20 September 2023, Balıkesir. – When coming upon the Localization of the SDGs by and for Youth Exhibition at the UN Headquarters during the General Assembly, visitors are greeted by a banner that speaks of the Municipality of Balıkesir’s vision: “Centre of Excellence for Cities and the Environment”. This isn’t just a tagline; it’s a commitment. The city lies at the crossroads of tradition and innovation, where cobbled streets meet smart city solutions.
Embedded within the heart of Balıkesir will be the UNEP Balıkesir Environmental Centre (BEC) to be launched in parallel with the SDG Cities Hub in Urban October. This won’t be just any center; it will be a nexus of innovation. BEC will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology that will process real-time data, information, and knowledge. But what will truly stand out will be its Early Warning systems. As natural calamities become increasingly unpredictable, these systems will be crucial in safeguarding Balıkesir’s vulnerable communities, ensuring they will always be one step ahead of any looming danger.
Beyond safety, BEC will strive for harmony between urban growth and environmental preservation. By promoting healthy environments, the center will ensure that as the city expands, its parks will stay green, its air will remain clean, and its waters will run clear. This delicate balance will be what transforms Balıkesir from just another city into a flourishing urban oasis.
By proudly hosting the SDG Cities Hub, Balıkesir signals its intensified commitment to forging a brighter, more sustainable future. This integral part of UN-Habitat’s SDG Cities Global Initiative has a singular, unwavering mission: accelerating the pace at which cities progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Being the hub’s host, Balıkesir, Türkiye and the world stand to benefit immensely. The city will unlock a treasure trove of tools, immersive learning experiences, and specialized technical support. These invaluable resources will synergistically drive economic prosperity, enhance the living standards of its residents, and reinforce its environmental stewardship.
Furthermore, the Mayor of Balıkesir, reflecting on the city’s pivotal role in championing sustainability, recently remarked, “It is also meaningful for us that this year we will host UN World Cities Day events in Istanbul. One of the main themes of this year’s event is Zero Waste, organized under the patronage of Mrs. Emine Erdoğan. We, as the Turkish Municipalities Association, support this movement in every activity we organize; we are taking important steps for dissemination.” This profound commitment from city leadership solidifies Balıkesir’s position at the forefront of global urban sustainability initiatives.
It won’t be just the Municipality of Balıkesir or BEC or the SDG Cities Hub that will be steering the city towards a brighter tomorrow. A synergy of global partnerships will be at play. With the collective efforts of UN-Habitat, UNEP, and the local governance of Balıkesir, the city will embark on a journey towards unparalleled sustainability and resilience. Every brick laid, every tree planted, and every policy implemented in Balıkesir isn’t just shaping its present but is crafting a legacy for generations to come. It serves as a testament to what cities can achieve when local action is fueled by global collaboration. Balıkesir is not just building a city; it’s envisioning a future. And for those seeking inspiration, Balıkesir shines bright, showing the path forward for cities around the world.