CittaSlow Metropolis

In 2021, Izmir achieved the distinction of becoming the first-ever pilot city for the Cittaslow Metropolis initiative during the Cittaslow General Assembly. This metropolitan governance model, spearheaded by the Izmir Metropolitan Municipality in collaboration with various stakeholders such as civil society representatives, academics, experts, and opinion leaders, offers a universal scale framework for implementation.

The Cittaslow Metropolis model integrates various global perspectives on the principles of the “slow life” philosophy, fostering a life-oriented, sustainable, and high-quality urban vision that protects the inherent values of a city. The model is structured around six fundamental criteria: “Community”, “Good Governance”, “Urban Resilience”, “Food for All”, “Mobility” and “Cittaslow Neighborhoods”.

Community stands as the most crucial concept in global models of both good life and urban development. The connection between urban transformation and social evolution is inseparable. Within this framework, the first and foremost criterion in the Cittaslow Metropolis is the concept of “community”.

According to the Cittaslow Metropolis model, the city represents the common heritage of all its residents. To safeguard this common heritage, it is essential to enhance the spirit of solidarity and volunteerism that binds the community. Therefore, Cittaslow Metropolis promotes collective action among residents and establishes networks of solidarity. Through these efforts, the model protects and develops culture, nature and cultural heritage. Its aim is to facilitate a living environment where citizens can experience fair, free, participatory and sustainable governance.

The second crucial criterion of the Cittaslow Metropolis model is good governance, defined as “joint and interactive governance in partnership”. This entails a collaborative relationship between the elected local government and the residents choosing to reside in a particular neighborhood. The model posits that achieving a fair and modern city administration necessitates reinforcing resident participation in governance prioritizing collective decision-making over individual administrative choices.

In this context, the Cittaslow Metropolis model relies on the involvement of residents through their experiences, suggestions, and active participation in municipal activities. Emphasizing transparent decision-making processes as part of good governance practices, the aim is to ensure equal benefits for all residents in terms of social, economic, and political development, irrespective of factors such as age, gender, orientation, physical ability, religion, language or race.

The third criterion of the Cittaslow Metropolis model involves establishing a resilient city, particularly crucial given that metropolises bear the effects of the intensifying climate crisis. Cities face increasing threats from more frequent and severe natural disasters, as well as air, soil, and water pollution. Creating resilience in a city requires monitoring and reduction of pollution, protecting biodiversity, minimizing waste and carbon emissions, increasing waste recycling capabilities, and augmenting renewable energy production.

The CittaSlow Metropolis model strives to establish a self-sufficient city by implementing policies and strategies focused on urban resilience. Through action plans promoting the utilization of renewable energy sources, the model actively contributes to the preservation of nature and biodiversity. Its overarching goal is to enhance the quality of urban life, fostering a livable and sustainable environment.

A crucial element of the Cittaslow Metropolis model revolves around agriculture, recognizing that self-sufficiency hinges on production. The experience in Izmir underscores the possibility of alternative agriculture through appropriate agricultural policies, incentives for cooperatives and the preservation of ancestral seeds through circular agriculture.

The objective of the Cittaslow metropolitan model is to enhance the efficiency of agricultural production, expand local producer markets, encourage the utilization of local food in municipal establishments and schools, and provide city residents with access to high-quality and fair food. The model also promotes employment through the support of rural production and actively contributes to cooperative development by investing in facilities and distribution networks.

The fifth criterion of the Cittaslow Metropolitan model focuses on mobility, addressing one of the predominant challenges in cities, including Izmir. The increasing population, particularly in growing metropolitan areas like Izmir, worsens the issue of traffic congestion. The use of individual vehicles powered by fossil fuels not only contributes to air and noise pollution but also diminishes the overall quality of urban life.

To alleviate traffic congestion, the key lies in reducing the volume of vehicles on the roads, necessitating the establishment of convenient, widespread, and efficient public transportation. In pursuit of a carbon-neutral lifestyle, the Cittaslow Metropolis adopts policies and implements measures that promote public transportation usage. Additionally, by increasing the number and quality of natural spaces within the city, providing residents with calming areas for relaxation, breathing, and social interaction. The model also supports the development of necessary infrastructure and projects to encourage cycling and walking.

Tailored for individuals of all age groups, the Cittaslow Neighborhoods Program represents the conclusive and sixth criterion of the Cittaslow Metropolis model, ensuring its application at the neighborhood level. Within these neighborhoods, where public spaces serve the community's well-being, the preservation of local identity, culture, history, tradition, and nature takes precedence. Pedestrian and bicycle paths are integrated into these neighborhoods to facilitate convenient access to essential services within a 15-minute radius.

Within these neighborhoods, the Cittaslow philosophy is applied to address identified social needs, and solutions are devised in line with the neighborhood budget through direct democracy. The implementation of these solutions involves community participation, fostering social interaction and promoting solidarity.

The neighborhood program has five primary goals: reinforcing citizen participation, fostering interaction and solidarity among residents, developing urban spaces prioritizing health, safety and nature, promoting and strengthening urban identity and establishing public spaces with diverse functions.

Through the implementation of the Cittaslow Metropolis model, we are transforming Izmir into a hub of innovation, trade, education, arts, technology, development and nature. Simultaneously, numerous challenges that compromise the quality of life for metropolitan residents—such as inequality, unfavorable living conditions, destruction of nature and discrimination—are being addressed and resolved.