Over the past several years, leaders like you have told us how much they value gathering with children and nature advocates from around the world at our international conference, most recently hosted in Vancouver BC and attended by nearly 900 people from 22 countries. From inspiring keynotes to hands-on workshops, attendees leave the C&NN International Conference feeling empowered — and armed with new ideas. But they’ve also been telling us that in order to gain real traction, they need opportunities to dig deeper; to roll up their sleeves and work with like-minded peers and partners to develop action strategies for change.

We listened.

In 2018, C&NN will move to a new conference schedule. On even years, we will host an International Leadership Summit, designed to convene a smaller group of changemakers, thoughtfully selected to represent the diverse points-of-view, people and disciplines of the children and nature movement. On odd years, we will host our International Conference, which has become the largest gathering of the children and nature movement in the world.

Leadership Summits will be limited to 400 people to facilitate productive working sessions. Summit participants will work over two days to develop shared goals, action agendas and explore methods for measuring progress in key Action Areas:

City Government

Bringing together city leaders who show interest in advancing efforts to connect children to nature. Participants will work together to understand practical strategies for activating city policies, nature-based programs and park and natural infrastructure.

Green Schoolyards

The primary goal for those meeting on Green Schoolyards is to adopt a draft Action Agenda that will prioritize the funding, policy, communications and awareness building needed to move green schoolyards to scale across the U.S. Participants will be asked to identify what Action Agenda items they can help move forward towards this goal.

Next Generation Leadership

This action group will explore strategies for increasing the leadership and diversity of young people benefiting from and contributing to meaningful connections to nature, outdoor activities and outdoor-related career opportunities — and ways to empower diverse young leaders to become community advocates for nature connection.

Grassroots Leadership

Grassroots community action leaders of local and regional collaborative initiatives will work together to identify and activate shared action steps to further the movement to connect children with nature.

Health Professionals

Bringing together health professionals who express interest in advancing nature-based solutions for child health, including both policy-level advocacy for healthy environments and patient education programs.

Nature-based Learning Research

The primary goal of the Nature-based Learning Research Network is to accelerate research progress on the science of nature-based learning by setting a research agenda, supporting collaborative research to address the agenda and disseminating evidence about nature and learning.

Our work in all Action Areas will be guided by core themes of diversity, equity and relevancy; social emotional learning; international trends; and evidence-based solutions.

Leadership Summit participants will be selected in two ways: approximately half of participants will be invited, based on their areas of expertise, current projects and/or leadership in their fields. Anyone interested in increasing nature access for children can apply for the remaining conference spots; a selection committee will choose applicants who can round out our Action Area teams with a wide range of perspectives, skills, diverse voices and strategic thinking.

Action agendas developed at Leadership Summits will drive programmatic and policy work in communities around the world — and serve as platforms for our International Conferences, to be held during odd years in the same geographic location as Leadership Summits. International Conferences will advance big ideas, engage the broadest audience, and identify strategies needing further development and potential participants for Leadership Summits.

We think this is an important evolution for our movement, allowing for both intensive agenda setting and strategic planning at Leadership Summits — and broad engagement with children and nature advocates and activists at our International Conferences. Through this bi-annual Summit and Conference structure, we hope to accelerate and sustain lasting change.

Please tell us what you think as we roll out our new bi-annual conference structure. We need and value your input as we work together to create a world in which all children play, learn and grow with nature in their everyday lives.


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