All children and young people have the right to grow up in a healthy and safe environment where they can develop to their full potential. UNICEF’s Child-Friendly Cities Initiative supports cities, towns and municipalities in creating the right conditions to make that possible.
Five steps to becoming a Child-Friendly City
UNICEF Switzerland and Liechtenstein recognizes municipalities that systematically improve their child-friendliness and achieve visible results for children and young people.
The municipality and UNICEF carry out a situation analysis. All areas of life relevant to children and young people are examined:
- Politics and administration
- Listening to children’s needs
- Child protection and prevention
- Formal education
- Transition after compulsory education
- Early childhood and family
- Health and leisure
- Urban development
The views, needs and concerns of children and young people as they relate to the municipality are surveyed.
The municipality defines goals and concrete measures with which it intends to increase child-friendliness.
As a control step before the label is awarded, the process is evaluated by an external expert.
A commission of experts decides whether to recognize the municipality as a Child-Friendly City. The label is awarded for a period of four years. After that, recertification is possible.
Cities, towns and municipalities are supported by UNICEF throughout the entire process.
The systematic approach ensures that municipal policies are sustainably geared to the needs of the youngest residents. We see child-friendliness as a cross-sectional task for the entire municipality.
“A Child-Friendly City pursues sustainable urban development that focuses not only on social, economic and environmental aspects, but also on the participation of children and young people.”
The initiative has a lasting effect
Why the process is worthwhile:
- Strong children, strong society: a Child-Friendly City promotes togetherness and strengthens the community as a whole
- Sustainability: Support from UNICEF promotes a long-lasting approach and firmly establishes child-friendliness
- Evidence-based: Regular situation analyses shed light on all areas of children’s lives and identify guiding principles for community development
- Strengthening participation: Children are actively involved in the process. They are taken seriously and are more likely to identify with their municipality
- Child-friendliness as a cross-sectional task: Cooperation within the municipality is improved
- Networking: Through the label, the municipality becomes part of the Child-Friendly Cities network and gains access to exchange and training opportunities
- Location marketing: The label makes the municipality more attractive, e.g. for families and companies
Child-Friendly Cities in Switzerland and Liechtenstein
The Child-Friendly Cities Initiative has been operating in Switzerland since 2006 and in Liechtenstein since 2018. UNICEF Switzerland and Liechtenstein has already recognized more than 50 Child-Friendly Cities. These include communities ranging from tiny municipalities to large cities.
Appenzell Ausserrhoden: Teufen (2012)
Geneva: Geneva (2018)
Graubünden: Surses (2023)
Vaud: Lausanne (2012)
Zug: Zug (2015)
children and young people
The Child-Friendly Cities Initiative in the media
Networking is important when it comes to implementing children’s rights as it enables the targeted use of resources. Collaborating with our partners enables us to drive the implementation of children’s rights together.
UNICEF Switzerland and Liechtenstein maintains partnerships and collaborations with around a third of the Swiss cantons within the scope of the Child-Friendly Cities Initiative. The cantons of Aargau, Schaffhausen, Ticino and Valais actively encourage municipalities to engage in the process of obtaining the Child-Friendly City label. In addition, the cantons of Basel-Landschaft, Lucerne, Solothurn, St.Gallen, Thurgau and Zurich provide financial support to Child-Friendly Cities to help with certification costs.
The project Kinder- und Jugendpartizipation in Bündner Gemeinden (Child and Youth Participation in Graubünden Municipalities), is run by jugend.gr, an umbrella organization for the promotion of children and young people in Graubünden. It aims to ensure that the participation of children and young people is addressed at municipal level. Our partnership with jugend.gr means that Graubünden municipalities receive close and personal support from a competent, local implementation partner.
The project PartiZHipation, okaj zürich – Kantonale Kinder- und Jugendförderung (Cantonal Child and Youth Promotion) aims to address the participation of children and young people at municipal level and to review, evaluate, develop and firmly establish the associated structures. Our partnership with okaj zürich gives Zurich municipalities access to support and advice from a local implementation partner.
Since 2019, the Child-Friendly Cities Initiative has received funding from Stiftung Mercator Schweiz. The focus of the funding is on expanding the participation of children and young people in municipalities. Stiftung Mercator Schweiz also supports participating municipalities by means of financial aid from the Municipality Fund.
ALDI SUISSE wants to strengthen the participation of children and young people in Switzerland. To this end, ALDI SUISSE provides Child-Friendly Cities with a support fund to finance participatory processes.
UNICEF Children’s Rights Newsletter
Our Children’s Rights Newsletter keeps you up to date about our work in Switzerland and Liechtenstein and about other exciting events and projects.