Child-Friendly City Initiative

Improved Governance to build better cities and communities for children


What is a child-friendly city?

A child friendly city is one that promotes children’s’ rights and permits children to have more of a say in decisions that affect them. It creates inclusive places where children’s play, are healthy, protected, educated, not discriminated and enjoy a cohesive and culturally rich environment. Broadly speaking it ensures that children and their needs are central to activities of all that is being in action in the city/town/community agenda.

A child-friendly city improves lives of by realizing their rights as articulated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Broadly speaking, it is a place where children:

  • Are protected from exploitation, violence and abuse.
  • Have a good start in life and grow up healthy and cared for.
  • Have access to quality social services.
  • Experience quality, inclusive and participatory education and skills development.
  • Express their opinions and influence decisions that affect them.
  • Participate in family, cultural, city/community and social life.
  • Live in a safe secure and clean environment with access to green spaces.
  • Meet friends and have places to play and enjoy themselves.
  • Have a fair chance in life regardless of their ethnic origin, religion, income, gender or ability.
Child-friendly city2

Why build a child-friendly city?

Children are individuals. Children are neither the possessions of parents nor of the state, nor are they mere people-in-the-making; they have equal status as members of the human family.

Children start life as totally dependent beings. Children must rely on adults for the nurture and guidance they need to grow towards independence. Such nurture is ideally found in adults in children’s families, but when primary caregivers cannot meet children’s needs, it is up to society to fill the gap.

Children’s views are rarely heard and rarely considered in the political process. Without special attention to the opinions of children—as expressed at home and in schools, in local communities and even in governments—children’s views go unheard on the many important issues that affect them now or will affect them in the future.

Many changes in society are having a disproportionate, and often negative, impact on children. Transformation of the family structure, globalization, climate change, urbanization, shifting employment patterns and a shrinking social welfare net in many countries all have strong impacts on children.

The healthy development of children is crucial to the future well-being of any society. Because they are still developing, children are especially vulnerable—more so than adults—to poor living conditions such as poverty, inadequate health care, nutrition, safe water, housing and environmental pollution. 

The costs to society of failing its children are huge. The course of their development determines their contribution, or cost, to society over the course of their lives.