En­vi­ron­ment and ur­ban­iza­tion

Turkish Review - - FOREWORD - www.turk­ishre­view.org DR. Gülçin Erdi Le­landais, French Na­tional Cen­ter for Sci­en­tific Re­search (CNRS/CITERES)

Ur­ban­iza­tion and hous­ing poli­cies in Tur­key have been trans­formed in a ne­olib­eral fash­ion since the early 2000s. This has been ac­com­pa­nied by an aban­don­ment of spa­tial plan­ning to the ben­e­fit of the new com­pet­i­tive re­gion­al­ism em­bod­ied in strate­gic ur­ban plan­ning with the ob­jec­tive of cre­at­ing “brand cities.” So­cial poli­cies in cities, the search for spa­tial jus­tice fos­ter­ing so­cial di­ver­sity and sup­port for dis­ad­van­taged pop­u­la­tions are grad­u­ally be­ing down­graded. The for-profit ob­jec­tives of these poli­cies also harm the en­vi­ron­ment and have caused many prob­lems, in­clud­ing in health, public trans­port, mo­bil­ity and hous­ing. This cur­rent is­sue con­cen­trates on Tur­key’s ap­proach to the en­vi­ron­ment and ur­ban­iza­tion, which is also a vi­tal global is­sue.

Ni­hal Dur­maz sheds lights on Law No. 6306, con­cern­ing nat­u­ral dis­as­ters and rat­i­fied in 2012, which plays a cru­cial role in the jus­ti­fi­ca­tion of the new ur­ban trans­for­ma­tion projects. Dur­maz shows how en­vi­ron­men­tal risks, es­pe­cially of earth­quakes, have been brought into de­bates in or­der to reg­u­late ur­ban­iza­tion and con­sol­i­date a ne­olib­eral ur­ban land regime un­der the Jus­tice and De­vel­op­ment Party (AK Party). Dur­maz ar­gues that the im­pli­ca­tion of en­vi­ron­men­tal risks in the process of ur­ban trans­for­ma­tion feeds var­i­ous so­cial and eco­nomic con­cerns and goes be­yond its re­mit of pre­vent­ing dis­as­ters.

The cur­rent ur­ban­iza­tion process in İs­tan­bul has been far from per­fect and re­sulted in a num­ber of protests last years. Nez­ihe Başak Er­gin brings an orig­i­nal view­point to this is­sue. Her ar­ti­cle in­forms us that many cam­paigns have been or­ga­nized in or­der to con­test the forced evic­tions and de­mo­li­tions caused by ur­ban trans­for­ma­tion projects in neigh­bor­hoods like Su­lukule and Tozkoparan, the de­mo­li­tion of his­tor­i­cal build­ings like the Emek Movie Theater and Hay­darpaşa Ter­mi­nal and the im­ple­men­ta­tion of large-scale ur­ban de­vel­op­ment projects like İs­tan­bul’s third air­port, ne­glect­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns.

Gülçin Le­landais an­a­lyzes cli­mate change poli­cies in Tur­key be­tween 2010 and 2012 from an in­sti­tu­tional per­spec­tive. The ar­ti­cle shows that in­ter­na­tional in­sti­tu­tions, transna­tional pres­sure and Tur­key’s EU can­di­dacy played an im­por­tant role in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of pol­icy mea­sures in this realm. The study ar­gues that this process was mo­ti­vated by a search for pres­tige rather than a real will in Tur­key to adapt to the con­se­quences of cli­mate change.

Beatrice Kabu­taka­pua’s ar­ti­cle fo­cuses on the mul­ti­cul­tural di­men­sions of İs­tan­bul, mainly in Tar­labaşı, and how it is af­fected by cur­rent ur­ban plan­ning. Her ar­ti­cle de­picts the trans­for­ma­tion of this neigh­bor­hood as a gen­tri­fi­ca­tion pro­ject to so­cially and eco­nom­i­cally up­grade the area, which has been stig­ma­tized as a crim­i­nal and un­safe neigh­bor­hood.

In this is­sue, Two Views in­cludes in­ter­views with EM­BARQ Türkiye Di­rec­tor Arzu Tekir and Pro­fes­sor Korhan Gümüs from Mi­mar Si­nan Univer­sity, who ad­dress cru­cial top­ics in demo­cratic and par­tic­i­pa­tive ur­ban plan­ning. Both em­pha­size the lack of col­lab­o­ra­tion with civil so­ci­ety and co­or­di­na­tion prob­lems within public ad­min­is­tra­tion, whether it is for sus­tain­able trans­porta­tion in cities or for ur­ban projects like the trans­for­ma­tion of Gezi Park and Tak­sim Square. The Last Word this is­sue is with “Ekü­me­nop­o­lis” di­rec­tor İmre Azem, who shares his thoughts on the chang­ing face of İs­tan­bul.

Last but not least a re­port by Terry Lit­tle and Mehmet Altın­taş draws at­ten­tion to one of the main prob­lems of İs­tan­bul, ex­ac­er­bated by the seem­ingly lim­it­less ur­ban­iza­tion: The traf­fic con­ges­tion and some sug­ges­tions to re­lieve it. This re­port is only avail­able on the Turk­ish Re­view web­site:

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