The Ecological Consequences of Neoliberal Urban Politics and the Impact of Mega-Events in the Third World: Formula 1 Istanbuk Park Racing Circuit in Omerli Watershed
Taner, Mehmet Ümit
Environmental Sciences Institute Bogaziçi University Istanbul, Turkey
Faculty of Architecture, Department of Urban Planning Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts Istanbul, Turkey
Mega-events in the cities initiate rapid transformation processes that have negative consequences for urban life. The race of becoming "global" in the post-80's neo-liberal era triggered rapid and uncontrolled changes in the urbanscapes and resulted in a major spatial transformation especially in Third World cities. The attraction of potential urban rent fed into urban transformation processes which are unequal, unplanned and disregard ecological balances. Cities are increasingly preoccupied in improving the conditions for service sector investments, with a rising number of culture and arts organizations, tourism and advertisement of the city take the front stage, ultimately leaving the backstage to class inequalities and ecological destruction.
This study investigates the prevalence of mega-events in the Third World cities and their destructive effects on ecosystems by focusing on "Formula 1 - Istanbul Park" racing circuit located within one of the most important watersheds of Istanbul, Omerli. Often, urban and regional development politics underestimate the direct linkages between water bodies and their watersheds. The previous practices of neo-liberal urban politics in the Third World had put urbanization and land-use patterns in opposition to "watershed conservation" policies. In an era where billions in the Third World will not have access to clean-water as a result of "climate change" driven ecological crisis in the near future, an ecological critique of neo-liberal urban politics is as urgent as its social, political and economic critique.
Istanbul with its claims to being a "world city" has been hosting various mega-events. Formula 1 held in Istanbul in 2003 is one important example. Omerli Watershed which supplies half the city's water was chosen as the site of the racing circuit. Building of the racing circuit triggered an increasing number of urban development projects which caused contamination of water resources and threatened the ecological life in the region containing various endangered species. Formula 1, as a mega-event embodying the dominant values of the neo-liberal age such as speed, technology, power and money is an apt example to show how neo-liberal politics and ecological destruction are intertwined in urban environments.