Strategic Review Team

Parks For Life Review Team with Ifpra Executive: Gil Penalosa, Digby Whyte, Torgeir Soerensen, James McCulloch

Russell Watkinson, Steve Coleman, Dave Clarke, Paul Bramhill, Christy Boylan, (inset) Catherine Nagel, Barbara Tulipane



This section is historical and overviews the origins of World Urban Parks through:

  • A Strategic Review of the International Federation of Parks and Recreation Administration (Ifpra) by Parks For Life (International Urban Parks and Green Space Alliance) and its report detailing the need for an inclusive, new-model, urban-focussed organisation
  • The creation of a Task Force to examine viability and to plan implementation and the Task Force's report
  • A vote by the Ifpra General Assembly to adopt the new organisation's constitution
  • Registration and incorporation and the creation of a World Urban Parks Joint Implementation Committee to oversee development and delivery by April 2015. 


Ifpra Strategic Review

With the announced standing down of CEO Alan Smith, after 29 years service, an opportunity was seen to review Ifpra’s direction and in early 2013 Ifpra advertised world-wide with an Expression of Interest for consultants and interested parties to conduct a Strategic Review of Ifpra.

The successful reviewers were Parks for Life who had submitted a unique bid based on Parks Forum’s Agency Peer Review Model, which provided for a Baldridge business excellence-style cross-cutting view of organisations. Parks for Life were a world-wide group of peak professional or park agency national associations who offered to review Ifpra as 'critical friends'. The attraction was that the reviewers were similar associations that understood Ifpra, were using a proven evaluation tool, would conduct the review at cost, and could also potentially partner or join with Ifpra in its new future.

The reviewers and associations involved were:

·          Catherine Nagel, Executive Director, City Parks Alliance, USA (Chair, Review Steering Committee)

·          Steve Coleman, Executive Director, Washington Parks & People, USA (Chair, Parks for Life)

·          Barbara Tulipane, President and CEO of the National Parks and Recreation Association, USA

·          Gil Penalosa, Executive Director, 8-80 Cities, Canada

·          Paul Bramhill, former CEO, GreenSpace, UK (IFPRA Project Control Group)

·          Dave Clarke, CEO, Parks Forum, Australia (IFPRA Project Control Group)

·          Mark Band, CEO, Parks and Leisure Australia

·          Andrew Leslie, CEO, New Zealand Recreation Association

·          Dr Digby Whyte, Chair Parks Forum Performance and Benchmarking Standing Committee (Review Leader)

·          Russell Watkinson, former Vice President Parks Forum (Review Consultant)

The Review comprised direct discussion with the Ifpra Executive and CEO and Ifpra Europe and Asia-Pacific Commissioners in London, Hamburg and Sydney; as well as survey input from Ifpra members, and discussion and survey input from other stakeholders outside Ifpra, from February to September 2013. The Review delivered a report recommending a larger inclusive new world urban parks organisation, and included an organisation structure, draft constitution, 3-year business plan and budget. In addition a 2-year interim business plan and budget was developed for Ifpra to transition to a sustainable New Ifpra.

With the Report initially received with agreement in principle, members of Parks for Life were asked to express an interest in providing the Ifpra CEO and Secretariat function, including the potential transition of Ifpra to a New Ifpra. A bid from the New Zealand Recreation Association, including Dr Digby Whyte as CEO, was accepted.

At the meeting of 26 October 2013 the General Assembly endorsed “That the Executive pursue planning for the new Ifpra as a world urban parks organisation inclusive of a wider membership” and approved “That a Task Force comprising representatives of Ifpra and other partnering organisations be formed to develop the new Ifpra – to report for a decision at the 2014 General Assembly”.


Click here for the Report by Parks for Life titled: Strategic Review and Business Plan for the Leadership, Administration and Development of the International Federation of Parks and Recreation Administration September 2013. Note the report uses the working title WUPA to describe the new organisation. 




The World Urban Parks Organisation Task Force resulted from the Ifpra Strategic Review Report of 2013 that recommended the creation of a new-model, inclusive, world urban parks organisation or 'New Ifpra'. The Task Force was charged with engaging key stakeholders in the parks, open space and recreation sector in implementation planning and producing a report on the viability of the World Urban Parks organisation to the Ifpra Executive, General Assembly, Parks for Life and other peak park organisations. For a copy of the Task Force Terms of Reference click here.

The Task Force comprised:

  1. A Strategy Group as the main working party of parks leaders from around the world that will meet through 2014 and deliver the outcomes of the Task Force.
  2. A Reference Group of 20+ key leaders from large cities and organisations as well as respected individuals providing advice to the Task Force:

On 30 October 2014 the Task Force delivered its report WUPO Task Force Report October 2014 to the Ifpra Executive and Commissioners recommending that Ifpra initiate the new model world urban parks organisation on behalf of the broad urban parks, open space and recreation sector. This was to be achieved by the General Assembly adopting the constitution of the new organisation.


General Assembly Special Meeting On-line Vote on Future of Ifpra

A special meeting of the Ifpra General Assembly was held by on-line internet survey 5-12 December 2014 to consider adopting the new Draft World Urban Parks Constitution Attachment - Draft WUPO Constitution. 75 percent of voting members was required for constitutional change.

127 members voted.

93 percent voted ‘Yes’

3 percent voted ‘Yes subject to conditions’ (minor modifications)

4 percent voted ‘No’

The constitution was planned to take effect in the first week of April 2015 when Ifpra members would effectively have launched the new World Urban Parks organisation on behalf of the broad parks, open space and recreation sector. In expressing name preferences 81.5 percent of the voting members preferred World Urban Parks as the name for the new organisation. It should be noted however that the constitution equally supports open space and recreation and this was ultimately to be expressed in a by-line associated with branding.





The WUPO Task Force Strategy Group was asked to join with the Ifpra Executive to create a Joint Implementation Committee. This met during January to April to oversee implementation.


Some of the key implementation components included: registration of the organisation, appointment of first directors, branding, website, prospectus An Invitation to Join Prospectus and promotion and membership recruitment. Ifpra members would automatically transfer to the new organisation at the end of the Ifpra financial year on 31 March 2015.


A number of changes in services and communications to Ifpra over the past year were made with a view towards preparing for the new organisation. The Ifpra Website and World Parks News e-newsletter were redeveloped to serve the new organisation. The Academy and Committees would transfer to provide initial activity structure, although the Best Practice and Benchmarking Committee and Science Committee are combined to form a Knowledge and Standards Committee. A new Committee on Membership and Partnerships would be implemented and the Governance and Audit sub-committee upgrades to a Funding and Audit Committee.


Initial registration of the organisation and Secretariat would be in New Zealand. World Urban Parks Incorporated was registered on 23 February 2015 and a new service agreement negotiated with the New Zealand Recreation Association to provide the initial Secretariat. The permanent location of World Urban Parks would be subject to strategic direction of the new board.


A number of questions relating to the change may be found in the Frequently Asked Question sheet for Ifpra members:  World Urban Parks / New Ifpra FAQs


The future of the Strategy Group is that many Joint Implementation Committee members will become first directors on the new organisation. The Reference Group has been asked to continue to serve World Urban Parks as it goes through the development stages.



Task Force Updates

For associated Task Force activities and outputs visit the World Urban Parks Organisation updates page. This includes an early Draft World Urban Parks Prospectus for consultation purposes, for the proposed organisation, the final WUPO Task Force Report and the Draft World Urban Parks Ltd Constitution.

 World Parks Congress 16 November 2014


 Members of the Task Force






 Interest in WUPO Task Force Membership


John Senior

Chairperson, WUPO Task Force; Leader IUCN-WCPA Healthy Parks Healthy People Taskforce

Former Manager Strategic Partnerships, Parks Victoria




Neil McCarthy 

President Elect, Ifpra; CEO North East Catchment Management Authority, Victoria

Former Chair, Parks Forum; General Manager Parks, Parks Victoria




Daniel Boulens

Ifpra Commissioner for France; Director of Green Space, City of Lyon

Former Director Parks and Landscape Services, City of Grenoble; Vice President French Association of Directors of Public Parks and Gardens


The questions of environment are good opportunities to involve and promote the quality of life in our cities. The future of our business and the central theme of WUPO are joined in making a worldwide exchange of knowledge. We can’t be alone or isolated, we need to be linked and to face together the new challenges of tomorrow. 


Laure Guillemette

Ifpra Commissioner for France; Deputy Director Parks and Gardens Department, City of Nantes





Willie Nel

Professor, Environmental Sciences Department, University of South Africa; Ifpra Commissioner South Africa

Former Executive Officer Environmental Management, Johannesburg City Parks

 South Africa



Mark Camley

Executive Director, Park & Venues, London Legacy Company; Chair Parks Alliance

Former CEO The Royal Parks (London); Director of the Supreme Court for England & Wales

 United Kingdom



Catherine Nagel

Executive Director, City Parks Alliance

Former Executive Director National Association for Olmstead Parks


Ive joined the Task Force as a member of Parks for Life with a commitment to seeing city parks across the world flourish!



Kevin O'Hara


Vice President, Urban & Government Affairs, National Recreation & Parks Association

Former Manager Government Affairs, American Society of Landscape Architects



Steve Coleman

Executive Director and President, Washington Parks & People; Chair Parks for Life




Gil Penalosa

Executive Director, 8-80 Cities

Former Commissioner for Parks, Bogota, Columbia




Kevin Lowe/ Mark Band

President Parks & Leisure Australia, President Environs Australia, General Manager Urban Planning & Leisure Services, Campbelltown City Council SA


KL: Parks and related Leisure opportunities are the cornerstone of wellbeing in our global societies that are rapidly increasing in population and density and are often taken for granted.  Advocating for these places, spaces &  programs is key and I  see the need to work closely with national peak agencies & other organisations to foster a global voice through WUPO on parks and leisure issues


Kenzo Oguchi

Executive Director, Parks Japan

Former Head of Parks, Tokyo





Ian Maxwell

Director, Parks Forum Board; Manager, Parks, Sport & Recreation, Auckland Council

Former Director Community, Manukau City Council

 New Zealand



Dr David Cochrane

Partner, Economics, Regulation & Policy; Ernst & Young

Former Director, Price Waterhouse Cooper




 Ian Walker

Director of Conservation, Conservation Volunteers; Chair Parks Forum

Former General Manager Environment & Heritage, Parks Victoria