Urban planning should focus on children, says Unicef

The UN’s children’s rights agency has published a new handbook that provides strategies on how to create cities where children live in healthy, safe and inclusive communities.

According to Unicef, urbanization is not necessarily resulting in sustainable urban environments for children. For example, the number of slum dwellers is now around 880 million, an estimated 300 million of whom are children who experience a range of deprivations, including lack of access to land, housing and basic urban services. In addition, urban expansion often occurs in a fragmented way, resulting in a lack of public spaces, unhealthy and unsafe environments for children and limited connectivity to social networks. Cities are also driving inequality in a manner that makes children even more vulnerable, such as through higher costs of living and an inequitable distribution of land and urban spaces.

To address these growing problems, Unicef has published “Shaping urbanization for children, a handbook on child-responsive urban planning”. In it, the UN children’s rights agency presents concepts, evidence and technical strategies that will help local authorities and urban planners bring children to the foreground of urban planning.

The goal is to create “thriving and equitable cities where children live in healthy, safe, inclusive, green and prosperous communities”. But it is not only children who are set to benefit: according to Unicef, many of the elements of child-responsive urban settings – proximity, urban scale, walkability, mixed use, public space, independent mobility and connectivity – can benefit urban dwellers of all ages.

Image credit: Dominic Chavez/World Bank via Flickr

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