Presentation and Discussion with Stephen Karam, Lead Urban Economist and Sustainable Development Group Program Leader at the World Bank
Stephen Karam presented the World Bank’s recently completed Turkey Urbanization Review, sharing key findings within an overall global context of the challenges and opportunities currently faced by cities. He highlighted potential pathways for addressing the main urban development challenges for Turkey.
Turkey Urbanization Review
The Ministry of Environment and Urbanization asked World Bank to provide technical assistance on Turkey’s urban transformation process. Turkey Urbanization Review was produced with this intention and aimed to suggest certain strategies on urban transformation to the government of Turkey. The review shed light on what the government currently needs to pay attention to regarding its urban policymaking. The review includes a set of priority issues with a macro perspective.
Turkey is a country, which almost 70% of its population live in urban spaces. The country has experienced a fast urbanization process which went hand in hand with an increase in GDP. The simultaneous increase in urbanization and GDP rates makes Turkey a good example of growth.
Growth, however, does not necessarily mean development. It is an agreed concern that officials in Turkey usually focus on economic growth and disregard development. However, at the same time, Turkey has also shown an outstanding performance in terms of poverty reduction which directly influences human development. This performance needs to be supported with promoting social equality and justice. The so-far good achievements of Turkey need to be integrated with social inclusion, creating job opportunities, quality of life, urban integration, women participating in the labor market and issues related to human development. Unless these matters are being prioritized, the progress Turkey has achieved may stagnate.
All in all, The Turkey Urbanization Review and a previous report of World Bank, Turkey’s Transitions, clearly state that there is a drastic development in Turkey’s performance in terms of urbanization, growth, and development. This good performance could be advanced with a working balance between growth and human development.
The social perspective and social dynamics of urban life need to be added in state policies and reports that have an influence on state policies. The existing social science literature on urbanization need to function as a consultation mechanism in making state policies on urbanization. Nevertheless, the social science data needs to flourish to be more effective and forceful in influencing policy.