Parks for the Planet - Nature and Childhood - From Research and Activism to Policies for Global Change

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Mar 02, 2018
by Carly Sikina
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Parks for the Planet - Nature and Childhood - From Research and Activism to Policies for Global Change

Thought-leaders, change-makers, and policymakers to convene for fourth session of multi-year series Photo by Maxime Bhm on Unsplash

Exposure to nature can be seen as a crucial aspect of healthy childhood development. Access to nature and green spaces, however, has become an issue of social justice and inequality.

Many studies have shown the positive outcomes that have been realized as a result of nature and outdoor play. Spending time outdoors can increase children’s learning outcomes, improve their health and wellbeing and help develop their social and emotional skills.

Although the return on such investments is higher if begun in early childhood, many government officials around the world continue to prioritize corrective policies for older children rather than invest in ongoing early years’ initiatives.

This topic will be examined in greater detail at Salzburg Global Seminar’s next session, Nature and Childhood: From Research and Activism to Policies for Global Change, which takes place at Schloss Leopoldskron, from March 6 to 10, 2018. This session is being supported by the Children & Nature Network, the National League of Cities (NLC), and Outdoor Classroom Day.

This is the fourth session of Parks for the Planet Forum, a multi-year series created by Salzburg Global in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The Forum advances action, investment and leadership to implement the Promise of Sydney and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

During the session, a group of thought-leaders, change-makers and policymakers from different disciplines, sectors and regions will come together to examine the challenges and opportunities of nature and childhood development. 

This session builds on recommendations from the 2017 meeting of the Forum, The Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play. It explores ways to make the city into a natural outdoor classroom, involve children in designing and planning green spaces, increase children’s curiosity and care for nature, and establish cross-sectoral partnerships to promote an inclusive culture of health in cities.

Some of the questions that will be explored during the session include: 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 nature 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 policymakers the case for investing in comprehensive strategies for children, nature and play?

This session will combine presentations, cross-sectoral conversations, panel discussions, and focus group work. It uses theory, policy, and practice to explore new perspectives and ways to collaborate to evoke sustainable and social progress.

In a first for Salzburg Global Seminar, members of the public and Salzburg Global Fellows all over the world will be able to directly take part in a portion of the session as a Panel discussion on policies that promote nature access for urban children to be broadcast on Facebook Live on Thursday, March 8.

Participants will develop a “Salzburg Statement” recommending policies and practices to help governments, business and community stakeholders to enable children around the world to grow up with nature and outdoor play. The 2018 Salzburg Statement will build on that co-written by Fellows at the 2017 session, the Salzburg Statement on The Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play.


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.