Child Friendly City

What is a Child Friendly City?

“A child-friendly city (CFC) is a city, town, community or any system of local governance committed to improving the lives of children within their jurisdiction by realizing their rights as articulated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In practice, it is a city, town or community in which the voices, needs, priorities and rights of children are an integral part of public policies, programmes and decisions.”

Broadly speaking, it is a city, town or community where children:

  • Are protected from exploitation, violence and abuse.
  • Have a good start in life and grow up healthy and cared for.
  • Have access to quality social services.
  • Experience quality, inclusive and participatory education and skills development.
  • Express their opinions and influence decisions that affect them.
  • Participate in family, cultural, city/community and social life.
  • Live in a safe secure and clean environment with access to green spaces.
  • Meet friends and have places to play and enjoy themselves.
  • Have a fair chance in life regardless of their ethnic origin, religion, income, gender or ability.


Guiding Principles

A child-friendly city is one which implements the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child at the local level. As such, the guiding principles of building a child-friendly city mirror the overarching principles of the Convention. These principles include:

Non-discrimination: The rights of all children are respected, without discrimination of any kind irrespective of the child’s or his or her parent’s or legal guardian’s race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.

Best interests of the child: The best interests of children are a primary consideration in decisions that may affect them with the government assuring the care and protection necessary for their wellbeing.

The inherent right to life, survival and development: Children have the right to life, with the government committed to ensuring the maximum extent possible, their right to survival and healthy development.

Respect for the views of the child: Children have the right to voice their opinions and have these be taken into account in decisions that affect them.

The guiding principles also include the following additional principles associated with good governance:

Equity and inclusion: A child-friendly city aims to create equal opportunities for all children. This entails identifying the most marginalized and vulnerable children, the barriers to inclusion that they face and removing these barriers.

Accountability and transparency: Building a child-friendly city requires clearly identifying who is responsible for each aspect of implementation and holding them accountable. Transparency calls for clarity and openness in the decision-making process.

Public Participation:  Building a child-friendly city requires having a system in place to facilitate public participation in decision-making to promote local accountability for children’s rights.

Effectiveness and responsiveness: Building a child-friendly city requires that governments undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measures to implement child rights to the maximum extent of their available resources and, where needed, within the framework of international co-operation. The process is responsive to the needs of the children and families affected.

Adaptability and sustainability: Building a child-friendly city requires a flexible management approach in order to be able to anticipate and respond to changing circumstances and be sustainable over time.


The Child Friendly Cities Initiative provides a governance framework consisting of two pillars: goals and results to be achieved; and strategies to achieve these goals and results.

Goals and Results

  1. Every child and young personis valued, respected and treated fairly within their communities and by local authorities.
  2. Every child and young person has their voice, needs and priorities heard and taken into account in public laws, policies, budgets, programmes and decisions that affect them.
  3. Everychild and young person has access to quality essential social services (this includes healthcare, education, nutrition support, early childhood development and education, justice and family support).
  4. Every child and young person lives in a safe, secure and clean environment(this includes protection from exploitation, violence and abuse, access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene, safe and child-responsive urban design, mobility and freedom from pollution and waste).
  5. Every child and young person has opportunities to enjoy family life, play and leisure (this includes social and cultural activities, and safe places to meet their friends and play).


Cork City received its current WHO Healthy City Designation in April, 2021. As part of the preparation for that designation, a 10 year Cork Healthy Cities 10 year Action Plan was developed by all the interagency and community partners and launched by Lord Mayor on 1st February 2021.


The first action point in the Cork Healthy Cities Action plan commits to “Exploring the development of a Child Friendly City in Cork city by:

1.1 Publishing demographic data of children in the Cork City Profile

1.2 Engaging with the key stakeholders who will lead the Child Friendly City

1.3 Organising a Child Friendly City Seminar

1.4 Supporting the development of a Child Friendly City Steering Group

1.5 Supporting the delivery and implementation of a Child Friendly City Plan”

At the March 2021 Council Meeting agenda item 8.3.2 CORK HEALTHY CITIES 10 YEAR STRATEGY An Chomhairle considered and noted the report of the Director of Services, Community Culture and Placemaking, dated 25th February 2021 on the following motion referred to Corporate Policy Group:- ‘That Cork City Council resolves to support the Cork Healthy Cities 10 year strategy to make Cork a child-friendly city and that the Council investigate including the recommendations of this strategy in the council’s development plan as well as developing a City Council strategy towards complying with UNICEF’s Child Friendly Cities Initiative.’ (Proposer: Cllr. L. Bogue 21/078) The report of the Director of Services stated that… Cork City Council is committed to working in a collaborative manner with all main stake holders in Cork Healthy Cities to achieve the actions outlined in the 10-year strategy including ‘exploring the development of a Child Friendly City In Cork City’. The actions taken in this action will align to the Unicef Child Friendly City Initiative and Cork city Council will engage with Cork Healthy Cities in consideration of this status.


To view the Submission by the Child Friendly Cities steering group to the Cork City Development Plan click here