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28 July 2022

Up to 150 secondary students from schools across Sydney will come together to plan the cities and communities of the future at the Better World Youth Summit to be held today.

Year 10 students from 10 public and independent schools will attend the summit at Taronga Zoo today  formed by UNICEF Australia, in partnership with the Bupa Foundation, to share their ideas for how cities and neighbourhoods can support the wellbeing of children and young people.

The ideas from the day will become part of a child-centred planning framework for ‘Child Friendly Australia’, to help councils and developers design healthier, more sustainable cities and communities for children and young people.

UNICEF Australia Chief of Advocacy Nicole Breeze said, “Child friendly cities and communities are healthy, equitable and sustainable environments for young people. Every child has the right to a healthy community, and COVID lockdowns really solidified how important it is to have surroundings that support physical and mental wellbeing, including for young people.

“As we look to a new way of living post pandemic, we must include our youngest generations in planning and give children and young people a voice in the design of cities and communities. The Better World Youth Summit is the first step for UNICEF Australia and the Bupa Foundation in a youth consultation process on what a Child Friendly Australia should look like, and we’re most grateful to all the students participating in this first stage,” she said.

Throughout the day students will explore the themes of mental health, climate, sustainability and equity in the future design of urban cities and rural communities. They will also attend immersive skills development sessions and participate in an innovation sprint to design and present a vision for a ‘Better World’.

Bupa Asia Pacific CEO, Hisham El-Ansary, said partnering with UNICEF Australia on this event brings to life Bupa’s commitment to making a better world by empowering children and young people to build a more sustainable and healthier future.

“Successful community partnerships extend beyond donations. They bring together the expertise of like-minded organisations who want to build something great that they can’t do alone,” Mr El-Ansary said.

“For cities to be healthier, sustainable, and more child-friendly, we need to develop a network of businesses, NGOs and community leaders to enable the needs and voices of children – who will inherit the cities of the future – to be heard. This summit is an important step in having young Australians help create healthy cities.”

Following the Better World Youth Summit, UNICEF Australia and the Bupa Foundation will continue to hold consultations with young people, which will be used to inform the Child Friendly Australia framework. UNICEF Australia will also share the outcomes from the summit and these consultations with key decision-makers including governments, businesses, and community organisations, to ensure children and young people are heard when it comes to shaping the cities and communities of the future.

City of Sydney Councillor and former UNICEF Australia Young Ambassador, HY William Chan will give the keynote address, sharing his experience as a registered architect and sustainability advocate on the importance of social inclusion and climate resilience in our communities.

“Our cities and communities should be places that everyone can enjoy, no matter what age, income or background. I’ve led community-building projects for the homeless, slum dwellers and refugee youth and I’m looking forward to hearing the participants creative thinking on how we can address some of the challenges in our communities,” he said.

Student representatives will attend from Auburn Girls High School, Abbotsleigh Private Girls School, Barker College, Cheltenham Girls' High School, The Hills Grammar School, Menai High School, Merrylands High School, Parramatta High School, Punchbowl Boys High School and Reddam House.