CITIES DEVELOPING SOLUTIONS MEET AT MARUF
Marmara Urban Forum (MARUF), the first of which was organized by Marmara Municipalities Union (MMU) on October 1-3, 2019, hosted over 200 speakers and more than 5,000 participants in Istanbul for 3 days.
Organized with the motto “Cities Developing Solutions” in line with Sustainable Development Goals, MARUF has taken the road by aiming the examination of the economic, political, social and ecological changes that the urbanization process created on the lives of individuals and communities and the ways of solving them in solidarity and cooperation at local, regional, national and international levels.
The opening speeches of the forum were given by Assoc. Dr. Tahir Büyükakın, the President of MMU and the Mayor of Kocaeli Metropolitan Municipality, and by Dr. M. Cemil Arslan, the Secretary General of MMU. In his opening speech, Büyükakın drew attention to the importance of the forum with the question: “How are the cities we build? Stone, love or plastic? The face of our cities answers all these questions. Unfortunately, it is not possible to talk about a rose garden. The understanding of “modern urbanism” has lost its reason of existence in all its dimensions. The relationship of man with himself, his environment, the world and other people gives a good account of himself in the cities. We produce a lot; we consume a lot. Our homes are comfortable, but the comfort in our cities is changing. For this reason, we will talk about urban and industrial transformation. We will discuss the conditions for our cities to be unique and explore how technology can add smartness to our cities. We will look for ways to renew our agreement with our environment. We will evaluate the services that need to reach every individual, every segment of society.”
Following the speech of the president, the Secretary General Mr.Arslan also said, “It is not possible anymore to effectively manage neither countries nor cities without establishing a knowledge-based, productive and open system that considers interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral relations. For policy makers, experts in cultural, economic, social and environmental issues have become more important than in the past. Cities with healthy, safe, clean and high-quality people require effective and efficient local governments.”
“Challenges and Opportunities of Urbanization”
UN-HABITAT Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif posted a video message for the opening of the forum. In her video message, “Being aware of the first urban forum held in Turkey made me very happy. It was also pleasure for me that the forum begins at the first day of Urban October, a one-month event designed to raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities of urbanization.” said Mohd Sharif. Also indicating that Turkey is one of most important stakeholders of UN-HABITAT, Mohd Sharif “Turkey has been an active partner of UN-HABITAT for a long time. I would like to remind you that the Habitat II Conference held in Istanbul in 1996, which is a milestone for the efforts of United Nations to support sustainable urban development.” said. Sharif also added that she looks forward to hearing the results of the forum.
21st Century City Visions
Oğuz Haksever was the moderator of opening session “21. Century City Visions” in which MMU President and Kocaeli Metropolitan Mayor Assoc. Dr. Tahir Büyükakın, Bursa Metropolitan Mayor Alinur Aktaş, Sakarya Metropolitan Mayor Ekrem Yüce, Balıkesir Metropolitan Mayor Yücel Yılmaz, UNDP Turkey Resident Representative Claudio Tomasi and Metropolis Secretary-General Octave de la Varga shared their views on the future cities.
Bursa Metropolitan Mayor Alinur Aktaş said, “Besides the historical and cultural beauties of a city, it must be livable. Modern cities are getting more attractive for millions. Living in cities has become attractive for everyone. Today, the problems of the city administration are growing rapidly. Our solutions also have to be adapted for this era. Smart cities are possible with smart municipalism. In order to respond quickly to the global problems of the city, we need to conduct studies and listen to the residents of the city. While life is flowing rapidly, we must keep in mind that the existing infrastructure is aging and to keep pace with the transformation with the right planning. We should not forget the economy of a city while planning it. Every city has different needs and potentials. Keeping this in mind, we should carry out integrated studies with technology.”
“Equality of service will contribute to the production of common values”
Ekrem Yüce, the Mayor of Sakarya Metropolitan Municipality, emphasizing the need to pay attention to the equality of service within the boundaries of the municipality while creating a city culture, “Equality of service will contribute to the production of common values. If the service equality can be provided, the population piled up in the city centers can be transported around.” said. Subsequently, Yücel Yılmaz, the Mayor of Balıkesir Metropolitan Municipality, stated that they have participatory municipal approach and they are trying to turn Balıkesir into a city with universal standards.
“Cities account for 70 percent of GDP”
UNDP Turkey Resident Representative, Claudio Tomasi, told that the agenda of 2030 Sustainable Development Goals represents the largest joint humanitarian efforts, which was first decided in 2015 with the highest level of 193 countries. Stressing that there was a strong current in the development field in the 1990s but not yet achieved, Tomasi said, “In Rio summit and afterwards, it is decided that economic growth is not enough, human development is also needed. This agenda can only be realized if it can be localized. The world is rapidly urbanizing. Cities are responsible for 70 percent of emissions and waste. On the positive side, cities are also responsible for 70 percent of GDP. People come to the city and urbanize themselves because it is an opportunity, they are seeking hope. ” he said.
Dialogue Marmara | Mayors Speak Up: Thinking Together, Acting Together
The special session, Dialogue Marmara – Mayors Speak Up: Thinking Together, Acting Together, was moderated by Erol Köse, former Mayor of Kocaeli and the first President of Marmara Municipalities. Union. Stating that public administrations should consider the changing and developing world, MMU President and Kocaeli Metropolitan Mayor Assoc. Dr. Tahir Büyükakın said, “There is a problem with our point of view to the issue. Tools used in public administration are the functional structures shaped in the 19th century. The developing and changing new world is not suitable for these functional structures. The new world must put aside these structures. You cannot rule the future world with past structures. The most important issue we have to do is a transiton for functional structures shaped in the 19th century to use them in the developing world.”
Emphasizing the inclusive city, Yucel Yilmaz, Mayor of Balıkesir, “As a mayor, my primary goal is not to harm my city with the wrong decisions. Therefore, we take care to take our decisions with the entire city. As Balıkesir, we are trying to offer the best examples of governance principles.” said. Stating that what a local administrator should do is best told by the citizens who live in that city, President Yilmaz added, “Citizen tells us what we should do already. Listening to citizens often brings success.”
Vefa Salman, Mayor of Yalova, also said, “When we look socially, publicly, nationally and globally, we consume the nature and the environment at most. Dear friends, the Sea of Marmara is gradually getting lost. A child born today will never be able to swim in the Sea of Marmara. And sadly, it is said that the fish from the Sea of Marmara will not be eaten anymore. This issue is of direct interest to the mayors who govern the cities on the coast of the Sea of Marmara.”, during his speech in the session.
Çorlu Mayor Ahmet Sarıkurt touched on participation and said, “We pay attention to be democratic when preparing strategic plans. We come together with non-governmental organizations and our citizens.” Referring to the importance of the rail system, Ekrem Yüce, the Mayor of Sakarya Metropolitan Mayor Municipality, “Arrangements should be made for migration from city to village. Another issue that needs to be solved is traffic. We want to switch to the rail system because it is ecological and more convenient.” said.
Bursa Mayor Alinur Aktaş pointed out that the responsibility of city administrations, the questions to be answered and the issues to be solved has been increasing constantly at today’s point, due to the growing population. Aktaş also stated that the approaches to city solutions are changing with developing technology.
Lokman Çağırıcı, Mayor of Bağcılar Municipality said, “Mayorship is an area where we can touch everyone and people from all strata. I find it important to produce solutions through dialogue and coordination.”
Hasan Akgün, Mayor of Büyükçekmece District, was the guest of a special session on “Thinking Together, Acting Together”. In his speech, President Akgun called for measures to be taken by drawing attention to the fact of earthquake for Istanbul and Turkey.
Referring to the practice at the level of local governments in European countries and Turkey, Recep Gurkan, the Mayor of Edirne, said “We have a common saying, you know; Europeans are civilized, Europeans are educated, cultured. We say it by underestimating ourselves a little. Actually, there are two differences between us and European people. The rules are the same in Europe and in our country. The penalties are the same also for both of us. The difference is that, in Europe the rules are applied to everyone without exception.”
One of the sessions that took place on the first day of the program was the special session in which İskender Pala, İKSV General Manager Görgün Taner, Uğur Tanyeli, Handan İnci and Murat Gül evaluated Istanbul in the triangle of culture, literature and architecture. In the sessions where the cities resistant to disasters, the struggle against climate change and the international humanitarian mobility were discussed, some of the speakers were Prof. Dr. Mikdat Kadıoğlu, Dr. Hitoshi Baba, Prof. Dr. M. Murat Erdoğan, Prof.Dr. Dr. Ahmet İçduygu and Dr. Howard Duncan.
International Human Mobility and Social Cohesion
19 special sessions and 2 closed sessions were held in addition to sessions related to the theme titles, and the topic of migration was discussed in detail at MARUF. Elizabeth Ferris, research professor at Georgetown University, said “There are millions of internally displaced people in their countries. Displaced persons have to or are forced to flee from the effects of armed conflict, generalized violence, or leave their homes. All this makes a difference. We must consider all changes such as displacement dynamics, relationship with cross-border movements, lack of data, national laws and policies, local integration, and intergenerational differences.”
Presidents Design the Region with “Play Marmara”
Mayors in the Marmara Region played the multi-actor regional development game Play Marmara, where they could evaluate existing projects. Play Marmara, one of the most prominent events of the Forum, aims to introduce an innovative approach to overcome all difficulties in the region. With this game, it was aimed to enable the active actors in the development process of the cities to experience the situation and the governance process of Marmara within the framework of scenarios based on their current knowledge and experience.
Number of Participants Exceeded 5 Thousand
During the 3-day program at the Istanbul Congress Center, 51 sessions were held, and the number of participants exceeded 5,000. The closing session, moderated by MARUF Program Coordinator Ezgi Küçük, was attended by MMU President and Kocaeli Metropolitan Mayor, Assoc. Dr. Tahir Büyükakın, MMU Secretary General, M. Cemil Arslan, Izmir University of Economics Faculty Assoc. Dr. Aslı Ceylan Öner, İstanbul Şehir University Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Assoc. Dr. Alim Arli and experts in the field.
“We don’t find it right to spend time by talking”
Speaking at the closing session, MMU President and Kocaeli Mayor Tahir Büyükakın; “3 thousand people were targeted with the number of viewers, but it was exceeded. So the targets were realized, but our main goal was the content goal rather than the numerical targets and it was also achieved. There were very good discussions. We had determined a point about producing a solution and called “Cities Developing Solutions”. Serious statements about the solution were presented. Academics, mayors, practitioners, representatives of civil society organizations mentioned about the wonderful things. Turkey’s municipal experience will be blended with the great experiences obtained from around the world. We made speeches about what we can do to provide solutions to the world’s current issues, and these have been seriously discussed here. The next period is the action time. We don’t find it right to spend time by talking constantly. From now on, we will start to work for the municipalities to make them act quickly.” said.
Turkey’s First and Largest International Urban Forum in This Field
MMU Secretary General M. Cemil Arslan, who stated that they were mediating to flow of knowledge at all over the world to here, “It was a 3-day forum to the fullest. When we dreamed about Marmara Urban Forum, we predicted that we would face with a favor. 245 speakers from around 25 countries participated in 3 days. We were expecting around 3 thousand participants. The number of participants reached 5 thousand, and they all attended in an effective manner. What makes me most happy about the participants profile is that the number of youths and women was very much. It showed that the people in Turkey have a broad perspective and are open to global communication. This gave us a great hope. We were planning to organize biennially, but participants have said that a period of 2 years is too long. MARUF, was the first and largest international urban forum in this field in Turkey. We aim to be one of the top 5 city forums in the world. ” said.