Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is Viet Nam’s largest city and the commercial, political, cultural and technological centre of the country. The city is inhabited by 13 million people, and close to 45 per cent are under 25 years of age. Together with neighbouring provinces in the Southern Economic Region, the city currently accounts for nearly 40 per cent of Viet Nam’s gross domestic product (GDP). With GDP per capita of over US$5,500, HCMC is the middle-income city of lower middle income Viet Nam. However, on-going and emerging challenges are on the rise due to Ho Chi Minh City’s rapid and uneven urbanization and continue to bring adverse impact on the city’s sustainable development.
In September 2015, the HCMC Peoples Committee, in collaboration with UNICEF Vietnam, committed to creating Vietnam’s first Child Friendly City and joined the UNICEF-supported global Child Friendly Cities Initiative. In the coming years it is envisaged that Ho Chi Minh City will serve as a model in Vietnam as well as in the region, of a city where every child is given a fair start in life and opportunities to live, thrive and grow in a safe, clean, responsive and resilient environment.
Between 2017-2021, the Child Friendly City Initiative will be supported through a partnership with UNICEF with the overall aim of addressing emerging and growing urban challenges affecting girls and boys, namely rapid urbanization, climate change and manmade disasters, violence and abuse, and discrimination and inequity.
Evidence-based planning and monitoring, expanded partnerships, meaningful participation and strengthened coordination with children, government institutions, the business community, the innovation eco-system, civil society, child- and youth-led organizations and academia are core strategies for achieving results for children and adolescents in the city.
In line with UNICEF’s new urban priorities for children and based on the recently launched Situation Analysis for children in HCMC, the Child Friendly City Initiative will address the following key concerns impacting on child’ rights realization in the city: 1) reducing equity gaps, extending social services to marginalized children and protecting all children from violence; 2) promoting safe and sustainable urban environments; 3) adapting urban planning and budgeting for children in urban settings; 4) enhancing voice and participation of vulnerable children and young people; and 5) strengthening the evidence base of urban areas in policy and research.
Based on good practice and lessons learned from the CFCI in HCMC, it is hoped that other major cities in Viet Nam, such as Hanoi and Da Nang, will join the network of Child Friendly City Initiatives.