Past Program


In 2018, the Parks for the Planet Forum focused on Nature and Childhood: From Research and Activism to Policies for Global Change. Around the world, access to nature and green space for children growing up in urban environments is increasingly becoming an issue of equity and social justice. If children grow up without a sense of the importance and wonder of nature, they will not fight for it in the future. If children cannot play outdoors and in safety, their physical and mental health will suffer, affecting their life chances at school and beyond.

There is compelling evidence on the many benefits that access to nature and outdoor play bring to children and the wider communities in which they live. These include better learning outcomes, improved health and well-being, and the development of a broad range of social and emotional skills. Return on such investments is much higher if begun in early childhood. However, governments around the world still over-invest in corrective policies for older children, and under-invest in ongoing early years’ initiatives.

The 2018 meeting built on recommendations from the Forum’s 2017 meeting on The Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play and focused on four targeted interventions:

  • Play as a Lever for Economic and Social Resilience: Embed nature in everyday places used by children (schools, backyards, parks, playgrounds, streets) to make the city into a natural outdoor classroom.
  • Designing Parks for Community Well-Being: Involve children in designing and planning green spaces for recreation, education, inspiration and health, to give them ownership and pride in their communities, schools and parks.
  • Influencing the Next Generation of Conservation Leaders: Build curiosity and care for nature by greening school grounds and involving children with community gardens.
  • Establishing Cross-Sectoral Partnerships: Build cross-sectoral and multi-level partnerships for an inclusive culture of health in cities.


Facebook Live - Policies that Promote Nature Access for All

During this program, we hosted a panel discussion about creating equitable nature access for children in cities across the world. This event was presented in partnership with the Children & Nature Network and National League of Cities who collaborate on the U.S.-based initiative called Cities Connecting Children to Nature. This initiative provides city leaders with technical assistance, training and peer learning opportunities to increase equitable access to nature so that children, families and communities can thrive.

Following the panel discussion, a Q&A with questions from the online audience and the Fellows of the 2018 Parks for the Planet Forum took place.


Dima Boulad, Designer and Co-Founder, Beirut Green Project

Karen Keenleyside Vice Chair for People and Parks, IUCN WCPA

Margaret Lamar, Vice-President Strategic Initiatives, Children & Nature Network

Priya Cook, Principal Associate, Connecting Children to Nature, National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education & Families

Moderator: Clare Shine Vice President and Chief Program Officer, Salzburg Global Seminar

Watch the discussion, "Policies that Promote Equitable Nature for All" here.



Hiroi Ariyama
Co-Founder, Assistant Architecture Firm, Japan
Maria Auma
Founder and Managing Partner, Blue Luxury Investments (BLI), Uganda
Dima Boulad
Designer and Co-Founder, Beirut Green Project, Lebanon
Neil Coleman
Mentor OPAL Midlands, Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL), UK
Priya Cook
Principal Associate, Connecting Children to Nature, National League of Cities, USA
Katalin Czippán
International Consultant, Education and Communication for Sustainable Development Issues, National University of Public Service (NUPS), Hungary
Jack Graham
Journalist, Apolitical, UK
Anabel Gulias Torreiro
Councilor, Bloque Nacionalista Galego (BNG), City Council of Pontevedra, Spain
Charlotte Kalanzi
Environmental Education Officer, C&L Fumigation and Cleaning Co. Ltd., Uganda
Margaret Lamar
Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, Children and Nature, USA
Sabelo Lindani
Head of Green Futures College, Grootbos Foundation, South Africa
Miguel Lores
Mayor of Pontevedra, Spain
Karen MacLean
Co-Founder, The Green free School (Den Grønne Friskole), Denmark
Heather Nonhlanhla Maseko
Assistant National Coordinator, Civil Society Network on Climate Change, Malawi
Megumi Matsubara
Co-Founder, Assistant Architecture Firm, Japan
Andrew Moore
Director of Youth and Young Adult Connection, National League of Cities, USA
Joanna Nurse
Strategic Advisor, InterAction Council, UK
Meg Otieno
National Coordinator/CEO, Wildlife Clubs of Kenya, Kenya
Alex Plum
Director, Development & Innovation, The Global Health Initiative Henry Ford Health System, USA
Antonio Luiz Prieto Méndez
Head of Communication and Press,Pontevedra's City Council, Spain
Cath Prisk
Global Partnerships Director, Project Dirt, UK
Stephanie Sanderson
Consultant, World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), UK
Sean Southey
Chief Executive Officer, PCI Media Impact & Chair, IUCN Commission on Education and Communication (CEC), USA
Tan Suwanprik
Local Coordinator for Achieving Low Carbon Growth in Cities Through Sustainable Urban System Management, Thailand
Adrian Voce
President, European Network for Child Friendly Cities, Author of Policy for Play (Policy Press, 2015), UK



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Building Better Cities with Young Children and Families: How to Engage our Youngest Citizens and Families in City Building: A Global Scan of Best Practices, By 8 80 Cities, 8 80 Cities

Metrics Toolkit, By Cities Connecting Children to Nature, National League of Cities

Municipal Action Guide, By Cities Connecting Children to Nature, National League of Cities

Mayer Coleman on How Saint Paul Shows How Cities Can Bring Nature to Children, By Chris Coleman, CitiesSpeak Blog, National League of Cities

How a City in Spain Got Rid of Its Cars, By Ignacio Amigo, Citiscope

If You Want Your Children to Get a Job, Let Them Play More, By Jenny Anderson, World Economic Forum

Want Your Child to be the Next Einstein? Just Print Off Childhood Toys, By Henry Bodkin, The Telegraph

Places that Make Us: Research Report, By National Trust, National Trust

Bristol Organization Shows Why Playtime is as Important as Class Time, By Neil Coleman, Outdoor Play and Learning

Want to Future-Proof Your City? Design for its Youngest Residents, By Anoush Darabi, Apolitical

To Play is to Learn. Time to Step Back and Let Kids Be Kids, By John Goodwin, Paul Polman, Jesper Brodin, and Gary Knell, World Economic Forum

What Happens When you put Toddlers in a Forest to Climb Trees and use Knives?, By Jack Graham, Apolitical

Portland Pushes Crime out of Park by Bringing in Women and Children, By Jennifer Guay, Apolitical

Children ‘Need to Play More to Gain Work Skills’, By Katie Hope, BBC

Wiring Trees? Smart Urban Parks Are Missing the Point, By Olga Horn, City Talk Blog, International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives

The Field Guide to Human-Centred Design, By

Exercise is More Precious than Ever. So Let’s Stop Scaring Kids Off PE, By Anna Kessel, The Guardian

In Praise of Sports Day, By Anna Kessel, The Guardian

Why Has Women’s Fitness Become a Beauty Contest?, By Anna Kessel, The Guardian

What would the Ultimate Child-Friendly City look like?, By Laura Laker, The Guardian

Children and Wild Foods in the Context of Deforestation in Rural Malawi, By H. Maseko, Charlie M. Shackleton, J. Nagoli, and Pullanikkatil, HUMAN ECOLOGY, 45 NO. 6, PP. 795-807

The Nature Playbook: Take Action to Connect a new Generation of Canadians with Nature, By Parks Canada, Government of Canada

Quality Standards for Early Childhood Services: Examples from South and South East Asia, By Sandipan Paul, EARLY CHILDHOOD MATTERS, VOL 126

Multisolving at the Intersection of Health and Climate: Lessons from Success Stories, By Dr. Elizabeth Swain, Stephanie McCauley, Shanna Edberg, Dr. Grace Mwaura, and María José Gutiérrez, CLIMATE INTERACTIVE

Message for Ireland from the Front Line of Climate Change, By Sylvia Thompson,The Irish Times

Watch Toddlers Take on City Streets in New Film Series, By Allssa Walker, Curbed

"Urban Toys" Designed to reactivate Underused Public Spaces in mexico City, By Karina Zatarain, ArchDaily


A Global Movement to Inspire Love of Nature, #NatureForAll

Toolkits and Other Resources, #NatureForAll

Cities Connecting Children to Nature Resource Hub, Children & Nature Network

Green Schoolyards Resource Hub, Children & Nature Network

Nature Can Improve Academic Outcomes, Children & Nature Network, Infographic

Nature Can Improve Health and Wellbeing, Children & Nature Network, Infographic

Research Library, Children & Nature Network

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Education Project (A media center's Proposal for New Educational Environments "Kogogaru Park")



World Commission on Protected Areas, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

Korogaru Pavilion, Japan Media Arts Festival Archive



VIDEO:The Burning Question, By Alan Whelan, Emmet Sheerin, and Eoghan Rice, TROCAIRE; VIMEO 

VIDEO: あそびが解き放つ、はじまりの創造力 [Summary of Korogaru Series], By Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media; VIMEO

VIDEO: Korogaru Pavilion - English, By Ymkdch

Session Format

The highly interactive program was structured around an inspiring mix of presentations, cross sector panel discussions, curated conversations, and small group work.  The process seeked to combine theory, policy and practice across sectoral silos, opening up new perspectives and intensive learning opportunities.

Participants explored cross-cutting questions during plenary sessions featuring presentations and discussions led by groundbreaking practitioners. They also worked intensively in smaller focus groups that met several times over the course of the program to focus on specific themes and assignments in greater depth.

Key Questions

  • What do successful child-centered urban policies look like around the world?
  • How can the private sector and urban developers be effectively engaged in this agenda?
  • How can nature and outdoor learning be better integrated into time spent in pre-school and school?
  • What works to build and sustain genuine multi-stakeholder engagement?
  • How can we better communicate to policy makers the case for investing in comprehensive strategies for children, nature and play?

Multi-year Series


Salzburg Global Seminar’s annual meeting of the Parks for the Planet Forum explores critical intersections between nature and human development, with a particular focus on the impacts of urbanization and reduced access to nature on health and well-being – especially for the next generation.

The Forum is a flagship ten-year program launched in 2015 with IUCN-International Union for Conservation of Nature and an expanding partner coalition.  It aims to connect the 2014 and 2024 World Parks Congresses and advance interdisciplinary collaboration to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Forum supports cross-sector conservation strategies as critical investments for human health and well-being, climate resilience, nature-based solutions and social and economic innovation. We seek to build a core group of ambassadors and champions from key cities and governments, the private sector, finance and media to accelerate transformative leadership and action across the world.


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 well-being, 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.

Session Photos

View full set on Flickr

All images are available for download. Please credit Salzburg Global Seminar/Sandra Birklbauer or Sean Southey. Check each photo for correct credit to use. Unwatermarked images are available on request.

IUCN Health & Wellbeing Working Group

The IUCN WCPA Health and Well-being Specialist Group promotes the health and well-being benefits of nature across the conservation, health and other sectors. For more information click here