For many years, World Urban Parks has pursued the concept of an international credential or qualification scheme for park and recreation professionals. Starting in 2007, World Urban Parks (formerly known as the International Federation of Park and Recreation Administration) and the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands at Indiana University, USA, began to jointly envision how such a program would function. Working steadily without funding and with limited resources, the Eppley Institute proposed establishing the World Parks Academy in 2011.
It was determined that an international competency-based certification program is necessary to reach the global parks and recreation industry. Beginning in 2012, further discussion led to the formation of a working advisory group. This group compiled information gleaned from many discussions held over the years and began to outline the certification programs. Eligibility requirements were explored, program schemes were outlined, and an initial competency framework was developed. In the summer of 2013, the competency framework was validated by a global sample of park and recreation professionals.
The World Parks Academy launched in the fall of 2013.