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Why cities cannot be sustainable: Governance and planning for Istanbul


  • Dilek Unalan


In many countries, inward investment has become a central aim of local development policy and cities have come to be conceived of as the true natural business units in today’s economy. However, while some cities have managed to retain a healthy urban core in the face of suburban growth, many others have not. In those cities which could develop in a more sustainable way redevelopment of brownfield properties, in-fill projects, more affordable housing developments, and the move to renovate older homes have been further signs of sustaining development within existing city boundaries. In other cities, the wave of urban construction has failed to deliver sustainable land use and environmental protection as their natural resources and ecosystems have been degraded by modern industrial systems. The comparison of these urban contexts may shed light on governing and planning modes raised by sustainable development. This study addresses spatial and environmental patterns of governance. It questions the relationships between urban governance and planning with an aim to understand why cities cannot be sustainable. To achieve this, it focuses on Istanbul, Turkey where local planning authorities have been carrying out urban transformation projects since the 2000s, and examines how various urban transformations have been perceived and conducted by local planners.

Suggested Citation

  • Dilek Unalan, 2011. "Why cities cannot be sustainable: Governance and planning for Istanbul," Local Economy, London South Bank University, vol. 26(4), pages 305-313, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:loceco:v:26:y:2011:i:4:p:305-313

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