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



Written by: Dr Digby Whyte

It is my pleasure to introduce Neil McCarthy as the incoming CEO World Urban Parks. I first met Neil around 1995 when he visited the Auckland Regional Parks Service from Melbourne Parks and Waterways on a mission to develop best practice and strategic partnerships between parks agencies.

These are two of the defining skills Neil brings World Urban Parks as he went on to lead, with others, a number of big ideas - from the strategic direction of Parks Victoria, the ‘healthy parks healthy people’ program, the creation of Parks Forum (as founding Chair) as a peak Australasian organisation representing parks agencies, the creation of the International Urban Parks and Green Space Alliance, and the review of the International Federation of Parks and Recreation Administration (as President Elect), and implementation of World Urban Parks (as Vice Chair).

I don’t doubt that Neil has yet finished with his mission to create a strong and vibrant profession globally, and all that brings society, the environment and world economies – and he is already working on taking World Urban Parks to the next level.

For those of you who would like to know a little bit of Neil’s career and skills, he held a number of operational, strategic and corporate executive roles in Parks Victoria before becoming the CEO of the North East Catchment Management Authority in Victoria Australia.  He was originally educated in Forest Science with the University of Melbourne, holds an MBA in government policy and reform from Monash University, and did further Executive study at MIT in the USA.

Neil has been recognised for many of his contributions and was World Urban Parks’ 2016 Distinguished Individual Award recipient.  As World Urban Parks seeks to grow members, value and influence I have no doubt that Neil together with the board, chairs and members will take the organisation from strength to strength.

This report provides a brief overview of the excellent WUP Europe Region Congress held in partnership with Wirral Council at Birkenhead Park from 16-21 October, including pre and post congress tours.  

The conference was planned and coordinated by Dr. Mary Worrall and her team of Wirral Council’s Parks and Countryside department. More than 160 people attended with about 40 from World Urban Parks, with 20 of them presenting.

Among WUP leaders present were Europe Region Committee Chair and Deputy Chair Dr. Anna Steidle and Kevin Halpenny, WUP Chair Gil Penalosa, Vice Chair Alliances Portfolio Elisabeth Fournier, Deputy Chair Advocacy Portfolio Mark Camley, Chair World Parks Academy Dr. Christy Boylan, Co-Chair (with Dr Mary Worrall), Older Adults and Parks Committee Tim Geyer,  Co-Chairs Large Urban Parks Committee Dr Richard Murray and Margaret Gormley, Chair Good Practices Working Group Peter Verdyck, and WUP Directors Torgeir Soerensen and Dr Noor Azlin Yahya.

Monday 18 October saw World Urban Parks members come together for an open Europe Region Meeting with a focus on members’ surveys and needs. The workshop was facilitated by Dr. Anna Steidle and Kevin Halpenny, followed by a WUP Large Urban Parks meeting primarily focused on refining the criteria and process for the piloted Large Urban Parks Award, facilitated by Dr. Richard Murray and Margaret Gormley.



Report by Sayuri Minegishi, Park and Recreation Foundation Japan

With observations by Daniel Boulens, City of Lyon


World Urban Parks Japan held two successful seminars on 18 and 20 October 2017 with Parks and Recreation Foundation and Qualified Park Administrator Society, who are both members of World Urban Parks. The annual seminars are an information exchange on park management around the world, including reports on WUP congresses and parks in host cities.


This year we invited Daniel Boulens, General Manager of Public Parks and Gardens of the City of Lyon, France as a keynote speaker. Our main theme was the ecofriendly management of the public parks and gardens in Europe, with a special focus on France, and the concrete example of “Tête d’Or Park”. Ryu Ono, a Director of WUP, also reported on the WUP Asia Pacific Congress in Singapore in July, the International Forum in Minneapolis in August, and on WUP committees.


The seminar venues were Showa Kinen Park in Tokyo and Umekoji Park in Kyoto. Before each seminar, most participants joined a technical tour in each park. As a special speaker in Kyoto, Shunji Fujii made his presentation on the 23-year history of Umekoji Park. He is the Senior Managing Director of Kyoto City Greenery Association which manages Umekoji park. There was strong interest in the presentations, with both seminar rooms at capacity with park managers, consultants and landscape architects.



Showa Kinen Park is managed by the Parks and Recreation Foundation and is a major large urban park and one of 17 National Government Parks around Japan. Approximate 170 ha is now open to the public. More than four million people visit this park annually. When you come to Tokyo, don’t miss this park!


Photo: Sayuri Minegishi and Aline Boulens with Cosmos in Showa Kinen Park


On 24 October 2017 as part of the World Design Summit supported by the International Federation of Landscape Architecture in Montreal, WUP delegate Sandra V. Murillo-Morales signed the Montreal Design Declaration on behalf of WUP.


The Declaration was a collaboration of 14 international organisations at pre-summit and meetings of four committees. WUP was represented at the Paris pre-summit and on the Environment Committee by Jorge Perez-Jaramillo over previous months.


In signing the joint Declaration WUP is exercising its memorandum of understanding with IFLA to provide mutual support, and is collaborating in world policy setting.  The Declaration is a 10-year action plan for people to live in a well-designed world. It is seen to foster design of better, safer, healthier, more equitable and sustainable cities, including better design of parks and public spaces.


A brief report on WUP’s participation by Sandra V. Murillo-Morales is available here and the signed Declaration is here.

World Urban Parks is planning to relaunch the International Awards for Liveable Communities (Livcom Awards) in late 2018, and we’re looking for a City to host! The Awards are attended by delegates from competing cities and provide a high level of global exposure to the host city. The Livcom Awards have been valuable  for sharing best practices and in providing international recognition to cities for their liveability.


We are calling for General Expressions of Interest from interested Cities or organisations with the ability to host up to 200 people for three days in a facility suitable for seminar-style judging and an award ceremony. The host City will contribute toward the costs of hosting, which may be offset through sponsorship. Competing delegations pay their travel and accommodation costs.


For further information and Expressions of Interest contact WUP Board Director Chris Rutherford via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The Livcom Awards were launched in 1997 and are the World’s only international awards celebrating best practices for urban environmental management and liveability.  

This month three journal articles are recommended by the WUP Knowledge and Research Working Group.


Benefits of restoring ecosystem services in urban areas


Elmqvist T, Setälä H, Handel S, van der Ploeg S, Aronson J, Blignaut J, Gómez-Baggethun E, Nowak, Kronenberg J, de Groot R.


Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, vol. 14 (2015) pp. 101-108. Elsevier

Abstract: Cities are a key nexus of the relationship between people and nature and are huge centers of demand for ecosystem services and also generate extremely large environmental impacts. Current projections of rapid expansion of urban areas present fundamental challenges and also opportunities to design more livable, healthy and resilient cities (e.g. adaptation to climate change effects). We present the results of an analysis of benefits of ecosystem services in urban areas. Empirical analyses included estimates of monetary benefits from urban ecosystem services based on data from 25 urban areas in the USA, Canada, and China. Our results show that investing in ecological infrastructure in cities, and the ecological restoration and rehabilitation of ecosystems such as rivers, lakes, and woodlands occurring in urban areas, may not only be ecologically and socially desirable, but also quite often, economically advantageous, even based on the most traditional economic approaches.

Among the Parks and Leisure Australia (PLA) National Awards of Excellence were the first Certified Parks and Leisure Professional (CPLP) recipients. After extensive testing PLA partnered with the World Parks Academy to offer an Australian version of the national-level Certified Parks Professional.

The Awards on 24 October 2017 were part of the PLA national conference on the Gold Coast of Australia. Jenn Halliday, Chair of Generate Network, was on hand to pass on photos of some of the six PLA members being awarded with the credential. The CPLP recognises professional competency of Australian Professionals in the form of experience, skills, qualifications and professional contributions.

The recipients were: Neal Ames, Mark Band, Sophia Czarkowski, Hugh Gardner, Ben Thomas, and Rachel Thorpe.

PLA is the second national association (after Hortis France) to have members professional certified with a national version of CPP. As with CPP, suitably qualified holders of CPLA can apply for the global-level CPP-International.

PLA members interested in obtaining the CPLP can view the online eligibility criteria, application and self-assessment pathway at the World Parks Academy or contact the PLA Office.


Those from other countries who are interested in obtaining CPP may view the online application.

Save the date! Next 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 theme is ‘Transforming Urban Parks and Recreation’. The 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 PLA members to the World Congress in 2018.


Information will be updated on the PLA and WUP websites.

Merida, Yukatan, 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 calling for papers from those interested in presenting at the Congress.

This is a valuable opportunity to share your expertise on urban parks, open space and recreation related to the five themes (noted below) at this comprehensive event. There are already 60 speakers confirmed but more places remain available for WUP members. Presenters receive free registration!


The deadline to submit a proposal is 31 December 2017 with acceptance notified in February 2018.

More information and the submission form is available here.


The five themes of the congress are: Planning and Design, Economy and Uses of Public Space, The City, Health and Environment, and Public Service and Citizen Participation. WUP members Gil Penalosa, Martha Fajardo, Jorge Perez Jaramillo, and Jayne Miller will be speaking.


Early Bird Registration for the three day congress is $195 USD until 31 December 2017, then increases to $220 USD. All information, including the preliminary program, is on the congress website.

Next week is the World Urban Parks Europe Region Congress at Birkenhead Park, the last of a run of congress partnerships in every region over the last year. It’s been great to have the interest of our national associations and cities in providing joint conferences.

The benefit to the host is the profile and added-value of an international congress, with World Urban Parks facilitating presenters from its experienced membership to provide new perspectives on common issues and developments. World Urban Parks members benefit from a range of partner conferences. These events provide opportunities to share knowledge and experiences, see the host city’s parks, open spaces and recreation, meet colleagues face-to-face and be inspired. Although the range of choice means members may not get to see each other all together, there is always a good mix of members and locals, and member workshops such as the meetings of Europe members and large urban parks network at the Europe Congress at Birkenhead Park.

If you are a national association or city thinking about a potential conference partnership please feel free to talk to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. While World Urban Parks seeks to have annual World and Region Congresses, we are always happy to promote member conferences and help source some international speakers.

The World Urban Parks Europe Region has been working with the Large Urban Parks Committee to develop a World Urban Parks - Large Urban Parks Award. The Award will likely be in Gold, Silver and Bronze categories recognising the overall standard of the park against criteria that may include design, biodiversity, facilities, management,  protection and public engagement.

A panel of World Urban Parks and International Federation of Landscape Architects representatives, facilitated by Kevin Halpenny, Deputy Chair for the Europe Region, assessed Birkenhead Park in the UK as a pilot to launch the award at the Word Europe Region Congress at Birkenhead Park. As an early public park, celebrating 170 years at the Congress, Birkenhead Park is thought to have influenced later park design and is appropriate to be considered for the inaugural award.


The World Parks Academy is a partnership between World Urban Parks and Indiana University's Eppley Institute to recognise national and international-level professional standing and related webinars and training. The Academy has partnerships to provide national certification (Certified Parks Professional) with national associations Hortis France (photos), PLA Australia, and IERM South Africa, but professionals can apply directly for the Certified Parks Professional  and Certified Parks Professional-International, by completing an online self assessment. A new Academy Brochure is now available. Certification demonstrates the holder meets a standard of professionalism maintained through ongoing professional development. Continuing education units are gained by attending conferences or seminars, serving in professional associations and a range of other professional development activities. 


Attending the World Urban Parks Europe Region Congress at Birkenhead Park in 16-19 October 2017 earns continuing education units as does participating in an Academy-sponsored training workshop on Health Initiatives in Parks on Tuesday 17 October at the conference. Such workshops also meet standards for achieving the Certified Parks Professional-International. The certificates are awarded at World Urban Parks congresses for those attending.


In August 2016 World Urban Parks launched integrated social media across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. WUP Social Media Coordinator Sandra V. Murillo-Morales shares a graphical global impact Report on WUP Social Media for the seven months from February to August 2017.


World Urban Parks members are encouraged to share items of interest with Sandra at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Europe Region also provides a popular World Urban Parks Europe Facebook site with 600 followers coordinated by Dr Anna Steidle, WUP Europe Region Chair.


Read the full report here>>

World Urban Parks is planning to relaunch the International Awards for Liveable Communities (Livcom Awards) in late 2018 and is looking for a City to host the Livcom Awards. The Awards are attended by delegations from competing cities and provide a high level of global exposure to the host city. The Livcom Awards have been popular in providing international recognition to Cities for their liveability and for sharing best practice.


General Expressions of Interest are being called for by interested Cities or organisations with the ability to host up to 200 people for three days in a facility suitable for seminar-style judging and an award ceremony. The host City will contribute toward the costs of hosting, which may be off-set through sponsorship. Competing delegations pay their travel and accommodation costs.


For further information and Expressions of Interest contact WUP Board Director Chris Rutherford via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The Livcom Awards were launched in 1997 and is the World’s only international Awards Competition focusing on best practice for urban environmental management and liveability.  

Growing population and park use, budget pressures, the future of parks management in France and the London National Park City concept were topics of discussion at two London park manager roundtables organised by World Urban Parks director Mark Camley on 2 October.

The Roundtables took advantage of World Urban Parks leader presence in London speaking in support of the launch of the London National Park City Foundation.

A roundtable of the heads of parks for the City of London, Royal Parks, and London Legacy Corporation were hosted by Royal Parks CEO Andrew Scattergood at Hyde Park in the morning, while a broader group of park, contractor and association managers, including WUP member organisations Lee Valley Regional Parks and London Legacy Corporation were hosted by Mark Camley, Executive Director of Park Operations and Venues, at Queen Elisabeth Olympic Park.