like smog, which can restrict visibility and affect human health.

Pesticide Use

Question: What are the pesticides?

  • Insecticides. These pesticides reduce destruction and contamination of growing and harvested crops by insects and their eggs.
  • Herbicides. Also known as weed killers, herbicides improve crop yields.
  • Rodenticides. These are important for controlling destruction and contamination of crops by vermin and rodent-borne diseases.
  • Fungicides. This type of pesticide is especially important for protecting harvested crops and seeds from fungal rot.

Question: How reliable are the safety limits?

  • Safety limit determination relies on data and can be incomplete
  • Some pesticides — synthetic and organic — contain heavy metals like copper, which build up in the body over time, causing health issues.

Question: What are the factors effecting pollution of water?

Answer: Drainage, type of pesticide used, mobility in soil, solubility in water, microbial activity, soil temperature, application rate

Question: What are the health effects of high pesticide exposure?

  • An analysis of seven studies also found that pesticide exposure could be linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Some studies have also found that pesticide use may be tied to an increased risk of several types of cancer, including prostate, lung, breast, thyroid, and liver cancer
  • Both synthetic and organic biopesticides can have negative effects on health and the environment depending on ingredients and amount used.

Question: What can we do at a individual level?

We can all take action to reduce nutrient pollution through the choices we make around the house, with our pets, in lawn maintenance, and in transportation.

  • Choose phosphate-free detergents, soaps, and household cleaners and use them appropriately
  • Always pick up after our pets.
  • Inspect your septic system annually, ensure no contamination and follow EPA guidelines
  • Choose Water Sense labeled products which are high performing, water efficient appliances, repair leaks.
  • Using less electricity at home can reduce emissions of nitrogen pollution from energy production.
  • Stop using harmful fertilizers and pesticides.

Climate change has impacted our water supply. US farmers and ranchers are struggling to keep production going and growing to feed an increasing population here in the U.S. and around the world, despite these challenges. In the United States, about 70 percent of water used are for agriculture. Today and in the future, farmers will be called on to do more with less water.

Question: How to reduce water usage in agriculture?

  • Use Drip irrigation systems that deliver water directly to a plant’s roots, reducing the evaporation that happens with spray watering systems
  • Capture and store rainfall for use throughout the year
  • Develop and use smart watering schedule.
  • Rotational grazing is a process in which livestock are moved between fields to help promote pasture regrowth
  • Compost, or decomposed organic matter used as fertilizer, improves soil structure. Using mulch spread on top of the soil to break down compost and conserve moisture.
  • Cover soil to reduce weeds, increase soil fertility and organic matter, and help prevent erosion and compaction
  • Conservation tillage uses specialized plows or other implements that partially till the soil but leave at least 30 percent of vegetative crop residue on the surface to help increase water absorption and reduce evaporation, erosion, and compaction
  • Organic methods help retain soil moisture. Healthy soil that is rich in organic matter and microbial life serves as a sponge that delivers moisture to plants and keep many of the more toxic pesticides out of our waterways


4. Proposed #WaterAction ideas #UseAlternative Energy Sources at Coastal Area- Musilaj Buildup in the Oceans

Avsa Project Description: The Avşa Project’s goal is to inspire activism through environmental empathy, storytelling, and restoration projects based on the unique case of the largely undocumented flora and fauna of Avşa Island, and how the preservation of that biodiversity could lead to widespread  socio-economic well-being.


Bloom Description: Algal blooms are an environmental epidemic that plagues coastal communities across the globe. Although algal blooms are a global phenomenon, it specifically impacted the coastal communities of the Marmara Sea in Turkey in the summer of 2021. Threatened by a substance called sea-mucilage, the combination of nutrient runoff as well as chemical pollution caused a sea-wide environmental catastrophe. Excess algae reduced the water oxygen contents near to zero, irreversibly impacting coastal communities as well as the marine ecosystem. At Bloom, we strive to serve as a solution for coastal communities to incentivize the cleanup while aiding the restoration of ecosystems. Through direct solar thermal heating, we will significantly reduce the costs of conversion while creating an “off-the-grid” system that can be utilized in communities across the world.


At the 2023 UN Water Conference ATAA will host the following  events:


ATAA, partnering with The Light Millennium, Charitable Global Human Advancement Organization (, NY) and Empowering the Turkish American Community (, CA) and during conference will participate in:

  • Exhibit and,
  • Collaborative Panel Discussion.

After the UN Water Conference, ATAA will organize  Webinar Series for their members to educate, raise awareness, obtain commitments to take action and track implementation of the committed action items.

ATAA Water Action Decade Actionable Items are two-fold :

A. We will seek for commitments from our members for the following actions:

  1. Start Plastics Reduction Program within each organization
  2. Start Tree Planting Program locally where members live and in Turkey
  3. Adopt local park(s)
  4. Obtain commitment to stop using harmful fertilizers and pesticides by the members
  5. Educate members to install small water recovery system at home for gardening use wherever possible

B. We will write letters to our local government to impact policy change:

  1. Increase % recycled amounts in each category
  2. Built clean emission plants that converts energy from MSW
  3. Change packaging regulations to minimize plastics, paperboard instead use biodegradable materials.
  4. Stop the use of harmful fertilizers and pesticides
  5. Change regulations about agricultural practices to improve methods and produce with less water
  6. Change construction regulations to include water collection cistern to be used for water needs that doesn’t require sanitation such as toilet flushing, lawn sprinklers, etc.


Meet Our Team:

Alev Wieland- ATAA Southwest VP and ATAA UN Committee Co-Chair
Ms. Alev Wieland has Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from University of Cincinnati, OH. Worked for Belcan Engineering at Proctor of Gamble as Project Engineer for 7 years. She retired from PepsiCo, Inc-AMEA Capability Director in 2012. She is currently CEO of Manufacturing Excellence Technical Services and Alev Cosmetics Companies. Alev has extensive experience in Lean Manufacturing, Lean Product Life Cycle Management, and Processes Development, Project Management, Construction Management in Food Manufacturing, Paper Converting and Laundry Soap Industry, and Personal Care Products. She has solid understanding of Engineering, Manufacturing and Operations Processes. She is an expert in ISO 9001 and GMP Certifications and Standards. She Serves as Secretary General for Contemporary Education Foundation (COEDFO) since 2013. Ms. Wieland has been serving as ATAA Southwest Region VP since 2020 and co-leads ATAA UN Committee. She served as President of Cincinnati Turkish American Association (CTAA) from 1994 to 1996. An active member of the Turkish American Association of Northern Texas (TURANT), serving as Trustee since 2021.


Hülya Koç began her career as entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. The three companies, Hulya developed and formed successfully functioning today. She also co-founded nonprofit organizations such as Empowering Turkish American Community (ETAC). Her most recent work, an employment agency catering to the childcare vertical (, grew to become an industry leader with 25 offices across the US and was sold to a consortium of US-based private equity firms. In Sept.2012, Hulya co-founded the Istanbul/Turkey Chapter of Keiretsu Forum – the world’s largest angel investors platform. She has received numerous awards one of which was ‘The Small Business of the Year” from the Honorable Congresswoman Jackie Speier’s Office. Hulya has been recognized for her outstanding leadership and mentorship of entrepreneurs by the US Small Business Administration. She continues to be a mentor for SCORE, the mentoring/counseling arm of SBA. She advises and mentors international start-ups in a variety of fields such as high tech, retail and business services at Founders Space – an incubator in Silicon Valley ranked in the top ten in the US by Forbes Magazine and UC Berkeley in their Technology Entrepreneurship class. Hulya also routinely presents seminars worldwide on angel investing and science of networking for several organizations. Dedicated to improving the lives of children and entrepreneurs, Hulya globally volunteers extensively for several organizations. She has served on numerous non-profit Boards. As a philanthropist and an active community organizer, Hulya has been granted the Lifetime Service Award by her community. Currently, she is the Co- Founder, Co-President of ETAC – Empowering the Turkish-American Community USA. Hulya holds a graduate degree in business administration and education.


Dr. Mesude Özyürekoğlu (Meh-soo-day Oh-zuh-wreck-oh-loo) is the current Assistant Director of Louisville Metro Parks and Recreation and the city’s leader in Sustainable Urban Forestry, having worked in Parks and Rec since she moved to Kentucky in 2000. She was born and raised in Turkey, and graduated from Istanbul University School of Forestry Engineering. She earned her PhD degree in Forestry Law. She also holds a BA in Public Administration. Her main interest is urban forestry and how it affects the climate and health. She is a mother to two girls, Elif and Melis (Mel-is), and a wife to Dr. Tuna Özyürekoğlu. In her free time, she loves to garden, cook, and read.


Ela Gӧkçiğdem is a passionate social entrepreneur and climate activist currently studying Economics and Sustainability at Babson College in Boston, MA. After witnessing the impacts of urbanization on her family’s home island in Avsa, Turkey, she became dedicated to youth empowerment in order to create change. Serving on numerous leadership positions within the climate movement, she strives to use her positions to advocate for marginalized communities, like the residents of her home island, and other communities whose rich ecological intelligence goes overlooked. After founding numerous ventures, such as The Avsa Project that provides environmental curriculum to coastal Turkish communities and Bloom, a clean-tech startup that is converting algal blooms to renewable energy sources, she aims to devote her career in business to serve her home ecosystem in Turkey.


Elif Özyürekoğlu is a first-generation Turkish-American born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. She is currently studying Operations Research and Economics at Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Her personal interests include women’s empowerment and fostering connections amongst the Turkish-American community.



For inquire or question please email to: (Alev Wieland) or (Yucel B. Tavolara) or

Website: |



Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

Go to Top