Fellows of the Child in the City - Health, Parks and Play to Draft Statement




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Mar 27, 2017
by Oscar Tollast
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Fellows of the Child in the City - Health, Parks and Play to Draft Statement

Smaller drafting group will build on ideas and resources shared in final plenary session Participants and faculty members from Session 574 The Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play

Participants of The Child in the City: Health, Parks, and Play will produce a shared vision concerning a child’s right to nature and promoting greater access to green spaces in urban environments.

Fellows have agreed for a smaller and representative drafting group to pen a statement which will include principles and recommendations on how to move forward. 

This working group will build on the ideas, models, and resources shared during the final plenary session. These recommendations can be shared at the 15th World Congress on Public Health, and other leading international forums.

During the session, participants considered how parks and protected areas could better meet the needs, and be accessible for, children. They also asked themselves how the benefits of these spaces can be maximized, and what difference it would make if children were part of the planning process in urban environments.

On the final day, Salzburg Global Vice President Clare Shine challenged participants to see how far they could take the work forward and to come up with something shareable on different platforms. She asked Fellows, “What will the new normal be?” Shine said there was an appetite now for showing courage and driving things which benefit all of us.

In response, participants broke off into smaller working groups for the final time. This action allowed participants to focus on areas such as potential frameworks, principles, and the overall vision. Fellows who concentrated on the structure said the input and activities related to the subject concerned families and parents, the education sector, the health sector, civil society, government, and the private sector.

Participants said these categories are potential partnerships rather than silos. For example, the planning process could include children, and private sector companies could donate one percent of profits toward improving and maintaining nature assets. This suggestion tied in with a view that more should be done to speak to policymakers so they can understand open spaces from a new perspective. One Fellow said, “We have to stop preaching to priests.”

To communicate this message, participants outlined a problem statement. As part of a draft, one Fellow said too many children in an urbanizing world lack what they need to thrive, and there is no time to waste. 

Other participants focused on potential principles to include a statement. They concluded every child should have easy access to, and be able to enjoy safe nature-rich experiences and places.  Nature should also be embedded in everyday places where children already are. Participants agreed there are clear health and well-being benefits, while nature also helps communities connect and thrive. It strengthens families and provides critical ecosystem services. 

Partnerships can work together to enhance and protect nature, but child-serving institutions also have a role in building wonder about nature. A child’s voice is essential, and we can learn from them as much as anyone else. New technology can be a bridge instead of a barrier, and natural areas could become better connected and form networks.

One working group worked on ideas to include in a vision statement. This group discussed how children need love, shelter, and play opportunities in an urban environment. Children should be able to embrace public life outside every day and have a nature-rich city in all aspects of life. This concept can be enhanced with child-friendly transport, a connected network, safe and playful environments, human-scale design, and places to grow food. The group envisioned a city “that grows with the child.” 

Participants said cities should be desirable, places which embody nature and provide people with a sense of awe. Having a city which is based on human-scale design can be less intimidating, relatable and sensory accessible. 

After listening to this working group, one participant said the nexus of the discussions taking place at Schloss Leopoldskron had concerned the child, the city, and nature. This participant suggested by staying true to these three elements, the group’s final statement would have a better chance of cutting through the mix. 

Following these presentations, participants agreed to collaborate on a draft statement, which would be initially prepared by a smaller working group. Fellows will keep in touch and develop a statement outlining some of the key principles and talking points raised during the session. In addition to this, participants have also made a number of personal commitments linked to the principles discussed.

The Salzburg Global program The Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play is part of the multi-year Parks for the Planet Forum, a series held in partnership with the IUCN and Huffington Foundation. The session is being supported by Parks Canada and Korea National Park. It is being sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. More information on the session can be found here: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/574 - You can follow all the discussions on Twitter by following the hashtag #SGSparks