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 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

The roles of an urban parks systemThis well-balanced overview of the contemporary roles of urban parks explores the critical roles urban parks systems play in achieving public sector objectives for culture, recreation, community development, heritage, economic development, health and wellness, natural environment, education, and transportation.

Written by Ryan Schwartz and Dave Ellis, parks manager for the City of Lethbridge, this July 2016 paper is in part based on Benefits of Urban Parks - A Systematic Review, a 2013 meta-study of published research applied to Canada to help cities understand the role and benefits of their parks systems.

Read The Roles of an Urban Parks System>>

Selected by the World Urban Parks Applied Research Working Group

Recommended research articlesThis month's recommended research articles from around the world comprises a meta-study of studies on park access as it relates to different socio-economic and ethnic groups; a study on the parks needs of Taiwan’s aging population; and a study on the effects of off-leash dog policies in Canada.

Read more: Recommended research articles

Cape TownCape Town, South Africa | 26-28 September 2016

This is a final call for World Urban Parks Congress registrations.

This event is held in conjunction with the Institute of Environment and Recreation Management Annual Convention. With over 65 presenters from host South Africa and 15 other countries, the World Urban Parks Congress is a fantastic opportunity to network with colleagues and gain insights into different approaches to parks from around the world in the fantastic surrounds of Cape Town.

Proposed World Urban Parks pre-congress meetings have now been incorporated into the main programme.

Register now>>

Europe region and Hortis CongressAlbi, France | 5-7 October 2016

This is a final call for registrations for this exciting bi-lingual congress, held in partnership with French parks professional association Hortis in the French city of Albi, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

World Urban Parks members are invited to a pre-Congress afternoon on Tuesday 4 October. All members are welcome to attend. If possible, please RSVP via e-mail to World Urban Parks CEO This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to notify your attendance at the pre-Congress meeting.

City parks and heritage areas have increasing social, cultural, environmental and economic relevance. Find out how these spaces will evolve to meet the needs of different European populations in the twenty-first century at the Europe Region Congress.

Congress registrations can be made at the event website which also features the event programme and information on symposia days, tours and site visits, workshops and meetings.

Register now>>

Panama City, Panama | 25-27 October 2016

AR-URBIOThe World Urban Parks Americas Region is supporting the IFLA AR-URBIO Conference 2016, hosted by Urban Biodiversity and Design (URBIO) and the International Federation of Landscape Architects, Americas Region (IFLA-Americas) in Panama City from 25-27 October. This will be the main opportunity for many World Urban Parks Americas Region members to get together.

World Urban Parks Chair Gil Penalosa will present at several programme sessions, and there will be a World Urban Parks panel on the theme Cities within Landscapes: The roles and values of an urban parks system on 27 October. The panel will include Chair Gil Penalosa of Canada, Americas Region Co-Chairs Martha Fajardo of Colombia and Keith Anderson of the USA, as well as David Ellis, who is from Lethbridge, Canada.  There may still be places on the panel. If you are interested, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The unique collaboration between IFLA-Americas and Urban Biodiversity and Design (URBIO) is planning for attendance of about 500 people from around the world at the Ciudad del Saber (City of Knowledge) complex. The event programme brings together URBIO scientists and practitioners, and IFLA’s landscape architects and designers.

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

Quito, Ecuador | 17-20 October 2016

Habitat IIIDr Richard Murray, Co-chair of World Urban Parks Large Parks Committee, has achieved an important advocacy opportunity for World Urban Parks with the acceptance of a World Urban Parks United Nations Habitat III Conference side-event in partnership with the Italian Society of Silviculture and Forest Ecology (SISEF). The event will be held in Quito, Ecuador.

The World Urban Parks side-event theme is “Large green spaces, key public infrastructure for equitable, healthy and sustainable cities” while the SISEF theme is “The strategic role of public green spaces and urban forests in Latin America and the Caribbean for a new inclusive agenda”. They comprise of a number of presentations followed by discussion. Any World Urban Parks member attending the Congress should please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Habitat III is the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development. Quito offers a unique backdrop, showcasing urban solutions that illustrate how sustainable development can be incorporated into city planning.
For more information or to register for Habitat III, visit the event website>>

NZRA National ConferenceQueenstown, New Zealand | 9-11 November 2016

Registrations are open for this year's NZRA National Conference, to be hosted in Queenstown, one of the world's hot spots for high-quality recreation experiences.

The event promotes and encourages best practice by presenting and showcasing developments from within and outside the recreation industry. Participants will have opportunities to network with recreation professionals from around New Zealand and embark on field trips in the fantastic surrounds.

This year, the conference themes are technology and sustainability, and presentations will range from gaming in parks to online mapping and climate change.

To see the programme or register for this event, visit the event website>>

Marina Bay SandsSingapore | 29 November – 2 December 2016
World Urban Parks is proud to support the Institute of Parks and Recreation, Singapore’s Conference.

Please note that the dates have moved out to November to allow further programme development. The theme of the event is “Greenery, Parks & Recreation”. The event will be held at Singapore’s iconic Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre from 29 November to 2 December, with an added cycling option on Saturday 3 December.

The Conference is co-hosted with International Green Building Conference organised by Building Control Authorities to bring together green communities worldwide and expected to attract over 200 people. Special accommodation rates, including twin-sharing, have been secured at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel.

A number of international speakers from the Asia-Pacific region and beyond have been secured and some speaking places remain. Those interested in speaking should send a brief statement of interest, including an abstract (relating to themes in the programme), CV and photo to IPRS President This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for inclusion in the final program.

View the programme>>

Gil PenalosaGil Penalosa, Chair

As we approach our first Annual General Meeting, I would like to say how grateful I am to have served as your Chair over this past year. It is a time to celebrate our accomplishments and also look ahead to a new phase of growth and development for World Urban Parks.

Over the past year, we have worked hard to fulfil our mission of providing a global voice for the urban parks, open space and recreation sector. We are committed to defining the areas where we can have the most impact and add value for our members, while supporting the efforts of national, regional, and local organisations.

Our committees have been hard at work defining priorities and also delivering some specific outputs. While we are pleased with the level of engagement of our members, we also recognise that we need a big push to expand our membership in order to strengthen our voice, and deliver on our objectives.

Please encourage your colleagues to join World Urban Parks, and if you are already a member we encourage you to get involved with the committees that interest you. We look forward to another productive year.

World Urban Parks UpdateDr Digby Whyte, CEO

This column provides information on the online Annual General Meeting to be held in mid-August, and an update on World Urban Parks member activity over the last two months.

World Urban Parks will hold its first Annual General Meeting  via an internet survey, available from Monday 15 through Friday 19 August 2016 to allow all members to participate.

In the week beforehand members will receive a survey link, directors report, financial report auditor information, and list of board director nominees.

Read more: World Urban Parks Update