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Global Alliance - Cities 4 Children Publications

Cities for Children: An Overview of Relevant Issues

Multiple Themes

This briefing provides an introduction to the status of children in urban areas, focusing on the most marginalised and deprived children and the range of issues they face, including the impacts of migration, poverty, hunger, conflict, disease and vulnerability to disaster.

Urban Children and Malnutrition


This evidence into action brief summarises the state of research on the topic of urban children and malnutrition, and proposes ideas for action.

COVID-19 and Children in Urban Contexts

COVID19 and children in urban contexts COVID-19

This evidence into action brief summarises the state of research on the topic of urban children and COVID-19, and proposes ideas for action. Across the world, public and political attention is firmly focused on recovery from COVID-19. But it is vital that we build back better.

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Protect Urban Refugee Children

UNHCR Protect Urban Refugee Children Migration & Forced Displacement

Urbanization is a defining trend of our era. As of the end of 2016, 60% of the world’s 17.2 million refugees under UNHCR’s mandate live in urban areas, with that number expected to increase. Many refugee children will live their entire childhoods in cities. With funding from the United States Government Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration, UNHCR is conducting research on the ways that city life affects the protection of refugee children and their families.

Tackling a Double-Threat: Children at the Front and Centre of Urban Fragility and Climate Change

Tackling a Double-Threat: Children at the Front and Centre of Urban Fragility and Climate Change Climate Change

Climate change is a threat multiplier, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable girls and boys. Though children are the least responsible for climate change, those living in urban informal settlements, as well as fragile and developing contexts, are among the most susceptible to its ravages. This policy brief explores the linkages between urban fragility and climate change and the resulting impacts on children in marginalized urban settings.

Youth and the New Urban Agenda

youth and the new urban agenda Child and Youth participation

In order to create a positive correlation between urbanization and development – addressing the root causes of poverty and inequality - urban regulations and policies need to be reflective of the realities affecting young people. Cities can benefit from new thinking on how a youthful population provides opportunities for local economies to close income gaps and expand revenues for local authorities. Coupled with plans that account for larger youth populations living in and migrating to urban areas, cities can increase their potential for becoming prosperous, equitable and innovative.

Designing Streets for Kids

Early childhood development

Building on the success of the Global Street Design Guide, the guidance in Designing Streets for Kids captures international best practices, strategies, programs, and policies that cities around the world have used to design spaces that enable children of all ages and abilities to utilize cities’ most abundant asset – streets. The guide includes design recommendations and case studies that highlight streets that are safe, enjoyable, and inspirational for children and caregivers.

Advantage or Paradox?: The challenge for children and young people of growing up urban

UNICEF advantage or paradox Multiple Themes

To better understand the paradox of urban areas sometimes having lower performance in some indicators than rural areas, UNICEF examined the best available international evidence for 10 selected indicators of child well-being drawn from the most recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) and Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) from 77 mostly low- and middle income countries.

The City at Eye Level for Kids

Urban Design

While urban planners may consider children when designing parks and playgrounds, few ask how their and their parents’ needs could be better met in the design of streets and other public spaces in neighbourhoods and city centres. The City at Eye Level (CAEL), an international platform advocating for more people-centred planning in urban development, seeks through this project to highlight and focus its scope on children and their parents.

KYCTV Pocket Filmmaker Handbook

Child Participation

A new media ecosystem is emerging and with it great opportunities. More and more people now have access to free and diverse information. Camera’s are getting smaller, internet bandwidth is getting faster and cheaper and more and more people share ideas through social media. This guide offers a crash course in making powerful video content to tell your story.

The New Urban Agenda learning resources

Multiple Themes

This course explains and illustrates the New Urban Agenda in an easily accessible format. The course is intended for anyone with an interest in sustainable urbanization. It is particularly useful to public civil servants, mayors, local government officials, architects, urban planners, NGO workers and volunteers, and employees of international organizations.

The New Urban Agenda

Urban Planning

The New Urban Agenda was adopted at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Quito, Ecuador, on 20 October 2016. It was endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly at its sixty-eighth plenary meeting of the seventy-first session on 23 December 2016. The New Urban Agenda represents a shared vision for a better and more sustainable future. If well-planned and well-managed, urbanization can be a powerful tool for sustainable development for both developing and developed countries.

Proximity of care

Early childhood development

A new approach to designing for early childhood in vulnerable urban contexts. This publication presents the challenges and opportunities confronting early childhood development in vulnerable urban contexts, derived from specialised research by Arup and the Bernard van Leer Foundation. 

Global Urban Approach 2018-2030: Executive Summary


This paper offers a summary of Habitat for Humanities to meeting the urban housing challenge. Housing is central to achieving socially just, economically viable and ecologically healthy and sustainable cities, as envisioned in the New Urban Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities.

Streets for Pandemic Response & Recovery

NACTO GDCI Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery Public Space

Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery compiles emerging practices from around the world and includes implementation resources for cities and their partners. Recognizing the rapidly changing nature of this pandemic, Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery will be revised and expanded to include new strategies, address changing conditions, and provide the best possible information on each design practice.

Public Spaces for Children: A Consultation with Children on their use of Urban Public Spaces

World Vision Public Spaces for Children Child and Youth participation

Language: English This consultation aims to capture children’s perspectives and lived experience in the public spaces in their neighborhoods and cities. The questions focused on four different characteristics of that experience: proximity and accessibility, safety, cleanliness, usability and stability. The voices and experience of children in these different urban contexts can help establish the right Read more →

UNHCR policy on refugee protection and solutions in urban areas

UNHCR policy on refugee protection in urban areas Migration & Forced Displacement

The world is undergoing a process of rapid urbanization. In 1950, less than 30 per cent of the world’s population lived in cities and towns. That figure has now increased to over 50 per cent and is expected to reach 60 per cent by 2030. In view of these developments, it is no surprise to find that a growing number and proportion of the world’s refugees are also to be found in urban areas.

Child-Centred Urban Resilience Framework

Urban Resilience

This framework guides efforts to build urban resilience that support children, youth, girls and boys. It integrates child and human rights into resilient urban development, enabling children to become agents of resilience. Public and private stakeholders can use this guide to assess and adapt current efforts to build resilience; identify opportunities; promote co-ordination and develop pathways to greater resilience through new initiatives.

How can schools adapt to build climate resilience?

Climate Change Adaptation

Climate change guidance for London schools and early years settings. In the coming decades, climate change will cause more frequent and widespread flooding, scarcity of water resources, and increased heat risk. How can schools adapt to safeguard the learning and wellbeing of students and staff?

A youth driven approach to climate adaptation in informal settlements

Climate Change Adaptation

This card game was developed with the aim to share the experience and knowledge gained though a youth-driven project to strengthen the resilience and adaptive capacity of disadvantaged communities in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to assist other organisations, urban practitioners and decision makers working in similar vulnerable contexts to prompt discussion with youth and community groups, and gain useful inspiration for their own projects. 

Cities Alive: Designing for Urban Childhoods

Urban Planning

A child-friendly approach to urban planning is a vital part of creating inclusive cities that work better for everyone. Designing for urban childhoods inspires us to respond positively to the challenges, and sets out actions that can help take us to a more child-friendly future – moving well beyond simply providing playgrounds.

Global Urban Approach – Case study: Liberia

Child Participation

Language: English Innovative, affordable housing solutions in any context require evidence-based community-, market-and policy-level solutions that stem from a deeper analysis of the entire housing ecosystem. This includes understanding the housing market conditions; the policy environment; and the social, economic and environmental realities that communities face. Relevant assessments that identify constraints and optimize opportunities are essential Read more →

Reverse Innovation: Could Learning From LMIC Child Health Programmes Support HIC to Equitably and Efficiently Address Child Health Needs Post COVID-19?


There is an urgency to consider how we need to modify our current public health strategies in HIC to mitigate for the secondary negative consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking towards and learning from conflict settings and areas of humanitarian crisis in LIC/LMIC may be a place to start. The process, whereby HIC adopt interventions developed in LIC/LMIC is most frequently described as Reverse Innovation

Multiple and complex links between babyWASH and stunting: an evidence synthesis

Health and Nutrition

Studies have shown linkages between water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and stunting in children under 2 years in sub-Saharan Africa. This paper reviews the literature regarding these links, and the efficacy of both general WASH interventions and those targeted at children in their first 1,000 days, known as babyWASH, for stunting reduction.

Challenging Urban Poverty Project Brief

Child Poverty

Save the Children is implementing the Challenging Urban Poverty project in Yangon, Myanmar to support the socioeconmic 'graduation' of very poor and vulnerable urban households. This brief outlines the package offered to families through the project.

Making Lives: Refugee self-reliance and humanitarian action in cities

Migration & Forced Displacement

This publication presents the results of a one-year research project at the intersection of urban, humanitarian and forced migration studies. As protracted displacement increasingly contributes to urban change and poses a challenge for city governance and infrastructures, this research project focuses on ‘urban-itarian’ settings – cities that are home to a growing number of ‘persons of concern’, and increased humanitarian activity

Securing the Rights of Girls and Boys in Urban Poor Relocation Programs

Child Rights Governance

This child rights impact assessment (CRIA) studies the impact of resettlement on children living in informal settlements and resettlement sites. The study embraces a holistic perspective on children’s situation by looking a range of factors that influence children’s rights and well-being: right to health, right to education, right to safe environment, freedom from violence and abuse, etc.

Forgotten Futures: The lives of refugee children in urban areas of Indonesia and Thailand

Migration & Forced Displacement

This study seeks to build an understanding of the education and child protection issues surrounding refugee and asylum-seeking children living in these precarious and detrimental situations. Research conducted in Bangkok and Jakarta included interviews with service providers and refugee community members as well as site visits to community learning centres, detention centres and shelters.

Climate Change Risks and Resilience in Urban Children in Asia: Synthesis Report for Secondary Cities

Climate Change Adaptation

This study looks at three secondary Asian cities: Khulna (Bangladesh), Malolos (Philippines) and Da Nang (Vietnam). It considers the opportunities and gaps between current urban and climate change planning and argues for greater focus on secondary cities – in particular those cities at highest risk in Asia. It concludes by putting forward recommendations for government and non-government actors alike.

State of the World’s Mothers 2015: The urban disadvantage

Multiple Themes

This report presents the latest and most extensive analysis to date of health disparities between rich and poor in cities. It finds that in most developing countries, the poorest urban children are at least twice as likely to die as the richest urban children. In some countries, they are 3 to 5 – or even more – times as likely to die.

Urban Situation Analysis: Guide and Toolkit

Multiple Themes

This ready-to-use Urban Situation Analysis Guide has been designed to help development workers assess the urban realities and complexities that directly impact children and their communities.

Jozi Lights: How to protect children engaging in rural to urban migration

Child Protection

Through support from Save the Children’s Urban Strategy Initiative and the role and work of our Southern Africa Regional Office and country teams in Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe this study utilizes learning from a participatory study with migrant children in those cities to determine suitable methodologies for seeking out and building a profile of children who are most at risk of migrating alone.

COVID-19 & the Risks to Children in Urban Contexts


This policy brief looks at how World Vision is responding as we continue to anticipate and experience the impacts in Urban areas, assess the needs of the most vulnerable  and provides recommendations for what governments, the UN and other NGOs can do to lessen their suffering. 

Leaving is Living: impact of family, the economy and violence on migrant children from El Salvador

Migration & Forced Displacement

The findings of World Vision’s studies outline the social and economic factors that influence children´s and caregivers’ decisions to migrate. The findings also provide empirical evidence of the nature of children’s lived experiences along migratory routes, while highlighting the crucial role of families and migrant shelters throughout migration processes.

The New Urban Agenda Illustrated

Multiple Themes

The New Urban Agenda Illustrated handbook serves as the base for the New Urban Agenda online crash course. The self-paced course is available for free and accessible at any time. The course further breaks down the contents of the New Urban Agenda in an interactive and engaging format. 

Global Street Design Guide

Public Space

The Global Street Design Guide is supporting practitioners to redefine the role of streets in cities around the world. Created with the input of experts from 72 cities in 42 countries, the Guide offers technical details to inform street design that prioritizes pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders.

Outdoor Public Space Activities Characteristics of Children and Their Inter-generational Parents and Design Strategies from the health perspective: a case study in Harbin, China

Child Protection

With the rapid urbanization of China and the establishment of the new family structure, the phenomenon of grandparents taking care of children has become common in urban families. Preschoolers and their inter-generational caregivers have become the second major users of outdoor public space (OPS) in the cities of China. This paper explores this phenomenon and some of the design considerations it requires.

Global Urban Approach – Case study: Paraguay

Disaster Risk Reduction

A case study of a comprehensive housing ecosystem approach in Asunción, Paraguay. Innovative, affordable housing solutions in any context require evidence-based community-, market- and policy level solutions that stem from a deeper analysis of the entire housing ecosystem.

Make Adolescent Well-Being a Priority: An Urgent Call to Action

Health and Nutrition

This is a call to action to make adolescent health and wellbeing a priority. The 10-19 age group is a unique window of opportunity for well-being, health and development, through a person's life. Yet globally, 1.1 million adolescents are dying each year from preventable causes. Millions more are suffering abuse, injury and ill health

Playing it Safe? A global white paper on risk, liability and children’s play in public space

Public Space

Available data suggests that playgrounds are comparatively safe places – yet, in many countries, concerns about potential liability for injury have led to bureaucratic risk reduction initiatives that might not do a good job of weighing the risks against the benefits of encouraging more adventurous outdoor play. Drawing on research across a number of disciplines, this white paper sets out 10 recommendations for action by agencies taking forward playground and public space initiatives.

Toolkit for measuring urban experiences of young children

Public Space

People moving count, stationary activity mapping, intercept surveys and sensory mapping are among the tools that can be used to gather data on young children and caregivers in cities. They are explained in practical detail in this publication, a collaboration between the Bernard van Leer Foundation and Gehl.

An Urban95 Starter Kit – ideas for action

Urban Planning

Based on learnings gathered from Urban95 initiatives across the world, this Urban95 Starter Kit serves as a starting point to help cities understand the value of investing in their youngest inhabitants and the people who care for them, and to provide actionable ideas and guidance on how to do so.

Reconstructing a city in the interests of its children: Tirana, Albania, 2015–2019

Urban Planning

Erion Veliaj is the first mayor of Tirana, Albania, to be elected primarily by those born after communism. In 2015 he took charge of a youthful city – the 800,000 residents’ average age was 27 – that had endured decades of isolation under a totalitarian regime followed by unchecked growth in the 1990s that brought heavy pollution, traffic, haphazard construction, economic disparity, corruption and social strife.

PUCU: Camino de Encuentros para la Primera Infancia de Pucusana

Disaster Risk Reduction

Language: Spanish En la guía de diseño de PUCU, se recogen ideas para reorganizar los espacios públicos y diseñarlos de forma que respondan mejor a las necesidades de crecimiento y desarrollo de la primera infancia. Se establece un estrecho vínculo entre el urbanismo y el diseño, por un lado, y las necesidades de la sociedad, por Read more →

How dashboards can help cities improve early childhood development

Urban Planning

Data dashboards can help cities to set priorities, monitor progress, encourage collaboration, inform decisions, increase accountability, and strengthen the voices of children. Based on interviews with experts and practitioners, this report considers when dashboards are useful, how they work, and what makes them most effective in promoting child-friendly cities.

Mix and Match – Tools to Design Urban Play

Public Space

This toolkit provides possible design interventions to create more inclusive play environments from the street to the neighbourhood. It is aimed at stakeholders including policy-makers, designers, planners, architects, NGOs and residents.

Services for children and family in Istanbul district municipalities

Urban Planning

This report summarises how the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) produced an interactive map of services for children and families across 39 district municipalities in Istanbul, correlated with data about the child population and socio-economic indicators.

Get ready for data! A tool to guide data use to serve babies, toddlers and the people who care for them

Urban Planning

This tool is designed to help city leaders, officials and early child development practitioners to make practical decisions. The result of a collaboration between the Bernard van Leer Foundation and the Open Data Institute, it guides teams through the key considerations for planning a data-informed project or policy, including strategy, data collection and use, and ethics and engagement.

Space to Grow: Ten principles that support happy, healthy families in a playful, friendly city

Public Space

This paper briefly distils 10 initial findings from research to explore how public spaces in a city might better support young children and their caregivers. Ranging beyond parks and playgrounds to plazas, sidewalks and streets, it aims to inform and inspire planners, designers, public health advocates and community members who are fighting for more child-friendly cities.

Comparative Global Study of Urban Spaces to Support Parents

Public Space

This comparative study looks in depth at five programmes: Empowering Parents, Empowering Communities (London); Briya Public Charter School’s Two Generation Programme (Washington DC); Mala Ulica Family Centre (Ljubljana); De SLOEP, House of the Child (Ghent); and Triple P – Positive Parenting Program (Queensland).

Governing from a child’s perspective: Recife, Brazil, works to become family friendly, 2017-2019

Child Participation

This case study looks at the Urban95 project in Recife, Brazil. In 2017, Geraldo Julio, the mayor of Recife, Brazil, heard scientific evidence that ensuring children from birth to age six years got a better start in life resulted in long-term benefits such as improved health, more-effective learning, less likelihood of criminal involvement, and increased employability.

Building Better Cities with Young Children and Families: How to engage our youngest citizens and families in city building: a global scan of best practices

Child Participation

880 Cities set out to find out what cities around the world are doing when it comes to engaging young children and their families in city building. BvL conducted background research, place-based research, and interviews with over 20 researchers, practitioners, policy-makers and thought-leaders on diverse projects related to the built environment as well as for the delivery services.

Reducing Inequality by Focusing on the Very Young: Boa Vista, Brazil, Deepens its Investment in Early Childhood Development, 2009–2016

Early childhood development

Narrowing the gap between rich and poor was a top priority for Teresa Surita, five-time mayor of Boa Vista, Brazil. Surita had long viewed early childhood development services as crucial for improving life chances and attaining that goal, and she had partnered with several programs to expand parent coaching and other opportunities. This case study outlines the Urban95 program in Boa Vista.

Forgotten voices: The world of urban children in India

Health and Nutrition

This report discusses how the major urban development schemes in India do not adequately take into account issues related to children’s health, education, growth, safety and participation and presents concrete and specific opportunities for intervention for policymakers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Urban Considerations For World Vision’s Global COVID-19 Response


This document serves to provide specific recommendations to the four strategic objectives of WV’s global response to COVID-19 in urban contexts; keeping in mind that different countries are in different stages of the transmission and while immediate preventative measures are critically needed, it is also important to start considering what needs to be done beyond prevention and response.

Voices from urban Africa: The impact of urban growth on children

Multiple Themes

This report examines the impact of urbanization on children in Africa — including sexual exploitation and abuse, disease and malnutrition, illiteracy and child labor — and is calling for greater investment in policies and programs to ensure the survival, protection and advancement of children, particularly those living in the poorest urban communities.

The Hidden Impact of COVID-19 on Children in Urban Contexts


The characteristics of urban areas increase not only the exposure and vulnerability of their populations to the direct health risks of COVID-19, but also the negative impact of infection control measures. As COVID-19 has spread rapidly across the globe, governments have implemented a range of measures to contain the spread of the pandemic, including school closures, home isolation/quarantine and community lockdowns.

Safe and healthy journeys to school Toolkit

FIA Foundation Child Health Initiative Toolkit School toolkit

This toolkit is to support and enable the delivery of ‘safe and healthy journey to school’ interventions. Each day millions of children worldwide face the risk of road traffic injury and are forced to breathe dangerously toxic air. The toolkit is an introductory guide to help you to assess the current situation of roads and air pollution, design an appropriate intervention, and work with others to ensure a lasting impact. This unsafe environment is a major health threat to children on their daily journey to access education.

Early Childhood Matters 2020

Early childhood development

The global COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the enormous gaps between communities, cities, regions and nation states. To shape a better future, investing in early childhood needs to remain a priority for all governments and societies. Front and centre of this year’s Early Childhood Matters are resounding calls to action from global leaders and experts to ensure that young children, families, frontline workers and cities continue to thrive.

Child Friendly design of Urban public space: based on the study of shanghai, China

Public Space

At present, more than 50% of children live in big cities. But with the increasing number of motor vehicles and shrinking public spaces , children have less and less opportunities for outdoor activities, resulting in obesity and sub-health problems. Therefore, it is very important to build children-friendly public spaces in metropolis. This study takes the Shanghai, China as an example.

Shaping urbanization for children

Urban Planning

This publication calls all urban stakeholders to invest in child-responsive urban planning, recognizing that cities are not only drivers of prosperity, but also of inequity. Through 10 Children’s Rights and Urban Planning principles, the handbook presents concepts, evidence, tools and promising practices to create thriving and equitable cities where children live in healthy, safe, inclusive, green and prosperous communities. By focusing on children, it provides guidance on the central role that urban planning should play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, from a global perspective to a local context.

Making Sense of the City: Developing evidence through action research and learning

Multiple Themes

The 'Making Sense of the City' report provides lessons from practical action with regard to World Vision's impact in dense and diverse informal settlements and slums.  World Vision's first (five-year) phase of urban research confirms children are the first casualties of urban poverty. We are learning that proximity to services in urban settings does not mean access and that the urban poor continue to be excluded from the benefits of urbanisation due to political, social and economic factors.

The State of the World’s Children 2012: Children in an Urban World

Multiple Themes

Urbanisation has left hundreds of millions of children excluded from vital services, UNICEF warns in its new report, The State of the World’s Children 2012: Children in an Urban World. Over half the world’s population – including more than a billion children – now live in cities and towns. Cities offer many children the advantages of urban schools, clinics and playgrounds. Yet the same cities the world over are also the settings for some of the greatest disparities in children’s health, education and wellbeing.