To support Sharjah Child Friendly City portfolio and in the pursuit of sustainability as child friendly city, the Child Friendly Urban Planning (CFUP) project was launched in 2017 with strategic partners Sharjah Urban Planning Council (SUPC), UNICEF and UN-Habitat. This ensures basic rights of children from different cultures and competencies without any discrimination by participating and expressing their opinion in the decision-making process and in planning to improve their quality of life through urban planning to reach a healthy, safe, inclusive, green and prosperous environment.
The CFUP project started by conducting a brainstorming session with children and youth at the Sharjah Book Fair in cooperation with SUPC and UNICEF. As a result, the first ‘Urban Planning Lab’ was launched in cooperation with UN-Habitat to develop innovative solutions in the field of urban planning using modern tools and principles of best practices internationally. This unique experience was piloted with 48 children of different age, ability and competency including children of determination from Sharjah City of Humanitarian Service and they designed a green, comfortable, child-friendly and comprehensive space using “Block by Block – Minecraft” methodology. Using this technology, children were able to transform the park and play area into a semi-tangible reality considering their need and outlook. This was followed by an exploratory walk to identify the area where the park will be built bearing in mind security and safety, and challenges were identified with appropriate solutions in providing a friendly public facility to all the community members.
The CFUP project is considered as one of the pioneering project locally, regionally and internationally, as it had achieved tangible results through the children and youth participation on urban designing such as park that outstand their needs. The project encourages participatory planning and a model for urban governance and management approaches by effective participation of a wide range of partners to promote the importance of children’s rights. A workshop was held in cooperation with international urban planning experts for a diverse engineer from different organizations in different emirates working in the field of urban planning, municipalities, and town planning and survey, to familiarize themselves with the best practices.
City Wide assessment for Open Public Spaces
A city wide assessment of Sharjah was conducted by UN Habitat in collaboration with strategic partners and in coordination with 45 students aged 20 to 22 years from University of Sharjah. The assessment aimed to analyze the open public places in Sharjah using different tools including a workshop and a field survey. A comprehensive report was prepared with the results monitored by students and experts. This report is considered as a reference for the concerned entities in the city to identify the challenges and focus on the field of planning and implementing public and open spaces taking into consideration and meeting the needs of all age groups including children, families and people of determination.
Global & National participation of the project
The CFUP project was presented at the first ‘Child Friendly City Summit’ in Cologne, Germany in October 2019 in a session on children’s rights and urban planning. Sharjah’s experience was presented in involving children from Sharjah, ages 9 to 11, in designing a park in the city using “Minecraft” game, explaining how SCFO and SUPC worked in designing a neighbor park taking into account children’s ideas in urban planning.
The Sharjah Child Friendly Office (SCFO) conducted a workshop at the World Urban Forum (WUF10) under the slogan “Cities of Opportunities: Connecting Culture and Innovation” on February 2020 at Abu Dhabi, in the presence of His Excellence Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Cabinet Member and Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, delegates from UN-Habitat and experts from Urban Planning. The CFUP project was presented by SCFO, SUPC, experts from UN-Habitat and Department of Sharjah Town Planning and Survey, where children’s designing ideas in using Minecraft technology and mechanisms to promote the participation of children and youth in the design of public spaces were discussed. The park models designed by children and youth were also presented at the forum.
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