Creating healthy, prosperous and vibrant cities where babies, toddlers and their families can thrive
If you could experience a city from 95cm – the height of a 3-year-old – what would you change? Urban95 asks this bold but simple question of the world’s city leaders, planners, architects, and innovators.
Urban95 is the Bernard van Leer Foundation’s, 30 million euro initiative to make lasting change in the landscapes and opportunities that shape the crucial first five years of children’s lives.
Urban95 is rooted in the belief that when urban neighbourhoods work well for pregnant women, babies, toddlers and young children, they also tend to nurture strong communities and economic development.
More than half the world’s population lives in cities; by 2050, it will be 70%. Cities can be wonderful places to grow up, rich with opportunities for learning. Yet urban environments can also pose challenges to families with young children:
- Unsafe streets and limited public transport options can make it a struggle to get around to childcare, doctors, shops, or just out for a walk;
- Poor air quality affects infants and young children more than healthy adults;
- As urban populations expand, newcomers may be far from extended family and find it difficult to make friends who can support them with back up childcare, advice, or just a listening ear.
Research shows that children’s early experiences have effects that last a lifetime. Cities which give their young children a good start in life are helping to shape new generations of productive workers and upstanding citizens.
What we work on: Urban95 focus areas
Urban95 cities are working to pilot and scale cost-effective innovations in:
What we do:
Urban95 city partnerships
The Bernard van Leer Foundation will provide technical and financial support to multi-year, citywide Urban95 initiatives in selected partner cities focused on: 1) parent coaching; 2) public green space; 3) increasing families’ options to move safely around their communities; and 4) using data to inform city decision-making across agencies and sectors.
We have so far formally launched partnerships with Bogota, Tel Aviv and Bhubaneswar. We are also exploring partnerships with Recife and Istanbul, have seed projects in Lima, Sao Paolo, Tirana, Boa Vista and Amsterdam, and are looking for another partner city in India.
Global dialogue about young children and cities
From partnerships with city-focused research and training institutions to trade publications and convenings such as CityLab, we are spreading the idea that the best measure of a vibrant, prosperous, and healthy city is the well-being of the babies, toddlers and families who live there.
The first Urban95 Challenge was launched in 2016. A global call for innovations to promote well-being for young children and their families in the places where they live, learn, work and play. It attracted 151 ideas from 41 countries with an average budget of EUR 15,000. Our review panel chose 26 cutting-edge ideas to receive funding. These are showcasing a range of actions cities can take now to improve the lives of young children and their families: