In addition to the classical tools of representative democracy, which allows the public participation to a certain but limited extent, in order to ensure the integration of the public knowledge and experience into the planning and management process, two tools of public participation are considered to be employed in Turkey: the local agendas 21 and the Environmental Impact Assessment process as explained under the “practice” chapter. The increase of Non-Governmental-Organisations (NGOs) both in number and power is also key to reinforce this process
Local Agenda 21 and City Councils
Public participation in Turkey is mainly concerned with the practices of Local Agenda 21. 5 years after United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992, the Local Agenda 21 Program, a comprehensive plan of action related to sustainable development, was launched in 1997 in Turkey. The programme pursues a decentralized approach, depending on networking and collaboration among equal partners. To this end, it provided a unique opportunity for community participation, local stakeholder involvement, establishment of local partnerships and decentralization of the local decision-making process in Turkey with a special focus on the two concepts ‘sustainable development’ and ‘good governance’.
One of the main practices of ‘local agenda 21’ is city councils in Turkey. City councils act as local units where local agenda 21 processes are conducted. They are platforms where the principles of transparency, accountability, participation and subsidiarity apply. Their action is subject to a regulation dated 8 October 2006 prepared by the Ministry of Interior.
Besides the municipal assembly and other decision making bodies, Sinop city council is active in determining the future policy of the city. With the representatives from the local policy making bodies, NGOs and public authorities, they help developing city vision, awareness of citizenship, protection of citizen rights and law, sustainable development, environmental awareness, social solidarity, transparency, accountability, governance and decentralization. They conduct various activities such as petition, fairs and festivals under women and youth assemblies under its body which are illsutrated below:
For further information have a look at the below links:
Turkish Bylaw for city councils (in Turkish)
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development
Local Agenda 21
Local Agenda 21 in Turkey (in English)
The NGOs have played important effective roles in enhancing public information and participation in the coastal areas. Nevertheless, the NGOs still need to build further capacity on public participation and its implementation.
The following needs for public participation in Turkey could be identified:
- There is a need to teach the importance and benefits of public participation;
- There is a need to encourage people to participate in decision making;
- There is a need to convince the administrators and planners to take the public opinion into consideration;
- There is a need to make the decision processes more translucent.
Wastewater sea outfal, Antalya, Turkey
A project, supported financially by Antalya Metropolitan
Municipality and World Bank, has started in 1996 to
improve the water and wastewater infrastructure in Antalya
city. A part of this project included wastewater collection,
treatment and disposal systems. A preliminary wastewater
treatment plant followed by a long and deep sea outfall
system have been planned for the treatment and disposal
Some of the citizens of Antalya and local NGOs insisted
on immediate higher treatment level of the wastewater
because they believe that the planned low level treatment
will pollute the sea environment. However, specialized
international experts from the World Bank as well as
Akdeniz University investigated the situation and concluded
that the planned low level of wastewater treatment is
enough at the early stages of operation. For political
reasons, some local administrators supported the opinion
of the public.
As a result, the project was modified by adding biological
treatment units to achieve higher treatment level of
the wastewater. The biological treatment units were
constructed and the operation of these units has started
recently. Anyhow, such sophisticated expensive treatment
plants are not sustainable in Turkey due to the lack
of funds and experience.
Main Issues related to ICZM
Antalya is a famous important tourism center in Turkey.
Antalya receives about 4 million foreign tourists each
year and tourism is the major source of money income
for the investors and the local people. The beautiful
beaches and the clean seawater are major attractions
for tourists. An integrated coastal zone management
is needed to conserve all the natural beauties and achieve
sustainable tourism and development. A good infrastructure
is vital to treat and dispose all types of wastes and
effluent discharges. The local people and NGOs in Antalya
are keen to protect their valuable environmental. However,
the people managed to change the project into more expensive
unnecessary project, which is not sustainable. Some
of the local administrators supported the public due
to political reasons.
Due to the pressure of the public, an engineering workable
design had to be changed. The second stage biological
treatment units were added to the initially designed
preliminary treatment units. The public of Antalya City
are following the implementation of the project. The
process is still in progress.
Public participation could lead into wrong directions.
Political issues play a role in public participation.
Who can provide further information with contacts?
1. Prof. Bulent Topkaya, The Department of Environmental
Engineering, Akdeniz University, Antalya.
2. Dr. Ayse Muhammetoglu, Akdeniz University, Antalya