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close this bookContributions of Youth to the Implementation of the Habitat Agenda (HABITAT, 1999, 137 p.)
close this folderPART II: NATIONAL REPORTS
View the documentII.1 BRAZIL
View the documentII.2 COLOMBIA
View the documentII.3 INDIA
View the documentII.4 KENYA
View the documentII.5 PAKISTAN
View the documentII.6 SENEGAL
View the documentII.7 TURKEY


July 1999, prepared by, Pamir Y, Youth Association For Habitat And Agenda 21
Bre Cd. Sisli Belediyesi Binasi Kat 12 Esentepe-Istanbul/TURKEY
Ph: +90 212 272 12 12 Fax: +90 212 272 45 96 E-mail:


This report aims to highlight and evaluate major trends and activities related to youth within the context of human settlements. The major event that has established the link between youth issues and human settlements in Turkey is the Habitat II Conference that was held in Istanbul in June 1996. Youth groups, together with other civil initiatives have been actively involved in the preparation period of this major United Nations Conference. A number of non-governmental organizations were very successful in using the momentum of the Conference in order to promote local and national civil initiatives in the context of human settlements both in the technical sense of the subject which include housing, infrastructure, etc. and in the broader sense that includes topics such as migration, street children, participation in governance, etc. Habitat II Conference has been an effective tool for NGOs to work with governmental offices, local authorities and the private sector with more ease.

As mentioned before, young people actively participated in the preparation period and the Habitat II Conference itself with numerous activities and with contributions to the formulation of the Habitat Agenda. Also after the Conference, Turkish youth was more widely accepted as a partner in human settlements management and improvement. Accordingly, there had been numerous local, national and international youth activities organized in Turkey towards the implementation of the Habitat Agenda.

This report will summarize the current situation in Turkey concerning human settlements and youth as much as the most recent data permits. In the other parts of the report youth activities in this field will be examined and then monitoring strategies will be suggested.


Turkey lies among three of the most vibrant parts of the world, the Balkans, Caucasus and the Middle East. Due to this strategic position, numerous ethnic and cultural heritages have come together to form now what is called the Republic of Turkey. This cultural diversity and its long-term results together with the historical developments have resulted in considerable differences in quality and way of life among different regions of the country. As a result of this, it is very hard to reflect the real living conditions through national averages and the presence of this difference especially between the western and eastern parts of the country needs to be kept in mind in evaluating these statistics.

Turkey has a population of 64.8 million (mid-1998) with annual natural increase of 1.6% It is divided into 7 geographical regions, namely Marmara, Aegean, Mediterranean, Central Anatolia, Black Sea, East Anatolia, Southeast Anatolia. These geographical regions also provide a useful tool to examine the country within these divisions.Major demographic trends are summarized in the following tables taken from the National Report and Plan of Action prepared for the Habitat II Conference.

Total Fertility rate

Child mortality (in numbers)

Final number of children

Net reproduction rate

Child mortality rate (Per thousand)

Life expectancy at birth







































































Population Growth Estimates (in millions)

























In the “Human Development Report 1997” of UNDP, it is reported that 50% of the population of Turkey in 1996 were living in 21 high human development provinces out of a total of 76 provinces. 52 medium human development provinces constituted 48% of the population while the rest, 2%, were living in the 3 low human development provinces. Most of these high human development provinces are concentrated in the western regions, Marmara and Aegean, while some are in the Mediterranean and the Central Anatolia regions. The presence of Ankara, the capitol, in the Central Anatolia has significantly contributed to the development of the nearby provinces.

The following statistics from the same report of UNDP will give a general idea of the economic performance of the country. The most significant figure and also the one that most directly affects the living style of the people is the high inflation. The effects of 1994 economic crises and the devaluation is very clear in the high inflation rates. Considering the fact that Turkey has been struggling with inflation rates closer and sometimes higher than those that are shown in the table for almost thirty years, it is realized that most people’s most important concern and the one that takes almost all of their time and energy is to earn enough money to look after themselves and their families. This also significantly contributes to the increasing disparity in earnings of the very few rich and the poor that are in millions. Moreover, this disparity has become a danger for the existence of the middle class and all of these factors have hindered the social development of the country as a whole.

Major Indicators of Macroeconomic Performance:




Annual Change %

Real GNP growth




Inflation (WPI)




Real exchange rate




According to the Statistics Institute of the State, since 1980, the percentage of young people, ages between 15 to 24, constitutes 20% of the population. According to other statistics, 35.5% of the population in 1990 was under 14 years of age and the median age for the total population was 22.21. These figures show that Turkey is a young nation in general and compared to most of the developed states, we see that the percentage of young people in the total population is about 5 points higher in Turkey.

II.1 Education

The mentioned disparities among different regions of Turkey is very clear in the respective literacy and enrollment rates. Moreover, differences can also be observed in educational attainment of males and females. These results are summarized in the following table:

Educational Attainment (1997):

Male Literacy Rate (%)

Female Literacy Rate (%)

Total (%)









Central Anatolia




Black Sea












Male Enrollment Rate(%)

Female Enrollment Rate (%)

Total (%)









Central Anatolia




Black Sea












Due to the compulsory education, enrollment rate in the 1990s for primary education is close to 100% especially for males. However, it is observed that this rate drops sharply for higher levels of education; about 70% for middle school and 50% for high school. For higher education this ratio is less than 13%.

In 1997, basic compulsory education was raised from 5 years to 8 years. This is expected to contribute significantly to quality of education in Turkey. However, the small size of classrooms and inadequacy in the number of available teachers especially in the rural areas are among some of the most important obstacles in achieving these goals of high quality education.

University entrance system is highly criticized by many scholars. Until 1999, the students were required to take two examinations that would place them into certain departments of certain universities with respect to their scores. This system would result in students not concentrating on their schoolwork in high school and mainly focusing on these two examinations. In 1999, for the first time in a number of years university entrance examinations were combined in a single examination and an important role was placed on the grade point average of the students in their respective high schools. This amendment of the system aimed at orienting students to focus more on their high school studies. Nevertheless, malfunctioning of that new system paved way to new problems, which were mainly meeting the demands of the students and indecisiveness in making the choices.

The number of students placed into the universities is far from satisfactory. Out of more than one million students taking these examinations each year, about 7% of them are placed into their top three choices.

To sum up, the students having to participate in this examinations for university entrance are destined to fully concentrate on this unique cornerstone, which is supposed to determine their respective futures, with the hope of a highly qualified life. The examination that requires devotion of more than one year for thorough preparation. As a result of this fact, students are pried apart from the society for one year at least. This also results in serious psychological tides with the pressure imposed by the families and the society itself, which also leads to maladjustments to normal life having completed the examinations.

II.2 Employment

Due to the economic conditions in the country, most of the young people start working at early ages and accordingly, employment is one of the biggest concerns of the Turkish youth. In a survey done in 1998 among young people, 45% of them has identified unemployment as the biggest problem of Turkey.

The average unemployment rate among young people of ages 15-24 between 1988 and 1994 was 16%.

The ratio of labor force participation in 1994 is given at the table below.


Male %

Female %

Total %





























As the table indicates, a large number of people start working at early ages and this is one of the most important obstacles for young people to continue with their education. Actually, these numbers do not realistically reflect the percentage of young people working in family businesses especially in rural areas.

II.3 Health

The major health problems among young people in the developed world such as drug abuse or sexually transmitted diseases have not been very widespread in Turkey. This is mainly due to the strength of society values, traditions and attachment among family members as well as due to religious restrictions.

However, in recent years, especially in big cities, drug abuse has shown signs of rapid increase although still the percentage of young people experiencing with drugs is far less than those in Europe or North America.

Due to the secrecy, young people deny the fact that they are somehow involved in drug-addiction, therefore it is impossible to identify the percentage of young people using drugs. However, a survey carried out in Istanbul in 1995 among high school students have shown that 4% of them had experienced with drugs at one point in their life while 1.6% of them had used drugs since the previous month. The fact that this percentage was found to be 0.27% in a similar survey in 1991 shows the dramatic increase of drug abuse among young people.

Turkey is known to be on one of the largest drug trafficking routes that is the main supplier for the European market. Although due to the strict governmental measures there is almost no production in Turkey, it is generally known among public and governmental units that a large number of people in the southeastern part of Turkey that is also the poorest region earn their living through smuggling drugs from neighboring countries.

Moreover, use of local plants that have not been medically identified as drugs due to their locality is also widespread especially in the east.

The first AIDS case in Turkey was reported in 1985. Until 1997, 700 HIV positive cases were present and 218 showed symptoms of the disease. The most important factors that contribute to the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases are “massive migration to urban areas, tendency of Turkish men to feel potent and impervious to disease, tolerance of polygamy in our traditional culture and prevalence of prostitution”.

II.4 Gender Issues

Some percentages such as literacy, enrollment, unemployment, etc. have already been stated before. According to these numbers and looking at the Turkish society in general, there is no doubt that women have not yet found their place in the society as equal partners with men.

The most important obstacle for women is the traditional definition of womanhood as a wife and a mother, which also prevents their acceptance as equal counterparts in the business life.

When urban and rural areas are compared, it is observed that women in rural areas are much more active in the labor force than urban women. However, rural women are almost always working in family businesses that hinders them from gaining economic and hence social independence from their husbands or fathers.

In a survey among young people, 23.6% of them has defined 20 as the ideal age for women to marry while 29,3% have put this age to 25 for men. Considering these facts, one needs to remember that 20 years of age corresponds to studying in higher education and 25 to graduation and finding a job. In the same survey, 62.7% of the participants have agreed to that young children would be negatively affected if their mothers are working. However, 62.4% of them has strongly disagreed with the idea that the only ideal for women is to get married and have children. The percentage of young people that are in favor of using various contraceptives is 83.2%.

This survey was done in various cities around the country but does not reflect the opinion of the young people in rural areas. In spite of this, we clearly see the conflict between different roles of women in society, a dependent family member and an independent individual.

Actually, Turkey has revised its legal system towards family and women beginning in late 1920s and also during 1930s as to give equal rights to women and men. This is almost the same time as most European countries. However, the existing laws have not completely been reflected to the lives of women. Although in 1994, the prime minister was a woman, less than 20% of the parliament consisted of woman delegates. As this example shows, all the legislation for women to participate to governance is present; however, only a few has the actual opportunity to be accepted as leaders of the society.

II.5 Urbanization

Turkey has been going through a rapid urbanization process in an uncontrolled way due to various reasons. The following table will give an idea of the extent that urbanization has reached.


Urban population (%)

Contribution to urban increase (%)

Net migration

Change in definition

Natural increase
















































As the table also shows, there had been a massive migration to urban areas especially towards the west. The major population group that has been affected from this rapid change is the youth as the incapability of the urban areas to integrate these young people to all aspects of social opportunities that are not present in rural areas has led to identity crises for large amounts of young people. As a result of this, there had been marginalized groups.

Despite the fact that there had been great migration towards the west, the South-East Project (GAP), which lies in the top ranks among the most successful economic and social projects has contributed a lot for diminishing this mobilization. This project, dating back to the 1970s, mainly aims at rehabilitation of land conditions, irrigation and modern agricultural techniques, which is still in the process of construction. In addition to technical aspects of that project, is also hoped to bring about revolutionary social improvements, some of which are the expected land reformation, poverty eradication, creation of job opportunities, enhancement of international and trans-national trade and equitable urbanization. From the SouthEast project, it is expected that this initiative for development will cease the imbalance and disparities between east and west.

The lack of civil initiatives is greatly felt as rather than the governmental units it is the civil society and the people of the city that can establish the necessary links with the migrated groups for them to adjust to the city life and learn to use all the opportunities that are provided to them.

Establishment of shantytowns around large cities like Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Adana has been a major city-planning problem. A major earthquake has hit the east of Istanbul, the most important industrial area of the country, and the destruction of about 100.000 housing units showed one more time inadequacy of construction strategies. However, more than 20,000 deaths in this earthquake have inevitably forced the government and the civil organizations to establish and monitor new construction policies.

In fact, with the organization of Habitat II Conference in Turkey, there had been various activities realized in this field. The national plan of action and also local plans of action were prepared and the strategies for city planning and establishment of new settlements were revised and evaluated.

II.6 Environment

The awareness of the society on environment is a recent concept in Turkey compared to the developed countries. However, it is observed that some of the biggest and strongest civil organizations are established with environmental concerns. We also see various student organizations working in this field. With the creation of Ministry of Environment in 1991, environmental problems are started to be evaluated at the highest level of government. Especially after the UN Global Conference on environment in 1991 in Rio de Janeiro, there had been various activities in this field. As a result of these, a national action plan for environment was prepared.

In this action plan the role of NGOs in raising public awareness and monitoring various activities have been accepted as a national policy and inputs from these civil organizations were used together with other governmental recommendations.


III.1 Youth Policy

There is a clear lack of policy development related to youth in Turkey both at the national and at local levels. Although Turkey has a very young population with median age around 22, there has not been a comprehensive youth policy developed. Youth issues are usually addressed along with other issues such as education, health, sports, etc. This lack of policy at the national level as will be seen in the following section is also reflected in lack of youth related institutions at higher levels of national governance.

In the 1990-1995 national development plan of the government, youth is identified as an important population group and it is stated that the potential of young people needs to be utilized to further develop the country in the new millennium. However, specific policy recommendations or projects have not been identified and naturally the importance given to youth could not have been materialized with actions and actual social development. In fact, this national development plan and its approach towards youth is a typical example for general governmental reports or plans of action. Youth is almost always identified as an important population group; however, concrete steps are lacking. The exception of Habitat II National Report and Plan of Action needs to be stated within this respect. The involvement of youth as an equal partner in the Habitat Agenda was reflected during the preparation process of the National Report and Plan of Action and in this report youth has gained more space with specific policy recommendations compared with other national plans of action. However, even in this report youth and sport policies have been integrated with each other in a single priority issue.

One of the most important reasons is lack of initiative on the behalf of young people. Although there are numerous student organizations both at the local and national levels, there is hardly any youth organization that has a mission of bringing together young people from different sectors of the society. As a result of this, governmental policies directed towards youth are canalized through either educational, cultural or employment policies.

In recent years and especially after the Habitat II Conference, youth has started to be accepted as a partner in development and implementation of youth policies and projects. However, there still a long way to go in order to achieve the necessary social acceptance of young people as equal partners in all aspects of the society.

The role of youth in society not only as students or workers but as young people need to be developed starting from early ages in one’s life. In a survey among young people, 18.2% of them have stated that family has a limiting role in their personal development while 17.7% of them perceive stating their own opinions freely as disrespect for their elders. These high percentages reflect the traditional family values present in Turkish society. Moreover, this survey was prepared in large urban centres and these traditional values are more prevalent in rural areas.

Young people need to participate in decision-making mechanisms starting from their own families. In order to achieve this, parents need to be trained in child psychology in local public centres or schools. Moreover, especially for middle school students, promotion of independent thinking and self-confidence in the family should also integrate school activities within this process. There has not been any policy development both at the governmental level and also in the civil sector towards promoting activities within these lines.

School is the first environment outside the family where the individual gains a place in the society. According to national education laws, there needs to be student councils in every high school. However, these student councils have different mandates in every school and these are almost always far from reflecting the views of the students and developing a participatory environment within high schools. According to the law, these student councils are to be represented in disciplinary committees but their effectiveness are also debatable.

Especially after the left-right clashes of the 70s, student movements in universities have been limited to a great extent and for years, student councils were forbidden. Although student movements have gained some momentum in recent years especially with the establishment of private universities, besides those that are in major cities such as Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, the rest still needs more time to fully involve the students in decision-making processes. Moreover, political organizations, especially Islamic political organization within universities are posing an important threat for democratic participation within these schools.

Looking at the schools in general, both high schools and universities, we see that youth involvement in decision-making processes greatly depends on the individual administrators of these schools and their perspective on this issue. Within this respect, national education policy needs to be standardized to more actively involve student organizations and student councils in decision making. Moreover, especially in local environmental and social development issues, it is the student groups that can reach the local community and transfer their technical and practical knowledge with more ease. Accordingly, development of student organizations within universities would have impact on development of the local communities besides the development of the students themselves.

According to Turkish laws, young workers have the same status as their elder colleagues and as a result, their special needs and concerns are not considered in any legal way. For example, during the time that they spend for their specialized training in industry, they do not receive social security and this greatly decreases their motivation for more specialized training. It is also known that young workers are less inclined to join or take active part in trade unions and most of them are not trained or educated about the benefits of these kinds of organizations. On the other hand, there are various civil initiatives to bring together young entrepreneurs and young businessmen in order to raise awareness for their special needs and problems. As a result, young people are not given special consideration in the work place for their special interests or concerns and this is mostly because of the fact that there does not exist any policy or law specially prepared for young workers.

Turkish political system hardly ever welcomes people younger than 45 years old. The youngest member of the previous parliament was in his early 40s. Moreover, the youngest Prime Minister was in his mid 50s. Within this respect, we can conclude that young people in general do not take an active role in the higher levels of the political system. Although the political age in local governance is younger relative to national governance, even at these levels we do not generally see a 40 year old major. Naturally, it is not expected to see a 30 year old prime minister; however, the average age of the parliament and prominent political leaders shows that serious political involvement does not start at early ages. This is mostly related to the fact that according to the traditional culture of the society elder people and their opinions are more highly regarded compared to youngsters.

Although all political parties have youth branches, their function within the party is more towards recruitment rather than policy development and most of these youth groups are not concerned with the problems of the local youth.

Involvement of youth in local governance is a more promising issue. Especially in recent years, in relation with Habitat II and Agenda 21 activities, numerous local youth councils have been established. However, still the development of these institutions depends on the perspectives of the administrators towards youth issues. A more detailed explanation of these institutions and their policies will be given in later sections of this report.

III.2 Youth Institutions

The highest youth related institution in Turkey is Youth and Sport Ministry. Until the beginning of 1990s, this ministry was acting as National Education, Youth and Sport Ministry.

As it was mentioned in the previous section, the lack of a comprehensive youth policy is also reflected at the activities of this ministry and only this year the budget of the ministry is adjusted so as to allocate comparable funds to youth activities with those that are allocated for sports. With this new adjustment, it is hoped that more activities focusing on youth with all their concerns will be organized.

Related to this ministry, there are administrators responsible for each of the provinces in Turkey.

Although there are youth councils in almost all of the European countries, there is no institution similar to those civil councils in Turkey. There is a national youth committee composed of governmental delegates of the highest rank and as a result it is far from satisfying the needs of the young people at the local level. The key characteristic of a successful youth policy is generally accepted to be the involvement of young people themselves in development and implementation of such policies. Within this respect, establishment of a national youth council of a civic nature would be an important development in this area.

Moreover, the number and impact of youth NGOs in Turkey are also far from satisfactory. Various student organizations such as AIESEC, AEGEE, AFS, etc mainly focus on developed provinces and have very specific mandates that are able to satisfy the needs of a small portion of the young population. Besides these student organizations, the youth branches of a number of national NGOs such as DD ( Yastekleme Derne ADD (AtatD Derneetc constitutes almost all of the national youth work.

III.3 Major Youth Organizations


Four branches of AEGEE International are active in Turkey. The main goal of the organization is to promote student exchanges within Europe. The specialized task of the AEGEEs in Turkey is inclusion of Turkish students in the European Union’s exchange and study programs, although the country itself is not a member of the European Union.


AIESEC-Turkey has seven branches in various cities. Main goal of the organization is develop youth entrepreneurship through student exchanges. One of the initiatives that was conducted by AIESEC-Turkey named “New Horizons in South-East” project has contributed a lot mainly to recover the young people in south east from their isolation.

American Field Service-Turkish Cultural Foundation

The main aim of the organization is to promote exchanges among high school students for inter-cultural learning. The organization has also conducted a project called “15 Minutes Every Day” in order to increase the habit of reading.

GSM (Youth Services Centre)

The organization mainly deals with exchange programmes, especially between Mediterranean and European countries. It also works in collaboration with Youth Forum Jeunesse within the context of the Youth for Europe programme.

Turkish Scouts Federation

The main of the organization works closely with Provincial Administrations of Youth and Sports and carries out activities for the promotion of the scout movement all over the country.

Youth Association for Habitat and Agenda 21

Youth Association for Habitat and Agenda 21 has established a growing network of youth and youth related institutions and has filled to some extent the lack of coordination of youth related work at the national level. The related activities will be discussed at the next section of this report.

Considering the local level, it is observed that there are numerous student groups in universities that are organized within the lines of their academic work. Moreover, there are also youth groups working to improve their local environment.

In the survey of Conrad Adenauer Foundation, we see that 13.5% of the participants were members of a sports club, 3.3% were members of political parties, 3% were members of social, political or cultural associations while 62.8% were not members of any kind of social organization. These numbers clearly indicate the unsatisfactory performance of civil youth initiatives.

Looking at NGOs in general and youth NGOs specifically, we see that they are all concentrated in the big cities of the developed provinces.

The lack of interest for youth NGOs is a part of a lack of interest for civil organizations in general. The concept of civic responsibility is a recent challenge for the Turkish population and it is still waiting to be spread out from large urban areas to every part of the country.

The organization of Habitat II Conference in Istanbul was a clear milestone within this respect. There is an increase in the number of civil organizations both at the local and national levels. This is also reflected in the youth activities.


The activities related to the Habitat Agenda will be examined within eight sections that follow each other according to their time line as much as possible. Of course, it is not realistic to consider these eight categories as a total summary of all the activities that have been going on in Turkey since the beginning of 1996 at local, national and international levels. These categories would best be considered as important milestones in Turkish youth work in the field of sustainable human settlements.

Since the beginning of the Habitat II process, youth groups has seen in the Habitat II Conference and its follow-up a great opportunity to develop civil youth initiatives in Turkey. The concepts such as partnership and equal participation to policy making and implementation that are present in the Habitat Agenda were seen as key points that were used in every step of the youth activities. In this sense, Habitat Agenda and the concept of sustainable human development were integrated into every aspect of urban life and a wide range of issues including education, health, participation, etc. were considered in this sense.

IV.1 Preparation process of the Habitat II Conference

Youth activities related to the preparation period of the Habitat II Conference started at the end of 1995. These activities were tried to be organized by weekly meetings of youth and youth groups interested in contributing to the Habitat II process through different means. In the first months of 1996, these regular meetings resulted in the formation of a youth caucus including organizations such as AIESEC, ELSA, AEGEE, student groups and other civil organizations interested in youth work as well as individuals. The main goal that was set for this youth caucus was to increase youth participation to the Habitat II Conference and to raise awareness about related youth issues. Due to the venue of the conference, these awareness raising activities were mostly focused in Istanbul although by June 1996, information meetings in 13 different cities were organized and young people from those cities were both informed about Habitat II and also encouraged to participate in the NGO forum.

This caucus provided the necessary technical support for the international youth delegates that reached almost a thousand during the conference. Moreover, a 2-day orientation workshop for the conference participants was organized.

The main activity of the caucus was the organization of a symposium on “Problems, Expectations and Proposed Solutions of Youth.” The first day of the symposium was spared for professionals to share their knowledge and expectations with 420 young participants from 13 different cities around the country. On the second day, working groups on education, urbanization, participation to governance, communication and substance abuse were organized. The outputs of this symposium were submitted to the national committee that was preparing the National Report and Plan of Action for Turkey and we see that the priority issue related to youth in this plan of action largely consists of the solutions proposed by young people during this symposium. From this aspect, this is a key step taken by both young people and governmental authorities towards increasing youth participation in policy making and implementation. Moreover, the report of the working group on substance abuse was used as a resource material for the preparation of various training programs in different schools. The complete report was brought into a booklet and published at the end of 1997.

While this youth caucus was trying to raise awareness in Turkey, Youth For Habitat, an international network of youth organizations, was doing the same kinds of activities at the international level. As a result, the youth caucus turned into the Turkish branch of Youth For Habitat network and until now has continued its activities under this name.

Due to the informal structure of the youth caucus, there was no regular funding that was ready to be used. As a result, local sponsors for all of the activities including the mentioned symposium were to be found. This is another key step that enabled young people to learn how to fundraise and later use their experience for larger projects.

This youth caucus that started out with not very ambitious goals was able to create a platform for youth organizations to learn to work together and also for young people to find the most appropriate channels to communicate their concerns and ideas about the urban environment.

IV.2 Institutionalization

As mentioned before, the youth caucus of the Habitat II Conference was an informal platform of youth and youth organizations. The unwillingness of some of the governmental units, the private sector and other civil organizations to accept the youth caucus as an equal partner and the uncontrollable circulation of young people within the caucus inevitably led to the institutionalization process.

It is almost impossible especially in Turkey where strict laws for associations and foundations are present to sustain youth activities in an informal platform. The vibrant nature of young people as a population group and their concerns for education and employment greatly endangers the continuity of these platforms. As a result of this, Youth Association for Habitat and Agenda 21 was established in March 1997 as the continuing secretariat of Youth For Habitat in Turkey.

The networking strategy of the association is very similar to the formation of the youth caucus in the sense that it creates an informal platform for youth and youth organizations from all around the country to communicate with each other. However, now all of these activities are coordinated by a legal association whose members are limited to about 40 people that have been working in the secretariat. There is no goal of increasing this membership as the association sees itself as a mere focal point in disseminating information and putting all the Youth For Habitat activities in a more formal ground in order to work with more ease with other partners. In spite of the low legal membership number, the number of people and organizations that are in contact with the network approaches a thousand with the number of people that have gone through one or more of the national activities being well over two thousand.

Another important aspect of the institutionalization process is that it was aimed to be as local as possible in the sense that young people in different cities were tried to be encouraged to establish their own mechanisms in their own cities with the support of the Youth Association for Habitat and Agenda 21. This is one of the key steps for sustaining youth work at the local level.

Institutionalization process and various national projects that will be mentioned shortly led to the formation of a small group of people that have adapted youth work as their professional work. It was realized that it is impossible to coordinate all of these activities and develop new projects through using young people’s spare time. A recent strategy for civil initiatives in Turkey is to move towards professionalism without losing touch with the grassroots. This same strategy was also adapted for Youth For Habitat in Turkey. Professionalism was also used as a tool to attract more people to take active roles at the national level and for them to see Youth for Habitat as an important part of their future.

IV.3 International Youth Follow-up meeting for the Habitat Agenda and Agenda 21

The Human Settlements working group in the Second World Youth Forum of the United Nations System organized in November 1996 agreed to the wish of the Turkish youth representatives to organize an international youth follow-up meeting for Habitat II Conference in 1997 in Turkey.

Taking the responsibility of organizing an international meeting created a giant momentum for Youth For Habitat in Turkey and networking and training activities were channeled towards preparing Turkish youth for this international meeting.

Five national preparatory meetings were organized in five different cities around the country. With close to a thousand participants including professionals and representatives from governmental units, municipalities, universities and high schools, young people and other partners were informed about the Youth For Habitat approach and trained in various issues concerning human settlements. The discussions of the working groups were combined in a single document and prepared as a national youth action plan.

Besides these national preparatory meetings, two special meetings on “youth participation in local governance” and “youth participation in universities” were organized. The outputs of these meetings set guidelines for future work in these areas. Especially the output of the meeting on local governance was used as a resource material for establishment of local youth councils in Turkey.

Other than the proposed solutions and strategies for youth, the most important benefit of these meetings were the development of partnership among youth and other partners such as the governmental units, municipalities and the private sector. Since the meetings were organized through local fundraising, young people were in a way forced to use all their energy to communicate with local authorities and to attract their interest. This is also important for the development of their personal skills as active citizens. Of course, it needs to be mentioned that the effect of the Habitat II Conference and its momentum was a key factor in developing these relations with other partners who may never have encountered such a youth initiative during their terms of office.

In addition to these, a summer camp on substance abuse and sexually transmitted diseases was organized in order to train 50 youth leaders from different regions of the country on these issues.

The International Youth Follow-up Meeting for Habitat Agenda and Agenda 21 was held in 15-21 September 1997 in Eskisehir. The first national preparatory meeting was in the beginning of March 1997 and all of these activities were organized within 6 months.

Organization of this international meeting was also the beginning of the Youth For Habitat-Turkey’s relations with UNDP-Turkey and the Turkish government at the ministry level.

A project with UNDP-Ankara was prepared in order to ensure some part of the funding for the conference. In accordance with this project, a national youth newsletter related to Habitat activities was started to be published. In the meantime, the networking activities along with the principles of enabling local young people continued. The strategy for organizing local youth depended on the prestige of Youth Association for Habitat and Agenda 21 at the national level and its increasing relations with other partners. In the first stages of networking activities at the local level, as many young people as possible from various schools, NGOs, private sector and municipalities along with local authorities of the city were gathered for informational meetings. In the second stage, the local group was encouraged to participate to the national activities as much as possible; however, due to the lack of funding, financial constraints were almost always the most important problem. In spite of this, we saw that governmental units, municipalities, schools or the private sector were willing to pay for the transportation costs of young participants to national activities or their other costs at the local level. Through building such partnerships and this local enabling strategy, the sustainability of youth work at different cities was achieved. Local youth themselves were to decide on their institutional level or on their representatives while Youth Association for Habitat and Agenda 21 was to guide them through this process. The networking activities of 1997 forms the backbone of Youth For Habitat-Turkey mainly because of its sustainability and flexibility at the local level. Two more national meetings were organized after the international follow-up as to develop future strategies of youth work in Turkey.

IV.4 Local Agenda 21 Project

Local Agenda 21 project is implemented by UNDP-Turkey and IULA-EMME (International Union of Local Authorities-Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East branch) in order to develop local agendas in different cities in Turkey. With a subcontract signed in October 1997, Youth Association for Habitat and Agenda 21 has started to coordinate youth activities within the scope of the project. As of now, the duration of the project has been extended since the end of 2001 and the number of cities involved was increased to 50.

During the preparations of the International Youth Follow-up Meeting for Habitat Agenda and Agenda 21, it was realized that both at the national and international levels, there is a tendency to combine the activities related to these two UN documents in order to have a more effective approach at the local level. The youth related articles of both of the documents clearly show a parallel approach as they both stress upon the importance of youth participation in decision-making processes.

The youth activities within the scope of this project can be summarized in 3 categories; networking, local youth councils and local youth centres. The youth of the cities that are included in the project are informed about Youth For Habitat activities and encouraged to initiate civil platforms in their local communities for the improvement of their cities similar to what was done in 1997 for the preparations of the international follow-up meeting. After the establishment of a civil youth platform, the activities are focused on establishment of local youth councils and youth centres.

One of the goals of the project is to democratize the local authorities within the project and since youth is an official partner, establishment of local youth councils in these cities faces lesser problems. As mentioned before, Youth For Habitat-Turkey had already initiated activities for establishment of local youth councils and those activities and their outputs form the main resource material for these new initiatives. As of 1999, youth councils in 23 cities have been established; however, their sustainability, ability to reach the local youth and civic nature still needs improvement. Moreover, since there is no legal code for the status of such mechanisms, their effect on policy making and implementation depends on their willingness to take and the authorities’ willingness to share power with youth.

The aims of the local youth councils are summarized but not limited as:

· Encourage youth to actively participate in city management and to produce effective solutions to the problems related to their environment and themselves

· Represent youth at the local level on national and international platforms

· Promote a sense of belonging to the city among young people

· Facilitate the institutionalization of youth approach in participation to decision making processes

· Create opportunities for young people to develop their personal skills and take initiatives

· Raise awareness on environment and human settlements issues

· Promote partnerships among youth and all actors in the city development and management

Another aim of the project is to develop effective communication channels among these youth platforms and councils around the country. Taking into consideration the fact that the western and eastern parts of the country are living in very different conditions and there is almost no existing direct communication between youth from these two regions, we see this as one of the most important goals of the project. Some links between different cities and schools have been established but their formulation into actual shared activities still remains to be materialized.

With these activities towards increasing youth participation to governance, Youth Association for Habitat and Agenda 21 have been included among the top 100 Best Practice projects of UNCHS in 1998.

Youth centres have also started to be established. The most prominent of these is the Atatuth Centre in mir. With the support of the Governship of mir, the basement of a large sport complex have been allocated as the youth centre. The governance of the centre depends on the representatives that the local youth have chosen among themselves. Various cultural, sportive and training activities have been organized and through local funds the sustainability of the centre is ensured.

These youth centres are important in promoting young people’s sense of belonging to the city and creating the necessary environment for their communication and social activities that neither the central government nor the local authorities can establish. The main goal of the youth centre is to create a refuge where young people can help each other their environment. Moreover, the management of the youth centre by young people is a key criteria that will ensure the success of the centre.

IV.5 Seminar on the Role of Non-Governmental Youth Organizations and a National Youth Council in the Development of Civic Society in Turkey

The seminar was organized by Youth Association For Habitat and Agenda 21 in collaboration with European Union Youth Forum in order to enhance cooperation among youth organizations and to undertake initiatives towards establishment of a national youth council in Turkey.

The existing non governmental youth organizations and local youth platforms gathered in the city of mit from 24-31 October 1998 prepared an action plan, in order to enable youth to take part in international platforms and to institutionalize their partnership via regarding the country’s interest and with accordance to the international agreements on youth which are also ratified by the Republic of Turkey.

The non existence of a detailed program about youth at the national level, the fact that the projects are implemented at different levels and by diverse institutions, lack of a national youth council that would contain detailed and various youth projects are the reasons of the necessity of the action plan.

The action plan aims to gather young people for the implementation of concrete projects and following up and implementation of national and international decisions through developing communication among themselves as well as acceptance of youth as a real partner.

IV.6 Renewable Energy Project

A renewable energy project was launched in partnership with Clean Energy Foundation and UNDP-Ankara in order to train the public and young people in this area and to impose the awareness of using alternative energies, consequently to increase their contributions to sustainable and ecological urban management.

IV.7 International Summer School ’99

Despite the fact that the Summer School was entitled as an international activity, it also comprised a national dimension to transfer international experiences to the young activists and leaders in Turkey, as well as to provide them with the basic training on the four main themes emerging from the Habitat Agenda and Agenda 21, namely human settlements development, human rights education, environment and capacity building. The sustainability of this initiative will be provided by means of establishment of an international youth academy.

IV.8 The Global Meeting of Generations

The Global Meeting of Generations is a four-year project which aims to promote inter generational dialogue for equitable development in the 21st century. Youth Association for Habitat and Agenda 21 has carried out three inter-generational dialogues within this respect in the year 1998. The concept of youth and elderly cooperation will attempt to be located in the national policy, which will also be nourished by the convention of the national coordinators of the process in Turkey in March 2000.


Various monitoring methods have been implemented at the national level in order to better document and follow the local level activities; however, their success is debatable and new strategies need to be developed.

The first level of monitoring activities is composed of a national newsletter and a news bulletin that is prepared every two weeks. The national newsletter has been published 3 times a year and it includes the summaries of the national activities along with short reports from different regions. Moreover, the opinions of professionals and useful hints and contacts for youth leaders are also included. This newsletter is disseminated to close to 1000 organizations (NGOs, youth groups, governmental units, municipalities, schools, private sector) around the country and aims to inform all the partners about youth activities in this field as well as motivating youth through showing stories of success at the local level.

The bi-weekly news bulletin is more geared towards informing all the partners about youth and human settlements issues with short summaries and contact numbers and is send by fax or e-mail.

Besides these, the best monitoring mechanism that has been developed so far is regular national or regional meetings where local projects are presented and new strategies for youth involvement are discussed. These meetings are also a source of motivation for young people especially for the host city.

Moreover, the cities included in the Local Agenda 21 and Renewable Energy project needs to submit monthly reports.

Documentation of all national projects usually with their English versions are prepared as booklets or brochures and disseminated at the national and international levels. These documents are used as resource materials in various activities and also in training of new youth leaders. Moreover, an archive of these documents is being complied.

There had not been a systematic evaluation mechanism developed for youth work in Turkey. However, various indicators of success have been developed.


The most important moral gained in the follow-up process of Habitat II concerning youth, was the essence of institutionalization and organization process of youth for the implementation of the decisions taken so far and for youth’s enablement. It was also observed that institutionalization was essential for youth to get involved in the decision making and implementation processes or else they would not be recognized sufficiently by the executive mechanisms.

It is obvious that enablement of youth is not enough in itself, there is also need for the activities to be carried out close partnerships. Therefore, promoting partnerships and sustaining these relationships are necessary.

Youth Association for Habitat and Agenda 21, being a part of Youth for Habitat International Network and having initiated the Youth for Habitat approach at the national level facilitated sharing of information and experiences. While youth organizations had never been able to reach information directly; now, they can reach various kinds of data even before the official branches. Another fact is the networks’ essential position in not only acquiring information and experience but also sharing them.

Special Session of the General Assembly on the follow-up of the Habitat II (Istanbul+5) stands as an important endeavour for the YFHIN to consolidate its strength in youth contributions to the implementation of the Habitat Agenda. This great opportunity needs to be utilized for:

· Enhancement of partnerships of youth with the central governments in the processes ahead and beyond tanbul+5

· Acknowledgment of Youth for Habitat approach by all stakeholders, especially central governments and local authorities

· Activation and development of the structure of the network

· Initiation and revitalization of Youth for Habitat national networks

· Promotion of establishment of Habitat Committees in the national youth councils where they exist

· Fundraising for youth activities in human settlements development


World Population Data Sheet 1998. Population Reference Bureau

Human Development Report-Turkey, 1995, UNDP

Human Development Report-Turkey, 1997, UNDP

Annual Report of the Statistical Institution of the State, 1998

Drugs/Warnings, 1996, Istanbul University

In Light of International Declarations Women in Turkey, KIDOG

· Turkish Youth 98, Conrad Adenauer Foundation

· National Report and Plan of Action - Turkey, 1996

· National Report and Plan of Action for Youth Contributions to Habitat and Agenda 21, 1997, Youth Association for Habitat and Agenda 21-Turkey

· Research on Problems of Youth and Young Employees, Turkish Metal Syndicate

· Seventh Five Year National Development Program, Republic of Turkey


AEGEE-Istanbul, Nispetiye Cad. Belediye Sitesi D-2 Blok No:63 Levent - Istanbul

AIESEC-Turkey, tiklal Cd. Tonton Mah. Postack. up Ap., Istanbul

American Field Service-Turkish Cultural Foundation, ValiKonaad. Konak Ap. 67/4 Ni 80220, Istanbul

International Union of Local Authorities-Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East Office, Yerebatan Cd 2 34400 Sultanahmet, Istanbul

Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Istanbul Ph: +90 212 2495491-63

Environment Commission of the Parliament, TBMM Atatlvar7 KavaklAnkara

Prime Ministry Housing Development Administration Habitat Unit, Bilkent Plaza B1 Blok Bilkent 06530 Ankara

UNDP-Turkey, Atatlvar06680 Kavakl Ankara

Youth Association for Habitat and Agenda 21, Bre Cd. Binasi Kat 12 Esentepe, Istanbul