In Switzerland and Liechtenstein, the UNICEF initiative “Child-Friendly Cities” has been active since 2004, operating under the name “Kinderfreundliche Gemeinde”, “Commune amie des enfants” and “Comune amico dei bambini” in its different linguistic regions.
The initiative aims at ensuring the rights of children to participate, be protected, supported and treated equally in their everyday lives. This is reflected in how their rights are implemented in the following areas: administration and politics, education, family life, child hearing, child and youth protection, early childhood development, health and leisure and urban planning.
The initiative demonstrates, among other things, a municipality’s potential for development, contributes to the networking of various stakeholders within the municipality and makes the municipality more attractive for families.
A municipality wishing to be recognized as child-friendly must follow certain steps. It must conduct a local situation analysis based on a questionnaire developed by the initiative’s working group and convene workshops with children and adolescents to include their perspectives. Based on the results of the situation analysis and the workshops, communities then develop an action plan with concrete measures that favour children and adolescents. External evaluators and representatives of UNICEF Switzerland and Liechtenstein in a last step assess the different steps and documents, during a so-called evaluation day in the municipality.
If the evaluation is favourable, the municipality is recognized as child-friendly. The recognition is valid for a period of four years with a review conducted after two years. UNICEF offers guidance and support to participating municipalities throughout the whole process.
As of 2019, 42 municipalities, including the capital city of Bern, have received a child-friendly city recognition, of which almost half of all communities have been recognized at least twice.
Several cantons, one foundation and one corporation financially support participating communities.
© UNICEF Switzerland