UNDP, Industry Ministry aim to find sustainable solutions to public transportation
Hazal Özcan - İZMİR
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Turkey’s Industry and Technology Ministry have teamed up to find an innovative and sustainable solution to the western province of İzmir’s transportation issues.
With a hackathon event held on March 6 and March 7, hundreds of engineers, software developers and entrepreneurs spent nearly 24 hours to find environmentally friendly solutions for the deficiencies in the Aegean metropolis’ rail transportation.
The İzmir Transportation Hackathon aimed to find a more innovative approach to the public transport system in the city. The event was the third one organized within the activities of the to-be established innovation center in İzmir.
The center targets to make İzmir a national and global city for innovation and entrepreneurship, and to support sustainable development. The project is being funded by the European Union and have been carried out with the partnership of Industry and Technology Ministry, İzmir Chamber of Commerce and the UNDP.
It is part of the UNDP’s Turkey Resilience Project in response to the Syria Crisis (TRP).
At the Innovation Center companies will have the chance to meet with entrepreneurs, start-ups and universities. It is also expected to generate employment as the international firms will be able to compensate for their qualified employee needs with university students. The center’s contribution to the companies’ project development is also another bonus.
Even though the project’s focus is innovation and entrepreneurship, it is still related to the integration of Syrian refugees and asylum seekers living in Turkey.
“We are living in a region where we see the post-crisis effects of the [Syrian] crisis. In our works, we must take the needs of the Syrian population into consideration. Even though we have a separate program, we must pay attention to [their] needs just like how we take the needs of women,” Seher Alacacı, the assistant resident representative of UNDP Turkey, told Hürriyet Daily News.
“Rather than working on separate and unrelated projects, we focus on Turkey’s development and think about how much we can create sustainable job opportunities and how to include Syrians into this cycle,” she said.
Nevertheless, these projects are not solely based on the needs of Syrians, but to help them and the host communities equally, according to Alacacı.
“It is generally 50 percent to 50 percent. Meaning, when there is work being done for Syrians, it is being done for provinces that host them. İzmir is one of the cities that are under pressure on this issue,” said Faik Uyanık, UNDP Turkey’s communications director.
The project includes establishing model factories and giving possible employees training for vocational competence. For small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME), competence centers are being established in İzmir and southeastern Gaziantep, Alacacı said.
When asked what kind of development is expected after these projects, Alacacı said that the model factories promote lean production and productivity.
“Productivity in economy and industry is a priority for Turkey. Not only in the [mentioned above] cities but also in different cities the ministry encouraged the establishment [of model factories]. It is one of the fundamental elements of sustainable development,” she said.
“We think that this can be an important tool for the generation of decent jobs,” she added.