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Historic buildings and over 600 kilometers of sandy beaches make the city of Antalya one of Turkey's most popular tourist destinations. But a population boom is threatening to overwhelm the city’s transportation system—and dilute its image as a jewel of the Mediterranean.

To strengthen Antalya’s sustainable future, the municipal government, with support from IFC, is investing in an 18-kilometer tram line that will connect the northern suburbs to the center, where most businesses are located. The new structure is expected to reduce gridlock, spur growth, and make Antalya one of the most liveable cities in Turkey.

"Every big city around the world struggles with traffic congestion, and the only way to address this is to improve public transportation,” says Antalya's mayor, Menderes Turel. “The new tram line will create good economic and environmental value for the city and be the preferred way of transportation.”

IFC is spearheading a €140 million financing package for the tram line—including €80 million from our own account. The remaining €60 million is being mobilized through the Managed Co-Lending Portfolio Program (MCPP), a pioneering syndications platform that enables institutional investors to participate in IFC’s loan portfolio. The investment is coupled with comprehensive advisory support to help the city improve the efficiency, safety, and environmental and social performance of its public transport system

Once fully operational in 2021, the new line will reduce the average travel time by 25 percent and reduce greenhouse emissions by around 35 percent, because of reduced congestion and fewer cars and buses on the road. The line will feature 29 new stations and is expected to carry 25 million commuters a year, up from 13 million a day carried by the existing two-line tram system.

Better Transportation, Better Living Standards

City planners and residents alike endorse the continued improvements to Antalya’s transportation landscape. Güner Çelik, a 60-year-old retiree who lives in the city center, remembers the days before the tram was built. Since he was required to drive everywhere, “We used to spend so much time and money because of the traffic,” he says. “I live on my pension now and the tram has made my life so much easier. It is a clean, easy, and efficient way to travel around the city.”

That’s one of Antalya’s goals as part of IFC's Cities Initiative, created to support mayors and municipal leaders in their quest to build urban centers that are safe, resilient, and sustainable. Such work is especially important in Turkey, which is the second-fastest urbanizing country in the world (after Korea). Today, 80 percent of Turks live in cities, compared with only 25 percent in the 1950s.

This is part of a trend that promises opportunities commensurate with the challenges. “Cities are engines of growth in the developing world, but rapid urbanization presents a host of challenges for them,” says IFC Investment Officer Murat Karaege. “[The growth of cities] causes congestion, strains power systems, and can entrench poverty. That’s why it’s vital for countries like Turkey to focus on creating cities that spur—not suppress—economic opportunities for their residents.”

A Regional Model to Follow

IFC is also working closely with the Turkish city of Izmir, providing $500 million in financing for nine infrastructure projects since 2010. We are also supporting the municipality with strategic advice in areas like transportation safety and environmental protection.

Our engagement with Izmir has become a model for other IFC projects in Eastern and Central Europe and beyond. In countries like Montenegro, Serbia, and Ukraine, IFC is assisting cities as they process municipal waste, improve energy efficiency, lower greenhouse emissions, build roads, and strengthen public transit. Throughout the region, IFC’s Cities Initiative has helped improve city services and urban transportation for more than 25 million people.

Around the world, IFC has invested more than $12 billion in 350 urban improvement projects and provided advisory services in more than 60 cities during the past decade.

Read more about IFC’s work with municipalities at

Join the conversation: #IFCimpact

Published in May 2018.