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Nature and Childhood - What do good policies surrounding children and nature in urban contexts look like?

On the first day of Nature and Childhood: From Research and Activism To Policies for Global Change, participants gave their views on the Hot Topic discussed during the first panel

Photo by Myles Tan on Unsplash

Carly Sikina | 07.03.2018

“Good policies are policies that preserve the nature we already have in cities and make nature in cities accessible to children in a different way than right now. Right now, children have access to use nature on the terms dictated by the city, so there’s a lawn or there’s a tree. But we need trees for climbing and we need big holes for digging and we need lawns that can be completely uprooted and changed so that children actually can have the experience of having an influence on their natural environment.”

Karen MacLean
Co-Founder, The Green Free School (Den Grønne Friskole), Denmark

“When working with a school, one of the first things we ask that school to do is to create their own policy for play. Play is one fifth of the school day, it’s a major part, there’s no reason why that part of the school day shouldn’t be valued and resourced as much as the rest of the curriculum. I think that needs to go out beyond the school now, I think society at the town level, at the village level, at the city level, or wherever, needs to think about their policy, as a community. I think that having a policy for nature… must start with play, with the very young. With that love of nature that’s developed through play, you’ve then got enough for life.”

Neil Coleman
Mentor OPAL Midlands, Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL), UK

“I think one thing that’s critical for strong policies on this topic is that the policies have to have a focus on equity. This is a particular topic that we see a lot of variation and impact… [there’s] not always a clear understanding or use of data to determine impact. In the United States, there is historically a lot of disparity around access to nature, feeling welcome in nature in the way that people’s neighborhoods are designed, the amenities they have access to, the cultural baggage that is either enjoyed or prevents people from being in nature, valuing nature. And so, policies that look specifically at impacts on people with different income levels, different ethnic and racial backgrounds, different geographic communities, holistically is really important”.

Priya Cook
Principal Associate, Connecting Children to Nature, National League of Cities, USA

“I think music [and] the entertainment industry in an urban environment can really, really play a vital role… most of our kids are in urban places, [and] spend most of their time watching television, listening to the radio and you know, with technology these days, there are gadgets everywhere. So the best way to communicate is through the entertainment industry. [The kids can] maybe compose songs [or] a message and you [have to] make sure that you use them, the kids, to pass it on…The more you encourage it, they are encouraged too so they just keep doing it [and] keep doing it. At the end of the day, you [can] find someone actually earning a living through talent and they become successful…”

Charlotte Kalanzi
Environmental Education Officer, C&L Fumigation and Cleaning Co. Ltd., Uganda

Want to join the conversation? Tweet @SalzburgGlobal using the hashtag #SGSparks

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

The session, Nature and Childhood: From Research and Activism To Policies for Global Change, is part of Salzburg Global Seminar multi-year series Parks for the Planet Forum. The session has being held in partnership with IUCN, Children&Nature Network, NLC and Outdoor Classroom Day. To keep up with the conversations taking place during the session, follow #SGSparks on Twitter and Instagram.


Carly Sikina