Mayors commit to action for children at the Child Friendly Cities Summit

Friday, October 18, 2019

Working together to make cities and communities a better place for children and young people. © UNICEF/UNI217533/Wogram

Friday 18 October was a special day for UNICEF’s Child Friendly Cities Initiative: to mark the end of the first global Child Friendly Cities Summit, more than 100 mayors and local leaders signed the Cologne Mayors’ Declaration for Child Friendly Cities to accelerate progress towards improving the lives, opportunities and well-being of children in urban areas. The signatories included the Mayors of Cologne, Germany; Recife, Brazil; Madrid, Spain; Tirana, Albania; Seoul, South Korea; Madrid, Spain; and Kollet, Guinea, among others.

After an inspiring exchange of ideas at the mayors’ roundtable discussion hosted by the Mayor of Cologne on Thursday 17 October, mayors and local leaders committed to demonstrate concrete, sustainable and measurable results for children; advance meaningful and inclusive child participation; and eliminate discrimination against children and young people in policies and actions.

“It is our action at local government level that has 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. Today we are sending a strong message to cities and communities around the world that we can make a difference to the lives of children and young people”, said Henriette Reker, Mayor of Cologne.

The commitment announced on Friday is built on a manifesto called “Our cities. Our lives. Our future” presented in the Summit by children and young people. More than 120,000 children and young people from more than 160 countries contributed to the creation of the Manifesto, in which young people call for mayors and local leaders to create cities that are safer, more inclusive, healthier and greener.

“On the 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we are calling for mayors and local leaders to create cities and communities where every child can reach their full potential. Children and young people are counting on you”, said Aino, a 12-year old student from Japan, and a member of the Child Friendly Cities Summit’s Child and Youth Advisory Board.

The Summit was not only an opportunity to strengthen commitment to child rights locally, but also to celebrate the good practices that cities and communities around the world have developed to improve the lives of their youngest citizens. For this purpose, UNICEF launched the CFCI Inspire Awards to celebrate good, innovative and inspiring local solutions or projects. The awards turned out to be immensely popular and an astounding 31,000 votes were cast across the six awards categories. The winners were announced at the Summit on Thursday 17 October.

In addition to strengthened political commitment and celebration of ongoing work, the Summit also offered an important opportunity for technical experts to discuss and exchange experiences in implementing the initiative locally. More than 23 technical sessions were organized during the week on thematic issues ranging from climate change to budgeting, with an aim to accelerate results for children locally.

The Summit ended on Friday, but UNICEF will continue to support a growing number of local governments around the world to create more child-responsive cities and communities – and to do this together with children and young people themselves. As summarized by UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Charlotte Petri Gornitzka: “Let us commit not only to listening to children and young people. Let’s support them. Let’s take action with them. Let’s follow their lead.”

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Resources and good practices gathered from the sessions are available on the CFCI website.

All photos and videos are available on WeShare