Dr Digby WhyteDr Digby Whyte, CEO

The last two months have seen World Urban Parks develop a stronger platform and sense of direction.

Our newly elected Board has approved a new structure to drive four portfolios of activity, and the organisation has been on show, not only by partnering at the World and Europe Region World Urban Parks congresses and supporting the major Ifla Americas-URBIO and Habitat III conferences, but also globally in advocating for the world’s urban parks.

As you will see in this edition of World Park News, we are also developing formal alliances with related organisations who share our interest in looking towards sustainable development and an improved connection between people and nature in our urban and peri-urban areas.

These relationships represent great potential, but it is important we work to create solid, meaningful connections. This is made possible through our activity portfolios.

Four new committees for Children and Nature, Aging and Parks, Healthy Parks Healthy Cities, and Green Infrastructure are in the process of being formed as part of our Advocacy Portfolio, also responsible for key service committees including the existing Large Urban Parks and Knowledge and Standards Committee.

Read more: Creating meaningful connections

World Urban Parks side event at United Nations Habitat III, Quito, EquadorThe World Urban Parks Large Urban Parks Committee (and Network) held a successful side event at the UN Habitat III Conference in Quito on 17 October 2016, titled Large Green Spaces and Urban Forests, Key Public Infrastructure for Equitable, Healthy and Sustainable Cities. This event was presented in collaboration with the Italian Society of Silviculture and Forest Ecology (SISEF).

Large Urban Parks Committee Co-Chair Dr Richard Murray congratulated Patricia O'Donnell for leading the event, and the panellists for their contributions, noting the side event was the best-attended side event of that day of the programme.

Together with a successful Habitat III side event held in Barcelona earlier this year, this event highlighted the value of large urban parks and raised the profile or World Urban Parks, as well as developing relationships with allied organisations.

A short debrief from Simone Borelli of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation follows:

Read more: World Urban Parks Habitat III event a success

A memorandum at AR-URBIOWorld Urban Parks contributed to a panel at the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) Americas Region and Americas Region-URBIO partnered Conference in Panama City, Panama on 27 October 2016.

Titled The Roles and Values of an Urban Parks System, the panel shared vital knowledge on how parks improve property values, healthy active living, and vibrant liveable communities.

The panel was an outcome of the development of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of mutual support between World Urban Parks and IFLA as two allied professional organisations. The MOU was signed at the conference closing ceremony by World Urban Parks Chair Gil Penalosa and IFLA Americas President Raquel Penalosa on behalf of IFLA President Kathryn Moore.

The panel was coordinated by World Urban Parks Americas Region Co-Chair Martha Fajardo, and included Gil Penalosa and member David Ellis as well as URBIO President Professor Haripriya Gundimeda. For more information see the panel outline.

Pictured: Martha Fajardo, (left) Gil Penalosa (centre) and Raquel Penalosa (right)

World Urban Parks FBSince its mid-August launch World Urban Parks Facebook has been buzzing, with a consistent World Urban Parks presence integrated across social media platforms Twitter (@WUParks) and the WUP LinkedIn group site.

This development is the work of Jenn Halliday, building on the efforts of Dr Anna Steidle and the success of the WUP Europe Region Facebook page.  The sites allow more immediate sharing of news and activity and you are encouraged to contribute! We are also looking at creating an interactive member site as a 'market place' for sharing policies, solutions to issues, organising secondments etc. The aim is to have all levels of organisations engaged.

For an info-graphic report on WUP social media, including global reach and most popular items click here. If you have not had a chance to check out World Urban Parks' social media accounts, you can find them at:


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