Just Cities for Children: World Vision International Contributing to Urban October

Just Cities for Children: World Vision International Contributing to Urban October

The first annual World Cities Day celebrated on 31 October 2014 was declared by the United Nations General Assembly. World Cities Day took place on the last day of Urban October, which was initiated by UN-Habitat as a time to raise awareness, promote participation, generate knowledge, and engage the international community towards a New Urban Agenda, promoting a Better Urban Future.

World Vision International, a Lead Partner of the World Urban Campaign, hosted three different city-wide campaigns in Recife, Brazil; New Delhi, India; and Beirut, Lebanon. In each of these cities, World Vision hosted a Children’s Assembly, providing a national platform for children to express their thoughts about their rights, hopes, and dreams for the cities that they live in and for child-friendly urban spaces of the future.

In Recife, over 120 children identified violence and lack of infrastructure as the greatest challenges to a Better Urban Future in front of the city’s Head of Child and Adolescent Division of the Secretariat of Social Development and Human Rights and local officials. They reflected upon their city through drawings, paintings and photography. “Children want to live in a city where there are appropriate public spaces for leisure and quality health care, where children’s voices are being taken into account,” declared World Vision Brazil’s Director of Public Policy and Mobilisation.

In New Delhi, 60 children raised critical questions about the city’s environmental pollution, solid waste management, child rights, drug abuse and protection to the Mayor of North East Delhi, a Child Welfare Committee Member from the North West Delhi District, and key representatives from Habitat from Humanity and UN-Habitat. Children discussed the city they need using poetry, art and safety and self-defense activities required to empower the children and youth of New Delhi. “This is a time to act and change the situation. We need a better life,” expressed a 16 year old participant.

In Beirut, more than 80 children and youth voiced the challenges they faced living in the city of Beirut surrounding by conflict to local municipality authorities. They discussed potential solutions by a puzzle depicting a dream city that was pieced together by the participants. The completed puzzle illustrated united communities containing safe places to learn, play and communicate for children with easy access to healthier lifestyles and better infrastructure. “I dream of a developed Beirut. Not in terms of technology, but respect and provision of safety and security to the people,” explained one child representative.

To highlight the importance of the genuine inclusion of children’s voices and participation to contribute to a Better Urban Future, World Vision International launched a new report entitled “Just Cities for Children: Voices from Urban Slums.” The report highlights World Vision’s experience in supporting children to express their ideas for a better city to key decision makers on a global platform and in mainstreaming child participatory processes into its urban programmes. It explains World Vision's partnership with UN-Habitat and features a section on the first ever Children's Assembly, which took place at the seventh session of the World Urban Forum. The report also features the outcome of that Assembly, the Children's Charter, which was then presented to Dr Joan Clos for his consideration moving towards Habitat III.

Read World Vision International’s Just Cities for Children: Voices from Urban Slums report.