Citizens’ memories and habits are shaped by their interactions with the living environment, (i.e., their city). Cities with long histories and strong identities thus evoke strong memories and meanings for their citizens. However, not all of these city-citizen ties can be preserved indefinitely. In age of urbanization, characterized by densely populated neighbourhoods, scarce resources, new technological possibilities and environmental challenges, cities are no longer able to function in their conventional ways.
Urban renewal projects are ultimately aimed at improving the quality of life in cities, and the urban renewal process inevitably alters the way that cities (sometimes with thousands ofyears of history) function, and will inevitably interfere with the habits and memories of citizens. Urban renewal projects are typical examples of when the necessity for re-organizing the city’s infrastructure and the unwillingness of the habitants to change conflict. This can result, and has repeatedly resulted, in the emergence of opposition from social groups towards certain projects, in the social exclusion of vulnerable groups after the implementation of a project, and in the deterioration of the socio-cultural balance in the city, which in turn can lead to a sense of identity loss for the city and result in violence, a lack of trust and deterioration of social capital within the city. When an urban renewal project goes further than only reconstructing an old building and aims at positing a historic city as a global hub, the changes will be even more drastic, and thus so too will be the challenges.
Urban renewal projects are sometimes halted due to such oppositions and concerns regarding their consequences. The final outcome of the project thus becomes an over-cost and over- time endeavor. In such cases, the project doesn’t finish on time and is completed at below-acceptable quality, which further burdens the city, city governors and citizens with significant economic, social political and environmental costs.
The 11-day Istanbul training module focused on governance through urban transitions and how governance can deal with socio-cultural challenges.
Istanbul is a city with more than 1600 years of urban history, over which culture, tradition and religion have become deeply embedded in the city’s DNA.. This is why in 2010 Istanbul was elected the European Capital of Culture. Contrastingly, because its ambitious visions to make Istanbul a world-class city with skyscrapers, world-class airports, iconic bridges, complex transportation networks (ferries, bus, metro, taxi, and trams), highways and parks, the city also exemplifies a more modern Turkey.
Istanbul has gone through a process of urban renewal that is still evolving at a rapid pace. Due to its rich history, renewal projects have always faced sociocultural opposition and conflict (Gezi Park project is a recent example). Hence, Istanbul is the ideal location to learn about challenges associated with urban renewal and infrastructure modernization, and to also explore how innovative governance solutions could help cities overcome these challenging obstacles.
During the 11-day Istanbul Training Module, experts from the UN-Habitat, EPFL, Bahcesehir University, Istanbul University, Yildiz Technical University, UITP, BCG, Schneider Electric, Soyok construction company, IETT, Istanbul Metropolitan Planning Institute, and the deputy mayors of four municipalities in Istanbul, as well as well-known practitioners who have been previously involved in developing efficient governance strategies in Turkey were all present.
Through this module, these diverse, experienced professionals gathered to discuss issues related to the governance of urban renewal projects, the modernization of urban infrastructures (i.e. transportation, greens, and construction), and urban resilience. More precisely, the following topics were covered during the Istanbul module:
Governance of Socio-cultural conflicts in urban renewal projects
Protection of cultural assets and social capital in the modernization process
Risk management in urban renewal projects
Financing and governance of public transportation projects in megacities
Governance of green infrastructures and urban ecosystems
Operation and maintenance of large public transport systems and use of ITCs in these systems
Theory of Governance from a technocratic point of view
Smart energy systems
Metropolitan governance evolution in Turkey
Participants in the workshops benefited from both theoretical input and practice-oriented insights to assist them in resolving the challenges facing governance throughout the complex process of urban renewal. For more information, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.