Analysis of the main urban contexts shows that urbanization does not necessarily induce sustainable urban environments. Cities are drivers of prosperity, but also of inequity and environmental degradation. There is a lack of planning, leading to slums and other fragile contexts. Acknowledging all these challenges, why would we then make it even more complex and ask for planning focused on children? Enrique Peñalosa, the current mayor of Bogota, says it in a gentle way: “If we can build a successful city for children, we will have a successful city for all people.” In a more striking way, children suffer from unsustainable planning and use of resources. According to UNICEF, every year nearly 600,000 children under the age of five die from diseases caused or exacerbated by the effects of indoor and outdoor air pollution. According to the Lancet Journal, every day around the world more than 3,000 children and adolescents – a toll equivalent to the student population of two large schools – suffer a road traffic death or serious injury. This talk presents concepts, evidence and technical strategies to bring children to the foreground of urban planning. By focusing on children, we will discuss the central role that urban planning should play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), from a global perspective to a local context, by creating thriving and equitable cities where children live in healthy, safe, inclusive, green and prosperous communities.
About the Speaker
Jens Aerts is an urban planning specialist with 20 years of experience, working on the cross-section of practice, policy and research. He is the author of the recent UNICEF publication Shaping urbanization for children, a handbook on child-responsive urban planning’ and currently supports the agency as a member of the Urban task Team in the development and implementation of its Global Urban Strategy, including training and technical assistance in regional and country offices. He is also committed to similar advisory work that bridges people’s well-being and sustainable urban development, such as with the Habitat III secretariat during the drafting process of the New Urban Agenda and as member of the Advisory Board for the upcoming Street for Kids program in the Global Designing Cities Initiative. Jens is affiliated with the Urban Community and Health Equity Lab at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP). He holds a MSc in Civil Engineering and Architecture from the University of Leuven (Belgium) and obtained his MA Urban Planning at the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya in Barcelona (Spain). He is member of the International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP).
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