Incorporating a focus on early childhood development into the planning and management of cities.

In 1950, only 30% of people lived in cities. Today, it is over half. By 2050, it will be 70%. Planning, designing and managing cities has become one of humanity’s defining challenges. Cities can be wonderful places to grow up, rich with opportunities for learning. But they can also pose challenges for families: lack of open, green, safe spaces for children to play and caregivers to meet; long and unpredictable commutes; unsafe housing, pollution and poor sanitation; and, for parents who recently migrated to the city, lack of support networks of extended family and neighbours.

We have strong evidence that a safe and healthy environment during the first five years of life can translate into better adult health outcomes, greater ability to learn and work with others, and higher lifetime incomes. By better understanding how a city looks from the perspective of 95 cm – the average height of a healthy 3 year old – we can therefore foreshadow the kind of residents cities are likely to have 20 or 30 years down the road.

Urban95 works with city leaders, urban planners, architects and engineers to support the healthy development of young children growing up in cities. The Foundation is working on piloting, evaluating and scaling-up cost-effective policy innovations in green public spaces, mobility for families, childcare management and parent coaching; funding research to provide the data cities need to mainstream early childhood development; supporting technical assistance to help cities use that data effectively; and training a generation of urban leaders and urban planners to become champions for the youngest children.

Early Childhood Matters 2017

Early Childhood Matters 2017

This latest edition of the Bernard van Leer Foundation’s journal showcases advances in early childhood development, bringing new ideas from around the world and exploring the challenges of scaling up. Read more

Annual Report 2016

The Bernard van Leer Foundation's Annual Report for 2016 shares highlights from the last year, including stories from Tel Aviv, Bhubaneshwar and the Amazon basin. It explores the new strategic… Read more

Annual Report 2015

Bernard van Leer Foundation - Annual Report 2015

This edition of the Bernard van Leer Foundation's Annual Report shares highlights from our work in 2015 and explains the thought processes that led us to the three new solution… Read more