With the intensification of climate change and its effects over our daily lives, summits, agreements, and decisions over this topic have increased rapidly on interstates level. Notably after Greta Thunberg’s speech on UN Climate Change COP24, states enhanced their initiatives. They once again started to develop policies towards sustaining carbon emissions, raising awareness, and promoting environment-friendly commodities.
On the other hand, there are cities (and their municipalities) that contribute to this effort independently from their countries as well. In 2018, 4.2 billion people, 55 percent of the world’s population, lived in cities.
By 2050, the urban population is expected to reach 6.5 billion. Cities occupy just 3 percent of the Earth’s land but account for 60 to 80 percent of energy consumption and at least 70 percent of carbon emissions. Moreover, cities generate about 80 percent of the global GDP. Considering that they are a crucial part of the system, if we want to achieve sustainability, efforts should accommodate the majority of cities and not just a few which wish to take part. For towns, the UN has Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities as an SDG (Sustainable Development Goal).
In Turkey’s sense, several projects and subsidies are being participated by municipalities. Cities of Bursa, Denizli, İzmir, İstanbul, Gaziantep, Eskişehir and İzmir are part of One Planet City Challenge by WWF. It is a program that forms sustainability goals to be reached until 2030 for cities. It upholds decisions about relevant categories such as transportation, agriculture, renewable energy, solid waste management, energy efficiency, and social infrastructure and services.
For subsidies, Turkish municipalities work with the World Bank. They have Sustainable Municipal Services as a beneficiary program for districts to support sustainable development in Turkish cities. The program aims to improve the economic, financial, environmental, and social sustainability of Turkish cities by enabling interested municipalities to access financing for their priority investments and to deliver enhanced services to their citizens. Program şs conducted jointly with Bank. The total value of investments (infrastructure and management) is up to EUR 500 million.
Developments above are quite pleasing for the future in Turkey, but having only seven cities participate in sustainability efforts is not enough. Turkey’s energy demand is increasing, and its external dependence is accelerating. If Turkey aims to maintain the balance between economy and energy demand, the participations of cities should be increased.