China will select 100 eligible cities to take part in a pilot project of building child-friendly cities, according to an announcement by Ou Xiaoli, head of the social development department of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), at an NDRC press conference on Oct 15. Each city must have a population of at least 1 million people.
The “Guiding Opinions on Promoting the Construction of Child-Friendly Cities”, jointly issued by 23 departments including the NDRC, National Working Committee on Children and Women under the State Council and the Ministry of Civil Affairs, encouraged companies, public institutions, social organizations and communities to provide universal child-friendly services and infant care and explored ways to implement a better parental leave system and strengthen parenting advice services.
The “Guiding Opinions” proposed that by 2025, through the establishment of 100 pilot child-friendly cities nationwide, the concept of child-friendliness will be deeply rooted in society, and child-friendly requirements will be emphasized everywhere including in the law, social policies, public services, and education. By 2035, over 50 percent of the country’s cities with a population of more than 1 million will be transformed into child-friendly cities. And how suitable a city’s facilities are for children will become an important indicator in assessing a city’s development.
The pilot project is designed to help explore innovative models of constructing child-friendly cities, Ou said. In order to promote the construction of child-friendly cities in an orderly manner and ensure the quality and effectiveness of the development work, local governments should play a central role, and tailored construction plans should be explored.
Ou also stressed the necessity of summarizing and learning from achievements when developing construction standards, as well as the need to make some of the pilot cities national examples designated for promotion on a larger scale. Meanwhile, investment from the central budget will also play a leading role in guiding, encouraging and supporting areas with outstanding achievements.
He emphasized the importance of ensuring that new waves of urbanization and the equalization of public services take children into account, with the need to establish facilities that provide for children’s learning, games, and physical exercise, along with other activities that combine education with pleasure. Ou also stressed the need to expand outdoor spaces close to nature.
He also said that local governments need to ensure that facilities and services provided for children are affordable for parents.