Amanda O'Rourke, Co-Chair of World Urban Parks Children, Play and Nature Committee

Putting play back on the agendaIn March of this year, 52 experts in urban planning, childhood development, conservation, health, and environmental policy from around the world gathered in Salzburg for the Parks for the Planet Forum session entitled The Child in the City: Health, Parks, and Play.

The purpose of the forum, convened by Salzburg Global Seminar and IUCN, was to propose a new agenda to prioritise children’s needs for nature and play for their optimal health and development. 

I was fortunate sit in the rooms of the Schloss Leopoldskron with this diverse group of passionate and knowledgeable international leaders. World Urban Parks was a partner on this important event, and as the Co-Chair of the World Urban Parks Children, Play and Nature Committee, this topic was of obvious interest. 

Read more: Seminar puts play back on the agenda

Stockholm National City ParkNeil McCarthy, World Urban Parks Vice Chair Advocacy, and CEO of the North-East Catchment Management Authority in Victoria, Australia is writing a series of articles for World Park News to explore the concept of National Park Cities. The first, titled 'What defines a National Park City' , explores how national parks – and national park cities – have historically been defined.

Read the article>>

Justin Vaughan, Parks Victoria, Australia

HLF Report discussions in AustraliaIn March 2017, World Urban Parks members in Melbourne, Australia, hosted a meeting with Peter Neal on the role that research plays in advocating for resources and the protection of urban parks. The meeting generated discussion on innovative solutions to the pressures and demands on park managers.

On behalf of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Mr Neal was the lead author of the “State of the UK Public Parks” reports in 2014 and 2016. The reports are underpinned by surveys completed by park managers, ‘friends’ groups, park user groups, independent park trusts and the general public in towns and cities across the United Kingdom.

The research showed that despite increased use and visitation to parks, funding and staffing has been in decline over recent years. A subsequent Select Committee Inquiry and public attention stimulated by the reports have led to new approaches to financing and managing parks and green space, such as funding endowments and park trusts.

Read more: Advocacy in Action: Peter Neal in Australia

Singapore | 17-20 July 2017

Asia-Pacific CongressRegistrations are now open for the International Greenery, Recreation, Infrastructure and Parks Conference – the Institute of Parks and Recreation Singapore and World Urban Parks Asia Pacific Congress. The latest event programme is now available, and registration and accommodation details are available here.

Held at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre with its striking rooftop park, the conference is adjacent to the equally striking 101-hectare Gardens by the Bay. The congress has moved from June to July 2017 due to significantly better venue and room rates offered by Marina Bay Sands.

Pre-event activities begin on 17 July, featuring master-classes facilitated by conference keynote speakers and an opportunity for World Urban Parks members to meet. The conference itself takes place on 18-19 July, with a technical tour of a variety of interesting and innovative parks on 20 July.

This unique international conference spans parks, recreation and green building and infrastructure, and blends public, private and community perspectives. Join colleagues from these related sectors in sharing knowledge about best practice for the planning, funding, development and management of green spaces and infrastructure.

Visit the event website to register>>


Bremore castle gardenThis French language article in the Hortis magazine de Ville en Ville explores the restoration of Ireland’s Bremore Castle and medieval gardens. The article is written by Kevin Halpenny, Senior Parks Superintendent of Fingal County Council, who chairs the World Urban Parks Green Infrastructure Standing Committee and is also Deputy Chair of the Europe Region Committee.

Read the article>>

Birkenhead Park, Wirral, UK | 14-19 October

BirkenheadSave the date! The World Urban Parks Europe Region Congress at Birkenhead Park is in partnership with Wirral Council in the United Kingdom.

Pre-congress tours 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 member meeting on 16 October.

Congress presentations feature high-profile speakers from across the globe. Presentations and technical tours will be held from 17-19 October 2017, with optional post-congress technical tours on 20 and 21 October. The Congress website will be available in the June 2017 edition of World Parks News.

Preliminary event programmes are available below:

Read the draft Congress Programme>>

Read the pre-Congress Tour Itinerary>>

Read the 16 October Opening Exhibition Programme>>

Presentations can still be submitted through May 2017. Send a short abstract (300 words) to Mary Worrall. Conference themes include community, heritage, sustainability and large urban parks.

Read more: Event: Europe Region Congress

Minneapolis and St. Paul, USA | 29 July - 2 August 2017

Greater & GreenerGreater & Greener is the two-yearly conference of the City Parks Alliance. Join more than 1,000 global park leaders exploring the power of parks in supporting healthy, resilient and sustainable cities. Attendees will learn best practices of urban park design, management and programming and network with experts in the public, private and non-profit sectors.

World Urban Parks is partnering with CPA to present a day-long International Forum at the event on August 2nd, which is limited to 200 participants. Sessions include 'Healthy Parks Healthy Cities', 'River Revolution Cities', 'Large Parks in Cities' and 'Getting it Right'. There is a great line up of speakers from around the world, including many World Urban Parks members.

The International Forum also provides an important networking opportunity for World Urban Parks members as well as leaders from large cities, national parks services, non-government organisations, and academics. In addition, a post-event technical tour to Chicago is planned for World Urban Parks members.

Special rates apply for World Urban Parks members for full Conference Registration. Full and day registrations also include free attendance at the International Forum for World Urban Parks members.

The topics and broader Greater and Greener Conference are ideal for World Urban Parks members and our commitment to partner for this event is in lieu of a 2017 World and Americas Region Congress.

Visit for the full conference schedule and additional information. To facilitate meeting each other WUP members are encouraged to book the hotel associated with the venue the Intercontinental Saint Paul Riverfront

City parks play a vital role in the social, economic, and physical well-being of cities and their residents. Parks are now recognized as powerful and necessary part of 21st century urban systems. As urban populations continue to grow, planners, elected officials, community advocates, and other stakeholders are taking a fresh look at parks and their potential to help address many critical urban issues. 

Gil Penalosa, World Urban Parks Chair

Gil PenalosaIn the March edition of World Park News, we gave a short introduction to our five newly created committees (Green Infrastructure, Healthy Parks, Healthy Cities, Older Adults and Parks and Children, Play and Nature). These committees reflect the feedback we collected from members on key topics of interest. This month I’d like to take the opportunity to profile one of them: Children, Play, and Nature.

Children need to play. They need to play outside, and they benefit tremendously when they have experiences in nature. We as humans are hard-wired for being outside in the natural environment, but the cities we are building today are making it more difficult for children (and people of all ages) to experience the tremendous benefits of play and nature. In the U.S, research suggests that 35 per cent of households do not have a park within walking distance of their home, and that is in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. We must do much better, not only for the quality of life for children today, but also for future generations.

The Children, Play and Nature Committee is co-chaired by one of my colleagues, Amanda O’Rourke (8 80 Cities), along with Helena Bjarnegård from the City of Gothenburg in Sweden. Recognising all children have a right to play and connect with nature, this committee aims to strengthen the World Urban Parks advocacy portfolio by supporting the value and benefits of urban parks and green spaces to children’s health and well-being.

As Co-chair of the Committee (and World Urban Parks member), Amanda recently participated in the Salzburg Global Seminar entitled 'The Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play' in March. The Seminar was part of a series in the Parks for the Planet Forum – a collaborative platform convened by Salzburg Global Seminar in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) which aims to position nature at the heart of human health, wellbeing, security, and prosperity.

The Children, Play and Nature Committee has also been working to build a collaborative relationship with U.S-based Children and Nature Network, which I am pleased to announce has accepted an invitation to sit on the Committee.

Their 2017 International Children and Nature Network Conference will take place in Vancouver BC from 18-21 April. World Urban Parks members can receive $25 off full conference registration by using the code 2017WUP when registering at

We are currently looking for interested members to join the committee and/or the broader network. The Committee will be limited to 15 people; however the network will be unlimited. Ideally every World Urban Parks city member as well as most organisations should have a person participating, sharing and learning. This approach will lead to a win-win situation. Joining the network means you will not need to dedicate much time, but will receive meeting minutes and updates and be able to join specific working parties. If you or your colleagues are interested, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


World Parks Week 2017The inaugural World Parks Week takes place from 29 April to 7 May. We have already received events ranging from Showa Kinen Flower Festival in Tokyo and Festival Flores y Jardines in Mexico City to boat tours of the National City Park in Stockholm, a celebration of spring in Helsinki and a range of events from Nene Park in the UK.

We have set up a linking world map to feature World Parks Week events from around the world, and created downloadable logos for your events as well as sample tweets. This is a great opportunity to communicate the importance of the world's parks and encourage people to enjoy their local park and appreciate the importance of green space. If you have an existing event between 29 April and 7 May, please consider flying the World Parks Week banner and letting us know the details.

Visit the World Parks Week webpage for more details and to submit your events>>

EOI for secreteriat servicesThe current agreement for the provision of World Urban Parks CEO and secretariat services will shortly expire. Members and external organisations or individuals are invited to lodge expressions of interest to provide of World Urban Parks CEO services, secretariat services, or both. 

Details on information required in the Expression of Interest can be found in our Notice of Interest and Terms of Reference document, along with details of the World Urban Parks organisational structure. 

Expressions of Interest and any questions should be submitted to the World Urban Parks Vice Chair - Governance, David Cochrane, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 13 April 2017.

Those expressing interest will be sent a Request for Proposals document. The appointment is expected to be made in June 2017 with commencement in July 2017.

Europe Region CongressSave the date! Our 2017 Europe Region Congress will be held at Birkenhead Park in October 2017 in partnership with Wirral Council in the United Kingdom. Pre-congress tours and workshops start on 14 October, with the congress officially held from 17-19 October. Post-congress tours will also feature.

If you would like to make a presentation, please submit a short abstract (300 words) of your proposal to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. before 17 April. Conference themes include community, heritage, sustainability, and large urban parks.

Read more: Europe Congress: final call for abstracts

Palmares 2017The French National Union of Landscape Companies in association with the French national association for park managers Hortis have released their second Observatory of Green Cities, 'Palmares 2017', rating 50 large French cities on their green space and urban greening.

A panel of 20 specialists used five groups of indicators:

  • Green heritage, with indicators including green space per inhabitant (average of 1,147 hectares of green areas);
  • Investment in the development and improvement of green heritage (average green areas budget of €46.5 per inhabitant);
  • Biodiversity conservation, including biodiversity plans and inventories criteria (on average half the cities had biodiversity plans);
  • Promotion of parks and gardens, with indicators including promotion to schools;
  • Maintenance of green space and treatment of waste, including indicators for having a weed plan and policy for green waste management (66 percent had a weed control plan, anticipating zero herbicide legislation, and 22 percent used eco-pastoralism). 

The Top 5 rated cities were Angers, Nantes, Strasbourg, Lyon and Caen. The ratings are summarised in the following document (French language): 



Selected by the World Urban Parks Applied Research Working Group

London heat mapThis month's recommended research articles feature two studies employing world-wide meta-analyses of scientific articles - a study on the conditions that green and blue space reduce urban temperature, and a study of the effects of gardening on health.

Read more: Recommended research articles

Mobility parksIn partnership with the Hopp-La Foundation, the City of Basel in Switzerland has designed a health promotion project for strength, balance and fall prevention that brings older adults and children together. Trialed in Basel's Schützenmattpark, the project focuses on shared outdoor activity using features similar to playspaces, but catered for all ages. 

The Hopp-La Foundation advocates for public mobility and encourages common activity and spaces for young and old. They have presented a flyer (German language) which outlines the project. Further information can be found at the Hopp-La Foundation website.

Vancouver, Canada | 18-21 April 2017

Children and Nature Network International ConferenceOver 700 people from 21 countries are confirmed to attend the Children & Nature Network International Conference in April 2017.

Thanks to a special relationship between the Children & Nature Network and the World Urban Parks Children, Play and Nature Committee, World Urban Parks members can receive $25 off full conference registration by using the code 2017WUP when registering at

For more information or to register, visit the event website>>

Singapore | 7-9 June 2017

Asia-Pacific and IPRS CongressMark the date in your calendar and consider presenting at The International Greenery, Recreation, Infrastructure and Parks Conference – the Institute of Parks and Recreation Singapore and World Urban Parks Asia Pacific Congress.

Held at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre with its striking rooftop park, the conference is adjacent to the equally striking 101 hectare Gardens by the Bay. Further information can be found in the 'first announcement', which will be updated as the program is finalised and the event website becomes available.

Pre-event activities will begin on 6 June, featuring a seminar, master-class and World Urban Parks region meeting, while the conference itself takes place on 7-8 June, with a technical tour on 9 June, an optional cycling tour will feature on 10 June.

If you are interested in presenting at the conference or would like further information, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..