Child-Focused Cities Analytical Framework

This research project, aiming to develop an analytical tool to address the Sustainable Development Goals from a child rights perspective, is divided into multiple steps. Phase two, conducted in 2023-2024 is described first while phase 1, which served to build the conceptual groundwork for the analytical framework, is described after.

Phase 2 – Child-Focused Cities [CFC] for the Sustainable Futures Network

Regional focus: Eastern Africa / Southern Africa / Europe / Latin America The Sustainable Futures Network

Time: July 2023 – July 2024


Child-Focused Cities (CFC) brings together a group of engaged researchers epistemologically curious about the inclusion of children and youth in local democracy. The group revolves around questions of why, how, where, and under what circumstances children and young people are recognised as political subjects and crucial role-players in shaping sustainable futures.

The project will facilitate cross-sectoral exchange between local decision-makers, researchers, and practitioners by embracing the format of Research Circles. Through local partnerships with reputable professional organizations specializing in working with children and young individuals, the research will enable creative interpretation of the CFC initial concept, thus illuminating multiple geographical and cultural registers around childhood, and providing the indispensable link between local politics and research. The ultimate goal of this research is to develop a toolbox as a collection of practical instruments and protocols that will be essential for advancing the CFC agenda within the Sustainable Futures Network.

Research team

  1. Jua Cilliers [Australia], School of Built Environment, University of Technology Sydney
  2. Paula Barros [Brazil], Escola de Arquitetura Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais
  3. Lynne Cairns [Scotland], Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (CRiVA), University of Durham
  4. Caroline Brown [Scotland],The Urban Institute, School of Energy, Geosciences, Infrastructure and Society, Heriot-Watt University
  5. Predrag Milic [Serbia/Austria], Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space, TU Wien / Faculty of Architecture and Planning Austria
  6. Rongedzayi Fambasayi [South Africa], Play Africa Group NPC, Children’s Museum / Law and Development Research, North-West University
  7. Rejoice Katsidzira, [Zimbabwe] Center for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

Phase 1 – Let’s get together and make change: Towards The Child-Focused Cities Analytical Framework

Regional focus: East Africa, global

Time: October-December 2022

This study is conducted with an Impact Research Grant – stipends for projects designed to facilitate solutions to a local government’s expressed needs. The projects build on Local Democracy Labs, where local governments discuss a current issue with expert researchers.


This research ultimately aims to create a new toolkit –a relational object – that reframes the current Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from children’s perspectives in their respective everyday-life environments. Such a tool aims at the paradigmatic shift of the child-friendly city approaches by claiming that “friendly is not enough”! Conceptualised as the Child-Focused City Analytical Framework, the toolkit should offer guidance for analysis andaction to local governments, municipalities, and professionals within and beyond the ICLD network. In short, this project will enable a team of international scholars to revisit, contextualise, and stress-test the concept of the CFCAF, developed during the LDA2022. In this “stage zero” phase, contextualising the CFCAF to the needs of partnering local governments and professionals serves to stress-test the toolkit, jointly draw conclusions and prepare for its further development.

With a participatory approach and co-creation of results, the project encounters municipalities in their respective realities and engage in a constructive dialogue around child and youth inclusion. As a group of international scholars, the researchers will not do “research”, but “praxis: reflection and action upon the world in order to transform it” (Freire 2005: 51).

Municipal partners for this project are Livingstone and Victoria Falls, Zambia, while multiple municipalities participate as observers.

Project Area
Inclusive leadership and governance
Sustainable Development Goals
11 - Sustainable cities and communities17 - Partnerships for the goals
Child rights and youth participationHuman RightsParticipatory democracy, citizen dialogues and budgeting