The child-friendly city was firstly proposed by the second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) in 1996. It aimed to make cities liveable for all. On the other hand, in UNICEF terms, these words refer to “children first”. A child-friendly city is a city fulfills children’s rights and respects children’s right at the local level. In this city, children’s voices are especially taken into consideration (CFC, 2009).
Children’s needs sometimes are difficult from adults. And children, as a disadvantaged group, could not easily express their needs under power from parents and schools. Thus it is necessary to take particular methods to encourage children to express views freely (Lansdown G, 2001). Children’s participation is one of the most important methods here.
Figure 1: Children make a decision (CFC, 2017)
The World Vision (2014) proposed guideline to improve children’s participation in urban aspect:
- Promote a culture of long-term participation;
- Implement the urban programme focusing on children;
- Build the participation at the community level;
- Ensure the practice without discrimination;
- Help other community members understand the approaches;
- Ensure meaningful participation and address critical issues;
- Tailor the process to children’s capacity;
- Ensure the accessibility to child-friendly spaces and activities;
- Ensure accountability to children for more engagement;
- Conduct training sessions for greater impact.
Case study: Spain
The programme which is from 1993 aims to foster children’s participation in all public spheres, develop children’s rights, and strengthen information sharing networks by urban planning and government policies (UNICEF, 2009).
The main strategies involve:
- Putting children’s rights as the centre
- Promoting children’s participation
- Developing socialization, community interaction, and coordination
- Integrating municipal policies related to children
- Engaging municipalities in the implementation of the UN CRC
- Monitoring and evaluation the performance of children’s well-being indicators
According to the Article 12, children have “the right to be listened and taken seriously” (Lansdown G, 2001). In urban design aspect, this means children’s need and right should be considered and satisfied in the decision-making (UNICEF, 2004) It is necessary to pay more attention and take strategies to provide them better living environment.
Child Friendly Cities (CFC). (2009). Promoted by UNICEF National Committees and Country Offices. New York: UNICEF.
Lansdown, G. (2001). Promoting Children’s Participation in Democratic Decision-making. Florence: UNICEF.
UNICEF. (2004). Building Child Friendly Cities: A Framework for Action, Florence: UNICEF Innocenti Research centre.
UNICEF. (2009).”Ciudades Amigas de la Infancia”. Review of Child-friendly City Projects [aceessed online] (Available at: http://childfriendlycities.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/pdf/review_spain_ciudades_amigas_de_la_infancia_final(2010).pdf)
World Vision. (2014). Just Cities For Children: Voices From Urban Slums. 1st ed. Centre of Expertise for Urban Programming (Urban CoE).