Child in the City World Conference 2023: Introducing…Bruno Vanobbergen

Our forthcoming Child in the City World Conference will hear stories of great work being done all over the world to help children live better lives – wherever they are.

One of our opening keynote speeches will come from Bruno Vanobbergen, who is Secretary-General at the Flemish Agency Opgroeien (which literally means ‘to grow up’), an organisation which works with partners across Belgium to help all aspects of childrens’ lives. This spans the whole gamut of child-focused services, from birth to education, family support to youth care.

Between 2009 and 2019, Bruno Vanobbergen (below) was the Flemish Children’s Rights Commissioner, so he knows a thing or two about the rights of children. In 2019 he was appointed as the General Director of Opgroeien, before becoming Secretary General.

Opgroieien was set up in 2018, the result of a merger between Kind en Gezin (child and family), then-then Youth Welfare Agency, and part of the Flemish Agency for Persons with Disabilities. The choice of the name Opgroeien was fitting for many reasons, not least because the concept of growing up radiates what the organisation calls ‘movement and dynamism’, and is something wholly positive which reflects the different phases in a young life.

‘The lifeworlds of children differ fundamentally’

In addition to his role with Opgroeien, Bruno is also guest professor at the Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy at Ghent University and Honorary Doctor at Hasselt University. So when he takes to the podium on the opening morning of our forthcoming conference, you can be assured that what he has to say will have an important message.

Focusing on the topic of ‘Building on (international) solidarity’, he will say that in education and in the creation of educational environments, the focus ‘is mostly on the individual child and its personal growth and development. However, the lifeworlds of children differ fundamentally’. This is the case, he will add, whether it relates to one city, one country or even globally.

If education aims to be a democratic practice, then it needs to pay much more attention to the differences between children and young people

Crucially, he adds, this means that ‘a child friendly city not only meets the needs and the aspirations of children, but needs to be a place where children and young people question their needs and aspirations’.

Will you also be in Brussels? Then you can hear Bruno Vanobbergen’s keynote presentation from 10:00 to 10:30 on the morning of Monday 20 November

The conference finishes on the afternoon of Wednesday 22 November.

Click here for more information on all of our speakers and how to book your place.

Author: Simon Weedy

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