Izmir, 12 December 2022
Defying high winds and storm warnings, hundreds of energetic Izmir residents turned out on 10 December 2022 to participate in the first urban “treasure hunt” in Türkiye organized around the theme of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Teams of two to four people spent the afternoon racing around the grounds of Izmir’s vast Culture Park, uncovering clues and solving puzzles related to the 17 SDGs. The event was organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Izmir Metropolitan Municipality, the Conservation and Development of City Values Association of Izmir (CITY-IZ) and the Izmir Sustainable Urban Development Network.
“The SDGs are our roadmap to a better future on a healthy planet with equal rights for all,” said UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton. “We are running out of time to achieve them, so it is important to build momentum at the local level. Our treasure hunt in Izmir is a fun way to build awareness and promote activism and we aim to take this model to other Turkish cities.”
The date for the Izmir event was chosen to mark Human Rights Day. The organizers drew a direct line from the principle of equality that underpins the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted as a founding UN document in 1948, and the “leave no one behind” philosophy of the SDGs, which were approved unanimously by all UN member states in 2015.
“As Izmir Metropolitan Municipality, we are working to build the cities of future where prosperity grows equitably for everyone,” said Barış Karcı, Deputy Secretary-General of Izmir Metropolitan Municipality. “Through the Izmir Sustainable Urban Development Network that we established in 2019, we are pursuing the goal of strengthening all persons and entities working toward this objective. We think this event is highly important in raising awareness about equality and development and mobilizing everyone to fulfil their responsibilities.”
The Conservation and Development of City Values Association of Izmir organizes urban treasure hunts on a regular basis, usually focusing on the specifics of Izmir’s colorful history and diverse culture. The choice of the SDGs for 2022 was inspired by the Association’s partnership with UNDP, which provided the necessary funding. Each treasure hunt requires meticulous preparation lasting many months.
In all, 315 people divided into 79 teams attended the Izmir event, which was supported by 35 volunteers. Among the participating teams, 28 succeeded in deciphering all the clues. Prizes were awarded in many categories, with the top honors going to the two teams that realized that solidarity is the ideal behind SDG #17 and collaborated to piece together the game’s final clue.
“Cooperation at all levels is vital to eradicate poverty, protect the environment, take action against the climate crisis, share prosperity equitably and build peace,” said Uğur Yüce, Chair of the Executive Board of the Conservation and Development of City Values Association of Izmir. “Thanks to our partnership with UNDP Türkiye, Izmir Metropolitan Municipality, and our participants and volunteers, we have managed to share this message to hundreds of idealists who are keen to take further action.”