What Would A Child-Friendly City Look Like?

Building a Child-Friendly City is the process of implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child led by local government. The aim is to improve the lives of children by recognising and realising their rights – and hence transform for the better communities today and for the future. Building Child-Friendly Cities is a practical process which must engage actively with children and their real lives. It is the State which takes on obligations to children under the Convention – governments, including local governments, must lead the process. But building Child-Friendly Cities cannot be achieved by government alone. There must be partnerships with children themselves, with families and with all those who affect children’s lives. Experience indicates that the building process can start in different ways: from the top down – with an edict from the Mayor or a formally adopted governmental resolution, actively coordinated to reach all levels of administration and all corners of the city region. Or bottom-up – from a small neighbourhood initiative led by children claiming their right to play and move safely in the city, which demonstrates the potential for going city-wide. In most cases, there is a combination of different approaches. The building process can develop from or pull together other child-friendly initiatives: child-friendly hospitals and schools; environmental projects to guarantee children safe water and hygiene. Children themselves, or child-led organisations, other non-governmental organisations or human rights institutions – a children’s ombudsman – can initiate a campaign. The concept of as Child-Friendly City is not based on an ideal end state or a standard model. It is a framework to assist any city to become more child-friendly in all aspects of governance, environment and services. The process of building a Child-Friendly City demands political commitments – which are fundamental – as well as concerted action throughout government. Credit: UNICEF.

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