Mayors Commit to Action for Children

More than 180 mayors and local leaders have signed the Cologne Child Friendly Cities Mayors’ Declaration, committing to action for children and young people locally. The Mayors’ Declaration is also available in Spanish.

In the 30 days leading up to the Child Friendly Cities Summit, mayors from around the world shared their commitment to the Child Friendly Cities Initiative and to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as the world marked the 30th anniversary of the Convention.

“Dear Ms. Rana Flowers,

On behalf of Da Nang People’s Committee, I would like to extend warm greetings to you and your colleagues at UNICEF Viet Nam and a sincere thank for the invitation to join the Global Summit of Child Friendly City in Cologne, Germany.

Due to work commitments, the Da Nang People’s Committee authorized leader representative of Da Nang Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs to attend the Summit.

Da Nang is pleased to be the second city of Viet Nam to participate in the Child-friendly City Initiative introduced by UNICEF with a goal of better protect and implement children’s rights in the urban context. In the past few years, Da Nang has issued and implemented a number of policies and programmes for children in the areas of child protection, prevention of child labour and child injuries, support to children with disabilities, children affected by HIV/AIDS, etc.

Da Nang is committed to developing and incorporating the new Programme of Action for Children the city’s urban planning strategy. We are also committed to allocating the land fund and resources for building recreation space for children , developing the education and children healthcare network, the community-based child protection; and prevention of child abuse and exploitation, etc.

We hope by participating in UNICEF’s CFCI, we will be able to learn from the experience and good practices of all the participating countries around the world and to mobilize more resources and support for Da Nang to better realize the rights of every child in Da Nang city.

Once again, please accept my best wishes to you and colleagues of the UNICEF in Viet Nam.”

“Building the future is a building where the most important building blocks are the children and the most important building materials are trust, opportunity, participation and responsibility.

This is what a starting point looks like when Karlskoga wants to build a child-friendly city. Listening without accepting is degrading, giving children space without giving them responsibility is to diminish them and thus to diminish the future. Seeing them as individuals as a group is equally important.

As individuals, they should be given space to develop their particularity, to find their creativity, to find their role now and in the future.

As a group, they should be given the opportunity to be part of and shape the society they will create and take responsibility for. Democratic participation and shared responsibility then become the cornerstones.

The right of the individual and the community of the group are equally important aspects of a child-friendly city.One child who plays football and another who tries her way on the violin are both expressions of that – and to provide opportunities for all children is to create democracy for the future.

Welfare and good conditions for growing up are also the basis for Karlskoga’s 6,000 children. We must take that and their perspective with us in every decision that is made.

We are proud to be recognized and to be a part of Unicef’s work.“For every child” is also our motto – together with “From every child”. “

“Isfahan’s municipality has started laying the groundwork for a Child Friendly City (CFC) in a systematic way and this process will be speeded up by allocating 1% of the annual budget to CFC programmes. The CFC secretariat has been established to make sure the ideas and voices of children are incorporated into the decisions that affect them. This year a high-level international CFC Conference was held in Isfahan with active participation of children. Many Mother and Child Friendly rooms and playgrounds have been built in public spaces and will be expanded to the whole city. People are being informed about children’s rights through awareness raising programmes and a fund will be established to help the most vulnerable children in the city. The International Film Festival for Children and Youth is held in Isfahan as a powerful medium to use art in highlighting the issues of children. My colleagues and I in the Municipality of Isfahan are making efforts to bring smile to the faces of children and adolescents of our city.”

“With the practical implementation and the implementation of child friendliness, the City of Taunusstein is setting itself an overall objective and task. Living child-friendliness requires regulations as well as a basic conviction of all. They must derive from a genuine sense of respect and respect for children. However, the legal framework should not be overlooked. Participation opportunities and rights are equally important when it comes to the enforceability of children’s interests.”

“Vilnius City is proud to join UNICEF in creating a kid-friendly city. Creating a safe, nurturing and educational environment for children today is a major challenge and at the same time a priority that our city is committed to. We hope that cooperation with the young people of Vilnius, Unicef experience – will help Vilnius to create an environment proming the well-being of children and ensuring that young people can contribute to the decisions and achievements important to them. Together we hope to achieve positive changes.”

“Puchheim has always been a child and family friendly place. Over the years many programmes have been implemented including a wide range of counselling and child care services as well as educational opportunities and recreational activities – not only by the local authorities but also by church institutions, associations and other organisations. We are very proud of what Puchheim has to offer for children and families. In order to overcome current social challenges such as integrating refugees or rising child poverty we are committed to becoming a „child-friendly city“. The Child Friendly Cities Initiative is a valuable partner who will help us assess our situation professionally and assist in further developing a child-friendly environment in Puchheim together with local stakeholders. We want to create sustainable procedures and an infrastructure, in which every child can develop positively and individually and participate in our society.”

“Alytus is always open to children and young people. One of city priority areas is the involvement of young people into decision-making policy. We are happy with the involvement of young people in youth organizations, their initiatives and creativity. The city creates an enabling environment meeting the needs of children and young people. Investments are made not only for building an attractive environment for children development, but also for shaping and strenghtening their personality. It is very important for us that every young person in Alytus feels safe, important and respected.”

“In Barranquilla we work for every single citizen, we work and invest in all the cycles of their lives to educate people so they can enjoy a better quality of life, obviously starting with the children.

We are committed with the healthy development of our children since they are born, and we provide them a wide variety of services. Thus, in Barranquilla we look after our boys, girls and adolescents, standing out as a children-friendly city. It is of utmost importance to listen to what they have to say and to walk hand-in-hand with them in the city construction so they can live and enjoy their city.

In the words of the Mayor of Barranquilla, Alejandro Char, our vision in this administration is to look after the well-being of its people. The goal of every single policy, program and decision is for the baby in the womb of a humble mother to have a dignifying life. For that child to have a place to play, a school to attend while he/she grows up, a university to get a college education when he/she grows up. Moreover, the objective is for that child to receive health care when needed, to have adequate facilities to practice any sport with coaches and equipment. In case this child wants to be a musician or an artist, he/she will count on a Culture District House close to their home where they can get trained when they finish classes. In other words, we walk together with low-income Barranquilleros throughout their lives so they can develop themselves in safe conditions and places.

If we as governors respond to those real needs we are acknowledging their rights and consequently they will grow up in an integrated and satisfactory manner.

Our bet for the future of this city is the children. We are benefiting 50.031 children from 0 to 5 years old with our “Primera Infancia” (Early Childhood) program, we also assisting pregnant and lactating women. We have met 100% of our goals.

These children grow up healthy in these Development Centers where good care and upbringing practices are promoted and shared with pregnant and lactating mothers, parents or child minders that play an important role in these processes.

Today Barranquilla is a pioneer in Colombia as a city that offers unique opportunities for children from zero to five in more than 18 parks around the city. Children can find safe games and other elements for their ages in the mentioned parks. Barranquilla is a life Capital!

We have a vast number of projects that materialize Early Childhood Public Policy, in topics related to health, nutrition, physical activity, and they also involve citizenship, rescue of traditional games and above all, they strengthen emotional ties in the families.

It is an immense happiness to be part of this dialogue and to share and learn from other experiences to strengthen our best practices. It is indeed the best way to celebrate the Convention on the Rights of Child in its 30th Anniversary.”

“The participation of young people is a key aspect for the City of Wolfsburg and its actions. That is why we as a municipality are proud to be holding the seal “child friendly city” since 2014. As Lord Mayor and former head of the local youth service / youth officer child friendliness and equality for youths is a matter close to heart, guidelines for my actions and have had a big impact on my career. Child-friendly actions are not a luxury to the City of Wolfsburg, but have become more and more an important local advantage.

Therefore, great efforts of all involved stakeholders are needed to ensure that “child friendliness” will not only be a catchphrase. The ongoing process to create family-friendly and child-friendly living conditions in Wolfsburg is an indication of how serious we take this matter. Wolfsburg was elected by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Woman and Youth to be the most family-friendly city in Lower-Saxony as early as 2009. With that, the City of Wolfsburg had made an important step towards child friendliness. For us, child friendliness means to strengthen the rights of our youngest citizens and to always keep an eye on their needs and interests. We must actively involve children and youth in our society, respect their interests and rights and have them participate in various municipal processes.

Our mission: To create politics with children and youth for children and youth.

The once again awarded seal means to us not only approval for our chosen path towards a child-friendly and family-friendly city but it is also a motivation. We will continue to bring the plan of action to life with great commitment and integrate the rights of children and youth into everyday actions, administrative actions and political actions step by step.

Cities and municipalities worldwide are the daily and most important living environment for children and youth. That is why the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child has to be implemented exactly here, in the cities and municipalities. The City of Wolfsburg aims to implement the rights of children and youth more into the daily actions of the local government and administration. It is also their ideas and active commitment that make Wolfsburg a city worth living in.

Also, it has to be the mission of Wolfsburg and all child-friendly cities to work towards the voices of young people being heard globally and not only in the 100 child friendly cities, to ensure that all children and youth have the chance to grow up in a good and safe environment.”

“The City of Hämeenlinna was the first city in Finland to get the Child Friendly City recognition from UNICEF in 2013. This recognition is valid for four years and the renewal needs continuous development work.

There has been a lot of research regarding the participation of children and young people in Finland. The importance of their participation and hearing have been taken into account also in our legislation.

In the child-friendliness, all is about the way of thinking and operating culture. In the Child Friendly City, children and young people are being heard and versatile possibilities for participation and ideas how to influence are being offered. Children and young people are seen as valuable members of the society and the target is to provide them a safe environment to live, develop and grow.

In Hämeenlinna, plenty of the above-mentioned actions  have already been taken.

The children are being heard in nurseries, schools and during their free-time. At schools, this covers personnel and student bodies. Versatile services regarding culture and hobbies for children are available in different parts of the city. There are strong voices from children in our decision-making bodies. Their representatives are present in the boards and city council. The issues of the children are important and we must invest more to keep up and develop their well-being. At present, the public atmosphere and public attitude have become more favorable and the children are better taken into account in the planning and decision-making of the city.”

“I promise Icheon will be a UNICEF child friendly city. Unicef child friendly cities support children to live a happy and healthy life. Icheon has tried to make a safe, healthy and eco-friendly environment for children as a way of becoming a child friendly city. It has also started innovative education for the whole society to engage to make sure children can dream their future they want wit hout any worries. Icheon will be a place where children are happy, and their dreams come true while the adults are happy to watch over them. Thank you.”

Children are our future. As Mayor of Regensburg I put children’s welfare on top of my priority list. Our local government and city administration is dedicated to truly implement the UN-Children’s Rights Convention in Regensburg. We don’t just do small projects here and there. For two decades we have put in a lot of manpower to build sustainable and reliable child-friendly structures in all aspects of living. Our city council has passed “child-friendly quality standards” and our city administration is committed to fulfill these standards. We do child-friendly urban planning and urban development, provide reliable and good quality child care and child protection structures, offer attractive municipal youth work to all children and let children and youngsters voice their opinions and participate in decision-making processes. We are fully committed to guarantee child-friendly living conditions in the City of Regensburg.”

“Unicef Child friendly cities, Guro-gu has a committee where we can hear the voices of our children. Specifically, our children established Republic of Guro-Children in which they discuss and propose child policy to the city government.”

“Weil am Rhein took the lead on child-friendly cities in Germany  as we are convinced that education, children’s well-being, a protected environment and participation in creating the local realities are the milestones for a prosperous future of the young generation.”

“Building child-friendly cities means creating a more livable community for all. With this in mind, the City of Prato, in collaboration with UNICEF, joined the CFCI and focused above all on welcoming minors and creating moments to make them participate in the choices of the city with child-friendly participation paths.

The schools of the city have worked to enhance multicultural wealth and inclusion thanks to an agreement for the planning and the coordinated management of educational projects that involve children and young people.

The urban plan of the city was created by listening to minors who participated and made a large contribution to designing the city  of the future for a greener, ecological and livable Prato.

We are happy to attend the Cologne Summit to share these commitments because we believe that only with the inclusion of children, can we guarantee their rights and make our cities more livable today and in the future.”

“I am Yeongjong Kim, Mayor of Jongno-gu, Seoul. For children who will be the leaders of the future, Jongno-gu has been committed from 2016 to respect them as active actors in the local community and to protect their rights. Since Jongno-gu decided to take a step further its recognition as a child friendly city in 2017, we have continuously focused on reflecting children’s voices on the city’s social policies to ensure child participation and a child rights approach as the main pillar of the city.

As a mayor, I wanted to make Jongno-gu listen to what children wants and what makes them happy. I tried to listen to them and made an enjoyable and educational environment for them, such as eco-friendly playgrounds and theaters for children.

Where children can be happy and safe is where all of us are happy to live. We promise you that Jongno-gu will search a way to become the best child friendly city. Thank you.”

“Creating a community with our children, at all stages of their development is my vision for the 2019 Summit of Child Friendly Cities.

Quebec is full of engaged an mobilized actors for its youth. Through the close ties they forge with their citizens, municipalities play a vital role in building child-friendly cities. As a municipality, you have roles, powers, and skills to act and intervene on behalf of children in our communities.

Since 2011, the City of Brossard has been actively involved in the Quebec network of child-friendly cities, a UNICEF initiative that helps cities and communities around the world advance children’s rights at the local level. This initiative involves approximately 30 million children in 40 countries around the world.

In the coming months, why not enrich our municipal family policy by giving a voice to the youngest, by educating Quebec youth on municipal issues, stimulating their commitment to the community to make our policy more inclusive, dynamic, sustainable and above all responsive to our young inhabitants’ aspirations.”

“Our city is committed to implement public policies for children integrating the areas of health, education, social protection, communication, finance and a variety of partners focused on the same objective: protect and promote all rights for all children.”

“Vinnytsia joined UNICEF’s Child and Youth Friendly Municipality Initiative because it was a logical continuation of our work on child and youth development that we implemented since 2009.

Vinnitsa was one of the first Ukrainian cities to establish an office of children ombudsmen. Today we are implementing a new way to support young people, involving them in the budgeting of school projects. It is important not only to hear children, but also to involve them in decision-making processes in the city.

We strive to create a comfortable environment for every child’s education, recreation and development. New kindergartens upgraded educational institutions, modern sports grounds, innovative spaces to develop youth start-ups, and the creation of an inclusive environment are the main objectives of our work.

We hope that our cooperation with UNICEF and the Child and Youth Friendly Municipality status will help to implement projects with new approaches in advancing child rights.”

“I am Yongrae Jeong, Mayor of Yuseong-gu, Daejeon, South Korea. We are trying our best to become a child-friendly city because the future is on our children’s hands. I hopefully wish that all the cities in the world become child-friendly to create a sustainable society where everyone is happy.”

“Lviv is open to the world and that means it must become a child and youth friendly modern city. This is one of UNICEF’s main priorities and it is important for us to hear the thoughts of every child, young man and young woman. We have no right to put all the responsibility of city development on children and young people, because we all have to work together and unite our efforts. Right here and right now. Until the end!”

“The presence of children in my office is just a symbolic way to show how I want them to live in the city: happy, safe and being able to participate, building a better city for children and for all.”

The future opens when our children are happy. Each one of them is beautiful just like a flower no matter how they look. It is only when the flowers bloom that we can say this is a good place to live.”

“Greetings from Gunsan. I am Imjune Kang, Mayor of Gunsan-si. As a child friendly city, Gunsan tries to promote children’s right to play. Play is part of education that is enjoyable as well as critical and enables children to grow into creative and holistic adults.

Gunsan will endeavor to make its city to be a playground for them so that they can live happy lives with their loving family and friends with a variety of play and experiential facilities.”

“The city of Locarno offers several services for young people. We believe that responding to the real needs of families and to the rights of children helps children and young people to grow up integrated and satisfied. To become even more child-friendly, our city is offering opportunities for young people to participate in the urban design of living spaces, from conception to implementation, and thus become aware and committed adults and citizens.”

“My city works to become more child friendly. Today, therefore, we are not only determined to improve child rights, but also create comfortable and safe conditions for children and young people in our city. We are trying to build a place where they can realize not only their basic needs but also their own dreams. Local authorities are developing strategic plans for building cities and communities that are friendly to children and young people, making their implementation a priority.

A lot of work has been done in our city to share experiences, but still not enough, so we are ready to learn about best practices from our colleagues who attended the summit.

For our city to become friendlier to children, we, as representatives of local authorities and civil society, must develop a strategy and steadfastly fulfil its mission to secure the rights of the smallest citizens and meet their needs.”

“My city is committed to being child-friendly, because the youngsters are our future of tomorrow and they are deeply in need to be protected, respected and involved in the development in our home town.

To become more child-friendly, our city has involved the young generation to plan the development of young concerns in Kitzbühel. We agreed on a 27-step-plan and within the first year we realised already half of the steps, to remain attractive as place of living and work for the youngsters.”

“I am Gun-gi Baek, Mayor of Yongin, South Korea. To make Yongin a child friendly city, we implemented social policies including improving pedestrian safety and installing security cameras to make a safe environment from violence and crimes. A school meal assistance centre provides schools with fresh ingredients for the meals. Nursing cares are available for children whose parents work and do not have time to provide enough support.

We also try to provide children with learning opportunities, such as musical plays where children experience careers and a child culture centre where they learn about the fourth industrial revolution.

We will continue to make a city where children are happy and respected without discrimination, and dream for their future. Thank you.”

“My city is committed to child rights/being child-friendly, because this is a valuable contribution to the quality of life in our city and gives even children the opportunity to be part of a sustainable development of Bad Ischl!

To become more child-friendly, our city has built a variety of new playgrounds with participation and planning work of children as best experts, extended the facilities for child care from baby to youth age and offers many activities for families and bringing people of all generations together.”

“Greetings. I am Byeongtaek Im, Mayor of Siheung-si where happy changes begin. To make a city that children, the heroes of future generations, can safely play as much as they want to, Siheung has implemented new policies to reflect their voices. In conjunction with UNICEF, we will grow into a city that respects all children without discrimination and allows them to flourish with happiness. I support the UNICEF Child Friendly Cities Summit 2019.”

“My city is committed to being child-friendly, because the voices, needs, priorities and children’s rights are integral parts of urban policies, programmes and decisions. Children have the right to feel like they are treated subjectively in Gdynia and they have a lot to tell us. Each day we not only provide them with support and help but also promote knowledge about children’s rights via important social campaigns, where children are the main characters, or by allowing children from birth to co-decide on part of the budget. To become more child-friendly, our city constantly looks for good examples and cooperates using global experiences.”

“Our community is committed to the inclusion and well-being of children and young people, because they are our future and should therefore already actively participate in what is happening today. The systematic implementation and securement of participation possibilities of children and young people in our everyday life allows us to implement projects and ideas in their interests. In order to become even child-friendlier, our community has created the respective framework, for example a contact point for children, youth and family issues within our own community administration.”

“The reason why cities can offer a better life lies in the sense of security and well-being they create. Child-friendliness is not only an indicator of good governance that cares for the children, but also represents what people expect and aspire from an urban life.

In 2015, Changsha was one of the first cities in China to implement the Child Friendly Cities Initiative. Over a course of four years, Changsha has been approaching the Initiative through child-friendly policies, child-friendly space and child-friendly services. Voices of children have been heard and heeded, their rights protected and well-being enhanced. Thanks to the technical support and guidance from UNICEF, Changsha has listed child rights as the driver for urban development, social norm sand consensus of the city and delivered child-friendliness in numerous actions taken.

How much children can appreciate the best of what cities can offer determines the future of cities. Changsha’s decision to implement the Child Friendly Cities Initiative will bring to the children a sense of safety, security and happiness and create a future filled with vitality and hopes for itself.”

“Hello, I am Mayor Sylvester Turner. My city is committed to being child-friendly because we believe that when we put children first, and listen to their voices, we make better decisions. We are proud to partner with UNICEF USA in this effort because every child deserves to be protected, valued, respected, and treated fairly. Children should be heard and supported. They have a right to enjoy  family life, play, and leisure. Houston will leverage its resources to ensure that every child can dream big, and those dreams can become a reality.”

“My city is committed to being child-friendly, because we have done a lot of long-term and organized work, especially in the areas of well-being and services, to make the city better for children.

To become more child-friendly, our city has developed and organized the first children’s elections in Finland, that eventually became nationwide. Children vote for fictional figures and by doing so, they learn about the democratic voting process.”

“Only by joining forces, can we make our cities and communities child-friendly”

Childhood happens where children are at home – and that is mostly the town or city in which they live. It is our actions at local government level that have a huge influence on children’s lives and well-being. Yet many local politicians and leaders tend not to be aware that they too can and must help ensure that children’s rights, wishes and needs are respected and taken into account. This has to change and it is my desire to help bring about that change.

Cologne City Council has launched a youth survey, which has highlighted the things our young generation consider important with regard to certain aspects of city life. They include free public transport, a cleaner environment, more green spaces and outdoor sports facilities. The survey’s findings inform the Council’s planning and decision-making processes. At the beginning of the year, we teamed up with young people to open a “children and youth office”, right opposite the City Hall, where my team and I have our offices. This was a key component of our action plan, to which we are committed as holders of the “Child friendly City” seal. Located in the heart of the city, the office provides a space for advice and information. But groups of young activists can also use it to discuss their ideas, launch initiatives and campaigns or to hold events. With it being so close to the City Hall, we also hope to keep up to date with children and young people’s views on current issues so that we are in a better position to respond to their needs as we step up our efforts to advance the rights of Cologne’s younger generation.

Cologne is proud to be hosting the first International Child-Friendly Cities Summit this October, which we are co-organising with UNICEF. And I am very much looking forward to sharing ideas with representatives from other cities and communities that actively promote children’s and young people’s rights. I am certain we can learn a great deal from their examples of good practice and we can all benefit from each other’s experiences. The aim is to make as many aspects as possible of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child part of everyday life. We will be looking to provide an atmosphere in Cologne that promotes the development of joint, innovative solutions in the talks between officials and between young people from numerous countries. Only by joining forces, can we make our cities and communities child-friendly places. Places where children and young people feel safe, appreciated and are nurtured, giving them maximum opportunities to develop themselves and their abilities as they choose.

With 22 twin cities across the globe, we in Cologne are aware of how much can be achieved at the local level by collaborating with friends and partners. And that’s why I firmly believe in the idea behind and the success of this Summit. Examples of such partnerships include the children’s day care centre built by Cologne City Council in our Israeli twin city of Tel Aviv-Yafo in 1988, which is run by the Israeli women’s organisation, Na’amat. The “Cologne Day Care Peace Center” sets a good example for the whole of Israel with its unique approach that brings together Arab-Palestinian children (half of whom are Christians and half Muslims) and Jewish children in a facility where the teaching staff also represent various religions. The work focuses on teaching the traditions and customs of these three major world religions, with the involvement of the children’s parents. The centremakes an effective contribution to respect and understanding between peoples in one of the most fought-over regions on the planet. Another area in which much can and must be done at the local level is climate protection. Here, Cologne has established climate partnerships with Rio de Janeiro and Corinto (Nicaragua) with the aim of sharing knowledge and being able to take forward-looking action.

With the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, we should harness these opportunities for our children too. Together, we can bring about the turning point that will ensure that children’s rights are truly part of life in our cities, rather than merely existing on paper. If we can secure the well-being of our children and young people, we all benefit!