Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
License needed for work use Register

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Cities are Failing Children, UNICEF Warns

UNICEF NZ (UN Children’s Fund)
Media Release
Embargoed until Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cities are Failing Children, UNICEF Warns

The State of the World’s Children 2012: Children in an Urban World

Greater urbanisation is inevitable and soon – for the first time in history - the majority of children will grow up in towns or cities rather than in rural areas, with many virtually invisible and excluded from vital services, according to a new UNICEF report launched today (UN Children’s Fund) The State of the World’s Children 2012: Children in an Urban World.

Children born in cities already account for 60 per cent of the increase in the world’s urban population. The trend for urbanisation is mirrored in New Zealand with 86% of the population living in urban areas and super cities beginning to emerge – Auckland is already home to 300,000 children.

For hundreds of millions of children in developing countries urbanization means being excluded from vital services. Today, an increasing number of children living in slums and shantytowns are among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in the world, deprived of the most basic services and denied the right to thrive.

Cities offer many children the advantages of urban schools, clinics and playgrounds. Yet the same cities the world over are also the settings for some of the greatest disparities in children’s health, education and opportunities. Infrastructure and services are not keeping up with urban growth in many regions and children’s basic needs are not being met. Families living in poverty often pay more for substandard services.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

Dennis McKinlay, Executive Director of UNICEF New Zealand, said, “The reality is that urbanisation is impacting children in every country across the world and we cannot ignore the implications of this.

“In New Zealand urbanisation does not present some of the issues affecting the developing world, but nevertheless there are still visible socio economic disparities in our cities, such as inferior housing and a lack of access to services.

“The move from rural to urban brings benefits as well as challenges, as recognized in Auckland’s 30 year plan. As a smaller country New Zealand has the opportunity to look at what has proven successful in other cities around the world and to consider the problems encountered by others. We can learn from that in planning for all our cities, but those lessons learnt are especially prudent for Auckland and the rebuild of Christchurch.”
Making cities fit for children

A focus on equity is crucial – one in which priority is given to the most disadvantaged children wherever they live. UNICEF urges governments to put children at the heart of urban planning and to extend and improve services for all.

At the global level, UNICEF and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) have worked together for 15 years on the Child-Friendly Cities Initiative building partnerships to put children at the centre of the urban agenda and to provide services and create protected areas so children can have the safer and healthier childhoods they deserve.

McKinlay added, “In New Zealand, cities such as Whangarei and Auckland are already looking closely at the Child-Friendly Cities model in terms of future planning and Christchurch is another city that has the opportunity to involve its youngest citizens in shaping its rebuild.

“Children are a crucial aspect of urban development. All too often they are ignored in the planning process. We need to recognize that young people are shaped by the environments they grow up in and we need to hear their voices as active decision makers.”

In the developing world there is more work to be done. To start, more focused, accurate data are needed to help identify disparities among children in urban areas and how to bridge them. The shortage of such data is evidence of the neglect of these issues. While governments at all levels can do more, community-based action is also a key to success.

The report calls for greater recognition of community-based efforts to tackle urban poverty and gives examples of effective partnerships with the urban poor, including children and adolescents. These partnerships yield tangible results, such as better public infrastructure in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Brazil; higher literacy rates in Cotacachi, Ecuador; and stronger disaster preparedness in Manila, Philippines. In Nairobi, Kenya, adolescents mapped their slum community to provide information to urban planners.

McKinlay said, “Urbanisation is a fact of life, but with careful consideration and involvement of our younger citizens, our cities can develop economically and socially into areas that our children can be proud to live in for generations to come.”
Find out more on Twitter and Facebook


Notes to editors:

Interactive infographic (showing individual countries’ projected population growth), full report, images and video content available from:

UNICEF is on the ground in over 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.

The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.

UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

Every $1 donated to us is worth at least $10 in the field thanks to the way we work in partnership with governments, local NGOs and other partners -

About UN-Habitat
The United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-Habitat, is the United Nations agency for human settlements. It is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all. For more information about Habitat and its work visit:

Join us on Facebook and Twitter

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The New Government’s Policies Of Yesteryear

Winston Peters is routinely described as the kingmaker who decides whether the centre right or the centre-left has a turn at running this country. He also plays a less heralded, but equally important role as the scapegoat who can be blamed for killing taxes that his senior partners never much wanted in the first place. Neither Ardern nor Robertson for example, really wanted a capital gains tax, for fear of Labour copping the “tax and spend“ label they ended up being saddled with anyway. Usefully though, they could tell the party faithful it was wicked old Winston who killed the CGT. More

Public Housing Futures: Christmas Comes Early For Landlords

New CTU analysis of the National & ACT coalition agreement has shown the cost of returning interest deductibility to landlords is an extra $900M on top of National’s original proposal. This is because it is going to be implemented earlier and faster, including retrospective rebates from April 2023. More

Green Party: Petition To Save Oil & Gas Ban

“The new Government’s plan to expand oil and gas exploration is as dangerous as it is unscientific. Whatever you think about the new government, there is simply no mandate to trash the climate. We need to come together to stop them,” says James Shaw. More

PSA: MFAT Must Reverse Decision To Remove Te Reo

MFAT's decision to remove te reo from correspondence before new Ministers are sworn in risks undermining the important progress the public sector has made in honouring te Tiriti. "We are very disappointed in what is a backward decision - it simply seems to be a Ministry bowing to the racist rhetoric we heard on the election campaign trail," says Marcia Puru. More




InfoPages News Channels


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.