Cities for Children

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The United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child states that children need to develop their full potential, free from hunger and want, neglect and abuse.


Universal Ratification

A near universal ratification of the convention charter in 1989 by world leaders reflected a global commitment to recognition and protection of children's rights as human beings. It was the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights.

Under this convention, cities of the world are challenged to conceive of themselves, of the services, amenities and quality of life they provide, in a new way. All children in cities have the right to access basic services and enjoy opportunities for development.

The conference declared that the well-being of children is the ultimate indicator of a healthy habitat, a democratic society and of good governance. CFCI advocates the adoption of governance approaches and participatory urban management that promote the realization of the rights of the youngest citizens.

Child's Holistic Development

It is being steadily recognised that a child's holistic development is only possible, if he/she is allowed to engage with the external world from as early an age as possible. Responsible citizens of tomorrow emerge from children who are able to interact with their society from the beginning and take on steadily increasing positions of responsibility within a social structure.

It is imperative for their social skills to be able to operate independently in negotiating simple daily activities like crossing the street, making small purchases, commuting in public transport as they grow older. It is essential that cities embrace planning criteria which allows children their complete development opportunity.

What is a Child Friendly City

According to the CFC guidelines, a child friendly city is one which:

  • Involves children in decision making processes regarding issues which affect them directly.
  • Ensures a legal and regulatory framework of protection of children's rights.
  • Evolves detailed strategies to ensure that guidelines as directed in the UNCRC document are implemented.
  • Which allows for studies of impact on children in the development of any city – level policies and planning programmes, including the devlopment of the built environment being conducive to their complete development. These studies are supposed to be carried on before, during and after such programmes are formalised and executed.
  • Ensures a children's budget which allocates adequate resource commitment and budget analysis for children.
  • Provides for a regular State of the City's Children Report, ensuring sufficient monitoring and data collection on the state of children and their rights.
  • Ensures awareness of children's rights among adults and children.
  • Promotes Independent advocacy for children, supporting non-governmental organisations and developing independent human rights institutions - children's ombudspeople or commissioners for children - to promote children's rights.

Guidelines Being Implemented

Signatory countries today are embracing these directives as laid down by the CFC and implementing legislable guidelines towards design and planning of their cities in a manner friendly to the child. City centres are being redesigned eliminating the vehicle, with large pedestrian promenades with green parks and activity areas, opening them out to the child and giving ownership of the streets back to them.

Mixed use development which ensures essential amenities and services to be located at accessible distances from residential areas, including the location of schools, parks and playgrounds are being implemented. A larger importance and priority to well designed and regulated public transport also makes cities and city centres more accessible to children of various age groups while teaching them to operate independently.

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See Also


  • Protecting and realizing children's rights
  • The Child Friendly Cities Initiative