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close this bookBASIN - News No. 13 - February 1997 : The Great Habitat Debate (BASIN-GTZ-SKAT, 1997, 31 p.)
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View the documentIstanbul: A summary of achievements
View the documentWhose Agenda?
View the documentLocal Initiatives Inadequately Addressed
View the documentWas Habitat II Worth It ?
View the documentReflections on Istanbul
View the documentBuilding partnerships
View the documentTen good policies for better cities
View the documentJobs in cities
View the documentNational reports and national plans of action: a regional perspective

Reflections on Istanbul

Below are extracts of personal perspectives by key speakers at the Building Partnerships workshop series organised by BASIN at Istanbul.

"The one precious message to come out of Istanbul was the importance of intangible values such as knowledge, discipline, organisation, commitment, co-operation and mutual support. For two weeks, shelter and human settlements issues were put centre stage by the world media forcing not only governments and experts but ordinary people world-wide to think seriously about how they will be living in the next century.

Amid the generalizations and the political posturing, there were nonetheless specific proposals and useful ideas developed at the numerous seminars, workshops and consultations, such as the series organised by BASIN. The refinement and elaboration of these random thoughts will take many years. The general debate was immensely enriched by the input of leading scientists, scholars, researchers and activists. NGOs, local authorities and the private sector had their say, some more audible than others. A new format for UN conferences was adopted, but the organizational problems were evident. Governments were generally put on the defensive. The weary UN system received a slight boost and was even appreciated, although the general tendency was to look at the larger picture irrespective of the relevance or future of UNCHS. Strategic perhaps, but hardly likely to further the cause of post-lstanbul implementation".

Prof Saad Yahya, Kenya

"At Habitat II, I was inspired by the delight of lonely pioneers of the struggle for people's freedom to build. While the struggle has much further to go than we be lieved, Habitat II has demonstrated the growing strength and global reach of the civic networks upon which a livable future depends. The few at Habitat I have become many who brought Habitat II overwhelming proof that it is people and only people, with freedom to use resources in their own ways who can build within affordable limits.

It was good for us to confront the widening reality of today's world. Turkey is at the crucial cross-roads. It is at war with one of its own ethnic communities and threatened by warring beliefs within and without. It will be really good for us all, however, if the experience so generously provided (our hosts took real risk on every side) accelerates awakening to the ground we share with the growing numbers now building a community-based and therefore sustainable civilization.

Habitat II will prove to be the vital paradigm of change if, as I believe, it lit the fuse that will blow away the blocks to three-way partnerships of enabling state powers and market forces with community based initiative - the third and vital energy stemming from love without which healthy life is impossible. To some extent we all unwittingly maintain these blocks, for instance by our failure to see our particular fields of work as mirror of the own and, therefore, as agents for changing it. It has taken me the last twenty years to see the implications of misconceiving housing as an end in itself, obscuring its real value as a powerful means of building community - the essential common purpose for which all can and must work together".

John FC. Turner, UK

"Before coming to Istanbul, I had read the statement of the New York Prepcom. It was rhetorical and could not possibly have any major impact on housing policy in Pakistan. For this reason, I did not attend the official conference at Istanbul

However, the NGO forum, the exhibition on best practices and related workshops and lectures were very informative. Although many of the housing and infrastructure programmes from the South that were displayed and discussed were known to me, those of the North were new and have given me and my Pakistani colleagues a number of ideas and concepts especially related to inner city rehabilitation and conservation. In addition, the sessions on energy and transportation presented new analysis and approaches. Currently, we are looking at what was presented and trying to see how it can relate to our conditions in Karachi.

The Conference was attended by teachers and students form the Department of Architecture and Planning, Dawood College, Karachi where I teach. Much of the literature and the details of best practices is being looked at by the Faculty and hopefully part of it will become teaching material. I am convinced that the visit to the conference will have a positive impact on the projects prepared by the students in the future and in their work as professionals.

The Conference brought together old friends and colleagues. One was able to catch up on what others have been doing and collect literature regarding the new directions that have been adopted. This bringing together of practitioners, community people and donors has made it possible for a large number of people to assess global change in housing and city planning issues and its new directions This will in the long run generate new interactions and consolidate the new processes which, given the "New World Order", are radically different from those of the past. The interactions at the Conference, it is hoped, will make the articulation of these new processes possible".

Asif Hassan, Pakistan