We are immensely saddened by the devastating impacts of the Kahramanmaras earthquake which affected Türkiye and Syria on February 6, 2023 and for all of those affected.
At COP26 in 2021, CRH lead organization Build Change had the opportunity to have a conversation with Ekrem İmamoğlu, the Mayor of Istanbul about the steps that the city has taken towards resilience against earthquakes and climate-friendly policies.
Given recent events, we’re revisiting this conversation with Dr. Elizabeth Hausler, Founder & CEO of Build Change with a short excerpt from the discussion, which you can watch on-demand in full.
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Elizabeth Hausler: You’ve been vocal about how we need to take city-level action on climate change independently, and often despite, national level politics. Can you tell us how Istanbul is addressing this?
Mayor İmamoğlu: Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities. This rate will reach about more than 68% in the near future.
Unfortunately, our cities, which are home to billions of people, are the source of many problems, just as much as the opportunities they offer. We live in a world order where cities are both perpetrators and victims of climate change. In this process, we as the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality consider it a priority to make our city much safer for our citizens.
Istanbul is one of the most unique cities on the planet, but it is also geopolitically located in one of the locations with the highest earthquake risks in the world. Istanbul is the largest city in Europe, with a population of 16 million, and also more than 2 million immigrants; we are in total more than 18 million Istanbulites. It is located at a very strategic point geopolitically – first of all, half of Turkey’s industrial production takes place in and around Istanbul. In addition, direct investments of many countries, especially EU and USA, are located in Istanbul.
I would like to summarize what we have done in Istanbul in two years under three headings:
In this regard, we need global solidarity. With its creative and entrepreneurial capacity, Istanbul is strong enough to afford all kinds of solidarity.