The Initiative in the world

The Child Friendly City Initiative aims to guide cities and other systems of local governance in the inclusion of children’s rights as a key component of their goals, policies, programmes and structures.

The role of local government in the fulfilment of children’s rights was officially placed on the agenda in 1992 in Dakar, Senegal, when the Mayors Defenders of Children Initiative was launched by UNICEF. Within this framework, a wave of child-centred activities and programmes took shape and were initiated at the local level.

In 1996 the Child Friendly Cities Initiative was launched to act on the resolution passed during the second UN Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II).The Conference declared that the well-being of children is the ultimate indicator of a healthy habitat, a democratic society and good governance.

A Movement of child friendly municipalities started flourishing in low, middle and high-income countries and an increasing number of cities promoted and implemented initiatives to realise the rights of the child. The CFC Initiative should be seen alongside with other related efforts such as UNESCO’s Growing Up in Cities and UN Habitat’s Safer Cities. The growing interest in CFC was rooted in several factors: the increasing number of children living in cities versus the limited structures and capacities of cities to respond to their needs; a general trend in governmental decentralisation; a growing interest in community approaches to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); and the recognition that civic engagement and child participation are key ingredients to good governance.

With the expansion of CFC activities, municipalities have increasingly expressed the need to share experiences and lessons learned. Informal exchanges have gradually developed into regional and national networks. Following Habitat II, CFCI partners have gathered in many other international and regional events, among them the subsequent World Urban Fora.

The CFC movement has mobilized a wide range of partners: local authorities; central government bodies; civil society organizations such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community-based organizations (CBOs); communities; national and international agencies; experts and academic institutions; business and the media; and, most importantly, children and youth groups.

A CFC Secretariat was created in 2000 to serve as a focal point and provide a common reference for the CFC Initiative and movement.