Home » Calendar » 2010 - 2019 » 2017 » Session 574
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



LOCATIONSchloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg, AustriaMAPFEE AND REGISTRATION INFORMATIONRegistration Deadline
01 Jan, 1970


    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 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.


        Kathy MacKinnon
        Chair, IUCN/World Commission on Protected Areas, United Kingdom


        David Anthony
        Director of Policy and Analytics, UNICEF, New York, United States
        Ryuta Aoki
        CEO, Volocitee Inc., Japan
        Sruthi Atmakur
        Children's Environments Research Group, USA and India
        Katherine Boe
        Program Manager, Joint US China Collaboration on Clean Energy, United States
        Dima Boulad
        Designer and Co-Founder, Beirut Green Project, Lebanon
        Yolanda Corona
        Research Professor at the Department of Education, Autonomous Metropolitan University-Campus Xochimilco, Mexico
        Martha A. Darling
        Board Chair, National Wildlife Federation Action Fund; Education policy consultant, United States
        Thomas Evers
        Executive Director, Minneapolis Park Foundation, United States
        Juana Marino de Posada
        Architect, Lecturer; Member, IPBES Expert Group, Colombia
        Julie Mentor
        Project Leader, Cape Town Embrace, South Africa
        Amanda O'Rourke
        Director of Strategic Planning, 8-80 Cities, Canada
        Xanele Puren
        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
        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
        Kenneth Worpole
        Emeritus Professor, Cities Institute London Metropolitan University, United Kingdom
        Xiaoping Yang
        Professor, Faculty of Education of the Southwest University, China
        Daniella Yifrah Ben-Attar
        Israel Country Representative, Bernard van Leer Foundation, Israel
        Robert Zarr
        Staff Pediatrician, Unity Health Care, Park Rx Advisor, National Park Service, United States