Children and sustainable cities: Council of Europe adopts guidelines for local and regional authorities
The Council of Europe (CoE), which protects human and democratic rights, has adopted new guidelines aimed at raising children’s awareness of sustainable cities.
A new booklet, How to make your town a better place, is a new booklet that was unveiled at the CoE Congress of Local and Regional Authorities in the French city of Strasbourg.
While the booklet comes with guidelines for local and regional authorities, it is intended to raise children’s awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the United Nations 2030 Agenda. The overarching aim is to encourage 6-11-year-olds to get involved in the implementation of SDGs in their own communities.
As part of a resolution drawn up by Brigitte van den Berg, a Netherlands CoE member (Rapporteur) and adopted this week at the 42nd Session Congress, local and regional authorities are encouraged use this learning tool to raise awareness and teach children about SDGs by helping them to understand, through specific examples, how they can contribute to the implementation of SDGs in their towns and cities.
The Congress says this would enable young people to come up with their own proposals to be shared with their local authorities or in forums set up specifically to facilitate children’s participation.
It also asks associations of local and regional authorities in member states to translate, disseminate and promote the booklet and the guidelines widely through their networks.
“Children’s participation does not only benefit children, but can offer real added value when developing public policies”, said Ms van den Berg during a presentation of the project.
She was supported by Grace O’Hagan, 10, from the UK and a member of the advisory group of children that helped to produce the booklet. “Adults who think children cannot do this type of work or should not get involved need to know that children want to understand the world around them and be able to help”, she said.
Baroness Doreen E. Massey, Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Baroness Doreen E. Massey, also welcomed the initiative, which she said was ‘in keeping with the PACE’s strategy’.
Children’s rights, she said, were closely interlinked with the work of local and national public bodies and that there were many initiatives being carried out between parliamentarians, local and regional authorities, mayors, teachers, youth workers and children.
“We can build on our respective experiences to strengthen the protection of children’s rights and encourage children to bring their energy and creativity to discussions and polices which may affect them,” she added.
- Booklet: “How to make your town a better place” (pdf)
- YouTube video: presentation of the project by children from the pilot towns and cities
- Congress report: “Children and sustainable cities: guidelines and booklet for local and regional authorities”
- PACE report: “The right to be heard: child participation, a foundation for democratic societies”