Please join CSU as we welcome our guest speakers Savaş Zafer Şahin and Feyzan Erkip, and moderator Aliye P. Çelik on Wednesday, February 21, 2024 from 12 PM – 1 PM ET for our next Green Books Event of 2024!

One of the most pressing questions about resilience is how the initiatives formed by citizens living in cities will respond to the deepening crises both locally and globally. Although most of the solutions to many problems, such as the climate crisis, migration, population growth, polarization, and xenophobia, seem to emanate from the global north, new examples that have become visible with the contribution of developing technological possibilities show that the situation is different. In all corners of the world, ordinary citizens are showing the will to come together and collaborate to solve their problems, and they are making a difference.

This book has been written to present one of these examples in detail: the experience of democratic participation, sustainable development, and resilience in the capital of a country that has attracted attention in every period of history but has not been on the agenda with such examples. Founded in the Turkish capital Ankara in mid-2019, the Ankara Citizen Council has quickly transformed into an unprecedented democratic participation platform in the country and has become a globally recognized initiative. Describing this initiative will be seminal in demonstrating the potential of the global south and how good practices can emerge, where necessary, based on trust and human relations.

The book not only describes how the different age groups, segments of society, and vulnerable groups brought together by this successful example of participation came together and what they achieved but also explains the model of participation that was collectively developed for these purposes and its elements. The mistakes, shortcomings, and obstacles of the experience are also presented through self-criticism. The story of such an experience, ranging from art to design, solidarity to collaboration, urban problems to local politics, can hopefully be a source of inspiration for dedicated people living in another part of the world who may never have the chance to see Ankara but who would like to do something about participation.


Savaş Zafer Şahin (Lead Author)

Currently at Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli University. He is a dedicated urban planner and accomplished academic with a strong background in city and regional planning. Following his studies at METU (Middle East Technical University), he gained practical experience as an urban planner in both central and local government positions in Turkey. He furthered his education with two graduate studies, exploring the intersection of local politics and governance. He completed his doctoral thesis on the relationship between urban planning and politics in Ankara. As a full-time academician at Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli University, he’s been instrumental in public policy-making at the national level and has received recognition through awards in the field of urban planning. His extensive academic contributions, spanning topics such as urban transformation, citizen participation, digitalization, urban infrastructure, and historical conservation, have earned him international and national acclaim. He’s an active participant in international research projects and a member of esteemed organizations like the German Network of Spatial Sciences (ARL) and the French Institute for Anatolian Studies (IFEA). Over the last decade, he’s been a driving force behind the development of citizens’ assemblies in Turkey, serving as the Vice President of The Citizens’ Assembly of Ankara since 2019. For his outstanding efforts in advancing democratic participation, he was honored with the “Facilitation Impact Award” in 2020 by the International Association of Facilitators and the “Best Practice in Citizen Participation” award by the International Observatory on Participatory Democracy (IOPD) in 2021.

Feyzan Erkip

Feyzan Erkip is a retired professor of Bilkent University, Ankara. She taught in the Department of Urban Design and Landscape Architecture and the Department of Interior Architecture and Environmental Design for more than 30 years. Before joining Bilkent University, she worked as a research assistant at Middle East Technical University (METU), where she received her PhD from the Department of City and Regional Planning and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Türkiye as researcher.

Her publications appeared in various journals including Progress in Planning, Environment and Planning A, Cities, Journal of Urban Affairs, European Urban and Regional Research, Environment and Behavior, Journal of Environmental Psychology and Third World Planning Review. She was a member of the editorial board of Cities. She carried out research at NYU-Poly during 2011–2012 and at Tilburg University during 2003–2004 academic years as a visiting professor. She received URBAN-NET, Middle East Research Competition and TUBITAK research awards. Her research interests include urban resilience and governance, participatory planning practices, urban transformations and consumption sites, leisure practices and spaces and environmental psychology.



Aliye Pekin Çelik, PhD, is a past President of the Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization. Prior to founding the CSU, Ms. Çelik was instrumental in establishing innovative participatory mechanisms to build alliances addressing some of the world’s most pressing concerns in developing countries as the Chief of Economic, Social and Inter-organizational Cooperation Branch, UNDESA.

She started the book series on the High Level Segment of Economic and Social Council, and worked on the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Countries Emerging from Conflicts. As the Head of New York office of UN-HABITAT, she directed preparations for the HABITAT II Conference in Istanbul, Turkey in 1996. She served UN-HABITAT Nairobi and New York, working on building technologies, sustainable urbanization, energy, and gender issues. As a principal researcher in the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey, Building Research Institute, and the Ministry of Construction and Resettlement and adviser to the State Planning Department, she worked on energy conservation and affordable housing. She has degrees in architecture from Middle East Technical University, Princeton University, and a PhD from Istanbul Technical University. Çelik was a Fulbright Scholar and received numerous awards from OECD (1972), Princeton University (1979), AIANY (2009, 1997, 1970), and Soroptimist International NYC (2005), where she served as President from 2008 to 2010.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the concept of resilience in the context of citizen initiatives. Participants will learn the significance of citizen-led resilience efforts in addressing local and global crises such as climate change, migration, and polarization.
  • Analyze the dynamics of democratic participation within the Ankara Citizen Council.  Participants will examine the structure and functioning of the Ankara Citizen Council as a model for fostering democratic participation, sustainable development, and resilience, with a focus on its innovative elements and collaborative approach.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the Ankara Citizen Council model. Participants will assess the successes, challenges, and lessons learned from the initiative, identifying key factors contributing to its transformative impact and considering its applicability to diverse socio-cultural contexts. Additionally, they will explore strategies for fostering similar initiatives in their own communities to address local challenges and drive positive change.
  • Explore the integration of design principles and urban planning in citizen-led resilience initiatives. Participants will investigate how the community utilized design thinking and urban planning concepts to address urban problems and promote sustainable development, gaining insights into the role of design professionals in shaping resilient communities.

Co-Sponsoring Organizations for Green Cities 2024

Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization (CSU), UN-Habitat, AIA New York, AIANY Planning & Design, the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY, Habitat Professionals Forum for Sustainable Cities, Creative Exchange Lab (CEL), Global Urban Development (GUD), and the Columbia University Center for Buildings, Infrastructure and Public Space (CBIPS).

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