International experts including our Chief Executive Jonny Hughes have called on the world’s leaders to ensure all children enjoy the right to safe, free play in a nature-rich space within a 10-minute walk from home.
The call to action is one of eight included in the Salzburg Statement on The Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play, agreed at the Salzburg Global Seminar held in March 2017 in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
52 experts in urban planning, childhood development, conservation, environmental policy, and health met at the seminar to consider how green spaces could better meet the needs, and be accessible for, children.
Jonny Hughes said: “We believe every child should have meaningful first-hand experience of the natural environment as part of their daily lives. Access to green space is proven to benefit both physical and mental and health, and allows children to make a vital early connection with wildlife.”
Participants asked themselves what the benefits of these spaces were and how they could be maximized. They considered the implications for urban planning, design and management if the needs of the child were placed at the centre.
The Salzburg Statement on The Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play recommends several policies, practices and investments, and contains the following eight actions which can transform cities for children.
Eight actions to transform cities for children
- Ensure children of all ages, backgrounds, income, and abilities have equitable access to nature and play regularly and in meaningful ways to promote good health and wellbeing.
- Embed nature in everyday places used by children, such as schools, backyards, parks, playgrounds and city streets, to make the city into a natural outdoor classroom.
- Involve children in designing and planning natural spaces for recreation, education, inspiration and health, to give them ownership and pride in their local communities, schools and parks
- Build curiosity, wonder, and care for nature in children (for example by greening school grounds and involving children with community gardens).
- Protect natural features across cityscapes and create an equitably distributed network of accessible green and nature-rich spaces that all generations can reach on foot.
- Connect cities with the broader ecosystems in which they are embedded, creating corridors for people, plants and animals to move safely across the city and into its surroundings.
- Establish more urban conservation areas to increase access to nature and connect cities to the broader protected area network.
- Work together through cross sectoral and multi-level partnerships to build an inclusive culture of health in cities.