Speakers bios

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Christa Schweng,
President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)

Christa Schweng was elected President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on 28 October 2020 for a period of two and a half years. Prior to that, she had been EESC member since 1998, serving as the President of the EESC's Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship (SOC) from 2018 to 2020, and chairing the work of the Labour Market Observatory (LMO) from 2013 to 2015.
Outside the EESC, she works for the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKÖ), where she has been a Senior Advisor to WKÖ's Social Policy Department since 1994.
She has been a Member of the Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work since 1995, as well as a member of the management board of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, serving as the employers' spokesperson within the agency as of 2001.

Kadri Simson,
European Commissioner for Energy

Kadri Simson is an Estonian politician from the Centre Party (EK), serving as the European Commissioner for Energy as of 1 December 2019. She was previously the Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure of Estonia from 2016 to 2019, as well as a Member of the Riigikogu (Estonian Parliament) from 2007 to 2016, and again in 2019.

Simson was the Chairwoman of the EK faction in the Riigikogu from 2009 to 2016, and the Secretary-General of EK from 2003 to 2007. Prior to that, she served as an Advisor to the Mayor of Tallinn (2001-2002), and Advisor to the Tallinn City Council (1999).

Barbara Pompili,
Minister for the Ecological Transition, French Presidency of the EU Council

Barbara Pompili is a French politician serving as the Minister of the Ecological Transition since 2020. A member of La République En Marche! (REM) since 2017, she was a member of The Greens (LV) from 2000 to 2010 and Europe Ecology – The Greens (EELV) from 2010 to 2015.

Pompili has previously served as member of the National Assembly from 2012 to 2016, and again from 2017 to 2020. She was the first female president of a parliamentary group in the lower house, co-leading the EELV group with François de Rugy, from 2012 to 2016. She also served on the Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs.

Pompili served as Secretary of State for Biodiversity from 2016 to 2017. In 2020, she founded "En commun," an ecologist current within the LREM group joined by 45 other deputies, where she serves as one of the vice-presidents.

Prof Costas Emmanuel Synolakis,
President of Athens College, Hellenic-American Educational Foundation (HAEF)

Professor Synolakis graduated from Athens College in 1975. He went on to earn professional degrees from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech): a B.Sc. in Engineering and Applied Science in 1978, an M.Sc. in Civil Engineering in 1979, and a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering in 1986. In 2016 he was elected a regular member of the Academy of Athens and is currently Secretary of the Division of Natural Sciences.

In 1985 he was appointed Professor of Civil, Environmental and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Southern California (U.S.C.) Viterbi School of Engineering where, in 1996, he founded the USC Tsunami Center. Following his appointment as Professor of Natural Hazards and Environmental Hydraulics at the Technical University of Crete and election by the National Research and Technology Council, he served as President of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research. In 2019 he was elected Chairman of the newly established Special Scientific Committee on Climate Change in Greece, where he serves pro bono. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Hellenic Space Center. In July 2020, he assumed the Office of President of Athens College.

Bruno Pozzi,
Regional Director of Europe Office, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Bruno Pozzi is the Director of the Europe Office of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), holding over 20 years of experience in high-level diplomacy and politics across three different continents.

Prior to joining UNEP, Pozzi was appointed Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation to Kenya in 2015. He joined the European External Action Service in 2011 and was Head of the Political Section of the Delegation of the European Union to Côte d'Ivoire until 2015.

He began his career at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations of the Université Libre de Bruxelles before joining the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in October 1999.

He has served in Belgian embassies in Japan, China and South Africa.

Marco Morettini,
Deputy Head of Division GLOBAL GI3 Green Transition, European External Action Service (EEAS)

A lawyer by training, Marco Morettini has been working in the European External Action Service (EEAS) since its creation in 2012. He started with the Africa Managing Directorate where he was responsible for bilateral relations with South Africa, then he was in charge of Africa and Latin America in the Democracy and Electoral Observation Division within the EEAS Human Rights/Global and Multilateral Managing Directorate. From 2017 until 2020 he has been Deputy Head of Division, Arabian Peninsula, Iraq and Regional Policies in the Middle East and North Africa Department. He is currently Deputy Head of the Division in charge of the Green Transition.

Before the EEAS, as from 1996, he worked in the European Commission Directorate General for Environment dealing with EU legislation and international agreements on chemicals. As from 2002 he has been in charge of coordinating EU work in the UN Convention to Combat Desertification and then of EU climate-development policies in the EU Climate UNFCCC negotiating team.

Johanna Sandahl,
President, European Environmental Bureau (EEB)

Johanna Sandahl has served as the President of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Europe's largest network of environmental organisations, since 2019. She was appointed President of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation in 2014, serving as its Vice-President prior to that.

Sandahl is a trained agronomist committed to environmental and development issues, having worked within various popular movements in Sweden and abroad, including a longer period at Forum Syd. She is also a member of the government's delegation for Sweden's implementation of Agenda 2030, the National Historical Museums Transparency Council, and Wolrd Wildlife Fund's Board of Trustees.

Dr. Muhammad Hidayat Greenfield,
Regional Secretary, International Union of Food Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF) Asia/Pacific

Dr. Muhammad Hidayat Greenfield has been involved in workers' education and training since 1995. Hidayat joined the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) in 2004 and was elected as Regional Secretary for the Asia/Pacific Regional Organization in 2016. He is responsible for IUF members in 21 countries in the region, and deals with advancing human rights in the IUF sectors; securing safe, sustainable employment; promoting gender equality; eliminating sexual harassment and violence against women; eliminating forced labour and child labour; and promoting sustainable food systems and climate action.

Dr Hubertus Bardt,
Managing Director and Head of Research at the German Economic Institute (Cologne)

Dr Bardt was appointed Managing Director and Head of Research at the German Economic Institute in 2014, after working there as Head of Research Unit for Energy, Environment, and Resources from 2005 to 2014, and Personal Assistant to the Director from 2000 to 2005. He also holds lectureships on environmental economics, finance, and regulatory policy at the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences, the Rheinische Fachhochschule Köln, and the Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf.
Dr Bardt completed a PhD in Economics in 2003, and his research interests include economic policy, industrial policy, and climate economics.

Alessandro Blasi,
Special Advisor to Executive Director, International Energy Agency (IEA)

Alessandro Blasi was appointed Special Advisor to Executive Director at the International Energy Agency (IEA) in October 2018, having worked at the IEA since 2009 as the Lead Programme Manager, and a Senior Analyst.

Prior to his engagement at the IEA, Blasi worked as an Operating Director at the World Energy Council in Italy from 2003 to 2009, as well as Prime Minister's Personal Representative for Energy and Climate from 2007 to 2008. Before completing his Master's in Energy Resources Management, Blasi worked offshore for an oceanographic research institute for almost ten years

Mauro Raffaele Petriccione,
Director-General, DG CLIMA, European Commission

Mauro Petriccione is a lawyer and a diplomat with over 30 years of professional experience in the European institutions, currently acting as the Director-General of DG Climate Action (CLIMA). His professional career includes positions such as Deputy Director-General, responsible for directorates B, C and D, DG TRADE (from 2014 to 2018), Director of DG TRADE (from 2004 to 2014), and Head of Unit, WTO and OECD coordination, GATT, development, 133 Committee in DG TRADE (from 2001 to 2003), among others.

Prior to starting his career in the EU institutions, Petriccione worked as an attorney, as well as an Officer of the Coast Guard of the Italian Navy.

Prof Andris Piebalgs,
Senior Fellow, Florence School of Regulation, and former Commissioner for Energy and for Development

Andris Piebalgs is a Latvian politician and diplomat who served as European Commissioner for Development at the European Commission from 2010 to 2014, and Commissioner for Energy from 2004 to 2009. He is currently Adviser to the President of Latvia, as well as a Senior Fellow and Part-time Professor at the Florence School of Regulation.

Prior to commencing his career in the European Commission, Prof Piebalgs' extensive experience included serving as Minister of Finance of Latvia from 1994 to 1995, Ambassador of Latvia in Estonia from 1995 to 1997, Latvian Ambassador to the EU from 1997 to 2003, and Deputy Secretary of State for EU affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia from 2003 to 2004.

Kyriakos Gialoglou,
Director of Government Affairs, Seawind Ocean Technology & Managing Director Seawind Greece

Kyriakos Gialoglou has 20 years’ working experience in fields of energy, environment and EU affairs, having held posts both in the private and public sector. Gialoglou has been the Director of European Government Affairs for Seawind Ocean Technology since September 2020, as well as an Expert to the European Economic and Social Committee since February 2020.

Gialoglou's extensive professional experience includes posts such as Special Adviser at the International Hellenic University since 2018, EU Affairs Director in charge of strategy and advocacy at Eurogas from 2015 to 2018, Team Leader at Energy and Consumers - DG JUST from 2007 to 2015, and Adviser to the Council of European Energy Regulators from 2005 to 2007, among others .

Mika Ohbayashi,
Director, Renewable Energy Institute

Mika Ohbayashi has been a founding member and Director at the Renewable Energy Institute since August 2011, where she coordinates research projects, and cooperates with national parliamentarians and local authorities domestically and internationally to create a sustainable energy society.

Before joining the Institute, she worked for the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in Abu Dhabi as a Policy and Project Regional Manager for Asia Oceania, and as the Deputy Director at the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies from 2000 to 2008. She started her carrier in the energy field by joining the Citizens' Nuclear Information Centre in 1992.

Prof Njuguna Ndung'u,
Executive Director, African Economic Research Consortium (AERC)

Prof Njuguna Ndung’u is an Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Nairobi, as well as the Executive Director at the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), a capacity building network in Africa in economic policy and analysis. He has been the Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya from 2007 to 2015, as well as the Director of Training at AERC.

Prof Ndungu's vast professional experience includes teaching economics at the University of Nairobi, working with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Kenya Institute of Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA), and as a member of various regulatory boards in the financial sector in Kenya. Prof Ndungu holds a PhD in Economics from Gothenburg University.

Carla Montesi,
Director, Green Deal & Digital Agenda, DG INTPA, European Commission

Carla Montesi was appointed Director for the Green Deal and Digital Agenda at the Directorate-General for International Partnerships (INTPA) in January 2021. Prior to that, she has served as a Director for the Directorate “Planet and Prosperity” at Directorate-General for International Development and Cooperation (DEVCO) from 2018 to 2021, and Director for Western and Central Africa at DG DEVCO from 2014 to 2018. Before 2014, she was a Director at the Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MARE).

Formerly a lawyer specialized in European affairs in Italy, Montesi’s earlier career encompassed diverse responsibilities in the field of EU external policy for development and cooperation both at Headquarters and in EU Delegations in Africa, as well as experience in the Cabinet of EU Commissioner Emma Bonino for External Policy and Humanitarian Affairs.

Maja Handjiska-Trendafilova,
Head of Program Department, Regional Cooperation Council (RCC)

Maja Handjuska-Trendafilova is a Senior Expert on Connectivity at the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC). From 2012 to 2015, she worked as a Counsellor at the Mission of the Republic of North Macedonia to the EU. In 2012 she also headed the Unit of Coordination of Legal and Institutional Mechanisms and Unit for EU Funds and Instruments at the Secretariat for European Affairs at the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia.

Prior to starting her career in governmental offices, Handjuska- Trendafilova worked for the International Organization for Migration in Skopje and Prishtina.

Dr Niels Keijzer,
Senior Researcher, Team Lead: EU development policy and external action, German Development Institute (DIE)

Dr Niels Keijzer has been a Senior Researcher at the German Development Institute (DIE) since 2019, where he had previously worked as a Researcher since 2013. His research focuses on EU development policy, as well as cooperation between the EU and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States.

Prior to that, he worked at the European Center for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) from 2005 to 2012, as a Research Assistant, Policy Officer, and Deputy Programme Manager.

Dr Keijzer holds a PhD in Social Studies from Radboud University Nijmegen.

Nina Birkeland,
Senior Advisor on Disaster Displacement and Climate Change, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)

Nina Birkeland works for the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Partnership and Policy department as Senior Advisor on Disaster Displacement and Climate Change. She has held this position since 2013. Most recently, she led the development of the new UNDRR Words into Action guidance on Disaster Displacement, and its companion Checklist and eLearning. She has worked on forced migration issues since the early 1990s, in academia and for NGOs. From 2008-2012 she worked for NRC’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). First as Head of Monitoring and Advocacy and from June 2011-May 2013 as Deputy Head of IDMC and Head of the Research and Policy department. Before joining IDMC in Geneva, she was NRC’s Programme director in Uganda during 2006-2008. From 2002- 2006 she led the interagency Camp Management Project and the development of the first editions of the Camp Management Toolkit. In Norway she worked as associate professor in human geography and sustainable development from 1995-2002. She did her Ph.d studies at NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) from 1997-2001, focusing on internal displacement, drivers and coping strategies amongst Angolan internally displaced people. She has wide-ranging field experience from Angola, Burundi, Georgia, Lebanon, Liberia, Kenya, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Syria and Uganda.

David Livingston,
Senior Advisor to US
Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry

David Livingston has been a Senior Advisor to US Special President Envoy for Climate John Kerry since February 2021. Prior to that, he worked at the Eurasia Group from 2020 to 2021, the Atlantic Council from 2017 to 2021, and the World Trade Organization from 2013 to 2014, among others.
Livingston was a Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace in 2017, and selected as a Future Energy Leader by the World Energy Council. His interests lie in building new initiatives that shape the future of climate, energy, prosperity, and security.

Sirpa Pietikäinen,
Member of the European Parliament, Member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON)

Sirpa Pietikäinen is a Finnish politician and Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Finland. She is a member of the National Coalition Party, part of the European People's Party. She has been an MEP since 2008, and was re-elected in 2009 and 2014.
Pietikäinen was in the Hämeenlinna town council from 1981 to 1992. Following that, she was a Member of Finnish Parliament until 2003, and served as Minister for the Environment in the cabinet of Prime Minister Esko Aho between 1991 and 1995.
Pietikäinen was the Chair of Finnish United Nations Association between 1996 and 2007. She was the World Federation of United Nations Associations Chairwoman from 2000 to 2004.

Nathan Fabian,
Chair of the European Platform on Sustainable Finance, Chief Responsible Investment Officer at the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI)

Nathan Fabian has served as the Chair of the European Platform on Sustainable Finance since October 2020, as well as Chief Responsible Investment Officer at the United Nations- supported Principles for Responsible Investment since October 2018.
Fabian served as the Rapporteur for the Taxonomy Group of the EU Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance. He was an Observer on the EU High Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance and part of the Secretariat for the UK Green Finance Taskforce.
Prior to the PRI, he was the CEO of the Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC) Australia / New Zealand. Previous roles include Head of ESG Research at Regnan, a provider of ESG research and engagement services; and as a Corporate Governance Policy Advisor in the Australian Parliament.

Dr Oyun Sanjaasuren,
Director of External Affairs, Green Climate Fund

Dr Sanjaasuren was appointed Director of External Affairs at the Green Climate Fund in July 2018. Her professional experience includes serving as the first President of the United Nations Environment Assembly from 2014 to 2016, Chair of the Global Water Partnership from 2016 to 2018, as well as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2007 to 2008, and Minister of Environment and Green Development from 2012 to 2014 in Mongolia.
Dr Sanjaasuren is geochemist by training, with a Ph.D in Earth Sciences from the University of Cambridge. She is a member of advisory boards of a number of global initiatives including the Green Growth Knowledge Platform, Future Earth, and International Environment Technology Centre of UNEP.

Dr Guntram B. Wolff,
Director of Bruegel

Dr Wolff is a German economist, serving as the Director of Bruegel as of June 2013. He regularly testifies to the European Union Finance Ministers’ ECOFIN meeting, the European Parliament, the German Parliament, and the French Parliament.
Prior to joining Bruegel, Dr Wolff worked at the European Commission, Deutsche Bundesbank, and in the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In 2018, Dr Wolff was appointed to the External Advisory Group on Surveillance, a group mandated to review the operational priorities of IMF through 2025. In early 2021, he was appointed by the G20 as Project Director in charge of the High Level Independent Panel (HLIP). He was also a member of the Conseil d’Analyse Economique (CAE) from 201 to 2016.
Dr Wolff holds a PhD from the University of Bonn, and has taught economics at the University of Pittsburgh and at Université libre de Bruxelles.

Prof Phoebe Koundouri,
Co-Chair of United Nations Sustainable Development Network (SDSN)

Prof Koundouri is an environmental economics professor, as well as leading researcher in sustainable development. She attained her PhD in Economics and Econometrics from the University of Cambridge and has held academic positions at the University of Cambridge, University College London, University of Reading, and London School of Economics. She is currently a Professor at the School of Economics of the Athens University of Economics and Business.

Prof Koundouri is an elected Fellow of the World Academy of Art & Science, the President-elect of the European Association of Environmental and Natural Resource Economists for the period 2019-2025 (EAERE), and the Co-Chair of United Nations Sustainable Development Network (SDSN). She acts as a scientific advisor to the European Commission, World Bank, European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, OECD, UN, NATO, WHO, World Water Council, among others.

Dimitris Dimitriadis,
President of the Section for External Relations (REX), European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)

Dimitris Dimitriadis has been a member of the EESC Employers' Group since 1999, as well as the President of the EESC External Relations Section (REX) since October 2020. He was the President of the EESC from 2006 to 2008, Vice-President for Budget from 2004 to 2006, and held several other positions, such as Quaestor of the EESC, from 2018 to 2020.
Mr Dimitriadis holds several other important positions at the European level, such as Vice President and Member of the Board of Directors of SMEUnited, and Member of the Governing Board of the EU Strategy the Adriatic-Ionian Region (EUSAIR).
At the national level, he is a Member of the Board of Directors of the "Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship" in Athens, and Member of the Board of Directors of the "Traders' Association of Thessaloniki." Dimitriadis is also the CEO of "MAKEDONIKI Properties S.A."