Everything from sustainable agriculture to waste-to-energy technology will be on the agenda today, as dozens of mayors, academics, and NGO representatives assemble in Istanbul for the 2011 Sustainable Cities conference, a project of Turkey’s Regional Environment Center. Municipalities often accomplish environmental goals more swiftly and efficiently than national governments, according to Barış Baykan, author of a recent study on the Turkish government’s lackluster efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
While participants learn how to draft and fund environmental action plans in their respective cities, we’ll take a look at the most sustainable towns and cities in Turkey today.
1. Akbıyık – It’s really just a village with only 365 residents, most of whom are past retirement age. But after they stopped being able to pay their electric bills and the state electricity provider shut off their electric-powered water pump, these spunky senior citizens pooled approximately $28,000 and labored for no pay to build their own 50 KW wind turbine. Since the water pump only requires electricity at a rate of 37 KW, the villagers will be able to sell their excess wind power to the national grid. They’ve set an example of sustainable energy development that Turkey’s biggest cities would do well to learn from.
2. Antalya – This sunny city on Turkey’s southern Mediterranean coast has resolved to become the country’s first solar city. The effort kicked off in April with the opening of Antalya’s Solar House: an education center and renewable energy showcase, powered by 24 1-KW solar panels, a wind turbine, and various other renewable power sources. Solar isn’t the only renewable energy being developed in the city; a waste-to-biogas-to-energy conversion complex with an eventual capacity of 2 MW is under construction.
3. Eskişehir – Voted Turkey’s most sustainable city in an April survey of 29 businesspeople, Eskişehir is the future site of a partly solar-powered high speed rail terminal station. If that isn’t green enough for you, consider the canal system implemented by a former mayor to improve the flow and lower the emissions of transportation around the city.
4. Seferihisar – The first “slow city” in Turkey, Seferihisar has established itself as a champion of local agriculture and crop diversification in the country. In February, a seed festival was held in the city to allow farmers to trade seeds as they used to, without being required to first obtain certification from the government. Projects promoting local agriculture among youth have also been held in the city. Today, Seferihisar is one of five self-declared “slow cities” in Turkey. The others are: Akyaka in Muğla province; Gökçeada in Çanakkale; Taraklı in Sakarya; and Yenipazar in Aydın province.
5. Gaziantep – With the help of the French Development Agency, Gaziantep has developed the first municipal climate change action plan in Turkey. The final plan was released in June, and analyzes Gaziantep’s current energy usage and GHG emissions balance to develop sustainable urban development solutions for the future. It’s too soon to see how Gaziantep follows through on these, but the existence of the plan is a first step toward concrete action on climate change at the local level.
Read more about sustainable cities in Turkey:
Image via Travel Aficionado