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Nature and Childhood - Designing Policies for Change

Fourth session of the Parks for the Planet Forum begins at Schloss Leopoldskron

From left to right - Clare Shine, Alexander Plum, Trinnawat Suwanprik, and Andrew Moore (Photo by Sandra Birklbauer/Salzburg Global Seminar)

Oscar Tollast | 07.03.2018

Change-makers from different sectors and regions have convened at Salzburg Global Seminar to help more children around the world grow up with nature and outdoor play.

Participants of Nature and Childhood: From Research and Activism to Policies for Global Change (March 6 to 10, 2018) are taking part in an interactive program featuring presentations, cross-sector panel discussions, curated conversations, and small group work which will lead to the creation of a Salzburg Statement.

This document, to be collectively drafted by the Salzburg Global Fellows of the session, will contain a list of recommendations to help governments, businesses, and community stakeholders put words into action and put forward policies that promote nature access for urban children.

What do good policies look like, however? This was the first question participants were asked to consider after introducing themselves to one another at Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg. To help broaden their thinking, three panelists spoke from their experience.

Speakers included Andrew Moore, director, Youth & Young Adult Connections, at the National League of Cities; Alexander Plum, director, Development and Innovation, at the Global Health Initiative; and Trinnawat Suwanprik, a local coordinator in Chiang Mai, Thailand, for achieving low carbon growth in cities through sustainable urban system management.

Moore suggested cities had the opportunity to connect children to nature equitably through policy infrastructure, programs, and experiences. One way of connecting people from disadvantaged communities to nature is through the creation of green career pathways.

When discussing policy, Suwanprik reminded participants it was important to consider the bottom-up approach as well as the top-down model. The group heard the bottom-up approach was gaining popularity and that leadership, communities, and stakeholders can enact policy change together.

In 2012, the Welsh Government introduced the Play Sufficiency Duty, which requires local authorities to ensure children have sufficient play opportunities. One participant remarked that the word “sufficiency” was used because the concept is difficult to measure.

Linking to this, Plum remarked on the lack of sufficiency in the United States when it came to collecting data surrounding the social determinants of health, suggesting there wasn’t a centralized way to talk about these issues.

Discussions will continue over the next four days, exploring the role of local governments, grassroots movements, urban planning and design, and policymakers. A “webinar” will be publicly broadcast on Facebook Live on Thursday, March 8 on “Policies that Promote Equitable Nature Access for All.”

Download Issue 1 of Nature and Childhood: From Research and Activism To Policies for Global Change

Nature and Childhood: From Research and Activism to Policies for Global Change is the fourth session of the multi-year series, Parks for the Planet Forum. The Forum is hosted with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in partnership with the Children and Nature Network, the National League of Cities (NLC) and Outdoor Classroom Day. More information on the session can be found here. Follow the conversation on Twitter using #SGSparks. 

Oscar Tollast