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The Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play 18 Mar - 22 Mar, 2017
SUSTAINABILITYThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play18 Mar - 22 Mar, 2017




    The world is becoming increasingly, rapidly, urbanised, with nearly 70% of the world’s population expected to live in urban centers by 2050. Over 1 billion children already live in cities, where new births are increasingly concentrated.  While cities are exciting centers of innovation and learning, cultural stimulation and diversity, too many children are exposed to the downside - pollution and obesogenic conditions, poor housing, danger on the streets, and lack of access to nature and safe public places to play. These challenges impact most on vulnerable, marginalized and underserved populations, and have long-term costs for families, communities and sustainable societies.

    However, the huge resources, talent and momentum associated with modern urbanization could unlock critical opportunities. Reimagining cities through the eyes of – and needs of - the young child makes sense not only for health, education and early childhood specialists but also for planners, developers, financial stakeholders and governments. Smart investments and nature-based solutions could put human-centered design at the heart of urban transformation around the world, with significant cross-sector, environmental and fiscal benefits.

    Urban parks and public green spaces have practical and symbolic value for healthy and inclusive cities. Parks function as ‘agora’ or open spaces with an equalizing function, where individuals from different backgrounds can have fun and build bonds across generations and cultures. Nature promotes physical, mental and spiritual health and wellbeing, not just through better air quality but by encouraging movement, discovery, and calm amidst urban chaos. Children can play freely, whatever their home situations, strengthening self-confidence and curiosity for success in later life. A growing body of evidence suggests that personal experience of nature in childhood is essential to generate a lifelong sense of connectivity and stewardship for the world’s environment and resources. Urban parks and green spaces also play a critical role in promoting climate resilience – a role that will be increasingly important as cities continue to expand.  

    Healthy place-making is a powerful lever for healthy and creative communities. Child-friendly design, infrastructure and investments will not only help young children thrive in cities but also benefit families, carers and business. Access and safety are fundamental to this end. People need viable walking and public transportation options to reach nature, urban parks and other green spaces. Holistic strategies can revitalize cities, children, and health by prioritizing, designing, planning and investing in natural and cultural public spaces as the building blocks for cohesive communities. 

    The Child in the City is the third session of the Parks for the Planet Forum, a platform for transformative leadership and action launched by Salzburg Global Seminar with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) . It will take forward outcomes from the Forum’s inaugural 2015 session on Nature, Health and a New Urban Generation. Participants will take an imaginative approach, looking through the eyes of young children, to develop new collaborations that can benefit individuals, families and long-term social, economic and environmental resilience.

    Participant Profile

    The Salzburg program will convene approximately 50 leading experts and gamechangers from different generations and sectors. These will come from a range of intersecting disciplines and perspectives that touch the core issue of children in cities and associated planning, policy and investment decisions.

    Representatives are expected to include: city designers, planners and infrastructure experts; nature conservation/ environment specialists; urban parks and community organizing stakeholders, covering cultural as well as natural assets; health sector professionals (including at community level); health/behavioral economists; educators; early childhood development specialists; policymakers and local politicians; business, tech and entrepreneurs; finance and investment; media, and possibly faith-based representatives. Together, participants will share experience and case studies to distill successful approaches that could be scaled up and scaled out, translated to diverse contexts and settings

    Program Format

    The highly interactive program will combine theory, policy and practice, highlighting diverse perspectives and opportunities for all to share, and build on, their knowledge and experience. There will be a combination of methodologies including presentations by and panel discussions among leading experts and skilled practitioners, use of case studies and evidence-based research, time in small thematic groups to drill down on key challenges and surface innovative approaches, opportunities to explore and ground new partnerships and collaborative projects, as well joint work to craft new agendas and policy recommendations.

    Core foci will include improving outcomes for: early childhood development and education; individual and family health; community resilience and cohesion; and, environmental protection and conservation.  Participants will examine what policies and physical systems need to be in place to support sustainable results; what investments, and through what channels, are needed to reach the strongest outcomes; which decision-makers need to be convinced and what evidence or arguments are required to move them; and, what partners and allies are needed to advance an agenda for ‘the child in the city’.

    Key Questions

    Some key questions and issues we will examine include:

      • How can parks and protected areas better meet the needs of, and be accessible for, all children – including the most vulnerable, marginalized and underserved – enabling and encouraging them to play, create and find joy in nature?
      • How might parks and protected areas be more effectively designed to create understanding and a sense of community among diverse populations, with different cultures, languages and experiences, to promote democracy, equality, and social resiliency?
      • How can the benefits of public green spaces be maximized for the physical, mental and social health and well-being of children and, by extension, families and community?
      • How should the need to extend the built environment as population growth increases be balanced against the need to preserve the natural environment, for all the benefits it extends including climate resilience?
      • What are the implications for urban planning, design and management if the needs of children are placed at the center, especially related to accessing and enjoying nature, improving health and development?
      • What changes are required in education (formal and informal) to ensure children can spend time in nature and build on the resulting benefits in the classroom and experiential education?
      • How can the long-term economic benefits of improved child health and development through access to nature be more clearly calculated and communicated to inform strategic investments?
      • How can the health and environment sectors work together to better and more widely integrate health and biodiversity linkages in relevant national and international policies?
      • What allies and leaders are needed to help move an agenda to prioritize the “child in the city” and access to parks and play in city planning and policies? 

        Program Goals

        • Set a new change agenda to promote access to nature, health and development for vulnerable children and communities in growing urban centers and cities.
        • Agree on strategic recommendations to be shared at the 15th World Congress on Public Health (Melbourne, Australia, April 2017) and other leading international forums.
        • Craft a set of impact-oriented actions to be shared with and used by decision-makers and policy influencers; city designers and urban planners; public and child health advocates; early childhood educators and specialists; nature and environmental practitioners; social justice and community organizers; and, donors and investors.  
        • Create innovative partnerships and imaginative projects to increase social, environmental, and human resilience, working through the eyes and needs of the child in the city.              
        • Share evidence and case studies, identifying successful approaches to increasing access to nature that can be promoted, applied, and scaled in diverse contexts and settings.
        • Expand the network of leading experts and change-makers that are part of the Salzburg Global/IUCN Parks for the Planet Forum.


        The Parks for the Planet Forum is a collaborative platform convened by Salzburg Global Seminar to position nature at the heart of human health and wellbeing, security and prosperity. Embedded in the IUCN Global Protected Areas Programme, the Forum advances action, investment and leadership to implement The Promise of Sydney and the Sustainable Development Goals. It combines high-level meetings on selected topics with an evolving multi-year work program that connects pioneering approaches across sectors and scales. Key topics addressed to date include:

        The Promise of Sydney is a ten-year road map adopted by 6000 participants from 160 countries at the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014. Affirming that “nature is the ultimate foundation of life, our economy and our aspirations, and underpins our human existence, cultural identity, health and prosperity,” it positions protected and conserved areas, including transboundary protected areas, as critical investments for planetary resilience and human well-being. The Promise is implemented through twelve innovative approaches to transformative change, supported by open-access Solutions and Promises from different stakeholders.


        David Anthony
        Director of Policy and Analytics, UNICEF, New York, United States
        Kathy MacKinnon
        Chair, IUCN/World Commission on Protected Areas, United Kingdom


        Charlee Alexander
        Charlee Alexander, Associate Program Officer, National Academy of Medicine, United States
        Ryuta Aoki
        CEO, Volocitee Inc., Japan
        Ashley Atkinson
        Co-Director, Keep Growing Detroit, United States
        Sruthi Atmakur
        Children's Environments Research Group, USA and India
        Katherine Boe
        Program Manager, Joint US China Collaboration on Clean Energy, China
        Dima Boulad
        Designer and Co-Founder, Beirut Green Project, Lebanon
        Tracey Burns
        Senior Analyst, Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, France
        Katherine Chesson
        Katherine Chesson, Director, Grants and Programs, National Park Foundation, United States
        Sook In Cho
        Associate Research Fellow Korea Institute of Child Care and Education (KICCE), Korea
        Wonsuk Cho
        Wonsuk Cho, Program Officer, Partnership Department, Korea National Park Service (KNPS), Korea
        Yolanda Corona
        Research Professor at the Department of Education, Autonomous Metropolitan University-Campus Xochimilco, Mexico
        Savita Custead
        Savita Custead, Chief Executive, Bristol Natural History Consortium, United Kingdom
        Martha A. Darling
        Board Chair, National Wildlife Federation Action Fund; Education policy consultant, United States
        Maria de Kruijf
        Associate, Stichting De Verre Bergen, Netherlands
        Neftali Duran
        Project Leader, Nuestra Comida City of Holyoke - Massachusetts, United States
        Tom Evers
        Executive Director, Minneapolis Park Foundation, United States
        Matteo Giusti
        Ph.D. Student, Stockholm University, Sweden
        Michael Gorman
        Founding Director, BIOTOPIA Naturkundemuseum Bayern, Germany
        Jonny Hughes
        Chief Executive, Scottish Wildlife Trust and IUCN Global Councillor, United Kingdom
        Beth Jacob
        Project Director, City Health, United States
        Karen Keenleyside
        Senior Science Advisor, Parks Canada, Canada
        Jaegab Kim
        General Manager, Operation management Department, Jirisan Eco-Learning Institute, Korea
        Hellen Kimathi
        Senior Assistant Director, Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, Kenya
        Kristin LoVerde
        Education Manager, Openlands, United States
        Penny Low
        Founder, Social Innovation Park Ltd. and former Parliamentarian, Singapore
        Leticia Lozano
        Head of Playful City, Lab for the City, Mexico
        Rachel MacCleery
        Senior Vice President, Urban Land Institute, United States
        Jennifer Mahar
        Senior Director, Civic Initiatives, Fairmount Conservancy, United States
        David Major
        Execut. Director Visitor Engagement & Conservation, Parks Victoria, Australia
        Juana Marino de Posada
        Architect, Lecturer; Member, IPBES Expert Group, Colombia
        Julie Mentor
        Project Leader, Cape Town Embrace, South Africa
        Andrew Moore
        Director of Youth and Young Adult Connection, National League of Cities, USA
        Chuk Odenigbo
        Chúk Odenigbo, Regulatory Analyst, Nimonik, Canada
        Amanda O'Rourke
        Director of Strategic Planning, 8-80 Cities, Canada
        Ibuki Ozawa
        Chairman & Founder, NPO PIECES, Japan
        Haemoon Phyen
        Manager, Miracle Playground, Korea
        Rob Prosper
        Vice President, Protected Areas Establishment and Conservation , Parks Canada, Quebec
        Xanelé Purén
        Director (Co-Founder), See Saw Do, South Africa
        Daniel Raven-Ellison
        Director, Greater London National Park City Initiative, United Kingdom
        Dominic Regester
        Senior Schools Adviser, Education & Society, The British Council, United Kingdom
        Lynn Ross
        Founder and Principal, Spirit for Change Consulting, LLC, United States
        Slawomir Sendzielski
        Inspector, Green Space Management Office - City of Warsaw, Poland
        Sean Southey
        Chief Executive Officer, PCI Media Impact & Chair, IUCN Commission on Education and Communication (CEC), United States
        Martin Spray
        Chief Executive,Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), United Kingdom
        Ted Trzyna
        Co-Founder and Chair, Urban Conservation Strategies Specialist Group,IUCN, United States
        Jason Urroz
        Director, Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, United States
        Agus Utomo
        Regional Vice Chair South East Asia, IUCN/WCPA, Indonesia
        Jacob Virden
        Lead Organizer, Parks & Power Campaign, Hope Community, United States
        Qi Wang
        Department Director, Protected Area Friendly System, China
        Ken Worpole
        Emeritus Professor, Cities Institute London Metropolitan University, United Kingdom
        Daniella Ben-Attar
        Israel Country Representative, Bernard van Leer Foundation, Israel
        Jaime Zaplatosch
        Director, Green Schoolyards for Healthy Communities for the Children & Nature Network, United States
        Robert Zarr
        Staff Pediatrician, Unity Health Care, Park Rx Advisor, National Park Service, United States

        Guest Speaker

        Richard Louv
        Author, Journalist and Co-founder, Children & Nature Network, United States (Via Skype)


        IUCN Global Protected Areas Programme and IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas Delivering the Promise of Sydney

        The New Urban Agenda: Quito Declaration on Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements for All (outcome document adopted by The United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) (17 - 20 October 2016, Quito, Ecuador)

        2016 Lancet Series on Early Childhood Development

        City Parks are a Smart Investment for America's Health, Economy & Environment (cityparksalliance.org)

        Natural Solutions - Protected areas maintaining essential water supplies

        Natural Solutions - Protected areas are vital for human health and well-being

        ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability - Briefing Sheets - Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2015

        The Nature Playbook: Take Action to Connect a New Generation of Canadians with Nature

        NatureForAll Global Movement

        Natural Neighbors - An International Initiative

        Urban protected Areas - Profiles and best Practice Guidelines (2014)

        Wingspread Declaration on Health and Nature (2014)

        Louv, Richard "12 Principles for a Nature-Rich City"

        Access to nature reduces depression and obesity, find European study

        Nature for Health and Equity - Institute European Environmental Policy

        Trzyna,Ted "Connecting People, Nature and Culture"

        The Promise of Sydney Vision (IUCN World Parks Congress, 2014)

        The Promise of Sydney: A Strategy of Innovative Approaches and Recommendations to Improve Health and Well-Being in the Next Decade (IUCN World Parks Congress, 2014)

        A Guide to the Healthy Parks Healthy People Approach and Current Practices (IUCN World Parks Congress, 2014)

        Healthy Parks Healthy People: The State of the Evidence (2015)

        The Salzburg Statement: Quality Early Childhood Development and Education for all Girls and Boys (2015)

        The Salzburg Challenge for Nature, Health and a New Urban Generation (2015)

        Navigating Island Earth: The Hawai'i Commitments (World Conservation Congress, 2016)

        Resolution 64: Strengthening Cross-Sector Partnerships to Recognize the Contributions of Nature to Health, Well-Being and Quality of Life (World Conservation Congress, 2016)

        Urban Green Spaces and Health: Review of the Evidence (Regional Office Europe, World Health Organization, 2016)






        Credit: @ClubKembang