What is the Child Friendly Cities Initiative?

The Child Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI) is a UNICEF-led initiative that supports municipal governments in realizing the rights of children at the local level using the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as its foundation.

It is also a network that brings together government and other stakeholders such as civil society organizations, the private sector, academia, media and, importantly, children themselves who wish to make their cities and communities more child-friendly.

The initiative was launched in 1996 by UNICEF and UN-Habitat to act on the resolution passed during the second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) to make cities liveable places for all. The UN Conference declared that the wellbeing of children is the ultimate indicator of a healthy habitat, a democratic society and of good governance.

History of the CFCI

  • 1996

    Launch of CFCI

    The Child Friendly Cities Initiative is launched by UNICEF and UN-Habitat to act on the resolutions passed during the second UN Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II).

  • 1996

    A Movement Begins

    A movement of child-friendly municipalities begins to flourish in a number of low, middle and high-income countries, and an increasing number of cities promote and implement initiatives to realize child rights.

  • 1998

    Activities Expand

    Municipalities increasingly express the need to share experiences and lessons learned. Informal exchanges gradually develop into regional and national networks that mobilize a wide range of partners including government bodies, civil society organizations, national and international agencies, experts and academic institutions, the private sector, media as well as child and youth groups.

  • 2000

    CFC Secretariat Created

    The International Secretariat for Child Friendly Cities is created and hosted by UNICEF’s Office of Research – Innocenti in Florence to support knowledge exchange and facilitate research and analysis on the implementation of child rights at the local level. The Secretariat supports Child Friendly Cities work from Florence until 2011.

  • 2004

    Framework for Action

    The original CFC Framework for Action is launched, outlining nine building blocks that make up a child-friendly city or community.

  • 2004

    Using the Framework

    Cities and communities around the world use the framework to inform their work on building child-friendly cities and communities. Some work directly with UNICEF, others use the framework as inspiration.

  • 2008–2010

    Research and Tools

    A research initiative is designed to improve the self-assessment capacities of cities and communities as the basis for local planning, advocacy and community action to improve the living conditions of children. A set of self-assessment tools for local authorities and communities is developed by UNICEF and the Child Environments Research Group.

  • 2016–2017

    Support Reinvigorated

    Support for the CFCI is reinvigorated at UNICEF headquarters with a stocktaking of Child Friendly Cities initiatives in National Committee countries, the launch of the Child Friendly Cities and Communities Initiative Toolkit for UNICEF National Committees and a new internal Community of Practice. The initiative is included in UNICEF’s global urban strategy.

  • 2018

    Handbook and Website

    Launch of the UNICEF Child Friendly Cities and Communities Handbook with a framework for establishing a CFCI. Launch of the new Child Friendly Cities Initiative website with updated resources and examples.