Although the projects appealed to many citizens, they also created tension between the AKP government and the opposition groups, including political parties and non-partisan organizations.
However, due to the AKP’s unified control over central and local governments, opposition parties were relatively powerless when it came to limiting or stopping the pursuit and implementation of mega-projects.
We believe that the latter two of these are most urgent and consequential for the city of Istanbul.
Thus, this essay will focus on the process and prospects of urban planning in Istanbul, paying particular attention to the issues of growth management and environmental protection.
The central government in Turkey has historically wielded considerable control over municipalities, and Istanbul is no exception.
However, decentralization and local government reform were a priority of the AKP government in the early 2000s (partly as a result of the acceleration of the EU accession process).On the other hand, the Plan did not include “mega-projects” such as the third bridge and highway ring, third airport, or Canal Istanbul, which were announced later and subsequently aggressively pursued by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan.Despite the Plan, the massive “Gezi Park” protests in 2013 (ignited by local unrest regarding the ruling AKP’s land use policy), and frequent litigation by organized interest groups like the Chamber of Architects, at present these projects are not only underway, but are moving forward at seemingly lightning speed.The Safe Cities Index 2015 is an Economist Intelligence Unit report based on an index composed of more than 40 quantitative and qualitative indicators split across four thematic categories: digital security; health security; infrastructure safety and personal safety.This essay series examines the roles that community-based organizations (CBOs) have played as active participants in the process of "governing" megacities whether in service delivery, risk mitigation, or the creation of livelihood and other opportunities. Istanbul is the demographic, economic, and cultural heart of Turkey.We begin with a brief description of the Istanbul Master Plan, which was created by the Istanbul Metropolitan Planning and Urban Design Center (IMP) with input from hundreds of academics, senior urban planners, civil engineers, community groups, and other stakeholders.Adopted in 2009, the Plan sought to protect the natural resources of the city and create a balance between conservation and development. In addition, the Plan extensively discussed the city’s vulnerabilities due to risks associated with natural disasters (such as earthquakes and floods) and overpopulation, and offered strategies for mitigating these risks.Of particular significance was the 2004 Law on Metropolitan Municipalities (no.5216), which restructured Metropolitan Municipalities (including Istanbul) and devolved responsibility for urban planning to them. This transformed the urban planning process in Istanbul by making the system more open, integrated and decentralized.Straddling two continents and bridging East and West, the city of Istanbul has long stood as a critical crossroads for commerce, innovation, and cultural exchange.Currently the fifth largest city in the world and home to more than 14 million inhabitants, the mega-city is predicted to eclipse London as Europe’s largest city sometime between 2018-19. Like many mega-cities, the pace and nature of Istanbul’s population growth pose critical threats to the city’s sustainability—transport congestion, social cohesion, uncontrolled land use development, and environmental risks—and make governance increasingly challenging.