WHO ARE WE?
NLI was founded in 2000 with the purpose of promoting the importance of the natural environment in the daily experience of all children, through environmental design, action research, education, and dissemination of information. NLI is a research and professional development unit at the College of Design, NC State University, Raleigh, NC, USA.
WHAT WE DO?
Increasing numbers of children are growing up with insufficient contact with the natural world. Reasons include childcare centers with outdoor spaces that do not support children’s developmental needs; the rapid growth of domestic air-conditioning since the 1950s; apprehensive parents who keep their children close to home; state-mandated curricula that do not allow time for study outdoors; and the overly-structured, harried lifestyle of many children today.
To counteract this trend, the Natural Learning Initiative offers the following to advance experience of the natural environment in the daily lives of all children.
CREATING ENVIRONMENTS FOR HEALTHY HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
AND A HEALTHY BIOSPHERE FOR GENERATIONS TO COME.
NLI’s mission is activated by six primary global drivers allied with many secondary efforts. Collectively, thousands of top scientists and policy makers have been working for decades and continue to work on equitable, global sustainability policies and action plans to guarantee the human right to a sustainable, ecologically viable, healthy global environment across generations.
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Adopted by the UN in 1989. International treaty ratified by every member nation except the USA. UNICEF is the lead agency. www.unicef.org/child-rights-convention/frequently-asked-questions
2. Sustainable Development Goals
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Came into force, January 1, 2016. Built on the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs, established 2000). Administered by the Division for Sustainable Development Goals, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Relevant to all who care about and work on the future of the planet and its inhabitants. sdgs.un.org/goals
3. Social Determinants of Health
Social Determinants of Health (SDOH). Work in progress since 2008 led by WHO. Relevant to all built environment professions, policy makers, and sectors, including urban planning, urban design, landscape architecture, landscape design, architecture, engineering, and building design; along with open space, parks, and green infrastructure planning; land conservation, and ecological restoration. www.who.int/teams/social-determinants-of-health
4. Health in All Policies
Health in All Policies (HiAP), led by WHO (still evolving). Adopted by the US CDC. See diagram; includes Active Living, Healthy Eating, Healthy and www.cdc.gov/policy/hiap/index.html
5. New Urban Agenda
New Urban Agenda (nua), led by the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), focuses on the core dimensions of social, economic, environmental, and spatial sustainability, and their implementation, monitoring, and reporting. See nua Illustrated Handbook, 2020. unhabitat.org/the-new-urban-agenda-illustrated
6. Nature-based Solutions
Nature-based Solutions (NBS or NbS). Policy most directly relevant to landscape architecture and allied professions. Since 2009 championed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Resolution adopted 2016. Global Standard due to be launched in 2020. www.iucn.org/commissions/commission-ecosystem-management/ourwork/ nature-based-solutions
We aim to help communities create stimulating places for play, outdoor learning, and environmental education – places that recognize human dependence on the natural world. We collaborate with educators, play leaders, environmental educators, designers, planners, politicians, and all professionals working for and with children.