Political Dilemmas in the Making of a Sustainable City-Region: The Case of Istanbul

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Enlil Z. Ş., Dincer I.

SUSTAINABILITY, vol.14, no.6, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 14 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.3390/su14063299
  • Journal Name: SUSTAINABILITY
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Aerospace Database, Agricultural & Environmental Science Database, CAB Abstracts, Communication Abstracts, Geobase, INSPEC, Metadex, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Keywords: neoliberal urbanism, mega projects, institutional change, public norms, centralization, authoritarianism, ecocide, Canal Istanbul and Yenisehir Project, AUTHORITARIAN NEOLIBERALISM, URBAN-DEVELOPMENT, UNCERTAINTY, LIBERALISM, TURKEY
  • Yıldız Technical University Affiliated: Yes


This article aims to explore the political dilemmas of sustainable metropolitan development marked by intense tensions between ecology and economy within the context of neoliberal urban policies over the Case of Istanbul, Turkey. It investigates the re-scaling and centralization of the state in directing the investment capital and focuses on the ways in which it reregulates and loosens the institutions to create exceptionalities in order to realize mega projects. It examines Canal Istanbul and the "New City" or the Yenisehir Project, the so-called "crazy project" imposed upon the city by the central government, which presents a crucial case demonstrating the processes of creating exceptionalities and the erosion of public norms. Empirically, drawing from the Turkish experience through an in-depth analysis of policy documents, plans and reports prepared by a variety of agents, the article demonstrates and discusses different modalities of creating exceptions to capitalize on the lucrative real estate markets through mega projects in an increasingly authoritarian neoliberal context, its ramifications on the existing norms and the oppositions it raised. The article concludes with a discussion on how the new political climate that moved away from subsidiarity, transparency and democratic participation, and became increasingly centralized, created an impasse for planning and that neither the ecology nor the economy could be protected and enhanced. Although economic development discourse is used to legitimize these mega projects, it is obvious that they lead to an ecocide.