- Cities of Tomorrow
The environments in which children live, play and learn have a profound impact on their health, wellbeing, safety, security, earning potential and overall quality of life. Urban environments are therefore of critical importance, as the number of children currently living in cities already exceeds a billion—a number unprecedented in human history. Urbanization is continuing to grow at a rapid rate, and by 2050, two thirds of humanity will be living in cities, making the urgent need for child-friendly cities even more significant than ever before.
Urbanization offers immense potential to children, their families and caregivers when cities are planned and policies are in place to protect the rights of children and ensure increased access to opportunities. Child-responsive urban planning, infrastructure development and social housing settings can reduce the risk that natural disasters present; decrease the rates of chronic disease, injuries and violence; as well as improve mental health and wellbeing, improve community health, equity, cognitive learning ability and more. Polluted air causes respiratory diseases; unclean water and lacking sanitation causes diarrhea; poorly managed water bodies cause vector diseases such as malaria, poorly designed streets, cities and buildings cause injuries—and these are just a few examples. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), altogether more than 80% of all major diseases and injuries are impacted by changeable factors in our environment. Cities like Amsterdam have cut their rate of road child death due from 400 children in 1971 to 12 in 2016 since deciding to develop more child-responsive infrastructure networks.