Kocaeli City Council General Assembly Day Programme
Kocaeli Metropolitan Municipality Assembly Hall
Honorable Mayor Ibrahim Karaosmanoglu,
Secretary General of LA 21,
City Council Members, Working Groups,
Special Interest Groups,
Members of the Press
It is a great honor and pleasure for me to address you all today on the occasion of the 1st General Assembly Meeting of the Kocaeli City Council.
At the UN Millennium Declaration in September 2000 and the following Johannesburg Summit in 2002 world leaders agreed that at the local level, the most successful umbrella for promoting sustainable development has been the local Agenda 21 initiatives. It was further agreed that the participation and cooperation of local authorities are a determining factor in fulfilling its objectives. It is only through such participatory, multi-sectoral processes that meaningful, effective, representative and real-time strategic action plans can be prepared and implemented. This is why the UNDP has been supporting Local Agenda 21 initiatives in over 80 countries world-wide, including in Turkey since 1996.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Kocaeli is one of the first members of Turkey’s Local Agenda 21 program and has joined the campaign entitled ‘Our City Supports the Millennium Development Goals’. For those who do not know, the Millennium Development Goals are a part of the global agreement reached in September 2000 by 189 world leaders, aimed at reducing extreme poverty, supporting education goals, improving health, empowering women, reducing child mortality, comating HIV/AIDS and other diseases, protecting the environment, and strengthening global partnerships. For this dedication to the Local Agenda 21 program and the MDGs, I wish to thank Mayor Karaosmanoglu and the people of Kocaeli.
It is a pleasure for me today to see that the City Council is assembling to take on its key functions within the context of the provisions of the Municipalities Law. We look forward particularly to the fulfillment of the key objectives of the MDG Campaign, such as an increased awareness, visibility and coverage of the MDGs in local TV and media, establishing local targets for the MDGs that are pertinent to Kocaeli’s own development situation and integration of MDGs in the strategic plans and programs of the Metropolitan Municipality, and finally building the mutually-supportive linkages between programs for achievement of the MDGs in Kocaeli with the broader goal of supporting Turkey’s accession to the European Union.
I would like to urge the City Council to work closely with the Honorable Mayor and municipal council members in identifying local developmental targets for reducing poverty, for promoting the status of women and for protecting the environment. I urge also the City Council to identify the most productive and most responsive mechanism where the civil society can both support and monitor municipal progress toward the achievement of these local development goals.
Some of you may recall that Kocaeli was among the few cities selected in the UN’s efforts to ensure that Millennium Development Goals are pursued in the most democratic manner and with respect for the values and rights which have been promoted by the Government of Turkey in international platforms. The project entitled ‘Linking Human Rights to Turkey’s Localizing MDGs Program’ was implemented by our Local Agenda 21 partner, the United Cities and Local Governments, and the Ankara Bar Association. Through this project we have been able to demonstrate how the pursuit of MDGs by civil society at local levels can be strengthened by using the language and tools of human rights. With the aim of explicitly linking the practice of human rights promotion to national developmental targets, as enshrined in the MDGs, one of the main results of the project has been the development of a Guidebook intended for use by City Councils across Turkey.
I am happy to present the first copies of this publication to the Kocaeli City Council on this occasion, and hope that all participants in Kocaeli’s development agenda will find it useful to develop concrete strategies for cooperation between civil society and local bar associations, strengthening their advocacy and programming activities with the strength of law.
I also hope that Kocaeli will benefit from our on-going partnership with the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) to promote the engagement of the private sector at the local level to contribute towards achievement of local development goals – goals which we know are very much in the interest of the business community itself. We currently have 10 on-going small-scale demonstration projects across Turkey which are good examples of how important a role the private sector can play in implementing the MDGs, and how partnerships can be developed.
Let me end by expressing UNDP’s continued interest and strong support to Kocaeli in its efforts on all these fronts. We look forward to continuing our work with the relevant actors to ensure that the City Council and the Local Authorities are successful in their efforts to achieve the goals of sustainable development and the MDGs in Kocaeli.
Thank you very much.