Sudeshna Chatterjee: Child Friendly Cities: A Review of Global Practices Shaping New Initiatives in the Middle East/North Africa Region
The Child Friendly City (CFC) is a concept for making cities friendly for all children especially in UN member countries that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and abide by other international policy instruments such as the Agenda 21 and the Habitat Agenda, through municipal action. There is however very little consensus on the definition of a CFC. The UN framework for CFC is a broad guide of what cities might do to uphold children's rights. There is also very little theoretical and empirical understanding of environmental child friendliness as a construct. This makes it difficult to create operational measures of child-friendly environments. Not surprisingly, most cities while promoting child rights through CFC initiatives and programs leave out the physical environment, even though children across the world when asked to comment on their ideas of a child-friendly city, typically identify problems in the physical environment that need to be part of such initiatives. Despite the lack of clear understanding and measures, cities around the world, especially in developing nations of the global South, are recognizing the importance of promoting child-friendly environments in their cities in order to improve the living conditions of poor urban children who are most affected by sweeping changes brought about by rapid urbanization. Dr. Chatterjee is currently involved with the emerging Child Friendly Cities initiative in the MENA region as a resource person and peer reviewer of new urban policiesand initiatives for children. She will be sharing a presentation on child friendly cities that was created to provide a critical international review of CFC practices aroundthe world to sensitize different stakeholders to the possibilities and constraints of achieving CFCs in the MENA cities.