The International Federation of Park and Recreation Administration (IFPRA) convened in Dublin, Ireland, for the World Urban Park Initiative meeting, a three-day event exploring the common global issues of urban parks and the qualifications of park managers. While many organizations around the world focus on urban parks, IFPRA and other sponsor organizations such as England's Greenspace and Australia's Parks Forum have observed disjointed messages among their different countries for the cause of urban parks. IFPRA pulled together an incredible group of world-wide representatives to focus on creating a network that will serve as one global voice for urban parks. Establishing one voice to speak for the many--often divergent--points of view on the future of urban parks required tenacity, diplomacy, and, in the end, a bit of persistent action by the delegates.
Distinct partner organizations from across the globe attended the meeting, where they openly explored how they might create a network of separate advocate organizations to bring international attention to the value, needs, and benefits of urban parks. Led by IFPRA officers, in cooperation with professional staff from Parks Forum and Greenspace, the World Urban Park Initiative created an action plan for working under unified leadership using technolgy to share challenges, solutions, and programs that place much-needed emphasis on stewarding and developing urban parks. The dedication of world leaders--including Torgeir Sorenson from Norway, Christy Boylan from Ireland, Dave Clarke from Australia, and Paul Bramhill from England--was simply amazing and inspiring.
Creating a Certified International Park Professional (CIPP) credential has been a joint effort of IFPRA and the Eppley Institute over the past three years. Where possible, the program uses existing education and certification programs as its foundation, allowing flexibility for emerging countries that do not have educational and professional affirmative programs for successful management of parks. The proposal, which establishes both the CIPP and an accompanying training program, the IFPRA Academy, is in the final stages of approval. The IFPRA Academy allows the credentialing program to ensure consistent standards for international park managers seeking certification and will distribute globally foundational, continuing, and developmental training for park managers using technology, classroom, and correspondence delivery methods. Both the CIPP and IFPRA Academy are scheduled for approval and launch at the IFPRA Congress on September 5, 2012, in Basel, Switzerland.
Both of these initiatives are part of IFPRA's commitment to being a world-wide leader in parks, recreation, public lands, and protected areas management. This commitment has also led to the creation of IFPRA's Science Task Force, which gave its first report on identifying high-quality science-based research that confirms the value of parks, open space, recreation areas, and public lands. All of these efforts by IFPRA align with Eppley's mission to advance knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the increasingly complex and interconnected nature of parks, recreation, public lands, and protected areas through partnerships with recreation, park, and public lands organizations, ultimately enhancing access, choice, and quality of natural, cultural, and recreational experiences.
While working to secure the future of urban parks, meeting participants were able to enjoy a piece of their past. The World Urban Park Initiative took place in Dublin's 700-hectare Phoenix Park, one of the oldest and largest city parks in the world. Designated a Royal Park by King Charles II in 1662, Phoenix Park celebrates its 350th anniversary this year. Participants met in historic Ashtown Castle, in the center of the park, thanks to the support of the Office of Public Works, the Irish government agency responsible for heritage properties.