UNICEF - Kinderfreundliche Lebensräume

Child-friendly living spaces

For years now, UNICEF Switzerland and Lichtenstein has been working with the implementation of the «child-friendly living spaces» initiative and with the «Child-Friendly Living Spaces» specialist unit towards achieving «Child-Friendly Cities». This unit was successfully expanded and developed for years due to the support of the Paul Schiller Stiftung.

«Children are a kind of indicator species. If we can build a successful city for children, we will have a successful city for all people.»

Enrique Peñalosa, Mayor of Bogotà
UNICEF - Kinderfreundliche Lebensräume - Successful cities

Experiences of autonomy and identity building are key elements in a child's development. Both processes take place in environments where children live and move – spaces that they can develop and make their own. The role and responsibility of municipalities, cities, planners and other decision makers is a crucial factor in the areas of children's and young people's lives. 
Children's everyday lives and the spaces that arise in them change constantly. Today, fewer and fewer children have the opportunity to explore their environment on their own initiative, to make their mark – whether by forays into their local district or by spontaneous play and conquering niches with friends. Instead, their everyday lives are increasingly spent in a context that is subject to educational guidance, often coupled with a shift into interior spaces. This has an impact on children's and young people's development.

«To be a child means to learn to orientate yourself in space and time, to acquire space and time and to identify with space and time.»

Report on the survey «Kinder von heute im Raum von morgen» («Today's children in tomorrow's space»)
UNICEF - Kinderfreundliche Lebensräume - Kinder von heute

In the «child-friendly living spaces» field of competence, UNICEF Switzerland and Liechtenstein advocates free spaces that can be acquired individually and autonomously, allow a lot of social and natural interaction and are created with the involvement of children and young people. Discovering things, personally playing an active role and experiencing self-efficacy in the process teaches our children and makes them strong. «Child-friendly living spaces» offer an important learning and development area for children and young people, and contribute to children's ability to exercise their rights as guaranteed by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. UNICEF champions the development and maintenance of «child-friendly living spaces» by raising awareness, networking opportunities, special events, studies and publications.

The «Planning and designing child-friendly living spaces» guide, published in April 2020, is aimed at all professionals with an influence on children's and young people's areas of life. The main part of the book is supplemented by specific modular checklists for professionals from the fields of spatial planning, construction, politics, education, child protection, health and social affairs and for civil society.

The third part of the guide consists of an online collection of case studies from various actors and municipalities that cover different aspects of and criteria relating to «child-friendly living spaces».

In 2017, UNICEF conducted a survey of professionals from the fields of urban planning, transportation planning, building design, architecture, interior design and landscape architecture. The focus of this survey was whether and how children and young people can be involved in building projects and urban planning in their communities. The findings have been published in the report Kinder von heute im Raum von morgen (Today’s children in tomorrow’s spaces) This survey is a continuation from the earlier study Von der Stimme zur Wirkung (From words to impact.) from 2015, which examined the involvement of children and young people in family, school and community affairs. 

UNICEF - Kinderfreundliche Lebensräume - Umfrage

UNICEF networking event: Children's rights digital

UNICEF networking event: Together for child-friendly living spaces

Conference: Grasping child-friendly living spaces

Conference: «Digital child – analogue community?»

Mona Meienberg
Head of Child Friendly Community and City Development

UNICEF Schweiz und Liechtenstein
Pfingstweidstrasse 10
8005 Zürich

Telephone: +41 (0)44 317 22 71
email: m.meienberg(at)unicef.ch