Gil Penalosa, World Urban Parks Chair

Gil PenalosaThere is a famous quote “When you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a higher fence.” As Chair of World Urban Parks, I see a big part of my job as helping to build that 'longer table' and I hope that our members also feel that same sense of responsibility.

We have made tremendous gains as an organisation over the last two years, many have been highlighted in past newsletters. As we approach membership renewal I wanted to take this opportunity to write about why your support with World Urban Parks is so important and to also ask for your continued assistance in expanding our network, strengthening our capacity, and solidifying our influence on the world stage. We want your renewal as well as your help inviting others to join.

To put it simply, the world needs more parks. More places for people to meet as equals no matter their age, gender, ethnicity, religion, economic or social backgrounds. More green infrastructure to combat the acceleration of climate change. More healthy places that promote well being. The world also needs better parks. We have members from some of the most impressive parks and park systems from around the world, including most of the national park organisations, we all have so much to share and learn from each other.

I ask for your continued support on our lofty but doable mission to improve the quality of life for people by protecting, enhancing, and supporting our most precious urban parks.

Champion the world's parksDr Digby Whyte, World Urban Parks CEO

Welcome to the first edition of World Park News for 2017. I hope you are all feeling refreshed after some vacation time.

To start the year, I’d like to focus on some of the avenues for you to get involved, including events, committees and other initiatives.

As members, your involvement and support is vital to our organisation. Through working together, we can champion urban park outcomes for city liveability, place-making, conservation and access.

Four new standing committees have been formed, making nine standing and regional committees in total. These committees are a great way to connect with international colleagues and work together towards our common goals, and with upcoming meetings for many of their working parties to get the New Year underway, now is a good time to get involved.

Read more: Champion the world's parks in 2017

Birkenhead Park, Wirral | Dr Mary Worrall, UK
Birkenhead ParkDesigned by Sir Joseph Paxton and opened in April 1847, Birkenhead Park was the first publicly funded park in the world.

The creation of Birkenhead Park represented a significant stage in human development as a response to the poor health conditions brought on by the industrial revolution, creating a green oasis in an otherwise urban landscape.

The concept was to create an idealised countryside landscape of open meadows, naturalistic woodland belts and beautiful lakes, which are shaped to appear as sinuous rivers with views across to iconic features such as the Roman Boathouse and Swiss Bridge.

Read more: Parks of the World

WirralWorld Urban Parks Europe Region is partnering with Wirral Council for the World Urban Parks Europe Congress at Birkenhead Park in October 2017. There will be three strands to the presentations: Community, Sustainability and Heritage in the management of public parks.

Expressions of interest to present at the congress are invited. An international panel will then select the papers to be presented. Please submit a short abstract (300 words) of your proposed presentation to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Monday 14 March. Opportunities to present posters will also be available.

Read more: Europe Region Congress 2017: call for abstracts

AlbiPresentations and the programme from the World Urban Parks Europe Region and Hortis Congress are now available online.

Hortis has also issued a special 88-page publication featuring columns from the Congress presenters as part of their magazine series.

The World Urban Parks Europe Region Congress was held from 5-7 October in partnership with French association for urban parks management Hortis and its annual congress. The venue was the Grand Theatre in the UNESCO World Heritage listed city of Albi, France.

John BrandenburgLong-serving member of World Urban Parks and its predecessor the International Federation of Parks and Recreation Administration (Ifpra) John Brandenburg passed away on 27 December 2016 in Sydney, Australia. Our thoughts are with his family, and many of his colleagues have reached out in remembrance.

John was held in very high regard as a World Urban Parks member and Ifpra Commissioner for Australia. He received the Ifpra Gold Medal at the 2013 Ifpra World Congress in Alberta, Canada for significant and dedicated service to furthering the values and ideas of the Ifpra vision. He was a major force in the development and sustainability of the IFPRA Asia-Pacific Region and its members, serving as the region's first Secretary for 16 years from 1992-2008 and editing the Asia-Pacific newsletter.

A more complete profile of John's career was produced following the presentation of the award.

Read more: Farewell to John Brandenburg

Report on pesticide useWorld Urban Parks Europe Region and Hortis collaborated on a report exploring regulatory and voluntary controls on pesticides in cities from 11 countries across Europe.

The report includes a short review of approach, policy and legislation from cities, in addition to data from parks benchmarking organisation Yardstick Global.

Planning is underway for this report to be translated into English and distributed in e-book format as part of a series of collaborative reports.

Read the report (French language)>>

Magical Park for Parks WeekThe New Zealand Recreation Association and Parks and Leisure Australia will celebrate Australasia’s parks in Trans-Tasman Parks Week from 4-12 March.

This year, they have introduced the 200 Magical Park Challenge, which looks to introduce augmented reality to 200 parks in Australia and New Zealand.

If you are based in Australia or New Zealand, and would like to take part in the 200 Magical Park Challenge, visit the NZRA website.

For more information on Trans-Tasman Parks Week, visit the event website>>

Salzburg, Austria | 18-22 March 2017
Hotel Schloss LeopoldskronHeld at Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron in Salzburg, 'The Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play' is the third session of the Parks for the Planet Forum, a platform for leadership and action launched at the 2014 World Parks Congress by Salzburg Global Seminar with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

World Urban Parks is partnering for this important forum, and Co-chair of the World Urban Parks Children, Play and Nature Committee Amanda O'Rourke will present at the event. For more information on The Child in the City seminar, download the event programme or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To register, visit the event website>>

Malmö, Sweden | 30 March 2017
Public Parks and Gardens 2017The popular conference Public Parks and Gardens celebrates its 10th anniversary with the theme 'We love plants!'.

This conference will feature lecturers from the USA, England, Ireland, Germany, France and Sweden, and inspiring ideas for plants and plant design in public outdoor environments.

To register, visit the event website>>

Interesting links from members

•    Patricia O'Donnell shared Trees in the Townscape, a guide for decision makers in urban planning.
•    Professor Willie Nel shared Bring nature back to the City, a book by Ernst Wohlitz.
•    Daniel Boulens shared Comment Lyon a Banni les Pesticides de ses Parcs et Jardins, an article featured in French newspaper Le Monde which focuses on the phasing out of pesticides in the parks and gardens of Lyon.
•    Dr Christy Boylan shared Government Gives Funding to 17 Garden Village and Town Proposals, an article on the funding of the Garden Village programme in the UK.

Gil Penalosa, World Urban Parks ChairGil Penalosa, World Urban Parks Chair
It has been a year of growth for World Urban Parks. After collecting your feedback on some of your most pressing challenges facing urban park management, planning, and advocacy we have refreshed and expanded our portfolios and committees. We have also forged new strategic partnerships, and expanded our membership.

Parks have the power to address some of our most important global challenges. As advocates and park professionals we know this, but parks are still under threat. Our committees should reflect the wide-ranging benefits of parks to everyone, young, and old, rich or poor, in developed countries and developed countries.

We have identified four new focus areas and committees that will help strengthen World Urban Parks as an organisation and meet both our short and long term organisational objectives. Our new committees include Parks and Older Adults; Children, Play, and Nature;  Healthy Parks, Healthy Cities; and Green Infrastructure.

We need your participation and advice! We are looking for strong leaders to chair and co-chair these new committees. We encourage organizational members to open the opportunity for your staff to get involved in committees, based on their relevant experience or interest. Make sure the benefits and services of World Urban Parks go beyond the one contact person. Share our newsletter in social media as well as with staff, encourage colleagues to be members of committees, the new ones as well as the established ones like Large Urban Parks, Membership, Marketing and others.

The executive committee has also been hard at work formalising partnerships such as recently signing Memorandums of Understanding with the International Federation of Landscape Architects and International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI).

Lastly, our membership is increasing due to the commitment of a few very enthusiastic champions, but we need more of you involved in the process. A big thank you to those that have invited organisations to become members and a call to action to all others. We are a member based organisation, and our success in networking, knowledge sharing, influencing the conversation on parks and city building, as well as financial strength, depends on maintaining current members and attracting new ones. Everyone’s help is much appreciated.

I wish everyone and your families a great holiday season and all the best in 2017.

Emanuel Trueb presenting at Europe Region and Hortis CongressThe Hortis and World Urban Parks Europe Region Congress was held from 5-7 October in partnership with French association for urban parks management Hortis, and its annual congress. The venue was the Grand Theatre in the UNESCO World Heritage listed city of Albi, France.

Themed Green Heritage and Green Infrastructure: Evolution or Revolution in Society, the superbly hosted congress featured 46 speakers and workshop presenters (17 international) plus regional Hortis presenters and technical tour leaders for a dozen local destinations.

The congress attracted 374 enthusiastic registrants, and was structured with a World Urban Parks half day on 4 October, with about 30 members presenting on key issues in their countries and holding a Large Urban Parks Committee meeting.

The full report is available here in the World Urban Parks Congresses and Events section of the website.

5th Biodiversity Summit of Cities and Subnational GovernmentsA Memorandum of Understanding for ongoing partnership between the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) and World Urban Parks was signed at on 11 December at the 5th Global Biodiversity Summit of Cities and Subnational Governments.

From 9 to 11 December, 700 delegates from over 70 countries gathered in Cancun, Mexico for this event, where they focused on ways to mainstream biodiversity as part of development planning. The Memorandum was signed at the high-profile Launch plenary session by World Urban Parks Chair Gil Penalosa and ICLEI Regional Director for Africa Kobie Brand.

ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability is a global network of more than 1,500 cities, towns and regions committed to building a sustainable future.

Visit the ICLEI website for more information on biodiversity initiatives at the event>>

Jubileumsparken, Gothenburg | Helena Bjarnegård, Sweden
JubileumsparkenThe first phase of Jubileumsparken (the Jubilee Park) will be inaugurated on Gothenburg’s 400-year anniversary on 4 June 2021.

The large urban park is planned to be a meeting place for everyone, characterised by biodiversity and with a close proximity to the water. It will evolve with its users and, as a result, create a lasting impact on the future. It was created in open dialogue and collaboration as part of the wider Gothenburg RiverCity urban development programme.

Jubileumsparken, with prototypes such as a pool, a sauna, a play space, urban farming and a roller derby court already exist in part. The prototypes were constructed as part of a strategic ‘place building’ project, where park users partook in the planning and construction in order to create a space that addresses their needs and wishes long before the first permanent dwellings in the Frihamnen development area had been completed.

The design of the first phase of Jubileumsparken, which will be based on the findings of the prototypes, is currently being studied by the City of Gothenburg in collaboration with three teams of consultants.

For more information please visit:>>

Read more: Parks of the World