From urban sustainability transformations to green gentrification: urban renewal in Gaziosmanpaşa, Istanbul

  • Mahir YazarEmail author
  • Dina Hestad
  • Diana Mangalagiu
  • Ali Kerem Saysel
  • Yuge Ma
  • Thomas F. Thornton


Processes aiming to achieve urban transformation that includes sustainability can result in green gentrification and thus promote exclusivist, private green spaces. At the same time, they compromise the ability of cities to promote more systemic sustainable development. Istanbul has long been a site of planned gentrification and displacement through urban renewal and regeneration projects, which have recently touted a sustainability angle. While sustainable urban renewal can have positive impacts on human health and well-being and is critical for addressing climate change and other environmental challenges, the benefits are rarely evenly distributed. Through an examination of sustainability-oriented urban renewal projects in Istanbul’s Gaziosmanpaşa district, this study shows that vulnerable residents have been displaced by the planned gentrification and that such consequences are likely to be amplified by visions of green sustainability. It also illustrates that plans to harness the city’s drive for economic growth and urban development risk making large parts of the “green” districts affordable only for relatively well-off citizens. Based on semi-structured interviews, non-participatory observation, and analysis of project and municipality-level documents, we find that even though seismic vulnerability and energy efficiency are cited as reasons for these transformations towards sustainability, policymakers are not paying sufficient attention to the political ecology of social exclusion and an increase in inequality that can result from sustainability-oriented urban renewal.



We would like to thank all participants to the two workshops held in Istanbul and to the intervieewes. This paper benefited from the thoughtful comments of three anonymous reviewers.

Funding information

This research is part of the EU-funded H2020 project GREEN-WIN - Green Growth and and Win-Win Strategies for Sustainable Climate Action (Grant Agreement No 642018;

Supplementary material

10584_2019_2509_MOESM1_ESM.docx (70 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 70 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Human Evolution and Social ChangeArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  2. 2.Environmental Change InstituteOxford UniversityOxfordUK
  3. 3.Neoma Business SchoolMont-Saint-AignanFrance
  4. 4.Institute of Environmental SciencesBoğaziçi UniversityIstanbulTurkey

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