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Conference Report Conference Report

Re-imagining Urban Childhoods: Collective thinking on ‘Child Friendly Cities’

Thriving and happy children are indicators of a healthy and sustainable society with high levels of well-being. Children form an understanding of their environment through everyday discoveries and encounters in the park, at school, during a stroll in a neighbourhood street or imagining and inventing games and stories every day. Thus, built environment plays a crucial role in shaping children’s narratives of the city, and their understanding and experience of urban spaces.

Growing up in the cities is as complex as it is exciting, with multitudes of stimuli scattered in these every- day experiences of children. While there are plenty of opportunities, the urban environment is also wrought with threats that impact the overall growth and development of a child. A well-planned and sensitively designed built environment can be a powerful force to facilitate positive and holistic development of children and pave way for delivering their rights to live safely, access education, and enjoy everyday freedoms. While this is being acknowledged by a number of cities, the momentum has to be built to enable a paradigm shift towards an urban development agenda that takes into account the needs of children that comprise approximately one third of the residents of any Indian city.

This Conference was organized by the Child Friendly Smart Cities initiative of National Institute of Urban Affairs with twin objectives of disseminating the knowledge gathered over four years as well as providing a platform for urban local bodies, urban planners and policy makers to learn from successful city level plans and projects that have been responsive to needs of children from across the world. Partcipants collectively contemplated on the everyday experiences for children in cities and the innovative ways in which these can be enhanced to make growing up fun.