From the inception of its research to improve the quality of children environments, CERG has taken every opportunity to create ways to involve children themselves in the process, such as the three special issues of Childhood City Newsletter that we edited with Robin Moore in 1979 and 1980 on the theme of Children’s Participation. In 1989, public recognition of the rights and capacities of children to have a greater voice in their own development and in the development of their communities, took a giant leap forward with the passage of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. We embraced this new vision and our exposure to the creativity of child rights advocates in other countries began to extend our thinking in important ways. But while there has been much innovation in involving children in decision-making it usually is in short-run projects that adults initiate. This limits the degree to which children themselves can have sustained opportunities to build ways of working together and inevitably leads to many instances where adults involve children in token ways. Children have always self-organized with their peers and it is a great irony that the movement for children’s increased participation has not tried to build on recognition of this but has rather promoted the more formal participation of children under adult guidance. CERG believes that in order to move the recognition of children as citizens to another level we need to find ways of creating more opportunities and support for children to self-organize and manage their own organizations, where adults are in the role of supporters rather than directors.
Current child governance initiatives in CERG are: the development of assessment tools for child friendly communities and cities, the Article 15 project, a critical review of existing approaches to involving children in the management of their organizations, and the comparative assessment of models of children’s participation in local government.