The Child in the City - Health, Parks and Play 




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Nov 06, 2017
by Julia Bunte-Mein
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The Child in the City - Health, Parks and Play 

New report demonstrates impact of March 2017 session of the Parks for the Planet Forum

In 2009, for the first time in history, the world’s population became more urban than rural. By 2050, nearly 70% of the world’s population is expected to be living in cities – an increase in the urban populations of more than two billion people. 

In the face of a rapidly growing and urbanizing human population, coupled with ever-increasing climate change effects, now is the time to seriously address how we design our built environment. The current and projected state of our cities, if no change is made, neglects our fundamental need for nature and the health benefits of outdoor access, particularly for children. 

To address these issues, Salzburg Global Seminar launched the Parks for the Planet Forum in 2015 with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The third program of the Forum – The Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play – was held in March 2017 and approached the intersection of play, nature and children’s outdoor experience of their cities. Eight months on, the impact of that five-day program is proving to be significant, as a new “Impact Report” published by Salzburg Global Seminar shows. 

The new, 60-page publication summarizes discussions in Salzburg, which led to the co-authorship of a Salzburg Statement by the program participations, and tracks the dissemination spread of the Statement and the various new initiatives launched since March.

Download the Impact Report as a PDF

Salzburg Discussions

This Impact Report highlights the key questions of how to make parks accessible and meet the needs for all children, including the vulnerable, marginalized and underserved. 

While children and their communities were at the forefront of conversation, the report also highlights the importance of environmental preservation in the Forum’s recommendations. Fellows also considered the future partnerships and alliance across the health, urban design, and environmental sectors needed to advance the “Child in the City” agenda.

Salzburg Statement
The culminating product of the session was the Salzburg Statement on the Child in the City – Health, Parks and Play, which was co-drafted by Fellows. The Statement includes shared principles and recommendations for clearly defined action steps, and asserts access to nature as a basic human right for children and thus that it is essential for children to “enjoy the right to safe, free play in a nature-rich space within a ten-minute walk of where they live.” 

The Statement has been widely shared among different international organizations and has been translated into another five different languages to further its global reach. 

In addition to summaries of discussions held in Salzburg, the report also explores the impact on individuals, institutions and ideas that both the Session and its subsequent Statement have had in the six months since the Statement’s publication.

On the individual level, many Fellows were inspired to take action. Two-time Fellow Juana Mariño, architect and head of private consultancy firm GUT in Colombia, launched â€śOutdoor Grannies,” which encourages all generations to go outside and enjoy nature together. Another Fellow, Sruthi Atmakur of Children Environments Research Group founded a program called “Play-Wheel,” which aims to focus on free and self-directed play close to schools and home environments. 

On the institutional level, constructive partnerships were formed between participating organizations, including the National League of Cities and Children & Nature Networking who have co-released four new resources inspired by the discusses held in Salzburg.

On the ideas level, Salzburg Global Seminar and its Fellows have been participating and driving forward global discussions around the importance of healthy nature for human health and wellbeing in multiple international fora, including the 15th World Congress on Public Health, convened in Melbourne, Australia shortly after the Salzburg session. 

Building upon this immediate impact, the Fellows will explore how to drive this agenda forward further still at the next session of the Parks for the Planet Forum, Nature and Childhood: From Research and Activism to Policies for Global Change to be held in Salzburg in March 2018.