This brief reviews initiatives focusing on youth and children in city governance, with focus on mainstreaming attention to children's needs into the routine practices of local governments; giving greater attention to children's own perceptions; and drawing on the proven energy and creativity of children and young people to contribute to making their cities better places. It details projects that include: evaluations by children of their own urban neighbourhoods and how they could be improved; these also show how urban neighbourhoods can provide a richer and more supportive environment for children in low- and middle-income nations (with examples from Buenos Aires, Argentina and Bangalore, India) than in high-income nations (with an example from Melbourne, Australia); an initiative in Johannesburg, South Africa, where children evaluated their environment and reported on their needs and priorities to city authorities, and a municipal authority in Brazil (Barra Mansa) that fully involved children in city government and in participatory budgeting; programmes in the Philippines and in Brazil that successfully encouraged local governments to better address the needs and priorities of children; and child-friendly city programmes in many nations and the legal, institutional, budgetary and planning measures that underpinned them. Assessments of these experiences by children were generally positive, although they find that city administrators can be unreliable in implementing their promises and adults often retain control of processes where children had expected more autonomy. These precedents also show how children's participation becomes not only an objective in its own right but also a practical instrument for creating better cities.
International Institute for Environment and Development