2018 is truly upon us and for World Urban Parks it is going to be a busy and exciting year.

I have only just commenced as the CEO of World Urban Parks and I need to thank my friend and predecessor, Digby Whyte for the great achievement of getting World Urban Parks established and up and running.  It is also with great pleasure that Digby will stay actively involved with the Membership Portfolio and the World Parks Academy.

As I have started to settle in and have caught up with many of our active members (and look forward to meeting or talking with more members over the coming months), there is a reoccurring theme in all the conversation and it is shaped by the challenges we all face such as:

  •  Gaining political or community support
  • Finding the funding to make a difference
  • Being able to keep abreast of a rapidly changing world,

The Alberta Recreation and Parks Association (ARPA) is a not-for-profit organization committed to building healthier and happier communities and citizens by developing and promoting recreation and parks. ARPA believes recreation and parks include everything from play to sport to arts and culture and outdoor pursuits. All are essential for creating beautiful and thriving communities that foster healthy and happy citizens.


The association plays a key role in multiple regional and national initiatives. The Professional Development Certificate is an initiative of the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association, which is currently administered by ARPA. ARPA has also developed a one of a kind education program for local elected officials on the recreation and parks sector. ARPA also partners with the Canadian Parks Council to administer a Asset Management Fundamentals course to parks professionals. This program was developed to provide practitioners with a clear understanding of how asset management planning can be applied to parks assets and services.


World Parks Week will be from 28 April - 6 May 2018, showcasing events that celebrate the world's parks. World Parks Week will be held every year in the first week of May.

Check back soon to register your event for World Parks Week! You will receive a World Parks Week logo to help promote your event, social media templates, and promotion on an international stage.

About World Parks Week

World Parks Week is an opportunity to celebrate our parks and green spaces.

The week is organised to:

  • Communicate the critical importance of parks in a global context
  • Promote best practice by learning from other parks services
  • Encourage people to enjoy their local park and appreciate the importance of green space

World Urban Parks previously organised a World Parks Day in September.

Looking to get your job in front of parks professionals from around the world? The World Urban Parks job board allows you to easily advertise your position for a low cost! Jobs are approved and posted to the website within one to two working days.  Get worldwide exposure in the parks sector – the only organisation with international reach!

To place a job posting please have the following information ready and complete the submission form on our website at http://www.worldurbanparks.org/en/job-board.

  • Job posting in English (PDF format only)
  • Logo (PNG format only) - optional

For further information on our international job board please contact the World Urban Parks office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

World Urban Parks is looking for volunteers to serve in the role of Executive Officers in a number of portfolios and committees. This is an exceptional opportunity to make a difference in the world as well as developing your networks and experiences. This unique opportunity will allow you to be mentored by international park leaders, able to share new ideas and concepts, and participate in World Urban Parks Congresses (free registrations!). The executive officer will also be given full membership for the duration of their tenure.

This role is to provide secretariat and organisational support to the Committee, its Working

Parties, and its Network. Ideal candidates will have relevant experience in urban parks, greenspaces, recreation, environmental and cultural management or local governments and urban affairs and/or experience of working in a local or state government environment (two years minimum).

To see how you could contribute to World Urban Parks as a portfolio or committee executive officer please visit our international job board. 

World Urban Parks provides international recognition of efforts by individuals, groups, and organisations to further park, open space, and recreation outcomes for citizens and the profession with a series of annual awards.

The first such award is the most prestigious individual award, the World Urban Parks Distinguished Individual Award. This award is presented to someone to recognize a significant or sustained contribution by an individual to furthering,

  1. urban liveability and sustainability through parks, open space, recreation and related endeavours and,
  2. advancing the parks, open space and recreation industry through advocacy, development or leadership in related professional or peak organisations.

Other awards include the Legacy Award and Large Urban Park Award. Further award information will be out soon! Awards will be presented at the 2018 World Congress in Melbourne, Australia this October. 

This months recommended research articles cover a wide range of topics and regions of the world. Enjoy reading!


The Spatiotemporal Trend of City Parks in Mainland China between 1981 and 2014: Implications for the Promotion of Leisure Time Physical Activity and Planning.

Wang, K.; Liu, J. The Spatiotemporal Trend of City Parks in Mainland China between 1981 and 2014: Implications for the Promotion of Leisure Time Physical Activity and Planning. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 1150.


Urban Green Space and the Pursuit of Health Equity in Parts of the United States

Jennings, V.; Baptiste, A.K.; Osborne Jelks, N.; Skeete, R. Urban Green Space and the Pursuit of Health Equity in Parts of the United States. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 1432.


The Built Environment as a Determinant of Physical Activity: A Systematic Review of Longitudinal Studies and Natural Experiments

Mikko Kärmeniemi, Tiina Lankila, Tiina Ikäheimo, Heli Koivumaa-Honkanen, Raija Korpelainen; The Built Environment as a Determinant of Physical Activity: A Systematic Review of Longitudinal Studies and Natural Experiments, Annals of Behavioral Medicine, , kax043, https://doi.org/10.1093/abm/kax043



Individual and Environmental Correlates to Quality of Life in Park Users in Colombia
Camargo, Diana Marina, Paula Camila Ramírez, and Rogério César Fermino. "Individual and Environmental Correlates to Quality of Life in Park Users in Colombia." International journal of environmental research and public health 14.10 (2017): 1250.

National Association of Parks and Recreation Mexico | 25-27 April, 2018

The 1st International Congress of Urban Parks, organised by the 2017 Asociación Nacional de Parques y Recreación, Mexico's new national association is this April in Merida, Mexico.

This is a valuable opportunity to develop your expertise on urban parks, open space and recreation related to the five themes of planning and design, economy & uses of public space, health and environment, public service and citizen participation, and the city.

There are many World Urban Park members in the line up of speakers, including Catherine Nagel from CPA, Jorge Perez director of Emerging Cities committee, Martha Fajardo, and others.

Click here for further information in Español or English.

Registration for the three day congress is $220 USD. All information, including the preliminary program, is on the congress website.

Future - Cities - Space

Over the last decade we have seen dramatic changes in society and in the development of cities, and it is clear that the role of parks and open space will play a major role but in ways that we still struggle to understand.  This years World Congress, will provide a platform to explore, discuss and debate the transformation of urban parks and recreation as we come to grips with the cities of the future.

Save the date!

This year’s world congress will be held in partnership with the Parks and Leisure Australia national conference in Melbourne from 14-17 October.

The International Parks Congress is expected to attract around 600 participants. With a metropolitan population of 4.7 million Melbourne is often cited as one of the most liveable cities in the world.

At the 2017 PLA National Conference on the Gold Coast a video was played of WUP Chair Gil Penalosa welcoming you to the World Congress in 2018.

Alberta Recreation and Parks Association (ARPA) will be hosting a North American Congress March 14-17, 2018 in Canmore, Alberta. This event will be hosted with the Parks Forum themed, “Collaboration for Change.” Inspired by the incredible diversity of parks, landscapes and open spaces, ARPA created the Parks Forum to gather key partners, educators, students, thinkers, and decision makers to develop ideas and forge connections. Parks Forum registration, accommodations information, and program schedule and descriptions are available here.

Success within parks will be achieved in large part through our ability to collaborate with a range of existing and new partners in areas of shared objectives and alignment. The Parks Forum offers a significant opportunity for collaboration across diverse sectors and cultures at a local, national and international table. The Forum is also an opportunity to reflect on and evaluate existing initiatives, while also generating new ideas and approaches to parks planning, management, and use.

As World Urban Parks realigns its regions a US-Canada is a region itself. The North American Congress is an opportunity to gather in person to discuss the future outlooks of this new region.

Welcome Neil McCarthy, our new CEO. I am very excited as I know Neil well and I am confident that he has the personal skills, as well as knowledge and experience to lead World Urban Parks to a much higher level, becoming the recognized international voice for urban parks and recreation across all sectors.


However, he will not be able to do it alone; he will need to support and collaboration of all members. Actually, our strength is the quality of our members. If we analyze the ranking of cities by best quality of life, happiest citizens, best park systems, and all others relating to the well-being of people, most of those cities are members of WUP: Copenhagen, Vancouver, Melbourne, Singapore, Minneapolis, and many more. We are aware that WUP is not a club of best cities, and one of our most important tasks is to support the cities with the worst quality of life and poorest parks systems. We have created a “region” of Emerging Cities, including all cities in countries with a GDP below US$20,000, including most of Latin America and Caribbean, Africa, China, India and others.


I want to invite all members, especially organizational members, to join as many committees as possible. Obviously it does not have to be one person at various committees; please ask your staff responsible for specific topics to join, to share and learn about older adults and parks, large urban parks, healthy parks healthy cities, and others. The quality of each committee is directly related by the quality and quantity of its members.


A few weeks ago I sent out a letter with the accomplishments of our young organization. Much has been done, but much more needs to be done. We have a solid foundation, and together we’ll contribute to make sure that public parks all over the world will contribute to the well-being of all citizens, especially to the most vulnerable: the children, the older adults, and the poor.


I wish you, colleagues and families, the very best in 2018!




Gil (Guillermo) Penalosa



World Urban Parks

Parks & Nature Congress | Reykjavik 2018

15-17 August 2018

In 2018, SAMGUS will be hosting the quadrennial Nordic conference which traditionally has been hosted by its sister organizations in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, each year focusing on different relevant topics.

The conference‘s topics will cover nature, parks and green spaces, with an emphasis on an Icelandic perspective. The venue will be the Kaldalón hall in the Harpa Conference Centre, where the mornings will feature breakout sessions, while afternoons (on Wednesday and Thursday) will be devoted to field trips themed around each day‘s topic.

Registration is now open with early bird rates ending 15 May 2018. Included in the registration fee for participants: Attendance to all sessions, welcome reception at Reykjavík City Hall and lunches & refreshments during the Congress.

For further information on the event or learn how to register please visit the conference website here.



Our Chair, Gil Penalosa recently wrote to our members, summarising what has been achieved by World Urban Parks since its commencement in 2015.  In a relative short space of time, World Urban Parks has achieved significant progress.  This success is due to the efforts of individuals and our member organisations.


In 2017 we saw significant changes as Alberta Recreation & Parks Association took on the responsibility for the World Urban Parks Secretariat and Digby Whyte as the inaugural CEO moved onto new challenges.

2017 saw:


  • New Alliances with:
    • Entente Florale Europe (AEFP) (2017)
    • Indiana University for the World Parks Academy (2017)
  • World Parks Academy accredited 76 individuals in 13 countries have achieved the World Parks Academy’s CPPI (Certified Parks Professional International) accreditation, and 62 individuals in 24 countries have achieved the CPP (Certified Parks Professional) accreditation.  And expanded our partners to:
    • Hortis, France
    • IERM (The Institute for Environmental Recreation and Management), South Africa
    • PLA (Parks and Leisure Australia)
  • Two new policies promoting the value and benefits of urban parks and green spaces:
    • Parks for All (2017)
    • National Park City (2017)
  • Over 200 individuals active in 37 committees and working groups; across four Portfolio areas of Alliance, Membership, Governance and Advocacy.
  • World Urban Parks leaders and members  were active in 2017 with key partners in conferences  such as the City Parks Alliance in Minneapolis, Ifla in Panama, and the World Design Summit in Canada.
  • An exciting new WUP initiative in the establishment of the World Urban Parks Legacy Award.  This year we recognized Brian O’Neill, former Superintendent at Golden Gate National Park in California.


We are expecting that 2018 will be no different, and look forward to:


  • A new Membership Service - The International Job Board to be launched
  • The establishment of the Emerging Cities group within World Urban Parks
  • The World Congress focused on the Future of Cities and Space - Melbourne Australia (October 2018)
  • The launch of the World Urban Parks Leadership Prospectus and Partners Program, and
  • Following the Scottish Government's “Year of Young People” and what that means for parks


From the team at World Urban Parks, we Welcome you to 2018 and we look forward to working with you and your organisation in 2018. To get connected further with the World Urban Parks community please email CEO Neil McCarthy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Benjamin Jonah, Secretariat Coordinator, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

Parks & Leisure Australia - a long term valued Partner


World Urban Parks and its predecessor Ifpra, have benefited greatly from the leadership, drive and vision of Parks & Leisure Australia over the last 50 years.  Numerous individuals from Trevor Arthur to John Senior and more recently Mark Band have played crucial roles in shaping and guiding the international agenda.  During the 2012 to 2014 Strategic Review, Parks & Leisure Australia played a crucial role in shaping what is now World Urban Parks.


Given this history, it is appropriate that Parks & Leisure Australia will host this years World Urban Parks Congress in Melbourne Australia.



2017 was a very active year for World Urban Parks and we saw a number of key events and developments occur. Over 200 members have been actively involved to progress our three key objectives:

·         Advocacy: A global voice supporting the value and benefits of parks and the industry through science and unity

·         Best Practice: World-class communities, organisations, and professionals recognized for high standards and efficiencies through congresses, benchmarking, awards and certification

·         Collaboration: Resolving issues and increasing knowledge and capacity through diverse networks of colleagues and partnerships.


Our Chair was also very active during 2017 challenging the status quo and encouraging innovation.  Read More>>Thoughts on the Future


Our Inaugural CEO, Dr Digby Whyte moved onto new adventures.


The following outlines some of those achievements for 2017:

2017 Achievements – Advocating for our members

2017 Achievements – Best Practice providing opportunities for our members

2017 Achievements – Collaborating for our members


Furthermore, a range of Committees, have been working very hard to expand our thinking and knowledge of urban spaces during 2017:

2017 Recommended Research – How many did you read?

2017 Parks of the World – Can you Name them?




As chair of World Urban Parks, I am very happy to announce that Neil McCarthy has been chosen as our new CEO, assuming the role on January 1st, 2018.


Most of you have met Neil at various conferences and in his role as vice chair in charge of the Advocacy Portfolio. For those who have not, I can assure you that we are lucky to have a person with his magnificent resume, wide experience and knowledge leading our organization. I strongly recommend all to read the great presentation done by Digby Whyte, out-going CEO.


I want to take advantage of this moment to thank Digby for his superb work as CEO. He led the merger of various organizations in order to create WUP, and has steadily transformed an exciting idea into a viable organization. All of us have much to be thankful for, but probably no one as much as me. It has been a privilege to work closely with Digby. I have learned from him and wish him the best possible future. I hope that in his many activities, Digby will find time to continue playing a role in the future of our organization.


It is important to thank the Executive Committee, specifically our vice chair of Governance, David Cochrane, for the transparent and efficient way he led the searches for Secretariat and CEO in 2017. We’ll start the new year with Alberta Recreation and Parks Association as Secretariat, and Neil McCarthy as CEO. These two strong additions will be supported by our enthusiastic and committed members, and will take World Urban Parks to higher levels. Together we will make urban parks more relevant and necessary to build successful cities and healthy communities where all citizens will experience happier lives, regardless of economic, social or ethnic backgrounds.


Good winds for 2018.


Gil (Guillermo) Penalosa