13-15 November 2013 in Milan, Italy

The Annual Conference will be held in Italy, and will be co-hosted by L’Albero della Vita Foundation in cooperation with the Italian national Ombudsman for Children, Municipality of Milan and and the PIDIDA network.

The main aim of the conference is to promote wide recognition of children’s agency, empowerment and influence on their own lives, their families and communities and the society as a whole. Children are fully fledged citizens with a voice of their own, not mere recipients or passive dependents of decisions made by others on their behalf.

The conference will explore how children’s and young people’s participation can contribute to positive changes in policy and practice, across different areas such as social inclusion and protection, migration, education or health. It aims to showcase practices that respect the child’s right to be heard and have had positive impact on both the children and the policies or practices to which they contributed. It will offer plenty of opportunities for networking and exchanging of experiences throughout workshops, study visits, plenary sessions, a forum of good practices and social events.

The conference is organised in the context of the 2013 European Year of Citizenship with the aim of increasing recognition of children as citizens. It will also give meaning to the ‘participation’ pillar of the 2013 European Commission’s Recommendation “Investing in Children”, which sets a policy framework based on three underlying policy pillars: access to resources, access to quality services and support for children’s participation. Finally, the conference builds on the 2012 Council of Europe Recommendation on the participation of children and young people under the age of 18.

This background paper has been prepared

  • to set the framework for the discussions during the conference,
  • contextualize what children’s participation means,
  • highlight key policy initiatives taken in Europe to entitle children to their right to be heard, and
  • identify the main challenges ahead to ensure ever more and more children have the conditions in which they can effectively enjoy their right to participate.

Find here the child-friendly version.