Why discussing child rights at local level matters

Cities and communities provide a most-favourable context to ensure a high standard of living and equal opportunities for all children, because it is easier to promote and ensure accessibility to services, social inclusion and participation of children in matters that affect their lives. Traditionally, children living in cities would have access to better education and, later on, to employment opportunities, diversified and quality health, social and other services, appropriate housing and more opportunities. Through effective and participatory planning, urban areas and communities can indeed provide green, safe and appropriate spaces, promote inclusion, social and economic growth, address poverty and tackle the various issues that children face from the time they are born through proximity and quality social, education, health, urban planning and other services. However, urban settlements from the great part, have not been able to build on the positive side of a bigger community and, with the large movements of people from rural to urban areas around the world, we have seen increasing numbers of unsafe and inappropriate settlements, such as slums, the appearance of cities where children do not feel safe about walking or taking public transport to school on their own, air pollution and even extreme poverty. Already today, the majority of the world’s population lives in urban centres, a third of which are children and it is estimated that by 2050, almost 70 % of the world’s children will live in urban areas, many of them in slums (1). Discussing child rights within governance cannot therefore be an add-on or an after-thought, it must be a priority for national, regional and local governments.

(1) Child-friendly Cities Initiative