Nature and Childhood - Bringing Together Ideas for a Salzburg Statement




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Mar 14, 2018
by Oscar Tollast
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Nature and Childhood - Bringing Together Ideas for a Salzburg Statement

Participants of Nature and Childhood: From Research and Activism to Policies for Global Change explore next steps forward Group 2 discussing their ideas for the Salzburg Statement at Schloss Leopoldskron's library. (Photo by: Sandra Birklbauer/Salzburg Global Seminar)

Following three and a half days of discussion, participants of the Salzburg Global Seminar session, Nature and Childhood: From Research and Activism to Policies for Global Change, came together to present their ideas for a new Salzburg Statement.

Before this, 27 representatives from different regions, sectors, and disciplines had split up into four working groups to develop specific policy ideas and recommendations to form the backbone of the Statement.

The first group to present on Friday afternoon focused on principles and processes for identifying and working with key audiences and change-makers.

The group recognized the different types of audiences which existed, such as global leaders, national figures, sector representatives, families, and children.

In light of this, participants devised two process steps which could be aimed at any of these levels. The first process step is to adopt an interest and influence matrix and target policymakers with the highest potential for either. The second process step involves thinking about the hierarchy of sectoral influence and coming up with the correct language for the problem that would meet the needs of different hierarchy levels.

For example, if the overarching statement is, “To enhance engagement of all with outdoor space to connect with nature,” a justification is required for each audience.

Participants created template “in order to” statements for several audiences, such as “in order to improve mental health.” Further to this, a “how” statement is required as to how change will be effected.

This group went through the policy cycle to highlight areas of influence, identifying that the cycle often starts with advocacy to set the agenda. The problem is then defined before a solution is put forward. An implementation scale follows afterward.

One participant suggested the Salzburg Statement could act as an advocacy statement, but consensus was required for it to have a strong influence. Another participant, meanwhile, reminded the group that trillions of dollars would be spent on infrastructure in the near future. If stakeholders could get into the discussion and help decide the share of money spent on children and nature, that could represent the biggest opportunity for short-term influence.

The second group to present discussed the value of forming or working with existing partnerships, alliances and collaborations for impact.

Participants began this exercise by identifying seven existing barriers to children being outside in nature. This included concerns about safety and security of children; diminishing outdoor spaces; highly structured free time; social norms; technology; academic pressure; and a knowledge gap.

For each issue, participants identified partners and sectors which could help remove these barriers and act as “partnerships for impact.”

The group acknowledged clusters of partners which could help tackle more than one issue. This list includes educators, planners, storytellers, policymakers, gatekeepers, the economy, platforms, leaders, and corporations.

The next step would involve assessing the clusters further, drawing lines between them, and seeing what potential outcomes could emerge.

Participants working in Schloss Leopoldskron’s Venetian Room spent their time looking at tackling the
disparities in access to nature and capacity to scale or implement.

When presenting their findings to the rest of the group, they revealed they started with the problem: urban childhood has moved indoors.

They began by identifying causes in their own communities, followed by secondary causes, and consequences. Participants considered what was needed to flesh out how disparities are happening and how to communicate them. Together, they agreed on five fleshed-out policy suggestions, building on recommendations that featured in the Salzburg Statement on The Child in the City - Health, Parks and Play.

  1. All children must have access to an outdoor natural/play space within a safe 10-minute walk.
  2. Cities collect and use disaggregated data on outdoor public play space usage.
  3. All schools must have an outdoor space for play and learning.
  4. All safeguarding policies must include the right to play.
  5. City planning/design is co-created with local children.

These suggestions could lead to increased access, convincing data, equity, rights-based language, and capacity and process which is inclusive of children.

The final group to present ideas worked on developing strategies for embedding nature in everyday spaces that children use and to activate a broader cadre of leaders. Instead of coming up with several
strategies, however, they devised just one which one of the group members defined as “completely outside the box.”

This group identified what they wanted to see in an ideal society, such as the feeling of being valuable, heard, and celebrated.There are obstacles to this happening, however, which the group said needed to be eliminated.This could be achieved by creating a structure within governments around the world which provides a platform for children’s voices to be heard.

An “Interministry for Children and Childhood” would prevent children’s interests from being siloed. A body or a network of people would exist with the responsibility to listen. Listeners become conduits between children and the “Minister for Children and Childhood.”

One participant suggested that while every policymaker might not care for children, each of them did have a childhood. It lives within them.

As part of this approach, stories would need to be collected and taken to multiple sectors as part of a cross-sector approach. Progress can be achieved by bringing resources from all sectors together to address the need. For this to be effective, however, this has to be a statutory process.

Ideas and recommendations put forward by participants have been recorded and will be used to draft a
Salzburg Statement that will be published later this year. Keep up to date with the progress of the Statement by visiting

Download Issue 3 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.