Responsible Cities Conference Brought Together Local Authorities and Private Sector

Responsible Cities Conference took place in Cibali Campus of Kadir Has University, in Istanbul, Turkey on 27 May 2015, with the cooperation of Corporate Social Responsibility Association of Turkey (CSR Turkey), United Cities and Local Governments Middle East and West Asia Section (UCLG-MEWA), and World Academy for Local Government and Democracy (WALD).
World population is increasingly going towards the cities. In this regard, local authorities have responsibilities in respect to the issues such as sustainability in cities, rural-urban migration, employment areas, woman, education, and emission of greenhouse gases. Responsible Cities Conference proposes that local authorities should consider private sector as a partner in the fiht against these problems.
The opening speeches of the Responsible Cities Conference which took place in two sessions, were given by Serdar Dinler, the President of CSR Turkey, Mehmet Duman, UCLG-MEWA Secretary General and WALD Chairman of the Board, Prof. Dr. Murat Güvenç, Lecturer at Kadir Has University, and Philippe Weiler, Senior Advisor on Business Development of CSR Europe.

‘’Private Sector: Solution Partner to Local Authorities’’
Serdar Dinler, President of CSR Turkey mentioned in the opening speech that they want to play a role with regards to preparing cities to the future and that the business sector should also be involved in this regard.
Mehmet Duman, UCLG-MEWA Secretary General and WALD Chairman of the Board, underlined that private sector should fulfill their responsibilities and they should be the solution partners to local authorities. In his speech Mr. Duman stated that ‘’ the reason why we are supporting this meeting in our past experiences as UCLG-MEWA and WALD is to contribute to the cooperation of local authority and private sector in the subjects of social responsibility covering the help given to low income groups, smart cities requiring technology, sustainable environment which is in close relation with industrial production, and to raise awareness in the society about these issues. I believe we have achieved our goals by having you all here.’’

Private Sector Support to Responsible Cities
The topic of the first session of Responsible Cities Conference was about ‘’Cities and Good Practices’’. In this framework, İSBAK (Istanbul Transportation Communication and Security Technologies Inc.), general directors of İETT (Istanbul Electric, Tramway and Tunnel General Management) and representatives of private sector came together in the first panel. The panel was moderated by Fatma Çelenk, Soyak Holding Corporate Relations Coordinator, and with the contribution of Bülent Ekuklu, IBM Smart Cities and Industry Solutions Business Development Manager, Emre Ilıcalı, Co-Founder of Altensis, Kasım Kutlu, CEO of ISBAK, Mümin Kahveci, CEO of İETT, and Ufku Akaltan, CEO of UPS.

‘’10 Day Care Centers in 10 Neighborhoods’’
Ekrem İmamoğlu, Mayor of Beylikdüzü, Hüseyin Mutlu Akpınar, Mayor of Karşıyaka, Oğuz Çerik, Advisor to the Mayor of Pendik, Ali Koca, Director of Social Aid Department of Beyoğlu Municipality, and Muhammed Adak, Vice President of Regional Development Department of Southeastern Anatolia Project made speeches in the second panel of the meeting.
Ekrem İmamoğlu, Mayor of Beylikdüzü mentioned in his speech the role of women in cities and how they worked on this issue with private sector. He also remarked the migration issue by stating how a woman working in rural becomes passive when she moves to the urban. Emphasizing mostly men are working in the cities, he noted that ‘’ We have launched the project of ’10 Day Care Centers in 10 Neighborhoods’’. If woman wants to work but she has to stay home for taking care of her child, since we want to prevent this situation and we have to serve a better education base for the children, we started our project. These day care centers are free of charge at the beginning but when the mother finds a job, the payment is calculated according to distribution of income.’’ The mayor also mentioned the ‘’Purple Flag’’ project, which covers the maternity and childbearing processes. Stating that the purple flagged buildings are women-friendly, the mayor underlined that this project is not only for the women working within the municipality but for the women who are working in the private sector.

‘’Each Apartment Building Gives Scholarship for One Student’’
Hüseyin Mutlu Akpınar, Mayor of Karşıyaka, mentioned in his speech that local management should be only physical, and working on education and art should be obligatory. In order to find solution to the scholarship issue of the university students, Mayor of Karşıyaka stated that they developed the project of ‘’Each Apartment Building Gives Scholarship for a Student’’ and they reorganized the people to implement it. Within the framework of the project, an amount of 300 Turkish Lira is transferred to each student’s bank account every month. Moreover, a team of 10 people is following the student’s grades. Karşıyaka Municipality which opened up training centers called ‘’Kargem’’ for 1500 students, also built up a chamber orchestra. At the end of his speech, Mayor Akpınar, noted that as local authorities they are responsible for these topics and they are trying to find solutions by developing cooperation with private sector.
Muhammed Adak, Vice President of Regional Development Department of Southeastern Anatolia Project, talked about the livability in the cities. Oğuz Çerik, Advisor to the Mayor of Pendik, talked about the project of ‘’I am active and in society’’ that they are implementing with Gedik University and Pendik Municipality for disabled children. Mr. Çerik, stated that this is the first time when a private institution and local government work together through cooperation.

Within the light of Responsible Cities Conference
I cannot be expected to have the government to stay in the central level where urbanization is growing rapidly. In this sense, local authorities have great importance because they are the ones who are pulse of the cities. A perspective of responsible local authority requires developments on the topics of migration from rural to urban, transportation, sustainability of livability, ensuring the environment where women can express themselves in the city, organizing activities on education and culture. This perspective also includes creating smart cities, and ensuring solutions in transportation. In this point it is not fair to expect everything from public institutions. Therefore, private sector should also be included in this mechanism through a holistic work.   Providing funding or reaching out all individuals can only be achieved through this cooperation. Local authorities should announce the private companies’ names that they are working with, in order to promote the private sector. Thus, necessary activities can be operated for sample cities. Furthermore, a responsible city should also be a city producing ‘’social responsibility’’ projects. In this context, areas can be created where disabled citizens, needers, in-need students can benefit from. Responsible Cities Conference created an important platform where the directors of local authorities and representatives of private sector met and share the responsibility for ‘’responsible cities.’’



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