Reclaiming Play Whilst Supporting Climate Action

Urban consumption, production and lifestyle habits have all contributed to the looming globalclimate crisis because of the pressure they place on ecosystems. However, encouraging citiesto become more climate resilient can prove beneficial to climate change mitigation efforts.One way to contribute to climate resilience, is to intentionally design public play spaces thatcan adapt to the realities of climate change.


Children play an integral role in shaping their own environment, and for them to do so, theyneed access to safe and healthy places to play. However, many cities are currently notequipped with the necessary infrastructure to meet this demand. This is because many publicparks and open spaces are often designed with a focus on fun, aesthetics and function, and alot of them are not built with climate change mitigation efforts in mind. Over time, astemperatures rise and extreme weather events increase, these parks and playgroundsbecome unusable because they weren’t designed to withstand the impacts of climate change.


You may be thinking: what’s the big deal? What does climate resilience have to do with publicplay spaces? Why is it even important? Well, it’s significant because play is an essential partof childhood development. It is a key element of a child’s overall health and well-being, fromcognitive development to emotional growth. So, if cities do not have play spaces that are alsoclimate resilient, long-term, it reduces opportunities for children to play.


For example, play spaces like public playgrounds are places where people can freely engagein physical activity. It offers children a space where they can play and interact with each other.However, with rising temperatures and more frequent heat waves, it will become challengingfor parents to find safe places for their kids to play outside at all times of the year.


There’s already a shortage of public spaces for play in cities around the world—and we’re onlygoing to see more people living in urban areas over the next few decades. This means that ascities get denser, it will be even more difficult for children to find spaces to play, and itbecomes worse when the spaces available aren’t built to withstand climate change.


When considering climate change mitigation efforts to implement, the local climateconditions in those areas should be understood. For example, if an area is prone to drought,drought tolerant plants or permeable materials like pavers instead of gravel or mulch can beused in order to reduce irrigation needs.


Another way to improve climate resilience, is to invest in urban nature and integrate nature-based infrastructure in the environment. This can be done by planting trees and creatinggreen walls. For example, trees provide shade, which helps lower temperatures, and can alsohelp mitigate the effects of climate change by improving air quality. Green walls are verticalgardens that beautify the play space while helping combat climate change by improving airquality. Doing this not only helps to address the climate crisis, it also contributes to theeconomic and social value of the environment.


As much as play is important for the development and wellbeing of children, the climateresilience of the environments they play in, are equally as important. Once cities and urbanpractitioners become more intentional about creating climate friendly play spaces,opportunities for play to impact climate change are created. This is why this year’s edition ofthe Real Play City Challenge seeks to award placemaking initiatives that enable nature-basedplay, or advocate for climate action whilst reclaiming play in cities, benefiting both peopleand the planet. If you’re a playmaker that’s advocating for climate change whilst creatingmore opportunities for play, apply for the Real Play City Challenge and showcase your workon this global platform.

Start your application here: