Why implementation matters

Put your design into practice with community collaboration around a shared vision

Implementation is where the understanding, vision, and designs that you have created start to take shape and confront reality. It is important to be strategic about the steps you take, so that you keep the execution of the concept true to the vision and goals that you have previously agreed with the community. Make sure you build enough flexibility along the implementation process to continue to learn and return to some of the steps that you have taken through the previous stages. Engagement, for example does not stop after the Design and Understand stages but is reshaped and embedded into the implementation. In this stage, you will find relevant guidance on how to make a child-centred approach a reality and how to undertake steps like a pilot, procurement or a public launch and guidance on how to think about future maintenance and impact measurement for long-lasting change.

Follow the steps below to put this into practice!
“It’s really designing with communities to understand what they need and to make sure whatever we’re proposing is tailored to their needs

– Jose Chong, Programme Management Officer at UN-HABITAT

IMPLEMENT: life-cycle steps


Step 1

Implementation plan

Develop a detailed implementation plan

With your detailed design as a starting point, develop a strategy and business plan that accommodates the child and family-friendly benefits that you have set out to deliver. This plan should stipulate the right resource capacities for your project, such as early childhood development and urban practitioners that support your approach. Think about the best moments to engage with the community and other stakeholders to ensure meaningful engagement throughout the implementation processes and remain alert to opportunities to factor in a child-centred approach, for example by building this commitment into supply chain and maintenance contracts. Allow time for coordination with community partners and other stakeholders, being considerate of their time pressures and constraints. Integrate this strategic implementation and business plan with your advocacy plan [link to influence step] to take advantage of implementation milestones as engagement and communication opportunities.


This tool can support you in planning different activities for the implementation phase of your project.

This is a checklist to help you embed a child-centred approach into the activities you are implementing, including engagement activities.


Read how the Municipality of Tel Aviv has implemented the role of a Child Development Officer that coordinates a joint workplan for early childhood development across the departments.

Explore the Meanwhile Use London report, a piece of research by Arup and GLA (Greater London Authority) that illustrates, through a range of case studies, what are the challenges and opportunities of temporary urban interventions and how they can take many forms to achieve long-lasting benefits.

Step 2

Influence and engagement

Put your influence strategy into action
The Influence stage runs throughout the project lifecycle. During Implementation you should have a detailed plan of engagement and communication, linked to the project delivery phases and milestones. Your influence strategy maintains the connection through delivery with the community and wider stakeholders who have contributed during the Understand and Design phases. It should keep them informed of progress of the delivery and their contribution towards it, including variations from previous plans or proposals. Engagement activities such as piloting and a public launch are two examples of opportunities to communicate how you are delivering the agreed vision, and gauge community and wider stakeholder sentiment. Your Influence strategy will consider the detail of your communications channels and approaches, and how you will monitor their effectiveness in supporting the successful delivery of the project. To learn more about advocacy and communication strategies to complement this step, visit the Influence section of the guide.

After collecting feedback from different project activities and from different participants (team members, collaborators, children, caregivers, pregnant women) you need to dedicate time to make sense of the information you collected.


Read how Ciudad Emergente in Chile build partnerships with the municipality, and local kindergarten teachers to implement their public space project Valdivia Neighbourhood of Care.

See how Urban 95 developed the digital platform Digitalf for parents of young children to find local facilities, public events and municipal services.

Step 3

Planning approvals

Get buy-in and relevant approvals

During the Design stage you will have identified the approvals and permissions required for your project. The research and engagement that you have already carried out will be invaluable in securing these requirements.

Beyond these legal or formal requirements, you should consider forming a public commitment or agreement with the local community or relevant wider stakeholders, identified using your earlier mapping exercise. This could be a co-signed letter of cooperation or a set of commitments, that articulate the vision and the objectives you are setting out to achieve. This agreement could then form the basis of how you report back to the community and wider stakeholders on your progress, alongside or as a summary of your detailed benchmarking and measurement.


Read how the Municipality of Tel Aviv has implemented the role of a Child Development Officer  that coordinates a joint workplan for early childhood development across the departments.

Read about how Ciudad Emergente in Chile created partnerships with the municipality and with local kindergarten teachers to implement their child-centred public space project Valdivia Neighbourhood of Care.

Read how Estudio +1 have partnered with the Jurujuba city authority to influence the design of the public squares where they developed interventions with urban furniture.

Step 4


Pilot, reflect, iterate, upscale

Consider phased intervention and opportunities for testing your wider project through piloting and ‘meanwhile use’, to bring it to life. Try to test a small aspect of it either as a constructed prototype within the built environment, or simply as an activity with the community or within a local school. This is a great opportunity to test new ideas and innovative approaches (like a child-centred one), as well as to receive feedback and engage with the target community around a shared vision. Make sure to thoroughly monitor and document the outcomes of your pilot to be able to demonstrate its impact and benefits as they will be experienced by children, caregivers and pregnant women in their home, neighbourhood, and wider city.

Tangible evidence like surveys or audio-visual content can influence stakeholders, stimulate further feedback from the groups you are focusing on in your project, or build a case to secure additional funding. Take the opportunity to circle back to your design proposal and incorporate the feedback from the pilot. The lessons learned can be used to shape your wider implementation plan and anticipate future challenges. To learn more about advocacy and communication strategies to complement this step, visit the Influence section of the guide.


This is an inspiration tool that aims to direct you to some prototyping and testing approaches that may be useful when designing with children, caregivers and pregnant women.

This tool can support you in evaluating your prototype.


Play Streets Toolkit for London and for Australian Local Government is a resource that outlines the process for one-day play street pilots. This process can be applied to planning other pilot activities.

Read about how Ciudad Emergente in Chile have produced a video to document a pilot aiming to build the case to apply for regional funding for their public space project Valdivia Neighbourhood of Care.

Meanwhile Use London is a piece of research by Arup and GLA (Greater London Authority) that illustrates, through a range of case studies, what are the challenges and opportunities of temporary urban interventions and how they can take many forms to achieve long-lasting benefits.

See how E+1 building cardboard street furniture for pregnant women and caregivers as a pilot within a local university with students.

Read how Global Generation, an educational charity, developed a temporary moveable garden during the development stages of King´s Cross. This ‘meanwhile use’ was designed to work with children, residents and businesses to grow food and create environmental awareness. It was so successful that it became a permanent space.

Step 5

Procurement and construction

Procure the project and select delivery team

Consider where you will procure the relevant skills, materials or support needed to implement your proposal and whether child development considerations can be built into the supply chain procurement.

This could include procuring locally, to create economic opportunities, or requiring inclusive local employment and training opportunities targeted at particular groups, such as mothers of young children. It could also include a requirement of good neighbourhood policies around site safety, noise and environmental pollution, employee behaviour, accessibility and community engagement. You may also want to procure services that might be needed for project implementation, for example media products or services that could help reinforce attitudes or behaviour change. In this case, think about the people and organisations that you bring into the project and the positive impact that these synergies and partnerships can have in the future.

Contractors could also be obliged to consider the environmental impact and child-friendly nature of materials, a process to which children and caregivers could contribute to. Importantly, it is important to include social safeguards in the construction and procurement processes to make sure to do no harm.

Step 6

Public launch

Run a launch event and engagements around milestones

One of the opportunities for influence during implementation is a launch or inauguration event. Your Influence strategy will identify these kinds of major milestones that you can use to connect with and strengthen relationships and support for the project with the communities and stakeholders. Investing in a significant milestone, such as a launch, is an opportunity to articulate the shared vision to core and wider stakeholders, celebrate the achievement, and generate a sense of ownership and proud among the local community. Such moments are also an opportunity to reinforce the value of investing in child and family-friendly design, so it is important to ensure that young children, caregivers and pregnant women play a prominent part in the activity.

Don’t forget to plan for the ongoing activation events and distribute your resources accordingly. Save funds to ensure there are regular smaller scale activities on an ongoing basis. Consistent activity and larger engagement moments will combine to have the greatest possible impact on changing behaviours, nurturing relationships and increasing the sense of belonging in the neighbourhood.

To learn more about advocacy strategies visit the Influence section.


See how Ocupa tu Calle and Peaton CIX in Perú documented their launch event with an engaging video that captures the first impressions of the local community towards the new child-centred intervention in Chiclayo.

Catalytic Action has a great practice in activating public spaces that they have previously redesigned. Besides the launch event, they regularly organise activities in new places to build the sense of connection and ownership to a specific location, and to nurture the habit of care for new environments.

Step 7

Operation and maintenance

Confirm a long-term operation, maintenance and activation plan

Ensure your project has an operation, maintenance and activation plan agreed on and supported by the local community and relevant institutional and technical stakeholders. This is essential to guarantee long-term sustainability and regular use of the spaces or services over the medium- to long-term. Establishing dedicated local champions for your project is a useful way of increasing the likelihood the local community will act as stewards of the spaces or opportunities that are created. Consider elements like service design, funding and governance arrangements, and the power dynamics that might unfold in the short to long term. The activation plan can include city-initiated activities and services or mobilising charities, community and neighbourhood groups to do their own activities on an ongoing basis. 

Measure the objectives and performance of the maintenance plan against the indicators that you have chosen in previous stages and remember that the Proximity of Care Framework offers detailed child-centred goals and indicators that you can use.


Read how the Municipality of Tel Aviv has implemented the role of a Child Development Officer that coordinates a joint workplan for early childhood development across the departments.

Step 8

Knowledge sharing

Share lessons learned and the impact of your intervention

Share the details of your project and its results with the stakeholders you have identified and engaged with throughout your project. Make sure to demonstrate its current and future benefit to young children 0-5, their caregivers and pregnant women, as well as the wider community.

Share the lessons you have learnt along the way and use the project as leverage to secure further support and funding to expand or replicate your project. Use it as a platform to cultivate a robust knowledge base among community members and other stakeholders about the multiple benefits of child and family-friendly approaches. Raising this awareness can stimulate collective action, empower local champions, secure commitments for resource mobilisation, and unblock policy bottlenecks.

To learn more about advocacy strategies visit the Influence section.


Explore how the NGO VPUU created a knowledge pack for their initiative in Cape Town on creating a network of safe water collection spaces for children. Along with the results of the program and testimonies, they also clearly quantify the social impact additional funding from donors would have.

Learn how Catalytic Action shared the lessons and impact of their public space interventions in Lebanon through a series of videos, reports and public presentations, facilitated by their relationship with a University.

Tailored Advice: IMPLEMENT

Click the icons below to read our tailored advice.
City authorities
  • As you develop the implementation plan, create synergies with other relevant programmes or projects that might be taking place in the wider city. Consider whether wider policy support could be achieved along the way. A municipal or regional Child Development Officer could go a long way to create these synergies.
  • Use your network to explore what other cities have developed and share your experiences. Depending on the scale of the projects it might be interesting to organise focus sessions like forums or conferences to exchange experiences.
  • Having a municipal champion of child-friendly planning can improve the long-term sustainability of initiatives.
  • Ensure that you have an allocated budget to support the maintenance, or that there is a financing mechanism in place. Also, this could require agreements with the local leaders of the involved communities, or a cooperation agreement with other public entities or even other departments within your institution.
  • Consider what municipal resources could be allocated to child-focused projects. This does not have to be a project in itself but could be part of other ongoing projects. For example, street infrastructure upgrades could be significantly improved if informed by the Proximity of Care principles.
Urban practitioners
  • Develop a robust timeframe for your project and identify the project milestones in which engagement could be most valuable for implementation.
  • Consider how the built elements can support and guide the behaviour changes that you want to achieve. It will also help in identifying key symbolic milestones to maximise benefits for the community.
  • Think broadly about the potential allies who could help get buy-in for the next steps of implementation. These could be community leaders as well as non-planning authorities or possibly organisations or departments from the local government relating to inclusion.
  • Involve relevant stakeholders in making the long-term operation and maintenance plan, such as city authorities or community groups, to get their buy-in and support. Also, design to avoid expensive and time-consuming maintenance. Creating the sense of ownership among the community always helps in a project being used as designed. When working in vulnerable contexts, make sure to set up maintenance plans with the community, and discuss ways in which the city authority or developers could participate.
Early childhood development practitioners
  • Facilitate testing and iteration with young children and caregivers and involve relevant stakeholder from traditional Early Childhood Development sectors (health, education, family, social affairs) in public launch and activities.
  • Help design and mobilise programmatic efforts around the new space.
  • Use implementation milestones (e.g., launch events or piloting) to show how the child-centred features of your project could prove beneficial to a variety of stakeholders, and maintain the relationship with the local communities.
  • Ensure resources for piloting, as this generates useful evidence to demonstrate the value that a child-centred approach can add to your development and to the local area, which in turn can contribute to the process of getting buy-in from local communities.
  • Use the phases of construction to test uses and engage the community. This could be through ‘meanwhile uses’, such as temporary retail, play or cultural activities, that could not only shape the identity of the new development but also create a sense of ownership among the community and create opportunities that can be implemented for the long term.
  • Whilst procuring locally may increase the cost of development, ensuring you measure the social and economic benefits this will bring to the community can justify the expense to investors.
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