Özlem Katısöz 2007-2008 Academic Year Jean Monnet Scholar

Climate Action Network Europe Climate and Energy Policy Coordinator for Turkey

Could you tell us a little about yourself? How has your career been shaped until today?

I got my bachelor’s degree from METU City Planning Department in 2003. At that time, the European Union development programs were just beginning in Turkey. After graduation, I took part in projects and capacity building studies for local governments and NGOs at a company that provides consultancy in the field of local development.  As a Jean Monnet scholar, I started my master’s degree at the University of Birmingham in 2007. I decided to work in the field of environment and ecology thanks to the courses I took during my master’s degree.

After returning to Turkey, I worked in the Sustainable Land Management Project in Konya Closed Basin TEMA Foundation in 2011-2012 and in the Marine Protected Areas Project in Akyaka, Muğla in 2012-2013. Between 2014 and 2020, I took part in various advocacy activities in TEMA Foundation, especially the campaigns for the negative impact of coal-fired power plants and coal mining on our agricultural lands and food security.

I am currently working on energy transformation and climate policies as Climate and Energy Policy Coordinator for Turkey in the Climate Action Network Europe, a Brussels-based non-governmental network. The European Climate Action Network is a network that carries out studies for climate change consisting of over 170 members from 38 countries, including Turkey.

Could you give us information about the university and the topic you studied with the Jean Monnet Scholarship Program?

I completed my master’s degree in Urban and Regional Studies Department at the University of Birmingham with the Jean Monnet Scholarship Program. I chose this school because it combines theory with practice, its academic staff consists of people who are from the field and have practical experience. Birmingham is also a workers’ city where the industrial revolution began. As the heavy industry spread from England to other countries, the city entered the process of transformation again since the 1980s. The time I spent in Birmingham also gave me the opportunity to witness this transformation.

On the other hand, it was the courses I received from the International Development Department in 2007-2008 that really transformed my career goals. In particular, the sustainability module was a course that provided the basis for sustainability, development, development governance, nature conservation and ecology and sparked my interest in the subject.

What are the effects of the education you completed through the Jean Monnet Scholarship Program on your view of the European Union?

As a Jean Monnet Scholar, the time I spent in the UK was a period when the EU’s values of unity were more robust and standing than today. A system built around elements such as culture, geography, the rule of law despite the differentiation of historical backgrounds, democracy, human rights and the welfare of the citizens of the Union.

The master’s period also provided me the opportunity to visit other European Union countries. Therefore, the idea that my observation and experience with not only the UK but also other countries created for me was this: the EU adaptation process offers opportunities and high standards for Turkey’s citizens, nature and economy, and we should not get away from these goals.

What would you like to recommend to Jean Monnet Scholarship candidates?

My advice would be that they don’t see scholarship period as just an opportunity to get a master’s degree. The Jean Monnet Scholarship also provides the opportunity to live in another culture, to see the educational environment, to understand community relations. It would be useful to see the Jean Monnet Scholarship experience as an opportunity to bring another point of view to Turkey in addition to obtaining an academic degree.