Child Friendly Cities is a global Unicef initiative aimed at supporting cities and communities to become child-friendly. In the UK, the initiative is called Child Rights Partners and takes an innovative approach to achieving this through a partnership-based model with local government. We work directly with local authorities and their partners to put children’s rights at the heart of public services.

What is the Unicef Child Friendly Cities initiative?

Unicef’s Child Friendly Cities initiative was developed by Unicef with the aim of supporting local governments to promote and fulfil children’s rights at the local level. Established in 1996, the initiative now operates in over 20 countries around the world, overseen in each country by its national Unicef office. 

While there is a Unicef Child Friendly Cities global model, the initiative and its approach is often tailored to the national and local contexts with one shared vision: to support cities (ie municipalities) and organisations to become child-friendly by including child rights in their planning, policies and programmes.

Does Unicef run the Child Friendly Cities initiative in the UK?

In the UK, Unicef has the Child Rights Partners programme.

Child Rights Partners derives from Unicef’s Child Friendly Cities initiative and also focuses on child rights at the local level. With Child Rights Partners in the UK, we have developed an innovative programme model where we work in partnership with local authorities (local councils) to put children’s human rights at the heart of public services. Our aim is to profoundly change how children’s services are planned and delivered in the UK so that all children and young people experience services that are adaptable, connected and empowering.

As the application of a child rights-based approach in the context of UK public services has not been trialled before, our UK model is currently being piloted for three years (2013-16) with a small number of local authorities. Our current partners are Glasgow in Scotland, Derry & Strabane in Northern Ireland, and Leeds, Newcastle and Tower Hamlets (London) in England.

Like Unicef’s global Child Friendly Cities initiative, Child Rights Partners is grounded in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC or CRC) and we seek to make cities and communities places where children’s rights are promoted and realised.

Read more about Child Rights Partners’ approach, find out who our partner local authorities are and learn more about why we work with public services in the UK.

Who can I contact about the Child Friendly Cities initiative?

If you would like to learn more about how the Child Friendly Cities initiative is adapted in the UK, please get in touch with our Child Rights Partners team at

If you are looking for information about the Child Friendly Cities initiative in your own country, you can contact your national Unicef office.

The Unicef Child Friendly Cities initiative in the UK Photo: Unicef UK/2014/Fields
Young people in their school in Tower Hamlets, one of Unicef UK's Child Rights Partners.Photo: Unicef UK/2014/Fields