5th Biodiversity SummitWorld Urban Parks is working to develop a cooperative Memorandum of Understanding with the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) – Local Governments for Sustainability in the leadup to the 5th Global Biodiversity Summit of Cities and Subnational Governments.

The Summit will be held in Cancun, Mexico from 9-11 December 2016. ICLEI is a summit supporter, and the goal is to formally sign the memorandum at this event.

ICLEI is a leading global network of more than 1,500 cities, towns and regions committed to building a sustainable future through low-carbon, resilient, eco-mobile, bio-diverse, resource-efficient and productive, healthy and happy cities with a green economy and smart infrastructure.

Read more: Connecting with local government for biodiversity

Children & Nature NetworkWorld Urban Parks is in the process of developing a Children and Nature Standing Committee, and is considering a co-operative Memorandum of Understanding with the Children & Nature Network in the lead-up to their Vancouver conference in April 2017.

This activity would include supporting their 2017 International Conference with speakers for a parks-focussed session relating to the role and capacity of public parks in providing children with access to nature.

The Children & Nature Network is a non-profit organization, founded by Richard Louv (author of Last Child in the Woods) and others, whose mission is to fuel the worldwide grassroots movement to reconnect children with nature.

Read more: Connecting with the Children & Nature Network

Reports on green spaces releasedThree reports on the benefits of urban green spaces and forestry have recently been released. The findings of these reports summarise the evidence for health benefits, climate change mitigation, food security and biodiversity, amongst other factors:

Human biodiversitySelected by the World Urban Parks Applied Research Working Group

This month's recommended research articles from around the world comprise a study of the value of park biodiversity for citizen foraging activities in Berlin and a study of how equitable green space was distributed across socio-economic groups in Shanghai (with a potentially surprising result).

Read more: Recommended research articles

IPRSInstitute of Parks and Recreation Singapore (IPRS)

IPRS is Singapore's professional association for the conservation and enhancement of the country’s parks and other recreational facilities. The Institute has a diverse membership of landscape architects, architects, landscape designers, engineers, park managers, landscape contractors, landscape suppliers and growers, arborists, administrators, artists, photographers, authors and parks users.

Originally formed in 1979 the Institute provides professional networking and development and promotes environmental responsibility from reforestation to recycling, native planting, cycling and green buildings. The institute maintains a newsletter' Parknews, and organises conferences (such as the 2014 Green Buildings, Parks and Stormwater Management), forums (such as the Cycling Forum), technical tours, events and fundraising.

Read more: Introducing our national associations

IPRS ConferenceSingapore | POSTPONED

The IPRS International Greenery, Parks and Recreation Events and Conference 2016 has been postponed to 2017 with a new date to be advised. The Institute was concerned that the short development and promotion time frame should be extended to ensure quality and viability.

Greater & Greener 2017Minneapolis and St. Paul, USA | 29 July - 2 August 2017
Early bird registrations have opened for Greater & Greener, the two-yearly conference of the City Parks Alliance.

World Urban Parks will co-present a day-long International Forum on 2 August 2017 with a series of interactive presentations and discussions about approaches that cities across the world are taking to create healthy, sustainable, and resilient green systems.

World Urban Parks members are also eligible for a special conference rate.

Read more: Event: Greater & Greener 2017

Dr Digby WhyteDr Digby Whyte, World Urban Parks CEO
It has been great to see so many of our international colleagues in person at the World Urban Parks and IERM Congress in Cape Town, South Africa and the World Urban Parks Europe Region and Hortis Congress in Albi, France.

Some fascinating ideas have been shared, ranging from Judy Ling-Wong's presentation on applying National Park principles in urban environments to a presentation on the parks of Tatarstan from Presidential Assistant Natalia Fishman. We have also collaborated in some vibrant workshops on the challenges faced by Europe's urban parks and the World Parks Academy.

We have heard about inspiring projects, important research and visited historic parks and sites where new techniques and technology have been implemented. We have had important opportunities to make contact with like-minded professionals from around the world, and put our heads together to share ideas and tackle challenges.

We have also committed to protect and develop urban parks. I hope you will spread the message far and wide to encourage more people around the world to recognise the value urban parks and green spaces provide. This is our role as advocates for the benefits parks and open spaces bring to our cities.

In addition to major World Urban Parks congresses, we also have upcoming events planned at the United Nations Habitat III conference, which started in Equador today and a panel event at the IFLA AR-URBIO Conference in Panama, not to mention a busy month of conferences at several national associations, including the NRPA Annual Conference, which took place in St Louis earlier this month, and the Parks and Leisure Australia National Conference at the end of the month.

As a consequence, this month's World Park News is a short edition, focussed on sharing some highlights of our Congress activity. We will return to our normal format next month.

In the meantime, I hope all in attendance at both congresses have had the opportunity to gain valuable insight, make meaningful connections and be inspired. Thank you to all the presenters and delegates, and to our our outstanding World and Europe Region Congress partners IERM and Hortis who gave their time to deliver excellent congresses.

World Urban Parks Congress 2016The second World Urban Parks congress was held at the President Hotel, Cape Town from 26-28 September, in partnership with the Institute of Environment and Recreation Management of South Africa and their annual convention.

Including technical tour presenters, the Congress featured over 70 presenters from around the world.

The Congress was structured with presentations on 26 and 27 September with a Gala Dinner on the night of 27 September, and technical tours, hosted by the City of Cape Town on 28 September. The dinner featured the presentation of the second World Urban Parks Distinguished Individual Award to Neil McCarthy and the presentation of the first Certified Parks Professional (CPP) certificate to an African candidate, Emmanuel Maphorogo. 

Six conference presenters flew on to Johannesburg on 29 September to deliver their presentations again at an International Colloquium at the University of South Africa for professionals unable to travel to the Congress, with a further 85 delegates in attendance.

The full PowerPoint presentations are available here as PDFs, with World Urban Parks member presentations outlined briefly in the conference report below:

Read the Congress Report>>

Read more: Second World Urban Parks Congress Report

Europe Region ConferenceWorld Urban Parks media release, 10 October 2016

The future of Europe’s urban parks and open spaces was discussed by leading parks officials and researchers at a conference in the world heritage city of Albi, France last week.

Hundreds of delegates attended the joint World Urban Parks Europe Region and Hortis Congress, which ran from 4–7 October and looked to tap into a global network of ideas to build an impressive future for Europe’s parks and open spaces.

World Urban Parks CEO Dr Digby Whyte said the congress came at a “crossroads” for urban populations. Themed Green Heritage and Green Infrastructure: Evolution or Social Revolution, the congress explored the historic, social, cultural, environmental and economic relevance of Europe’s green spaces, and how to help these spaces evolve.

Dr Whyte said parks and green spaces played a vital role in helping growing and increasingly urbanised populations cope with shifts in culture and biodiversity.

Read more: European parks leaders explore global solutions

World Urban Parks CongressWorld Urban Parks media release, 30 September 2016

Leading parks professionals and parks agencies from around the world resolved to protect and enhance the world’s urban parks and green spaces in the face of looming global challenges at this week’s World Urban Parks and IERM Congress in South Africa.

The Congress included over 70 speakers from all corners of the globe.

World Urban Parks CEO Dr Digby Whyte said key issues facing society were addressed, including climate change, and how to mitigate the challenges posed by population growth and increasing urbanisation.

Dr Whyte said this is a challenging time for societies around the world, with the world population expected to grow from 7.5 billion currently to 9.7 billion in 2050. More than half of the world’s population currently lives in cities, and the majority of growth is anticipated in urban areas. Africa is expected to account for more than half of the growth, with the populations of 28 African countries expected to double over this time.

Urban parks play a vital role in overcoming these challenges, and increased awareness of their value from decision makers was “immensely important”, he said.

“Urban parks play a vital role in creating a sense of place and cultural identity. They provide opportunities for sport and recreation, health and well-being, community meeting places, social cohesion, biodiversity, environment and ecosystem services, forms of active transportation such as cycling and walking, and tourism and economic development.”

Read more: World Congress resolutions recognise value of urban parks

Dr Digby WhyteDr Digby Whyte, CEO
It was good to see 52 of our organisations and individual members vote online in the World Urban Parks Annual General Meeting (AGM) 2016. The Annual Report of the first year of World Urban Parks activities was approved, along with our service performance targets and audited financial report.

Voters contributed a helpful list of their most valued World Urban Parks services. We also have a new elected board of 23 voting and two co-opted non-voting directors.

Gil Penalosa, Chair of World Urban Parks and of the AGM, declared the election of the Board following the AGM. The combined board of First Directors and Elected Directors met on 25 August 2016 and appointed the three skills-based directors. The Board also decided to co-opt two non-voting directors to add their expertise.

Jim Griffin, Director of Pittsburgh Parks and Recreation, who narrowly missed election, was co-opted to strengthen agency representation. Rob Small, former CEO of Colac-Otway Shire Council and local government parks and environment director, was co-opted in the skills-based category.

The following table shows the new directors.

Read more: An AGM, an Annual Report and an update

World Urban Parks 2016-17 ExecutiveWe are pleased to announce the new members of the World Urban Parks Executive. These were one-year appointments of directors made by the new board on 25 August 2016.

The appointments reflect a new governance structure of four portfolios, grouping various outcomes, standing committees, working parties and other initiatives. The portfolios are Advocacy, Membership, Alliances and Governance. Each is supported by a World Urban Parks Vice Chair. The World Urban Parks Chair, four portfolio Vice Chairs, and the three Region Chairs form the Executive to balance outcomes with region representation.

Read more: Introducing the new Executive Committee

World Urban Parks FacebookWorld Urban Parks is now on Facebook at www.facebook.com/worldurbanparks. We look forward to sharing the expertise from across our membership, as well as sharing articles and news on a global scale.

This is also an opportunity for you to share items you think would be of interest with the World Urban Parks community online. If you have any material to share, don’t hesitate to contact Jenn Halliday via LinkedIn or make a post through one of our social media channels.

You will find items ranging from US President Barack Obama's address on the value of parks to a discussion on creating parks from Peter Harnik, Director of the Center for City Park Excellence, on creating great urban parks, and you will see a consistent voice across World Urban Parks' social media platforms – Twitter (@WUParks), and LinkedIn.

Visit us on Facebook>>

World Parks Week 2017From May 2017 World Urban Parks will champion World Parks Week - an annual opportunity to celebrate our parks and green spaces!

The focus of World Parks Week is to  communicate the critical importance of parks in a global context, promote best practice by learning from other parks services and encourage people to enjoy their local park and appreciate the importance of parks and green spaces. This annual event will be held in the first week of May. For this inaugural year, the dates will be 1-7 May 2017. All parks organisations and community groups are invited to pencil the date into their calendars.

The move to May allows the higher-populated northern hemisphere to get outdoors in Spring while allowing the southern hemisphere to enjoy Autumn outdoors. Country parks days and weeks are often in Summer so there may be two opportunities to celebrate our parks in different seasons. World Urban Parks has previously held World Parks Day in September. The move to a week-long celebration provides organisations with more options to align events and engage their communities.

Read World Park News and keep an eye on the website for more information in later months.

Webinar: Austin HochstetlerThe World Parks Academy free one-hour webinar series continues, with topics supporting parks management. The next webcast is from 2-3 p.m. Eastern Time on 20 September 2016. The topic is “Identifying Our Community Needs - What Should We Do?” delivered by Austin Hochstetler, a senior program manager at PROS Consulting in the USA.

You can register for the webinar here.

Read more: World Parks Academy webinars continue