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“Keeping children’s rights high on the EU agenda”- Isabella Castrogiovanni, Senior Advisor at UNICEF

Isabella Castrogiovani has been with UNICEF for over 20 years. She has extensive programming and advocacy experience, notably in the sectors of children's rights and rule of law. She has led UNICEF's advocacy on children and armed conflict in the context of the Syrian war. Isabella participated in our 8th EU Academy in November 2022.

What does the change you are trying to achieve look like? Why is the EU important for creating this change?

The EU is important for us at UNICEF because the EU institutions and its Member States are key strategic partners for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals for children. Engaging with the EU to mobilise resources for children and to influence the EU policy agenda so that children's rights stay high on that agenda is critical for us.

Our engagement with the EU is wide ranging in terms of scope and thematic issues. There are specific legislative and policy initiatives that we would want to influence. Overall, we want to ensure that children stay high on the EU agenda, both in its internal and its external action, and that relevant EU policy and legislative initiatives are in line with international children’s rights and standards.

What is your biggest challenge?

At UNICEF, we work with the EU and its member states on multiple policy and legislative initiatives. This is at times challenging as children’s issues are not always seen as a priority by policy makers. They are often perceived as “soft issues”.

Unfortunately, core business interests are often at odds with the rights’ agenda. This applies to children’s rights too: the ongoing negotiations on the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive are a good case in point.

One tip you want to share with other public interest advocates engaging with the EU?

Truly understanding the complex EU machinery and the EU policy-making process is fundamental to achieve our desired results as advocates for public good in Europe. Having clearly defined advocacy objectives and targets is also paramount.

It’s also important to understand what is within our reach and which strategic alliances we need to build to expand our ‘circle of influence’. Focus, perseverance and a solid knowledge of the EU bubble are key!

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