In Conversation With…

Elda Moreno

Elda Moreno is a Human Rights lawyer with an expertise in children’s rights, gender equality, environmental law and sport policies. She has over 25 years of experience in international organisations managing teams and developing legal standards, public policies, programmes and campaigns in the Council of Europe and the United Nations. She was most recently Head of the Children’s Rights and Sport Values Department at the Council of Europe where she was responsible for the European programmes for the protection of children’s rights, the promotion of human rights in and through sport as well as for the fight against doping, match fixing and violence in sport events. She also triggered the launch of the Start to Talk campaign against child sexual abuse in sport. She is currently taking a sabbatical to dedicate herself to her writing. She was recently awarded the ‘Women’s Stories’ prize by the city of Castellón (Spain) for her “Stories of Butterflies.”

Whose shoulders do you stand on?

Because of a childhood trauma, I grew up as a rather solitary person. It’s only in my mid twenties that I started connecting with my family and friends. Rather than standing on someone’s shoulders, I see myself embracing this loving community. They inspire me and make me feel safe. I want to be better for them.

What do you wish you had learned in school? 

That I had the right to say no to adults; that there were services to help child victims of abuse.

What have you learned recently that you want to share?

I have spent years paralysed by an unfounded fear. As the introvert child I was, writing poetry and stories was my way to connect with the world. I won a few prizes and published some work. But then I stopped. After moving to France 30 years ago, I thought I had lost my ability to write in Spanish, my mother tongue. Or in any other language. And all these years, I have been aching to write again. The four months confined alone during the first wave of the pandemic gave me the perfect opportunity.  And the flow was amazing. 

I think I am a daring person. And yet. I didn’t dare to try, but rather let 30 years go by. I guess this is because for me, writing means exposing myself, and I hated the idea of doing it clumsily. But, as my youngest son has taught me recently, there is greatness in exposing one’s vulnerability. 

Where do you find inspiration?

Everywhere: in nature and art, in creative and courageous people. I love all creative processes: from those resulting in a beautiful painting, book or melody, to those leading to a scientific discovery or a meaningful transformation in an organisation.

What should you apologise for?

For all the mistakes I may have made when raising my kids. I am not sure I shall ever identify them all, but I am confident my sons are resilient enough to thrive in life and to forgive me. 

What should you never apologise for?

For not being perfect.

How do you make really hard decisions?

I have never had to make a hard decision suddenly, fortunately! Life changing decisions always come after months of pondering, discussing with friends and family, sleepless nights… But what they have in common is that they are the response to a question: “What are your true priorities?” This is for instance, how I proposed to my family to sell our beautiful house so that I could take the sabbatical that I am enjoying right now.

What role does music (other art form) play in your life?

I love all forms of art, but music is probably the one I am most intimately connected to. I can spend weeks without a book, an art gallery or a theatre play, but I cannot spend a day without music. My memories always come with their own soundtrack. Music helps me to connect with my feelings, collect my thoughts and focus, but also to let my mind wander.  Now that I have more time, I would like to enjoy music more intently, even learn to play piano. 

What should we do upside down? 

Rather than blindly go with the flow, we should take time to recognise and embrace our true sense of purpose. 

When are you most human?

When I recognise my own flaws and try to rise above them.

What would the world look like if large institutions, like the Council of Europe, adopted creativity as their method of work?

One of large organisations’ problems is that internal controls (to minimise risks, fight corruption, optimise processes, etc.) are conceived without integrating the need for flexibility and creativity. Creativity is seen by many leaders and managers as risky business and the system keeps fighting it. The world is changing at such a vertiginous pace, mostly because of human creativity. Unfortunately, creativity does not always come with wisdom. So: we need values-driven organisations that bring both together. My guess is that this would make the world a much better place, where, even in a context of dramatic changes, people feel safe, respected and empowered to dare the transformation.

A question on your legacy: for whom do you want to open the path?

Today, there are too many reasons to lose faith in humanity, to feel anxious, powerless and frustrated. The world desperately needs people with values, courage and passion, resilient people willing to make a difference, people who can help and inspire others. I hope I can help, in particular, young people to unleash their transformation potential.

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