Izmir is the third most populous city in Turkey, after Istanbul and Ankara, and the second largest metropolitan area on the Aegean Sea after Athens, Greece. The City has a population of 2,947,000, while Izmir Province has a population of 4.394.694. Due to its strategic location along the western Anatolian coast, the city has been one of the principal mercantile cities of the Mediterranean Sea for much of its history. Known as a city of tolerance and door to many cultures, beliefs and lifestyles that have been living together in peace for thousands of years, Izmir is highly affected by plastic pollution with recent research (WWF, 2019) finding the coastal area affected by record-levels of plastic contamination: each km of its coast receives 7.2 kg of plastic debris every day, more than the average in the Mediterranean (5kg/km/day).
Izmir is part of the WWF global initiative, Plastic Smart Cities since 2019. The Municipality of Çeşme became a pilot area within the Plastic Smart Cities protocol signed by WWF-Turkey and Izmir Metropolitan Municipality 2020.
WWF-Turkey’s 3-year project aims that the city of Izmir and the coastal municipality of Çeşme to become role models in the fight against plastic pollution. Both are heavily affected by plastic pollution which will make changes all the more visible. Çeşme as one of Turkey’s pioneers in sustainable tourism is uniquely situated to lead the work against plastic pollution and become a role model for other touristic venues. The city already pledged to decrease its plastic pollution 30% until the end of 2022.
Izmir on the other hand with its sizable population will pave the way for other mega cities in Turkey in their struggle with plastic pollution. Taking into account the limited financial resources focus will be on scalable innovative solutions formed in collaboration with the private sector.
Activities in Izmir fall within the "Venice and Izmir together against plastic pollution" project implemented thanks to the support of the Blue Planet Virginia Böger Foundation. The main objectives of the project are:
While Blue Panda was in Çeşme, in August 2021, the Municipality published the Plastic Smart Cities Action Plan's outline. Çeşme Municipality is still working on the details and application methods. The highlights of the Action Plan prepared by Çeşme are as follows :
Izmir Metropolitan Municipality started to create a baseline study for Plastic Smart Cities and began to work on the Action Plan. They prepared a draft Internal Action Plan for the Municipality's buildings and institutions.