TORONTO, June 11, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - World Urban Parks, a new international parks organization uniting city park and recreation leaders around the globe was launched at the International Parks Symposium in Awaji Island, Japan this May.
Later that month, at the first ever World Urban Parks Congress held in Ponte de Lima Portugal, members elected Canadian Gil Penalosa as Chair of the Board.
"I am truly honoured to have been elected Chair of World Urban Parks. It is an understatement to say that it is an exciting time to be working on urban parks at a global scale. To be part of a team of city park leaders supporting best practices in urban park, open space, and recreation development brings together my two greatest passions: parks and cities," said Penalosa.
World Urban Parks is a collaborative evolution of the former International Federation of Parks and Recreation Administration (IFPRA) and the International Urban Parks and Green Space Alliance (IUPGSA). It serves individuals, organizations, agencies, businesses and community organisations in more than 40 countries including National Parks Associations in the U.S and Canada.
The mandate of World Urban Parks is to serve as the "go-to" organization for international advice and support on urban parks, open space and recreation issues around world.
Penalosa, an internationally renowned authority on city liveability, has been a strong supporter and advocate for improving city parks, first making his mark in the late 1990s, when he led the transformation of Bogota's park system as Commissioner of Parks, Sport and Recreation. Penalosa is also founder and Chair of the Board of the internationally recognized Toronto-based non-profit organization 8-80 Cities. Over the last 10 years Penalosa has advised over 180 cities across six continents on issues related to urban quality, mobility and public space.
As chair, Penalosa will help lead the effort to build a strong network of advocates, research, and best practices that supports the good development and protection of parks and open spaces as critical elements in creating healthy, sustainable, and inclusive cities.
"With the global urban population doubling from 3.5billion to 7billion in the next 35 years the need for strong advocacy for parks and open spaces is more important than ever. Unfortunately parks and open spaces are not prioritized as they should be. Budgets for parks are getting cut in cities around the world, and parks and open space development has not kept pace with residential and commercial development in many cities," he said.
"We need to move the conversation forward. We know parks and open spaces provide many benefits, they contribute to people's mental and physical health, to the environment, economic development, and to social inclusion. The benefits far outweigh the costs, yet we seem to still have to make the case for parks."
World Urban Parks: www.worldurbanparks.org
International organisation representing the vibrant urban parks, open space and recreation sector. The organization aims to share knowledge and provide a collective voice for all people and organisations engaged in green cities, open space, recreation, health and related activity.
SOURCE World Urban Parks