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Izmir is the second city in the Mediterranean to join WWF’s action against plastic pollution and to commit to stop any source of plastic leakage into nature by 2030. The mayor of the city signed a letter of intent with WWF while WWF's Blue Panda sailboat was docked in the city to mobilise people against plastic pollution in the Mediterranean Sea. Previously, in July, the city of Nice signed a 3-year agreement with WWF-France to stop plastic pollution.
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 currently facing a huge problem with pollution. As shown by WWF, the coastal area has record-level 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).
“An important step has been taken on behalf of the people of Izmir ”
Uğur Bayar, Chairman of WWF-Turkey, said : "We are excited to start this partnership with the city of Izmir, which plays a leading role in the global fight to clean our cities from increasing plastic waste. My biggest wish is that Izmir not only becomes a living space free of plastic pollution but that it also inspires other cities in Turkey and worldwide."
Bayar continued: “Today, about 80% of the plastic waste in the seas comes from land; most of it is carried via rivers from urban areas till the sea. As cities are expected to grow due to global population increase, cities like Izmir should continue adopting smart solutions. This means reducing and managing better plastics as a resource as well as waste.”
According to WWF, plastic pollution can only be solved with the cooperation and coordination of the national government, businesses, local administrations and civil society organizations together with the support of responsible citizens. Bayar continued: "On behalf of WWF-Turkey, I would like to thank Mr. Soyer for this cooperation bringing WWF and Izmir together and I congratulate everyone who has contributed to this important step."
In order to prevent 8 million tons of plastic waste from entering the ocean worldwide every year, new policies should be developed, new incentives for the production sector should be introduced and new creative models should be adopted to avoiding plastic consumption, reducing plastic usage, and increasing reuse and effective waste management. Izmir will annually report to WWF on its progress, so as to be sure that by 2030 no plastic will leak into the Mediterranean.
Turkey is among the Mediterranean countries most affected by plastic pollution, and the coast of Izmir is reported as highly contaminated, together with Antalya, Mersin and Adana. The main sources of plastic pollution are tourism and recreational activities, together with insufficient recycling and ineffective waste management.
WWF is engaging with tourist coastal areas across the Mediterranean and globally to mobilise municipalities, local businesses and citizens to reduce and better manage plastic waste.
The Blue Panda is continuing to mobilize governmental authorities and get their commitment to #StopPlasticPollution in the Mediterranean. We call on other Mediterranean cities and islands to join us!