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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Child-Friendly Environments—What, How and by Whom?

Jansson, Märit; Herbert, Emma; Zalar, Alva; Johansson, Maria


The socio-physical qualities of built environments are, in several ways, of imperative importance for children growing up. The Child-Friendly Cities initiative by UNICEF, an implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, has made local governments strive toward child-friendliness. The participation of children and young people is often the focus of such projects, with a potential for a far broader scope. Besides participation processes, what important socio-physical qualities make environments child-friendly, and how can they be developed? This paper presents a structured literature review of the concept of child-friendly environments, in order to address the full socio-physical spectrum. The results focus on concrete factors that have been filtered through child-friendliness and the associated frameworks, showing an inherent dependence between the social context and the physical environment. The shaping of child-friendliness hinges on the realization of environments that are safe, fair, and with accessible and variable green and open spaces. A multi-stakeholder endeavor including, e.g., planners, designers, and managers requires clearly outlined priorities. This study lays the groundwork for further exploration of how the concept of child-friendly environments can lead to positive changes, also as part of the overall strive toward sustainable development.


child-friendliness; landscape architecture; landscape management; landscape planning; urban design; urban planning; socio-physical environments

Published in

2022, volume: 14, number: 8, article number: 4852

Authors' information

Herbert, Emma
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management
Zalar, Alva
Lund University
Johansson, Maria
Lund University

UKÄ Subject classification

Landscape Architecture

Publication Identifiers


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