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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)


 

NGO's
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.

Example: 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 of wastewater.

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.

Lessons Learnt

Public participation could lead into wrong directions. Political issues play a role in public participation.

Further information

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