World Urban Parks CongressSave the date and consider presenting at the World Urban Parks and Institute of Environment and Recreation Management Congress, to be held on 26-28 September 2016 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Abstracts of no more than 200 words, particularly based on research or case studies, are sought by the IERM Secretariat by Friday 29 April 2016 using the Proposal Form.

The theme is People and Green Space – A Celebration of Diversity. There is a wide range of possible sub-themes to suit your interests – see the brochure for a full list.

The Congress is co-hosted by the city of Cape Town and the University of South Africa. It is an opportunity to experience the diversity of international and national views and approaches to common issues within the Cape Town environment, as well as network with international Africa region colleagues.

Read about the Congress themes in our call for papers>>

Annual IndicatorsThe World Urban Parks Annual Key Performance Indicators 2016 report is now available for all members to view as a free introduction to World Urban Parks' new benchmarking service.

In following years, this service will allow city agencies and similar park organisations, in countries without Yardstick benchmarking, to enter their online data for 25 of the most frequently sought benchmarks for a cost-effective $380 USD. For this introductory year, it is presented free of charge.

They receive this annual report on those benchmarks that draws from Annual Indicators users in addition to the full Yardstick benchmarking community of agencies and organisations in Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada.

Those interested in participating this year for the 2017 Report are welcome to contact CEO Dr Digby Whyte at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Those interested in full Yardstick benchmarking should go to www.yardstickglobal.org.

Read the report>>

World Parks AcademyThanks to Dr Christy Boylan for providing a fantastic 'History of Parks' webinar in February. Upcoming speakers are Torgeir Sorensen (Norway) in March, Kenzo Oguchi (Japan) in April, and Kevin Halpenny (Ireland) in May.

Each month through till May 2016, the World Parks Academy will offer a short (1-2 hour) webinar covering one of the competencies requiring certification. All webinars are free and eligible for continuing education unit credits at registration.

Find out more and register for the webinars>>

AlbiThe Europe Region Congress takes place from 5-7 October 2016 in the French city of Albi, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Proposal submissions for this Congress close on 15 April.

Share your vision with 300 French and international colleagues. The theme of this bi-lingual congress is Green heritage and green infrastructure.

For more information on this event and its themes, please read the call for papers (English | French).

Submit a congress abstract>>

Parks Week videoAustralia and New Zealand are finding creative ways to promote parks in the leadup to Parks Week, which runs from 5-13 March 2016. Wellington City Council has produced a catchy two-minute parody video, inspired by Blur's hit song Parklife and showcasing the city's parks.

Organised by the New Zealand Recreation Association and Parks and Leisure Australia, Parks Week promotes the value of parks and open spaces, and aims to get people out of their living rooms and into the outdoors.

Councils and other organisations across both countries are running exciting events including a mountain bike competition, snorkelling tours, moonlight markets, an outdoor adventure challenge, free fitness sessions, wildlife workshops, sunset cinemas, a farewell to shorebirds leaving on their annual migration, a mayoral walk, an offroad marathon, canoe instruction, 4WD coastal tours, heritage walks, restoration projects and even Dogs 'n' Togs – one of the few canine pool parties on the planet.

Visit the Parks Week website to see a list of events>>

Learning to rethink parksParks and open spaces in all areas of the world face funding challenges. Learning to Rethink Parks is a recent report from the UK's National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (Nesta), which re-thinks funding models for public parks across the world.

Read the report's findings>>

Dr Digby Whyte, World Urban Parks CEO, Australia

Best wishes for the New Year and I trust everyone is refreshed after the holiday season. Certainly this is evident in the activity of World Urban Parks committees and their developing working groups. 

The committees serve a vital role in engaging, serving members and wider outcomes, and with every committee meeting through January and February 2016 this is a great time to get involved.

Most committees have space for additional members and especially on their working parties and participating in their activities. Members looking to make general enquiries or requests to join committees are welcome to contact me directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

An update on the World Urban Parks committees and their roles is included below.

Read more: World Urban Parks committee updates

The Congress will take place in Cape Town, South Africa from 26-28 September, held in combination with the South African Institute for Environment and Recreation Management (IERM)’s national conference.

Abstract submissions for the 2016 World Urban Parks Congress will open shortly, and interested authors are encouraged to submit previously unpublished contributions on topics relating to the agenda.

If you are interested in making a presentation at the World Urban Parks Congress, please contact Charlene Wightman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

With 3.8 million people, Cape Town is a vibrant, multi-cultural city by the sea. Over recent years, local authorities have significantly invested in parks to create more spaces where people can relax, exercise and get together.

Visit our webpage for more information on the 2016 Congress>>

The joint Hortis and World Urban Parks Europe Region Congress, to be held from 5-7 October 2016 in Albi, has issued a call for abstracts closing on 15 March 2016. 

This bilingual congress has a focus theme of ‘Green heritage and green infrastructure: evolution or revolution in the society’.

For more information on this event and its themes, please read the call for abstracts (English | French).

Submit a congress abstract>>

Live online webinars are currently scheduled through May 2016 on the World Parks Academy training calendar.

Each month in 2016, the World Parks Academy will offer a short (1-2 hour) webinar covering one of the competencies requiring certification. All programs are free and eligible for continuing education unit credits at registration. 

For more information on the webinars, including links to register, see below.

Read more: World Parks Academy offers free 2016 webinars

The World Parks Academy is collaborating with the Institute of Environment and Recreation Management in South Africa to deliver a version of Certified Parks Professional accreditation catered to South African national standards.

World Parks Academy accreditation as a Certified Parks Professional or Certified International Parks Professional offers international recognition of qualifications and experience for professionals working in parks and open spaces. 

For more information, visit the World Parks Academy website>>

World Urban Parks Vice Chair Neil McCarthy recently attended round table talks with the Parks Alliance, sharing an overview of the international scene, and discussing the challenges of leadership and funding for parks and open spaces, including budget cuts in the face of an increasing body of knowledge supporting the value of parks. 

Mr McCarthy’s discussion is summarised in an article by Kate Swade, Development Manager of UK not-for-profit Shared Assets.

Read the article online>> 

The value of green space has been recognised in Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation, a new United Kingdom Government sport strategy focusing on the benefits of sport to the public.

Horticulture Week recently interviewed Parks Alliance Chair Mark Camley to discuss the changes and the key role parks have in promoting physical activity across the United Kingdom.

Read the article>> 

Read the strategy>>