The Global Alliance - Cities 4 Children was launched in February 2020 at the World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi. It now has over 20 member organisations and is chaired by Save the Children.

The Global Alliance was established to tackle the huge challenges and numerous issues faced by children living in urban areas, especially the most marginalized. We believe that together, we will achieve greater collective impact and influence, encourage coordination and multidisciplinary engagement, and enable country and city level collaboration. Most importantly, we will have a louder voice with joint advocacy and communications to transform the narrative on urban areas fit for children.

NACTO-GDCI Brazil Fortaleza Child playing cities for children
Photo Credit: NACTO-GDCI


We want to see urban areas that are planned, designed and managed to support children and youth to reach their highest potential. We want urban areas where children and youth can grow up healthy, safe and happy, where they have access to opportunities and where the rights of children and their caregivers are respected.


The Global Alliance is led and coordinated by the Urban Hub at Save the Children.

Save the Children Sarah Sabry

Dr. Sarah Sabry

Chair and steering committee member, Global Alliance – Cities 4 Children
Save the Children, Global Lead – Urban

Sarah is responsible for advancing Save the Children’s work in the urban context, especially for the most marginalized children. She leads the Global Alliance – Cities 4 Children. Sarah has over 20 years of experience in development practice and research. She worked and consulted for various organisations including the Ford Foundation, IIED, IDRC, the American University in Cairo, and the Arab human rights fund. She has managed an NGO working on poverty reduction in Cairo, been a grant maker, a researcher, lecturer and project manager. Her work, research and writing has mostly focused on urban poverty with a focus on slums/informal settlements and on youth development. She holds a PhD in development studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She has taught at SOAS and at the University of Zurich.

Steering Commitee

Dr. Sara Candiracci, Associate Director, ARUP

Dr. Sara Candiracci

ARUP, Associate Director

Sara is an urban planner, programme manager and social researcher with 19 years of professional experience in the field of inclusive and resilient urban development and planning, with a focus on vulnerable urban contexts. She leads the Inclusive and Resilient Cities portfolio of Arup International Development, and the Child friendly cities agenda, which received in 2020 the Management Consultancies Association (MCA) Award for “Best Use of Thought Leadership”. Before joining Arup in 2017, Sara has worked with the UN (UN-Habitat, UNESCO), Development Banks (World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank), Local Governments (Quito, Ecuador and Maputo, Mozambique) and INGOs (CUAMM, Etimos) in Africa, Latin America and South East Asia. She holds a PhD in urban planning, with a thesis on the role of cultural heritage in social development and place-making in East Africa.

Cecilia Vaca Jones, M.A., Executive Director, Bernard van Leer Foundation (BvL)
Bernard van Leer Foundation BvL Logo

Cecilia Vaca Jones M.A.

Bernard van Leer Foundation, Executive Director

Cecilia has over 20 years of experience managing social development policies and programmes. Prior to becoming the Executive Director of the Bernard van Leer Foundation, she was the Minister of Social Development of Ecuador from 2013 to 2016. She championed policies to improve the conditions of children, women and indigenous communities, including a cross-sectoral policy for ECD. Cecilia has also worked for several civil society organizations, the Organisation of American States, UNDP and has been a university professor. She holds a Master’s degree in Social Policies for Sustainable Development from the University of Bologna, a BA in International Relations from the Pontifical Catholic University in Ecuador, and an executive Master’s degree in cities from the London School of Economics.

Nazmul-Huq ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainable Development)

Dr. Nazmul Huq

ICLEI, Head of the Resilient Development Program

Nazmul Huq is an urban and rural planner and currently the head of the Resilient Development Program at ICLEI world secretariat, Bonn, Germany. He has a Ph.D. degree in spatial and environmental science from the University of Trier, Germany, an Advanced Master on Human Ecology from the Free University Brussels, Belgium, and a Bachelor of Urban and Rural Planning from Khulna University, Bangladesh. He has 10 years of working experience as a researcher and project manager at various organizations such as the Technical University of Cologne, United Nations University in Bonn, Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS) in Bangladesh, Unnayan Onneshan (leading Bangladesh based think tank), Handicap International, and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), among others. He has been regularly publishing scholarly articles on climate change adaptation and sustainable livelihood in reputed scientific outlets.

Annie-Peyton NACTO-GDCI

Annie Peyton

NACTO-GDCI, Program Manager

Annie is a core member of NACTO-GDCI’s Streets for Kids program, which looks at streets through the lens of kids and caregivers and co-authored the design guidebook Designing Streets for Kids. Annie’s work has focused on social and environmental justice in cities. She previously worked on landscape architecture and climate resilience projects in Thailand as a Henry Luce Scholar, with the architecture firm MASS Design Group in Rwanda as a Global Health Corps Fellow, and for architecture firms in New York City and San Francisco. Annie holds a Master and Bachelor of Architecture from Tulane University, graduating with the architecture school’s Outstanding Thesis Award and Alpha Rho Chi Medal.

Douglas Ragan UNHABITAT

Douglas Ragan

UN-Habitat, Programme Management Officer for the Human Rights and Social Inclusion Unit

Douglas has worked on children and youth development at the local, national and international level for the past 30 years. Currently he is managing UN-Habitat’s children and youth programme which has engaged over 500,000 youth through projects in over 70 developing countries. His current focus is working with youth in informal settlements and in conflict cities. Doug has authored, co-authored and edited 17 research and policy publications on urban youth issues, the most recent being the Global Youth-Led Development series, representing research done on youth-led agencies in the developing world. Doug holds a Bachelors Degree in Latin American Studies and a Masters Degree in Management.


Thomas George

UNICEF, Senior Adviser and Global Lead for Urban

Thomas has over 33 years of experience in international development, with 28 years in the United Nations in different countries. He started his career with the Indian Civil Services and is a national of India.

Robert Gillen World Vision

Robert Gillen

World Vision International, Technical Director, Urban Programming

Robert is an international development professional with 17 years demonstrated success in team and portfolio leadership. He has been based in Cambodia for 14 years and has managed and supported development programming in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Robert has a deep understanding of multi-sectoral transformational development interventions. In 2014, he led the citywide evaluation of World Vision’s urban program in Cambodia and subsequent urban strategy and operating model design and has served as the Strategy and Program Quality Director in Cambodia since 2016. Robert holds an MSc in Poverty Reduction and Development Management from the University of Birmingham and a Graduate Certificate of Humanitarian Leadership from Deakin University, Melbourne.

Member Organisations

All Member Logos

The African Centre for Cities (ACC)

The African Centre for Cities (ACC) is an interdisciplinary urban research and teaching institute based at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. The ACC seeks to facilitate critical urban research and policy discourses for the promotion of vibrant, democratic and sustainable urban development in the global South from an African perspective. ACC’s focus is on cities, but the issue of children in cities, and how to create child-friendly cities, is an integral part of ACC’s work. ACC’s Urban Child CityLab, in partnership with the Children’s Institute, specifically focused on children in cities. 

Website: https://africancentreforcities.net/


Arup is a global multi-disciplinary firm with more than 15,000 specialists working across every aspect of today’s built environment. Our mission to “Shape a Better World” is driven by our commitment to make a real difference, find innovative and tangible solutions that change people’s lives for the better, and to help our partners solve their most complex challenges and achieve socially valuable outcomes. Arup has been working on several projects and initiatives to contribute to and influence the child-friendly cities agenda. In 2020, Arup has won the Management Consultancies Association (MCA) Award for “Best Use of Thought Leadership” for its work on designing and planning for urban childhoods. 

Website: https://arup.com/

Bernard van Leer Foundation

We believe that all babies and toddlers, especially the most disadvantaged, deserve a good start in life. A good start puts each individual child on the path to realizing their full potential and, collectively, sets the foundation for a healthy, creative and peaceful society. Our Urban95 initiative is dedicated to reimagining cities from the height of an average healthy three-year-old child (95cm), while working with mayors, urban planners, designers, sociologists and policy-makers to integrate early years thinking into improving cities ecosystems. Its premise is that if a city works for young children and their families it can work for all different people of all ages.

https://bernardvanleer.org/ https://bernardvanleer.org/solutions/urban95/

Child in the City

Child in the City is an independent foundation. The main objectives of the Child in the City Foundation is to strengthen the position of children in cities, promote and protect their rights and give them space and opportunities to play and enjoy their own social and cultural lives. We do this by providing communications platforms for academics, practitioners and campaigners for children’s rights to disseminate research and good practice. The foundation observes 5 general guidelines and encourages national and local networks to translate these into specific local policies addressing local points of focus. The general guidelines are: an holistic, integral and intergenerational approach; the importance of participation for children and young people; and dynamic trade and continuous challenge.

Website: https://childinthecity.org/

Cities Alliance

Cities Alliance is the global partnership fighting urban poverty and supporting cities to deliver sustainable development. Hosted by UNOPS, the organisation is formed by 25 members including multilateral organisations, UN agencies, Governments, NGOs, associations of local governments and city networks. Our work in informal settlements aims at the improvement of infrastructure for the provision of basic services, including education, water and sanitation for the most vulnerable community members including children.

Website: https://citiesalliance.org/

FIA Foundation

The FIA Foundation is a global philanthropy supporting safe and sustainable mobility. Through our Child Health Initiative we advocate for the rights of children and youth in the urban environment, and protection from road danger and air pollution, with a particular focus on safe and healthy journeys to and from school.

Website: https://fiafoundation.org/  https://childhealthinitiative.org/

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity is a global non-profit organization working in local communities across all 50 states in the U.S and in more than 70 other countries. Habitat’s vision is of a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Habitat works toward our vision by building strength, stability and self-reliance in partnership with families in need of decent and affordable housing.

Website: https://habitat.org/emea

ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability

ICLEI is a global network of more than 1,800 local and regional governments committed to sustainable urban development. Active in 100+ countries, ICLEI influences sustainability policy and drives local action for low emission, nature-based, equitable, resilient and circular development. We help cities, towns and regions anticipate and respond to complex challenges, from rapid urbanization and climate change to ecosystem degradation and inequity.

Website: https://iclei.org/


The International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP) is a global network of city and regional planners, promoting planning education and practice to achieve the sustainable development goals , and creating and sharing knowledge for better places through the ISOCARP Institute. Combining a unique, triple perspective in theory, policy and practice, ISOCARP has pioneered the focus of the planning profession on various issues. Child-responsive urban planning and healthy cities are priority topics on the current agenda of both ISOCARP Society and its Institute.

Website: https://isocarp.org/


The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest humanitarian network that reaches 150 million people in 192 National Societies through the work of over 13,7 million volunteers.




Website: https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/

Plan International

Plan International is an independent development and humanitarian organisation that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. We believe in the power and potential of every child. But this is often suppressed by poverty, violence, exclusion and discrimination. Working together with children, young people, our supporters and partners, we strive for a just world, tackling the root causes of the challenges facing girls and all vulnerable children. We support children’s rights from birth until they reach adulthood. And we enable children to prepare for – and respond to – crises and adversity. We drive changes in practice and policy at local, national and global levels using our reach, experience and knowledge. 

Website: https://plan-international.org/


The Global Designing Cities Initiative (GDCI) is a program of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), a non-profit organization that aims to inspire a shift towards safe, sustainable, and healthy cities through transforming our streets. NACTO-GDCI is a team of designers, planners, and urban strategists committed to working in support of city practitioners to get projects on the ground. We focus on empowering local officials and communities to become changemakers, equipping them with the knowledge, tools, and tactics needed to improve urban mobility and fundamentally change the role of streets in our cities.

Website: https://globaldesigningcities.org/

Save the Children

Save the Children’s work ensures that children have healthcare, food and shelter, as well as learning and child protection services when children need it most. We are committed to helping all children achieve their full potential by ensuring they grow up healthy, receive a good education, and stay safe. The Urban Hub at Save the Children is committed to ensuring that the poorest children in urban areas can attain their rights, can survive learn and be protected in cities that are inclusive, safe, sustainable and resilient.

Website: https://savethechildren.net/


STBY is a London and Amsterdam-based agency that specializes in design research for service innovation. We work with organisations of all shapes and sizes to help them better understand their users and design services, systems and spaces in a co-creative way. From projects with the City Council of Amsterdam to Spotify, we have been increasingly conducting research with children and young people to make sure their voices and experiences are incorporated into design processes. REACH, our network of agencies around the world, helps us conduct this kind of research on a global scale.

Website: https://stby.eu/

SDI Network

Global solidarity of the urban poor has been a long-term dream for many of us in the SDI network. This dream began to take shape in the early 1990s when shack dwellers from South Africa’s informal settlements began to visit pavement dwellers living on the streets of Mumbai. Since those days the network has grown steadily in numbers, in influence and in its impact on the everyday lives of millions of urban poor families. 

Website: https://sdinet.org/


Engineering for International Development Centre researches engineering solutions for human development and wellbeing, which address SDGs using locally acceptable water-sanitation-energy approaches. 

Website: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/civil-environmental-geomatic-engineering/research/groups-centres-and-sections/engineering-international-development-centre


UN-Habitat, or the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, is the lead agency within the United Nations system working on human settlements and sustainable urban development. It aims at creating inclusive, secure and resilient cities, notably through the promotion of child-responsive urban planning and collaboration with relevant partners.

Website: https://unhabitat.org/


UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to protect the rights of every child. UNICEF has spent over 70 years working to improve the lives of children and their families. Defending children’s rights throughout their lives requires a global presence, aiming to produce results and understand their effects. UNICEF has a long history of work in urban settings, having commenced its first urban programmes in the early 1960s.

Website: https://unicef.org/

The UN Refugee Agency

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is a global organisation dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. We lead international action to protect refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people. We deliver life-saving assistance, help safeguard fundamental human rights, and develop solutions that ensure people have a safe place called home where they can build a better future.

Website: https://unhcr.org/


UCLG, as a global network of cities and local, regional, and metropolitan governments and their associations, is committed to representing, defending, and amplifying the voices of local and regional governments to leave no-one and no place behind. Through collaboration, dialogue, cooperation, and knowledge-sharing, UCLG works to advance global response and action through ground breaking commitments and agreements that become common threads that transcend borders and tie communities together, to uplift and empower the local level.

Website: https://uclg.org/

What Design Can Do

What Design Can Do is a platform that advocates design as a tool for social change. We aim to demonstrate the power of the creative community in addressing the most pressing issues society is facing today. We do so through our events, design challenges and communication.


Website: https://whatdesigncando.com/

World Vision

World Vision is an international humanitarian, development and advocacy organization focused on child wellbeing. World Vision is present in more than 90 countries and increasingly deepening its presence in fragile contexts (fragile states and countries with sub-national, urban fragility) and rapidly urbanizing regions and countries where the most vulnerable children are located. In World Vision, we believe every child should grow in a fair, just and socially cohesive city that they play a part in planning and designing.  

Website: https://wvi.org/

How can you support the #cities4children movement?


1. Sign up to our mailing list to stay updated. We have exciting plans!

2. Write a blog for us

3. Tell us how your city works for children using the hashtag #cities4children on social media (Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Instagram )

4. Get in touch if you have ideas, success stories, ideas, new tools and research relating to how cities can better work for children.


We welcome new organisations to join the alliance. To join the alliance, we have defined a set of criteria for organisations. You must have a track record of doing work for/with children and youth in urban areas, work in more than one country, be committed to child rights and keen to actively collaborate and contribute. Get in touch and we’ll tell you more.