Towards the Child Friendly City

Children’s rights in the built environment

A new international conference on children’s rights in the built environment was held in Bristol on 27-29 November 2019, hosted by Bristol City Council and curated by the European Network for Child Friendly Cities and partners.

‘Children in cities need a variety of places in which to play and to learn … an unspecified, outdoor home base from which to play, to hang around in and to help form their notions of the world.’

Jane Jacobs

As children take centre stage in the movement for sustainable living, this event was an opportunity to explore how the public realm is responding. This three-day international conference was for all those engaged in research, policy and practice in the built environment sectors; it was for practitioners and advocates working with children and young people to champion their rights as citizens and stakeholders in shared public space; and it was for developers and planners who want to meet the needs of their youngest residents.

A cutting-edge programme

The programme highlighted the latest research, policy initiatives and practice innovations from the range of sectors impacting on children in the urban environment, including planning, traffic, transport and housing, as well as play, youth, parks and leisure. A rich mix of keynote speakers, expert panels – including children and young people (the real experts) – engaging workshops and inspiring field trips were supplemented by the all-important networking opportunities of the conference dinner and reception, each included in the delegate ticket.

An international network

The European Network for Child Friendly Cities was the sector specialist partner in the international Child in the City conferences until 2017, curating events in cities such as London, Florence, Rotterdam and Zagreb. Towards the Child Friendly City was the first in the network’s new series of independent, not-for-profit events.

Bristol, home of the street play movement. Photo: Playing Out

A child-friendly host city

We were really excited to stage the event in Bristol, the home of some extraordinary child-friendly initiatives and environments. Already well known for its commitment to street play, adventure playgrounds, child-friendly cultural centres, and its new children’s charter, the City of Bristol was the ideal host city for this first in a new series of world conferences dedicated to advancing children’s rights in the built environment.

Working with local partners and sector leaders

In addition to our host, Bristol City Council, the conference was supported by a range of other specialist partners including Playing Out, A Place in Childhood, the Universities of Bristol and Bath Spa and the Architecture Centre, who each helped us create a rich mix of keynote speakers, expert panels, engaging workshops and inspiring field trips.

Programme information
Full programme here
List of speakers here

A conference report will appear here soon

Conference organisers

European Child Friendly Cities Final Logo_converted text  

Host city partner


Conference partners



Communications Partner