Competitiveness Agenda for Southeast Anatolia Region (CASAR)

What is the project about?

The overall objective of the Competitiveness Agenda for the Southeast Anatolia (GAP) Region Project is to reduce regional disparities in Turkey, by contributing to the improvement of social stability, equality, economic development and competitiveness of the GAP Region. The project aims at enhancing the underlying productive capacities of the region through two main strategies of sustainable production and entrepreneurship; and three supporting action lines of internationalization, applies technology and clustering.

What has been the situation?

The Southeast Anatolia Region (often referred to as GAP region) has been the subject of efforts to “normalize levels of development, income, and living standards between the Southeast Anatolia region and other regions of Turkey.” Significant efforts have been undertaken, most notably through the hydro-electric and irrigation system projects that have consumed most of the resources allocated to the Southeast Anatolia Project, known as GAP after its acronym. This project, in addition to other infrastructure, and more recently, economic and social development programs, has not yet fully bridged the gap between the region and the rest of Turkey.

There are two fundamental reasons for the continuing developmental disparities between Turkey’s Southeast Anatolia Region and the rest of the country: the delays in completing the GAP infrastructure projects, and the overall approach to economic development. The delays in completing the infrastructure projects, while understandable in terms of the economic challenges facing Turkey during this period, have had negative impact on the expectations for the Region’s economic growth. While the hydro power components of the project are 85% complete, their main benefit is national, not regional. The irrigation system, which was to cover 1.6 million hectares, is only 15% complete, and the amounts budgeted and the pace of construction has slowed even more in recent years. Availability of irrigation on more of this land could have a substantial impact on productivity, job growth, and average incomes, particularly if it is combined with a more ambitious economic development program.

The GAP region today is poised to undergo a transformation from a region mired with low productivity, unemployment, migration, social problems and poverty to a region based on new competitive advantages. After decades of public investment, the GAP region now has many of the basic foundations for creating a successful new economy. It has the strategic location, water, land, people, leadership and historical and cultural “authenticity” upon which to grow a unique, distinctive value-added economy to compete in the global economy.

Based on this understanding, a Regional Competitiveness Agenda has been developed within the scope of EC-funded GAP-GIDEM Project, which was implemented by UNDP in close cooperation with GAP RDA between May 2002 and November 2007. The said project also paved way for establishment of a competitiveness fund, which will support the short-term action plan of the competitiveness agenda.

This Competitiveness Agenda envisions that GAP regional distinction be based on becoming the “premier testing ground for environmentally and socially sustainable, clean technology-based growth among emerging economies worldwide”. By aligning the infrastructure and social investment of the past with a “clean-technology” approach, the region has great potential to establish regional distinction in global markets.  In other words, the region, which has widely been recognized as the cradle of the civilizations, is envisaged to be “the cradle of sustainable civilizations”.

What is our mission?



UNDP’s mission can be summarized as providing the Government of Turkey with high quality technical assistance, which will help achievement of the ambitious objectives of the competitiveness agenda.

How are we doing this?

The short-term action plan of CASAR will initially support the following specific action lines. In addition, the short term action plan will also provide insights for the development of medium and long term follow up action plans.

• Action 1: Institutionalization of the Competitiveness Agenda
• Action 2: Pilot Investment on Renewable Energy Generation
• Action 3: Pilot Study on Organic Textile and Clothing
• Action 4: Access to Int’l Networks for Renewable Energy Research
• Action 5: Planning and Due Diligence

How will Turkey benefit?

Improved competitiveness of the Southeast Anatolia Region will contribute to elimination of regional disparities and to improvement of regional and national wealth through creating of new investment and employment opportunities. Moreover, the experience gained in the Southeast Anatolia Region through the CASAR project would also pave the way for the generation of replicable models that would be scaled up across other regions of Turkey having different developmental paths and regional dynamics.

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