Next week is the World Urban Parks Europe Region Congress at Birkenhead Park, the last of a run of congress partnerships in every region over the last year. It’s been great to have the interest of our national associations and cities in providing joint conferences.

The benefit to the host is the profile and added-value of an international congress, with World Urban Parks facilitating presenters from its experienced membership to provide new perspectives on common issues and developments. World Urban Parks members benefit from a range of partner conferences. These events provide opportunities to share knowledge and experiences, see the host city’s parks, open spaces and recreation, meet colleagues face-to-face and be inspired. Although the range of choice means members may not get to see each other all together, there is always a good mix of members and locals, and member workshops such as the meetings of Europe members and large urban parks network at the Europe Congress at Birkenhead Park.

If you are a national association or city thinking about a potential conference partnership please feel free to talk to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. While World Urban Parks seeks to have annual World and Region Congresses, we are always happy to promote member conferences and help source some international speakers.

Read more: World Urban Parks - CEO Update

The World Urban Parks Europe Region has been working with the Large Urban Parks Committee to develop a World Urban Parks - Large Urban Parks Award. The Award will likely be in Gold, Silver and Bronze categories recognising the overall standard of the park against criteria that may include design, biodiversity, facilities, management,  protection and public engagement.

A panel of World Urban Parks and International Federation of Landscape Architects representatives, facilitated by Kevin Halpenny, Deputy Chair for the Europe Region, assessed Birkenhead Park in the UK as a pilot to launch the award at the Word Europe Region Congress at Birkenhead Park. As an early public park, celebrating 170 years at the Congress, Birkenhead Park is thought to have influenced later park design and is appropriate to be considered for the inaugural award.


Read more: Large Urban Parks Award - Pilot at Europe Region Congress

The World Parks Academy is a partnership between World Urban Parks and Indiana University's Eppley Institute to recognise national and international-level professional standing and related webinars and training. The Academy has partnerships to provide national certification (Certified Parks Professional) with national associations Hortis France (photos), PLA Australia, and IERM South Africa, but professionals can apply directly for the Certified Parks Professional  and Certified Parks Professional-International, by completing an online self assessment. A new Academy Brochure is now available. Certification demonstrates the holder meets a standard of professionalism maintained through ongoing professional development. Continuing education units are gained by attending conferences or seminars, serving in professional associations and a range of other professional development activities. 


Attending the World Urban Parks Europe Region Congress at Birkenhead Park in 16-19 October 2017 earns continuing education units as does participating in an Academy-sponsored training workshop on Health Initiatives in Parks on Tuesday 17 October at the conference. Such workshops also meet standards for achieving the Certified Parks Professional-International. The certificates are awarded at World Urban Parks congresses for those attending.


Read more: Parks Professional Certification

In August 2016 World Urban Parks launched integrated social media across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. WUP Social Media Coordinator Sandra V. Murillo-Morales shares a graphical global impact Report on WUP Social Media for the seven months from February to August 2017.


World Urban Parks members are encouraged to share items of interest with Sandra at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Europe Region also provides a popular World Urban Parks Europe Facebook site with 600 followers coordinated by Dr Anna Steidle, WUP Europe Region Chair.


Read the full report here>>

World Urban Parks is planning to relaunch the International Awards for Liveable Communities (Livcom Awards) in late 2018 and is looking for a City to host the Livcom Awards. The Awards are attended by delegations from competing cities and provide a high level of global exposure to the host city. The Livcom Awards have been popular in providing international recognition to Cities for their liveability and for sharing best practice.


General Expressions of Interest are being called for by interested Cities or organisations with the ability to host up to 200 people for three days in a facility suitable for seminar-style judging and an award ceremony. The host City will contribute toward the costs of hosting, which may be off-set through sponsorship. Competing delegations pay their travel and accommodation costs.


For further information and Expressions of Interest contact WUP Board Director Chris Rutherford via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The Livcom Awards were launched in 1997 and is the World’s only international Awards Competition focusing on best practice for urban environmental management and liveability.  

Read more: Host City Sought for the International Awards for Liveable Communities

Growing population and park use, budget pressures, the future of parks management in France and the London National Park City concept were topics of discussion at two London park manager roundtables organised by World Urban Parks director Mark Camley on 2 October.

The Roundtables took advantage of World Urban Parks leader presence in London speaking in support of the launch of the London National Park City Foundation.

A roundtable of the heads of parks for the City of London, Royal Parks, and London Legacy Corporation were hosted by Royal Parks CEO Andrew Scattergood at Hyde Park in the morning, while a broader group of park, contractor and association managers, including WUP member organisations Lee Valley Regional Parks and London Legacy Corporation were hosted by Mark Camley, Executive Director of Park Operations and Venues, at Queen Elisabeth Olympic Park.

Read more: London Park Managers Roundtables

This month an article and a video series are recommended by the WUP Knowledge and Research Working Group.


Urban green space for health and well-being: developing an ‘affordances’ framework for planning and design Journal of Urban Design Vol 22, 2017 Issue 6

Abstract: A vast literature exploring environmental influences on human health and well-being has provided renewed interest in connecting planning for the built environment with health initiatives. In response, planners and urban designers have been tasked with translating this knowledge into spatial planning and design schemes. This paper responds to an identified need for a conceptually-informed framework for green space planning and design for health and well-being that moves beyond attribute-descriptive studies. The notion of an ‘affordances star’ is proposed as a means to maximize the functionality and inclusivity of green space for health and well-being.


City Parks: America’s New Infrastructure - Health City Parks Alliance USA

Abstract: Highlighting the health and social benefits of urban parks. The video features tangible outcomes and examples from parks in Brooklyn, NY, Denver, CO, and Oklahoma City, OK as well as national context for the health benefits of parks. Local governments, healthcare professionals, and employers are recognizing the role parks can play in a healthy workforce by reducing healthcare costs and making cities more competitive for private investment.

This is the second of a five-video series “City Parks: America’s New Infrastructure” documenting the multi-functional benefits of urban parks.

The latest issue of French park manager association Hortis’s magazine, Ville en Ville, features a number of World Urban Parks activities, to share the benefits Hortis’s international connections with World Urban Parks with its membership.

The September 2017 issue has articles on the upcoming World Urban Parks Europe Region Congress in Birkenhead Park in October, a review of the Asia-Pacific Region Congress in Singapore in July 2017, reporting on the City Parks Alliance and World Urban Parks hosted International Forum in Minneapolis-St Paul in August 2017. The September 2017 issue also contains news of Parks and Leisure Australia joining Hortis in partnering with the World Parks Academy to provide national professional certification and other activities such as World Urban Parks contributions to workshops in London and Krakow.

The articles and photos can be accessed here and for authenticity are in their original French language.

Birkenhead Park, Wirral, UK | 14-19 October

Held at Birkenhead Park in partnership with Wirral Council, the congress coincides with the 170th anniversary celebrations of Birkenhead Park.

Pre-congress tours to Chatsworth House, Old Trafford Stadium and the Peaks District feature on 14-15 October, with the public opening of the Congress Opening Exhibition, trade and floral shows, award presentations and a World Urban Parks meeting on 16 October.

The full programme is available now, and congress presentations feature high-profile speakers from across the globe including Central Park CEO and President Doug Blonsky. Presentations will be held from 17-19 October 2017, with optional post-congress technical tours on 20 and 21 October.


To register, visit the World Urban Parks Europe Region Congress website>>

Green City Days by Paysalia - Lyon, France| 5-7 December 2017

By Daniel Boulens General Manager of Public Parks and Gardens for the City of Lyon


I invite World Urban Parks members to attend Paysalia in Lyon. Paysalia is an important annual exhibition about landscape, plant production, materials, equipment and supplies, gardening, furniture, water, watering, floors, soils and environment, golf courses and sports grounds. See the Paysalia brochure.


There are many conferences and especially “the green city days” allowing to exchange and understand better the problems relating to green space developments. I will be looking after this part and invite you to join me. Elisabeth Fournier, Noémie Jolibois, myself and students will be pleased to translate the events to English.


I propose 2 days with conferences and visits, on Dec 6th and 7th with 2 themes: ‘Working in Parks and Gardens – understanding the risks and how to prevent them” and “Landscaping specialists – Building your business future”


There are two other optional days. On December 8th there is a workshop about safety and security regarding tree management in the biggest park of Lyon (Tete d’Or Park, 105 hectares), and in the afternoon you can visit the botanical and zoological gardens in the same park, and in the evening attend the renown international Festival of Lights in the City (a unique event in the world attracting more than 3 million visitors each year). On December 9th I suggest you visit the UNESCO Heritage of Lyon and to understand the environmental policy of the City.


The cost is only 50 € for 2 days (including buses and lunch on Dec 6th and 7th, and the cost of the meals for the 2 other days (transportation with public transport).


Because the period is during the international festival of lights you should book hotels and any flights early.


Visit the Paysalia website to register and for more information>>

Merida, Yukatan, Mexico | 25-27 April 2018

The 1st International Congress of Urban Parks is being organised by the new 2017 Asociación Nacional de Parques y Recreación Mexico’s new national association that will be formally launched at the congress, and backed by Parques de Mexico and Parques Alegres.

The congress has 5 Themes: Planning and Design, Economy and Uses of Public Space, The City, Health and Environment, Public Service and Citizen Participation. WUP members Gil Penalosa, Martha Fajardo, Jorge Perez Jaramillo, and Jayne Miller will be speaking.

Registration for the three day congress is $220 USD. All information, including the preliminary program, is on the congress website.

A video is also available here.

Following is an invitation from Luis Antonio Romahn, the Director General of the Congress.

Read more: World Urban Parks - Americas Region Partnered Congress 

World Urban Parks was present to speak in support of the National Park City Foundation launch in London on 2 October 2017.

CEO Dr Digby Whyte, presented a policy statement from the international organisation for the parks, open space and recreation sector, noting that it was ‘timely that as the world becomes more urbanised and society loses connection with nature the next version of the national park is established’. The Statement noted that ‘Rethinking parks, open space and green infrastructure  in cities will benefit children, aged communities, health, wealth, recreation, the environment and nature’.

Henrik Waldenström of the World Wildlife Fund (Sweden) and a member of the World Urban Parks Large Urban Parks Committee, described the concept as ‘a citizen led initiative to promote London’s green spaces as a single system or entity – seeing this as one large urban park’.

Vice Chair for Advocacy Neil McCarthy observed that: ‘the English and European legacy of parks had shaped cities and nations around the world and it was appropriate that London strives to be the first National Park City and establishes a way forward for others to follow’.

In a Call to Action World Urban Parks:

  • Supported the Mayor of London in his endeavours to establish the first National Park City
  • Applauded and supported the establishment of the London National Park City Foundation and their leaders
  • Called upon all city leaders around the work to take action and consider the National Park City approach as a means to create more livable and civil societies
Read more: World Urban Parks Supports National Park City Foundation

The world population is getting older. Globally, the number of older persons (aged 60 years or over) is expected to more than double, from 841 million people in 2013 to more than 2 billion in 2050. The number of adults over 80 years old will quadruple in the same period. Are our urban parks ready for this significant demographic shift?
The research, at least in the U.S., seems to suggest no.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine looked at 174 parks in 25 major U.S cities (population over 100,000), and found that older adults (60 and over) made up only 4% of park users even though they represent around 20% of the population.
Why are seniors in the U.S (and I suspect other parts of the world) not using our urban parks, despite being a population that likely has more time to spend in parks? The truth is that our parks, for the most part, have been planned, built, and managed for children, youth, and younger adults (in particular younger adult males- this same study found that 57% of park users were male) than  to meet the needs of older adults. In most cases meeting the needs of an aging population is not a financial issue, nor is it about expensive infrastructure, but rather about organizing uses and activities, some as easy to do as walking, dancing or knitting groups.
Our urban parks need to adjust with the times. Research suggests the simple act of adding benches and a walking path around the park can increase usage across all ages. There are many other examples of simple and innovative designs and programming that bring together people of all ages. Cities in Europe and Asia are leading the way in this regard.
If you are interested in sharing and learning more about this topic please consider joining WUP’s standing committee on Older Adults and Parks. Please contact our excellent Vice Chair of Advocacy, Neil Mccarthy This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or with the committee director Tim Geyer This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dr Digby Whyte, World Urban Parks CEO

This Month we report on the results of the World Urban Parks member’s Annual General Meeting.

This is a time to reflect on the activities and performance of the organisation over the 2016/17 year – reviewing the Annual Report, performance statements and financial report. No director elections were required this year but the opportunity was taken to check member’s preferred services.

As the reports were emailed to members, I’d like to mention some of the highlights of the year to the wider World Parks News readership:

In 2015/16, World Urban Parks focused on providing increased services to members and member engagement, to provide better value to members, attract a higher membership, ensure financial sustainability and strengthen the organisation’s capacity to achieve its four goals. 

Members also elected board members for the first time. The new board introduced a portfolio structure which increased the strategic focus on advocacy, membership, alliances and good governance. Five new committees were created and social media expanded across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn with a dedicated administrator.

This had a significant impact on service growth and member, partner and public engagement, and I am appreciative of the contributions made by so many people: 

• 25 directors, 7 in the Executive Committee; with 17 portfolio leaders in 4 Portfolios • 25 members in 3 Region Committees and 84 members in 10 Standing Committees • 72 members in 18 working groups • 665 members and non-members on the World Urban Parks LinkedIn professional site • 1,012 WUP Twitter Followers, 336 WUP Facebook followers, and 55 Large Urban Parks Network members • 3 alliance agreements with related international organisations, and 4 other organisations • 68 certified professionals with CPP-I, CPP, or CPP-France • 101 members that attended 3 WUP congresses and 2 Habitat III side events, and all the others that got involved from gearing up for celebrating World Parks Week to contributing articles to World Parks News. 

Overall we achieved 17 planned targets, with the remaining 15 achieved in part. Base-line strategic financial targets were achieved, with a small net profit of $6,305. Related strategic targets for membership growth were only partially achieved, with 72 organisation and 271 individual members.

Read more: World Urban Parks CEO Update

The 2017 Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held online from 27 to 31 August (although late responses are accepted). Members were emailed the annual reports and 61 Members responded to the survey.

The Annual Report, Statements of Service Performance, Annual Financial Report, auditor and remuneration were approved. Members indicated their preferences for services and many commented on ideas for services and improvements.

The AGM Report is available here>>

Neil McCarthy, World Urban Parks Vice-Chair, Advocacy

This article is the fifth and final of a series of articles composed for World Park News to explore the factors of National Park Cities. Titled, ‘Where to Next – World Urban Parks Leadership?’, this article explores the concept of National Parks and the concept of National City Parks to the sector.

Continue Reading>>