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Children’s unique urban health challenges timely topic at Uppsala Health Summit 2019

2019-09-17

Densification of cities causes increased traffic and less space for playgrounds, schoolyards and spontaneous play. This has a negative effect on children’s health and development. Even though the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has been ratified by most countries, the child perspective is often missing in the planning process. The high-level international meeting Uppsala Health Summit is focusing on urban planning from a child health perspective.

Uppsala Health Summit, “Healthy Urban childhoods,” which takes place on October 8th and 9th at Uppsala castle in Uppsala, Sweden, will bring together researchers, representatives from the private sector, health care, international organisations, and civil society organisations from around the world. The purpose of the summit is to develop concrete action plans as a way to develop more child-friendly cities in Sweden as well as internationally.

“By 2050, the majority of the world’s children will live in cities. From the child’s perspective, urban environments should be safe, challenging and accessible, where they can move around on their terms. It should be obvious that we build cities that work for all phases of a person’s life, but sadly, that is not the case. Developers, politicians and planners do not always have children’s best interest in mind. Densification at all costs is a significant trend in today’s city planning and building,” says Petter Åkerblom, Senior Lecturer in Landscape Architecture, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and Program Committee Chair, Uppsala Health Summit.

The focus of the summit will be on children and urban planning, with a perspective that a city that is planned for children will benefit everyone, and be socially and environmentally sustainable. The discussions during the summit will mostly take place in workshops, which will cover critical topics, including the need for indicators for children’s built environments, children’s participation in building and planning processes, mechanisms to collaborate to reduce child obesity at local levels, city gardening and farms for learning and well-being, and how to measure segregation and child health.

”Cities all over the world are mostly failing children from a child rights perspective, and we have to ensure that all stakeholders including children, adolescents, local communities and CSOs get an opportunity to participate alongside urban planners, and government agencies. Over 1 billion people globally are living in slums and informal settlements, where children are at a further disadvantage due to the inadequacies in their physical and social environments. Ensuring the child’s right to play by making available space, time, resources and permission to play in public places will help to fulfil SDG target #11.7 and is essential for creating safe, inclusive, sustainable and resilient cities, everywhere,” says Sudeshna Chatterjee, CEO of Action for Children’s Environments, India, and speaker at the summit.

Speakers at the summit include Roger Madelin, Head of Canada Water Development, British Land, Dr Fiona Bull, WHO’s expert on child’s physical activity, Professor Mariana Brussoni, the University of British Columbia in Canada, where she researches children and risk-taking, and Sudeshna Chatterjee, urban planner and child rights activist, India.

The summit’s pre-conference report Healthy Urban Childhoods is available on-line.

The meeting is a collaborative effort between Uppsala University, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala County Council, the City of Uppsala, the Swedish Medical Products Agency, the National Veterinary Institute, Uppsala Monitoring Centre, the network World Class Uppsala, and the Swedish School of Sports and Health Sciences.

For more information, contact Programme Committee Chair Petter Åkerblom, +46(0)706031660, or at Petter.Akerblom@slu.se, or contact Programme Coordinator Kerstin Stewart, +46 (0)704250138, or at kerstin.stewart@uadm.uu.se.

For press attendance and other questions, contact Senior Press Officer Anneli Waara, +46 (0)70-425 0718, or at anneli.waara@uadm.uu.se