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Friends of Europe is proud to announce the 19th iteration of its annual festival of politics and ideas State of Europe high-level roundtable event: Making sense of transitions in an age of crises: a new social contract for a new era, taking place on Thursday, 27 October, in Brussels.
After two years of COVID-19 pandemic, Friends of Europe will welcome 200+ influential figures from more than 40 countries all in person to get back to good habits and facilitate the exchange of ideas and brainstorming that is required to identify out-of-the-box approaches to current and rising challenges. The State of Europe is a fixture and highlight on the European calendar and the reason is simple: it is a place where top leaders from the worlds of politics, business, and civil society from Europe and beyond, connect and offer thought leadership to influence change and the direction of Europe.
The COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying wave of economic and climate crises, have fundamentally upended life as we once knew it. And just as we seemed to be nearing an inflection point in the management of the health crisis, the war in Ukraine and a host of global ramifications added fuel to an already raging fire. The war in Ukraine is testing Europe’s determination, speed and unity. While the West and many countries across the world reacted in unison to the war, there is no doubt this event will reshape the European security architecture and impact Europe’s digital, energy and green transitions.
The 2022 edition of this festival of politics and ideas is built around the idea of re-engineering a social contract to support individuals as they make their way through an age of transitions and crises. Throughout the deliberations, discussants will answer the question of what the different roles of the state, private sector, institutions and civil society should be in these areas.
Interested in finding out what happened at the State of Europe festival of politics and ideas last year? Check out the event recap below or click here
Friends of Europe is back to welcoming all discussants in person.
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This set of parallel early-bird briefings, held by experts in their respective fields, will feature short and inspiring conversations to discuss Europe’s position in the world and the relationship with its neighbours, namely Africa, the United States, China, the Arctic, and the Black Sea.
TABLE 1 – Europe and Africa: turning the rhetoric of an ‘equal partnership’ into practice
Founder, SökerData Ltd., Co-Founder, Northwest Biotech Initiative, Forbes ‘Sciencepreneuse’, and Member of the Africa-Europe Foundation Youth Delegation
TABLE 2 – Europe and the United States: closer than ever?
Anthony L. Gardner
Former Ambassador, Permanent Representation of the United States to the European Union
TABLE 3 – Europe and China: partners, competitors, rivals
Financial Times Europe-China Correspondent
TABLE 4 – Europe and the Arctic: preserving an open and cooperative area of relatively low tension
Special Envoy for Arctic Matters, European External Action Service (EEAS)
TABLE 5 – Europe and its Eastern Neighbourhood: geopolitical backwater at the forefront of European security
Senior Fellow for Peace, Security and Defence, Friends of Europe; author or “After the Ice”, “Crossing the Wilderness”, and “Murky Waters”
As yet another crisis unfolds and EU member states become home to millions of Ukrainians fleeing the war, humanitarian issues are again becoming a priority for the continent.
Adapting to the new realities brought on by the war and other crises over the last years will require supporting and managing transitions not only for Ukrainians but also for communities across the whole of Europe.
Reality bites. The objective of this session is to home in on the real-world experiences of people and communities shattered by crises who are now having to rebuild their livelihoods. Such experiences must be the basis of how we rethink current policies and the purpose of a new social contract in Europe.
SCENE SETTING BY THREE EUROPEAN CITIZENS
Entrepreneur with a personal story of resilience fleeing the war in Syria, European citizen
Artist with a personal story of resilience overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, European citizen
Campaign Coordinator with a personal story of resilience overcoming climate change-induced trauma, European citizen
Chief Operating Officer and Chief Spokesperson, Friends of Europe
The ‘fuel or food’ crisis, together with the climate emergency and the highest public debt in history, call into question how we make ends meet. Combined, the crises we have recently encountered have made us fundamentally rethink our models of government, markets and the role of the private sector. Building upon the experiences shared in the scene-setter, this opening session will dive into the role of the state, the health of European democracies, and whether our governments are up to the challenges of the 21st century, with the rising costs of food and living and the climate emergency at the forefront. While the state has long been considered the entity most responsible for individuals’ well-being, changing times call for a re-ordering of society.
This session will suggest that a new system cannot be built upon the same foundation as the old one, and that current democratic governance systems are failing to address some of the most pressing and difficult societal challenges of our time. Climate change, widening social inequality, erosion of the rule of law, and the rise of extreme politics across Europe are both causes and consequences of traditional politics’ inability to cope in the face of accelerating global change. It’s time to bring on a fundamentally new way of thinking and ask new questions, namely whether the responsibilities and roles of the state should be divided and distributed differently throughout society.
- How ‘big’ should national governments be and what role can taxation play in the current geopolitical environment?
- How is the role of the private sector changing and what new responsibilities can we expect it to bear?
- How can the EU adapt itself to a future that will be even more unpredictable and crisis-driven? Will all member states play ball in defining a new social contract for Europe? Will the roles of the EU and the member states change to meet new responsibilities?
This discussion will additionally be supported and informed by ideas and insights from citizens gathered via our Debating Europe platform at its 6.5 million strong user community.
European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, European Young Leader (EYL40)
Czech Minister for European Affairs
Chair of the McKinsey Global Institute, Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company
Chief Operating Officer and Chief Spokesperson, Friends of Europe
The war in Ukraine has placed the onus on the strength of society in the face of insecurity and gave rise to new whole-of-economy, whole-of-society approaches to warfare. It is redefining the roles of governments, citizens, multilateralism, and non-state actors, such as the private sector and civil society. We have witnessed a range of responses to the war in Ukraine, from economic sanctions and the withdrawal of business activities from Russia to private sector actors providing internet and digital support to Ukrainians on the frontline, and entrepreneurial alliances between hackers and cybersecurity experts to tackle disinformation and protect citizens. The speed of economic sanctions to prevent all-out war was perhaps a defining moment for a more effective form of multilateralism, however, future analysis may struggle to separate the impact of these deterrents from the actions of non-state actors.
- In which areas of the conflict spectrum (communication, propaganda, technology, etc.) can the private sector and civil society groups have the greatest impact?
- Where do governments encourage or discourage private sector and civil society initiatives, as they have done regarding foreign fighters, illicit financial flows or arms smuggling to conflict zones in the past? What in this regard makes one war different from another or one side more deserving of assistance?
- How do we deter aggressive operations or invasions aimed at countries not formally aligned with existing defensive Alliance
Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy
Chair of Belarus Women’s Foundation
Ukrainian Author and Activist, Charlie Hebdo, FEMEN International
Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Ambassador, Mission of the United States to the European Union
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Senior Fellow for Peace, Security and Defense, Friends of Europe
During the COVID-19 crisis, the impact of ‘rampant’ globalisation was called into question and opened up new conversations about supply chains. Suddenly, the world woke up to the effects of inherent interdependency of commodities, technology, and vaccine production. Given the dramatic changes in the geopolitical context over the last couple of months, the aim of achieving the EU’s strategic autonomy, whilst preserving an open economy, is even more crucial. Rethinking globalisation, European strategic autonomy and sovereignty of supply chains are more than buzzwords, as they have now become policy priorities and urgent to-dos. While it is far from the policy ambitions of any government to truly dismantle globalisation, important questions pertaining to building strong and competitive sectors while avoiding risks arising from excessive reliance on third-country institutions and infrastructures imperatively need answers. Given the dramatic energy situation arising in Europe and decades of postponement, Europe is bracing itself for an energy crisis in the coming winter.
- Now that the war in Ukraine is giving Europe a real-life example of the dangers of interconnected grids and markets, what are the real impacts of globalisation on European citizens and what mitigation measures can be further developed?
- How should issues of fairness be addressed when regions and localities – whether industrial communities in eastern Europe or rural communities in southern Europe – feel the effects differently?
- How can the EU’s vision of strategic autonomy to counter supply chain disruption and strengthen resilience be squared with the bloc’s ambition to be a strong multilateral actor on the world stage?
Finnish State Secretary for the Environment
Angela Paolini Ellard
Deputy Director-General, World Trade Organization (WTO)
Author of ‘Geopolitics for the End Time’ (2021) and the bestseller ‘Manifesto of Virtualism’, columnist for the New Statesman, Former Portuguese Secretary of State for European Affairs
Senior Fellow, Friends of Europe
COVID-19 opened the pandora’s box of healthcare inadequacies across Europe, but also left hope that member states could overcome their differences to cooperate in radically new ways.
The EU and its member states had to work differently and cut through operational barriers to manage the health crisis through new forms of cooperation, despite limited EU competence in health. The pandemic crucially revealed the links between health and stable, well-functioning societies. The close collaboration and innovation of the past two years could be leveraged to build efficient, cost-effective and high-tech health systems that deliver for all.
A Europe-wide settlement on how to tackle health crises in the future is needed. From revitalising the depleted health workforce to creating a world-class data environment, there are big challenges for health systems to overcome, but also opportunities to build and progress. The identification of health as a strategic sector opens the door to new financial investment and greater interlinks within Europe for health services and supplies. As Europe gets to grip with the big tasks of shaping the green and digital transition, health is a building block in the new vision of European economies and societies.
- What is the right way to balance EU action with member state autonomy to improve health equity and meet citizen demands?
- Is the issue of the EU’s competency on health still the right question? Or is it time to radically rethink public healthcare in a way that does not leave the EU and each member state working on separate tracks?
- From quantum computing and advanced home monitoring, to genomics and digital twins, a wave of scientific and digital breakthroughs is about to bear fruit for health. Will they break the bank or help make scarce funds go further?
- The past two years showed the resilience and innovative potential of health systems. How can the EU and member states go further to create agile health systems that can meet current needs and prepare for future developments – both known and unknown – like climate and demographic change?
Corporate Vice-President for Europe, Middle East, Africa, Canada & Latin America at Edwards Lifesciences
Directrice Générale de la Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS), France
Morten Elbaek Petersen
Senior Fellow, Friends of Europe
In her State of the Union this year, President von der Leyen reiterated Europe’s ambition to finance the transition to a digital and net-zero economy. Increasingly, digitalisation is a fundamental part of societal infrastructure, from connectivity that supports consumer mobile services, through to healthcare, education, agriculture, transportation, industrial capabilities and more. Getting societal infrastructure to work and be resilient means that we need to have a long hard look at the relationship between the public and private sectors and their respective roles to ensure there is no public harm. How do we get this right and what does it need ?
Also, there is a nexus between development in space and digitalisation. A negative impact on our digitalisation agenda will consequently affect Europe’s space capabilities to ensure connectivity remains advanced, affordable, resilient, and effective for all. Space also has a potential to generate new forms of energy. In the current crisis how can this be harnessed in a safe way within a short time frame.
- How can Europe create an enabling environment for success that fosters a competitive, facilitative, and inclusive ecosystem, and incentivises European-grown companies that are working on connectivity and 5G to remain on the continent?
- Learning from the current energy crisis what do we need to have in place that doesn’t negatively impact the economic model of today to transition to greener, more resilient alternatives ? What do we need to do to accelerate access to credible and efficient supply chains with liberal minded economies?
- Is there a trade-off between regulation that enhances productivity and innovation with consumers protection ?
Petra De Sutter
Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Civil Service, Public Enterprises, Telecommunications and Postal Service
Finnish State Secretary for Transport and Communications
Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at the European Space Agency (ESA)
Cluster and Enterprise Americas & Asia Pacific Director, Vodafone
Chief Operating Officer and Chief Spokesperson, Friends of Europe
It is essential to keep an eye on the speed and scale of poverty, joblessness, and access to housing. Part of addressing these issues will be about rejecting perceived norms of economic theory, as well as GDP’s historic role as a basis for borrowing and as the only measure of risk to our economic well-being. Governments can and should increase the percentage of what is acceptable in terms of borrowing against GDP.
Failing to keep people, communities and businesses afloat now will incur a much higher price on the public expenditure – not only social security costs but a whole range of indicators of public sector costs and private sector defaults, especially amongst SMEs, deemed the bulwark of any economy.
The private sector will need to become a partner of governments in seeding a just digital and green transition. The private sector also owns a responsibility to communicate about transition and bring the public on board. A more-than-profit business model is emerging. The reality of the 21st century is that the interdependencies between government, the community and the private sector are inherent and multiple and require nurturing and made to be more resilient.
In times of crisis, the domestic to-do list does not disappear. The climate crisis manifesting itself in myriad ways must be addressed at all levels of governance, from individual initiative through municipalities all the way to European policy making, by coupling EU and national legislation and initiatives to supranational recommendations such as those delivered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
- The way to a reformed European Fiscal Rule: what should the new rule deliver on and how will European Union Member States reach a consensus?
- What does a climate-resilient Europe look like in practice and what is the role of the private sector in helping citizens regain trust in the willingness of private companies and public institutions to work with on solving the climate emergency and other crises we face?
- How do we ensure that the long-term objectives of the Green Deal, the Digital Decade and the Global Gateway are not side-tracked and that these transitions remain inclusive?
All of this points to the need to redefine the social contract for Europe. How we go about this will require governments, the private sector and civil society to engage in frank and honest conversations about their respective roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities. This discussion will be informed by insights from citizens gathered via our Debating Europe platform and will culminate in a policy drafting exercise building on the outcomes of Focus Groups on the role of the private sector and the renewed social contract.
Spanish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation
European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reform
Europe Operations President, the Coca-Cola Company
Ricardo Mourinho Félix
Vice-President, European Investment Bank
Chief Operating Officer and Chief Spokesperson, Friends of Europe
Jamila is a leading independent strategic consultant, educator, and board member. She currently serves on the Dutch government appeal advisory commission, to provide advice about the childcare benefits affair. Furthermore, she is a board member of the World Press Photo, and the Stichting JES Rijland, an organisation which promotes the rights of youngsters in education and society. For various international clients, Jamila provides consulting and coaching services about leadership, empowerment, education, diversity and inclusion. She is currently pursuing a degree to teach business and economics. Jamila previously worked as a senior international political trainer for the Max van der Stoel Foundation, with political parties in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and North Africa on diversity, the inclusion of young people and women, EU enlargement and democracy. She was the Dutch women’s representative to the UN, and a member of the European Elections Programme Committee of the Dutch Social Democratic Party (PvdA). Previously, Jamila served as the Vice President of FNV Young, the youth network of the Federation of Dutch Trade Unions, and as the Dutch women’s representative to the United States.
Joaquín Almunia is Visiting Professor at LSE and Sciences Po Paris and an experienced politician who was responsible for competition policy at the European Commission. From 2010 to 2014, he led the efforts to control the state aid granted to banks during the crisis and ensure fair competition between businesses and companies. Prior to that, he was responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs during European Commission President Barroso’s first mandate.
Sacha Alanoca manages projects and research centred on the governance, policy and ethics of AI systems. Her research topics range from national AI national strategies, AI for development, algorithmic bias and existential risks, to international initiatives for trustworthy AI adoption including AI ethical guidelines with a focus on privacy and algorithmic fairness, the use of independent audits for AI systems, and civic empowerment platforms such as the AI Civic Forum. Her past work also focused on the impact of social and ecological trends in Latin America and the responsible use of AI in pandemic response. Previously, Alanoca worked at the OECD Development Center in Paris.
Brando Benifei is a Member of the European Parliament and Head of the Italian S&D MEP Delegation. Benifei is also the Co-Chair of the MEP Heart Group, where he works to raise cardiovascular diseases as a priority on the EU political agenda. A member of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO), he is rapporteur for the Single Market Programme and shadow rapporteur for the European Social Fund Plus. Benifei received the MEP Award for his work on employment, social affairs, and youth unemployment. Forbes included him in their 30 Under 30 Europe Policy Class of 2016.
Previously serving as Senior Foresight Expert in the European Commission Joint Research Centre’s Competence Centre for Foresight, Laurent Bontoux plays a role in bringing future-oriented systemic thinking into EU policymaking, while striving to be as inclusive as possible and to apply participative approaches. Starting his career off as a food technology engineer and an environmental engineer, he went on to spend three years ensuring the environmental safety of household products at Procter & Gamble in Brussels. Since joining the European Commission in 1993, Bontoux has spent most of his career working at the nexus of science and policy on a wide range of issues, including health and environmental risk assessment, research, environmental technologies, sustainability issues and long-term thinking.
Franziska is a German politician, who currently serves as Parliamentary State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate Action. She is also the ministry’s Special Coordinator for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Prior to this, Franziska was a member of the Bundestag, and a member the European Parliament, where her work focused on foreign affairs, conflict resolution and rapid crisis response. She also conducted negotiations on the reform of the European External Action Service. Before entering politics, Franziska worked for the Bertelsmann Foundation and the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).
Cristian-Silviu Buşoi is a Romanian diplomat and politician, who has served as a Member of the European Parliament for nearly 15 years and currently chairs the ITRE Committee. He is a former member of the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection, in which capacity he was the rapporteur on the reform of the European Single Market. Buşoi briefly served as the president of the Romanian National Health Insurance Agency. He is also a former member of the Romanian parliament, where he sat on the Committee for Health and Family.
Malcolm is an Irish politician for the centrist Fianna Fáil party and currently serves as a Senator for the Cultural and Educational Panel of the Irish Parliament. Malcolm formerly served as a member of the lower house for the Wexford constituency from 2019 to 2020, prior to which he was a member of Wexford Country County Council from 2009 to 2019 and Mayor of Gorey. Additionally, Malcolm was the Head of Communications and Public Affairs with the Higher Education Authority, the statutory agency in Ireland that allocates public funding to higher education and advises government on higher education and research policy. Having worked for various lobbying and representative organisations throughout his career, Malcolm was also the first commercial manager with myhome.ie, Ireland’s most successful property website. Outside of his professional career, Malcolm has completed over 30 marathons.
Nadia Calviño is a Spanish civil servant and economist with extensive experience in the public sector. Under her leadership as the Spanish Minister of Economy, Spain will see an increase in the minimum wage in October 2021. A well-known face in Brussels, Calviño is the former director-general for budget and covered varied portfolios in different European Commission directorates-general, spanning from competition and the internal market, entrepreneurship and SMEs, to financial services and the capital markets unions. An economist by training, she also sits on the boards of governors of the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).
Gunilla Carlsson is a Swedish politician with extensive experience in developing the global health agenda. She currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Strategy Committee of the Global Fund, a Member of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), as well as a Fellow at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP). Carlsson was previously the Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation and a Member of the European Parliament. Carlsson was also the Chair of the Swedish-initiated Commission on Climate Change and Development, and worked as Deputy Executive Director of UNAIDS.
Prior to her current position, Mila served as Minister of Labour and Social Welfare of North Macedonia as well as Deputy Prime Minister responsible for economic affairs during the transition Government in 2020. She was elected to government in 2017. Mila is an avid proponent of human rights whose professional career to date has been marked by a commitment to social work on behalf of the most vulnerable and threatened citizens, whether it be Roma, disadvantaged youth, drug addicts or victims of domestic violence. Projects she has managed over the years include organising drama workshops with children housed in institutions, hosting educational workshops, offering consultations for drug users and their families, and conducting field research. Mila has used her platform as Minister to advocate for gender equality, the elimination of violence against women, and anti-discrimination.
Armin founded Youth Power, an influential Bosnian NGO which pushes for non-violence, human rights and tolerance in the country. The inspirational work he did on Program Y led to the inclusion of gender-based violence prevention in school curricula. Coming from a region that has historically suffered from religious violence, Armin has championed the need for more inter-faith dialogue. He has also brought his message directly to citizens, providing lessons to prevent alcohol abuse, sexually transmitted diseases and violence in schools.
Hélène Conway-Mouret is a French academic and politician with in-depth knowledge of security and defence issues. She has been a central figure in France’s relations abroad, serving as Vice-President of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed Forces Committee in the Senate, rapporteur for the budget of the equipment of the Armed Forces, and Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs in charge of French citizens living abroad. She also founded the Delegation for Women’s Rights and Equal Opportunities in the Senate. Hélène is a regular contributor of articles on security and defence matters.
Daniel Daianu has held various positions in the political and economic sphere and has authored several books on European and economic issues. A Romanian politician, author, professor of economics, he currently serves as Member of the Board of the National Bank of Romania. Formerly a Finance Minister of Romania, Daianu was the Chief Economist of the National Bank of Romania and later became Member of the European Parliament.
Mihai is a value-oriented investor from the United Kingdom with extensive experience in the financial sector. In his current role as Vice-President at BlackRock, the largest asset manager in the world, his work focuses on event-driven and special situation investments in both public and private markets throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Mihai is a former executive director in the Investment Banking Division at Goldman Sachs, covering multi-billion transactions across Europe and the Middle East, prior to which he worked in mergers and acquisitions at Morgan Stanley. Mihai is also a national contests laureate in piano, maths and business ethics.
With a distinguished career in Belgian and European politics, Isabelle Durant has held the offices of Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Transport and Energy, and Senator in the Belgian Government. She also served as Vice-President of the European Parliament and President of the European Union Council of Ministers of Transport. With a wealth of experience collaborating with civil society and the private sector, her time as European Parliament Vice-President included responsibility for relations with civil society. Durant has held posts as a senior consultant on the empowerment of women in local government for the UNDP and as a member of Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region in Belgium.
Markus is the Founder of the Financing Agency for Social Entrepreneurship (FASE), a leading financial intermediary that helps social enterprises scale their social impact by helping them raise hybrid growth capital. FASE has built an open pipeline of investment-ready social enterprises and closed sixteen transactions leveraging around €6m in impact investments. Markus is also a member of the Expert Group on Social Entrepreneurship (GECES), a consultative multi-stakeholder group on social business that examines the progress of measures foreseen by the European Commission. He has experience of working with many social enterprises in finding appropriate financing solutions and scaling-up the impact of proven business models. Markus worked for seven years as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, where one of his roles was providing pro-bono consulting for social entrepreneurs.
Štefan Füle is a Czech politician and diplomat who currently serves as the Czech Special Envoy to the OSCE and the Western Balkans. Having started his career in the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he worked as Czech Ambassador to Lithuania and to the UK, as well as becoming Czech Permanent Representative to NATO. In 2010, he became the EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy where he was instrumental in setting up and developing the Eastern Partnership with six countries in Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus.
Having previously served as the commissioner for digital economy and society, Mariya currently serves as the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Digital Economy and Society. Mariya is a former member of the European Parliament, in which role she was active as both the head of the Bulgarian European People’s Party (EPP) delegation and vice-president of the EPP party. She was also involved in a wide range of parliamentary committees, having served as the EPP Group coordinator for the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM), and as a member of the committees on agriculture and rural development (AGRI); civil liberties, justice and home affairs (LIBE); petitions (PETI); and the special committee on organised crime, corruption and money laundering (CRIM). The recipient of several international awards, she is passionate about initiatives related to young people and has established six European information centres in Bulgaria.
In addition to her role at the Greek Ministry of Health, Mina Gaga is an advisor to the WHO and serves on the European Diploma Examination Committee HERMES. She is the Director of the 7th Respiratory Medicine Department and Asthma Centre at Athens Chest Hospital Sotiria, the largest lung cancer centre in Greece. A clinician by trade, Gaga also undertakes clinical research with a focus on lung cancer and asthma. Having served as president of the Central Health Council of Greece, she has also held several roles at the European Respiratory Society School and the European Board of Accreditation in Pneumology, contributing to the development of international guidelines and requirements for asthma and lung cancer care.
Zarifa Ghafari is an Afghan human rights activist, politician and entrepreneur. Appointed mayor of Maidan Shahr at the age of 26, she became the youngest mayor and one of the first female mayors in Afghan history. Known for her efforts to advance women’s rights in Afghanistan, Ghafari is regarded as a role model to women in her country. When the Taliban took over the Afghanistan government in August 2021, she fled with her family to Germany. Today, Ghafari hopes to raise the unspoken voice of Afghan women throughout the international community to fight for women’s rights in Afghanistan.
An established and experienced diplomat, Ana Gomes has cemented a reputation as a strident supporter and defender of democracy, human rights, social justice and the rule of law. She has previously been involved in the EU Middle East Peace Process and has led several EU election observation missions in Africa and South-East Asia. Gomes is also a vocal critic of the maladministration of EU law by multinational corporations to minimise tax costs and the negative impact this has on European citizens, governance and society.
During the pandemic, Sylvie Goulard was appointed by the World Health Organization to serve as a member of the Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development in order to ensure that health tops the political agenda. Goulard is the former French minister of the Armed Forces, the second woman ever to hold the head position and has previously served as member of the European Parliament, where she addressed issues related to fighting poverty and advocating for gender equality in European institutions. Goulard began her career as a diplomat in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in France.
Prior to founding Project Alloy, Jakob was the CEO and Co-Founder of Tinyclues SAS, a Paris-based software startup with the objective of industrialising datamining on Big Data with the help of advanced machine learning algorithms in a Cloud Computing environment. Previously he was a partner and consultant at McKinsey & Company in Germany and France where he worked on topics ranging from Banking to Public Sector Reform to Global Public Health issues, notably the creation and distribution of child HIV treatments. Prior to McKinsey he briefly worked at the World Bank. He holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a Bachelor of Science from the University of St. Gallen. Jakob is also a founding partner of the “Cercle du Leadership”.
Johannes Hahn is an Austrian politician at the forefront of Europe’s recovery and the Next Generation EU policy instrument. Under his watch, the EU will kickstart its green bond sales in October 2021, transforming the EU into the largest issuer of environmentally-friendly debt in the world. Hahn is the former European commissioner for European neighbourhood policy and enlargement negotiations and the former European commissioner for regional policy, prior to which he served as the Austrian minster for science and research. As a member of the Austrian People’s Party youth movement, he drafted the party’s first European manifesto and adopted a resolutely pro-European stance.
Audrey is a Belgian businesswoman with a wealth of experience in advising corporate, government and philanthropic clients on a range of development and social impact topics. As an Associate Partner at Dalberg Advisors, she works with clients to improve education, employment and health outcomes worldwide through the development, implementation and impact evaluation of inclusive development strategies. Audrey currently serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors at bpost, leading the Belgian postal operator’s transition from a mail to parcel network. She is the Chair of the Board at Be education, an organisation that supports the improvement of education in Belgium. Audrey is also the Co-Founder and former operational director of Spectralys Biotech, a start-up that provides a unique protein analysis technology for the biopharmaceutical industry. She was previously the president of Groupe Vendredi, a think tank focused on societal issues in Belgium, and head of philanthropy at Telos Impact, a venture philanthropy firm.
Solveigh Hieronimus leads the global McKinsey Center for Government (MCG) and predominantly serves clients in the public sector on topics related to digital and data strategies, sustainability, public health and public finance. She is a leader in McKinsey’s Organization Practice and a member of the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) Council, which advises on MGI research on global economic, business and technology trends. Previously, Hieronimus has held various positions at the United Nations, Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan. She is passionate about all things EU and serves on the European Commission’s high-level expert panel for the Future of Work.
Aarti Holla-Maini has been Secretary-General of the GSOA since 2004. She is a Member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Space, the WEF Global 5G Coalition Network and the WEF Essential Digital Infrastructure & Services Network. Under Aarti’s leadership, GSOA & its member CEOs lead the effort to showcase the benefits of satellite communications for a more inclusive and secure society – vital to bridging the world’s digital divide, achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and realizing the 5G ecosystem. Aarti has over two decades of experience in the aerospace industry, starting at Daimler-Benz Aerospace/EADS (now Airbus) in Germany. In 2000, she moved to Brussels, representing Airbus interests in the European satellite navigation program: Galileo.
Edita Hrdá has a long and distinguished career in diplomacy, having over 25 years of experience in the field. In her current capacity, she manages the relations of the European Union with North and South American countries. Prior to her role in the EEAS, she served as Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations. She also worked in Latin America as Ambassador to Argentina and Paraguay, and has held high-level positions in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, including as Director of the American Department and Director of Multilateral Economic Affairs.
Dr Patrick Huntjens is the author of the award-winning ‘Towards a Natural Social Contract’ (2021). He lectures as Professor of Governance of Sustainability Transitions at Maastricht Sustainability Institute (MSI) and School of Business and Economics (SBE) at Maastricht University, next to his position as Professor of Social Innovation and Governance for Sustainability at Inholland University of Applied Sciences. In this role, he was awarded the national title of ‘Professor of the Year 2021’. He currently serves as Chairman of the National Round Table on the Food System Transition (2021-2025), a multistakeholder knowledge and innovation programme by the Netherlands Government.
Sarah is an Emmy award-winning journalist with a passion for explaining tough topics to young audiences. She films, edits, writes, produces and reports her own work. Sarah recently authored “A Kids Book About War” and now hosts the children’s news podcast, “Sarah Jones Breaks It Down”. Maintaining a large social media presence, she is among the most influential women on social media, specifically on conversations surrounding artificial intelligence, and has advised senior US and allied military and government officials on social technologies. Sarah has held fellowships at the International Women’s Media Foundation and International Reporting Project, where she reported on health and development in the Philippines. She has also previously worked for Al Jazeera America, CNN, Gulf News (Dubai) and ITN’s Channel 4 (UK). Most notably, she founded the international moment of silence to remember fall journalists, which reached over nine million people in its first year through in-person events held worldwide.
Zanda is a Latvian politician and serves as the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia. Her role is to ensure cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Latvian Parliament and the European Parliament. She also represents the Latvian government at the EU Foreign Affairs Council meetings of development and trade ministers. Zanda also currently chairs the Consultative Board for Development Cooperation Policy of Latvia and sits on the board of European Movement – Latvia, a non-profit organisation. She previously served as a member of the Latvian parliament and chaired the Committee on European Affairs Committee and the Innovation and Research Subcommittee during her mandate. Zanda started her professional career at Jurmala’s city council and then went on to work at the Strategic Analysis Commission of the President of Latvia, where she served as an advisor to the president.
Nektarios is a Greek politician with a passion for good local governance. He currently serves as the President of the European Local Leaders, a committee of young European politicians that have been elected at the regional or local level. The initiative aims to promote creativity and share pioneering ideas among the new generation of locally elected officials throughout cities across Europe, with a focus on climate change, environmental protection, smart cities and new technologies. Nektarios is also the President of the Union of Young Local Councillors of Greece, which brings together newly elected regional and municipal councillors, governors, deputy mayors and mayors in Greece and organises events on the role of local governments in the development of smarter and greener cities. He is also the Municipal Councillor of the Pallini Municipality in Greece, prior to which he has served as a member of the Municipal Council.
Constance Kann took up her current role within the European Investment Bank (EIB) focused on sustainability and impact in 2021. Prior to that, she helped develop the Bank’s policy agenda and relations with the EU institutions, following a role as Director of Corporate Responsibility and Communication.
Prior to joining the EIB, Kann was the Managing Director for Group Communications for the Zurich-based global re-insurance company Swiss Re, Before taking up this role, she worked with Unilever as Senior Vice President Global Communications. She started her career in consultancy as Managing Director of the Brussels office for Edelman Public Relations Worldwide.
A Bosnian politician, Benjamina is the Mayor of the City of Sarajevo, the second woman to serve the office in the history of the city, and the Vice-President of the Social Democratic Party. As mayor, she has spearheaded a number of green infrastructure projects, including a large park in the heart of Sarajevo and a bike path that connects the city to the nearby town of Pale. Benjamina is the youngest doctor of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the first post-war doctor of classical Roman law. An Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Travnik, she has authored over 50 publications books, articles, reviews and translations from Latin to Bosnian. Benjamina is also a Founding Member of BATHINVS, an association which studies and promotes the Illyrian heritage and ancient and classical civilisations.
Jesse currently serves as the green-left party leader in the Dutch Parliament, with a mandate focused on environmental and educational issues. In his time as party leader, Jesse was instrumental in capturing 10 additional parliamentary seats, rising to an all-time high of 14, and making GroenLinks the fifth most important group in the House. Previously, Jesse was the spokesperson for Finance, Environment and Education and sat on a wide range of parliamentary committees. He has publically opposed tax evasion and has co-authored a memo on protecting the Dutch flora and fauna.
A Polish writer, speaker and activist, Leszek is the Editor-in-Chief of Liberté!, a journal which he founded over a decade ago to promote freedom, share ideas and counter populism. He is the co-creator of Freedom Games, an interdisciplinary event that gathers 4,000 attendees and 350 speakers to discuss the key challenges Western societies must face in the 21st century. Leszek is also the Founder and CEO of Bookme, an app which makes reading internet-friendly. He currently serves on the Council of European Forum for New Ideas and recently completed a policy fellowship at the European University Institute in Florence, where his work focused on how the narrative of change could counter the rise of populism in EU member states, overcome the European identity crisis and strengthen transnational governance.
Gert Jan Koopman is the Director-General of the European Commission’s budget department since August 2018. In his role, he has worked to develop the EU budget from a mere source of funding for policies such as cohesion and agriculture to a tool fuelling Europe’s ever more ambitious policy agenda. He has contributed to putting in place the European Union’s €800 billion NextGenerationEU recovery plan and enable its financing on the capital markets through a sovereign-style funding system. Mr Koopman has been serving the EU for roughly three decades. Previously, he was in charge of State Aid control at the Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition. His earlier assignments included senior management posts in the Commission’s departments for Economic and Financial Affairs, which supervises the smooth running of the single market.
Stelios Kympouropoulos is a Member of the European People’s Party Group and serves as the Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Disability Intergroup, in addition to his role as a Member of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs. He also sits on the European Parliament Special Committee on the COVID-19 pandemic: lessons learned and recommendations for the future. A psychiatrist by training, Kympouropoulos previously worked as head of the Sexual Functions Clinic at the University General Hospital Attikon in Greece. Additionally, Kympouropoulos is a social activist and the Co-Founder I-living, the first organisation that promotes independent living in Greece.
Pascal Lamy is a French politician and the President of the Paris Peace Forum, a new innovative global governance initiative. He served as the director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) for two consecutive terms, prior to which he was the European commissioner for trade and head of cabinet for former Commission president, Jacques Delores. Currently an associate professor at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, Lamy also frequently lectures at the Institut Jacques Delors and speaks on issues related to globalisation, global governance, international trade, international economics and regional integration. He has written several publications on the European Union and the ‘harmonising’ of globalisation.
Prior to assuming his current role at Edwards Lifesciences, the global leader in patient-focused medical innovations for structural heart disease, Jean-Luc Lemercier served as the vice president of transcatheter heart valves EMEA. Under his leadership, the company successfully launched the SAPIEN transcatheter heart valve technology and built its leadership position in Europe. Lemercier also serves as Chair of the Cardiovascular Sector Group of MedTech Europe, the association representing the medical technology industry in Europe.
Philip Lowe is a distinguished British EU policy veteran. He joined the European Commission in 1973, and held a range of senior posts as Head of Cabinet and Director in the fields of regional development, agriculture, transport and administration, before becoming Director-General for Development in 1997. Later on, he headed the Directorate-General Competition and then Directorate-General Energy. Afterwards, Lowe served as one of five non-executive directors of the British Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) Board. He is currently Executive Chair of the World Energy Council’s Energy Trilemma Initiative.
Bruno Macaes is a former Minister of European Affairs in Portugal and represented his country in Brussels during the eurozone crisis, the first Ukraine war and Brexit. He has published four books since 2018, mostly focused on geopolitics, China, Russia, and technology. Bruno has a doctorate in political science from Harvard and has recently held fellowships at Renmin University in China and the Hudson Institute. Since 2020 he is a fellow at the Wilfried Martens Centre in Brussels and since 2022 a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations. His latest book, Geopolitics for the End Time, was published in September 2021
Eva Maydell’s priorities focus on enhancing skills-creation and the use of innovation and technologies, supporting entrepreneurs and investments in Europe. In the European Parliament, she is a member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy as well as the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. She is also a member of the Delegation for relations with Japan as well as the Delegation for relations with the US.
Eva is among the most active members of the European Parliament. Currently, she is EPP rapporteur on the Data Strategy. She was the main Parliament rapporteur on the Regulation on charges on cross-border payments as well as worked on several legislative files, part of the Digital Single Market Strategy – the e-Privacy Regulation, the Directive for the supply of digital content, the Regulation on portability, Digitising European industry and the European cloud initiative. She was also rapporteur for the EPP Group on the implementation of the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the New Skills Agenda and the Influence of technology on the future of the financial sector (FinTech).
Eva has been awarded the European Parliament’s MEP of the Year Award twice. She has also been
included in FT’s own ‘New Europe 100′ ranking of CEE’s emerging change-makers, European Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list and others.
Ayman Mhanna is Executive Director of the Beirut-based Samir Kassir Foundation, one of the leading press freedom NGOs in the Middle East. In this capacity, he oversees the foundation’s advocacy, monitoring, research and training activities. Ayman has previously held the position of Executive Director of the Global Forum for Media Development, focusing on monitoring violations targeting journalists and providing them with the necessary support. He has also extensively worked with issues related to election observation, electoral reform and civil society involvement. Until recently, he was a lecturer on policy development and communications at Saint Joseph University in Beirut. In 2016, he was appointed Secretary-General of the Democratic Renewal Movement, a secular, social-liberal political party in Lebanon.
Meghan Milloy is the Co-Founder of Republican Women for Progress (RWFP) and the Director of Strategic Communications at the Institute for International Bankers. Prior to this, she was a fellow at the Robert Bosch Foundation, where her work focused on trade issues in the German public and private sectors. Meghan previously served as the chair of Republican Women for Hillary (RWFH) and director of financial services policy at the American Action Forum (AAF). During the Obama administration, Meghan worked as a presidential management fellow at the Small Business Administration on matters of financial inclusion and as a counsel with the House Financial Services Committee. She was an intern at the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the George W. Bush White House. Meghan has also worked in the office of former Senate majority leader Trent Lott and has volunteered for the campaigns of Haley Barbour, George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton.
Panagiotis Mitarachi is a Member of the Hellenic Parliament. Prior to his current role, he has held the positions of Deputy Minister for Labour and Social Affairs, as well as Deputy Minister for Economic Development and Competitiveness. Combining an extensive career as a politician and experience in the development and private sectors, Mitarachi has also notably served as Alternate Governor in the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD) and Governor in the Board of Governors of the Black Sea Trade & Development Bank (BSTB).
As Chair of the newly-formed WHO Europe Commission, Mario Monti spearheads attempts to rethink health policy priorities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. A distinguished economist and Italian lifetime senator, Monti has cemented his reputation as a committed supporter of the single currency and a talented negotiator, leading a government of technocrats in the wake of the Italian debt crisis in late 2011. He chaired the High-Level Group on Own Resources, a consultative committee of the European Union, aimed at proposing new forms of revenue for the European Union’s budget, which resulted in the final report “Future Financing of the EU” arguing for new tax sources.
Negar Mortazavi is an Iranian-American journalist and columnist, who exclusively covers stories about Iran in both English and Persian. She is also the host of the Iran Podcast and a frequent commentator on Iranian affairs at MSNBC, BBC, PRI, The New York Times, Aljazeera, HuffPost and international outlets across the world, including Lebanon, Iraq, Israel, Turkey, Switzerland and Japan. Mortazavi previously worked as a TV presenter at Voice of America (VOA) Persian, where she hosted a daily hour-long interactive show that discussed current affairs with Iranians across the world.
A Polish economist, Katarzyna is currently a member of the Polish Academy of Sciences Committee for Future Studies Poland 2000 Plus. Her research interests include development, cultural and international economics, with a focus on East Asian markets. Katarzyna’s work also explores challenges to global development. Having lectured at universities across Asia, Africa and Europe, she has worked on several research projects for the European Commission and the National Bureau of Research in Poland, among other international institutions, as well as national and local governments. Her academic achievements have been recognised by numerous awards, including one for outstanding young scholars from Poland’s Minister of Science and Higher Education. Katarzyna has published numerous articles and books on issues relating to development, governance, integration and regional cooperation, most recently having co-edited “The Rise of Megacities: Challenges, Opportunities and Unique Characteristics”.
Wolfgang Philipp is an experienced scientist and policy-maker. He has worked for over 15 years for the European Commission on health-related issues such as HIV/AIDS prevention, chronic and rare diseases. Philipp is currently, after a short period as deputy, the Acting Head of the Unit for crisis management and preparedness in health at the European Commission Directorate General for Health and Food Safety.
Andris Piebalgs is an experienced Latvian politician who occupied key positions at both the national and European level. He is currently a member of the Latvian political party UNITY. Previously, he worked in the Latvian diplomatic service, first serving as the Ambassador of Latvia in Estonia where he helped to solve the sea border issue between the two states. He went on to become the Latvian Ambassador to the EU helping to establish Latvia as the EU candidate country. Afterwards, Piebalgs served as the European Commissioner for Energy, then as European Commissioner for Development.
Dragoș Pîslaru is a Romanian economist and politician. He has been a member of the European Parliament since 2019 on behalf of USR PLUS, affiliated with the European political group, Renew Europe. He is a member of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and Subcommittee on Tax Matters. Pîslaru is also the co-rapporteur on the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), the largest financial instrument created by the European Union for the economic recovery of the Union after the pandemic.
Hans-Gert Pöttering is a long-serving and highly-decorated German politician. He was the only deputy who served as Member of the European Parliament continuously since the first direct election in 1979 until 2014. Apart from positions on various committees and subcommittees, he also served for two years as President of the European Parliament. He also served as the Chairman of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.
Natalia Pouzyreff was elected as a Member of the French National Assembly for La République En Marche! (LaREM) in June 2017. Natalia currently sits as Secretary of the Defence Committee. She is also heavily involved in industrial strategy and the civil nuclear sector. She has been instrumental in promoting a sovereign Europe and has been put in charge of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) questions for LaREM. Having undergone training as a professional engineer, she has spent many years working in the defence and aerospace sector.
Cristina is an Italian businesswoman and social entrepreneur with a passion for emerging technologies and a goal to ensure everyone has access to a digital future. She is the CEO of Tercanni Futura, an Italian cultural EdTech hub and the product of the Treccani Scuola acquisition of Impactscool. Cristina co-founded Treccani to raise awareness about innovative education, stimulate reflection on the ethics of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and encourage citizens to adopt a more forward-thinking approach to technological change. She led Impactscool as CEO for five years, prior to which she co-founded Wish Days, where she served as general manager and a board member. Her motto, “the future is open source”, acknowledges that the future is shaped by and accessible to everyone. A published author, Cristina is also a member of the International Advisory Board of the Institute for Ethical AI in Education and an Independent Advisor on the Advisory Board of Fondo Italiano d’Investimento SGR.
With many years of experience in the space industry, Anna Rathsman has worked as a systems engineer, subsystem engineer, technology development manager, business developer and communications director. She was involved in the building of Sweden’s first scientific satellites as a member of the team that designed and realised the research satellite, Freja. Rathsman also led the work on the first Swedish microsatellite, Astrid-1. She has served on the boards of several Swedish space technology companies and is currently Chair of the European Space Agency (ESA) Council.
Monica Sanders is an American scholar, research and activist from the University of Delaware, where she sits as Director for the Bill Anderson Fund. She also teaches at Georgetown University as Adjunct Lecturer. In addition, she sits on the Council of the Internet Society of DC. Prior to her current positions, Sanders served as the Senior Legal Advisor for International Response and Programs at the American Red Cross and was a Senior Committee Counsel for both the House of Representatives and Senate Committees on Homeland Security. As a journalist for CNN, she received a 2002 Emmy award for her work covering the September 11 attacks and the military engagement in Afghanistan that followed.
Prior to his current role, Stefano Sannino served as deputy secretary-general for economic and global issues at the EEAS. Throughout his career, he has held various senior positions at the European Commission, including director-general for enlargement and director for crisis management at the Directorate-General for External Relations. A renowned Italian diplomat, Sannino formerly served as ambassador of Italy to Spain and Andorra and as the permanent representative of Italy to the EU. He was also previously the diplomatic advisor to the Italian prime minister and his personal representative to G8 summits.
Sven Smit is currently spearheading McKinsey’s work on the Western European region. During his 30-year long career at McKinsey, Smit has acquired experience on the analysis of business growth, examining the way megatrends influence it, and defining the lessons of diversified growth. As co-chair of MGI he leads research on global economic trends and topics such as productivity and growth, urbanization, innovation and technology, labor markets and the Future of Work, emerging markets, and Europe’s economic outlook, focusing on the social contract and how it changed over the past 20 year – and especially this year.
Dubravka Šuica leads the Commission’s work on deliberative democracy and the Conference on the Future of Europe, giving people a say in how the Union is run and what it does. She is in charge of ensuring that Europe’s social protection systems adequately address the needs of an ageing population, as well as coordinating a long-term vision for rural areas and better reconciliation between work and family life. Šuica is a former member of the European and Croatian parliaments. She served as the vice-president of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe for 10 years and was the first female to serve as mayor of the city of Dubrovnik.
As chair of the new permanent tax subcommittee, Paul Tang is at the forefront of the European Parliament’s fight against tax evasion, tax fraud and tax avoidance, as well as financial transparency for taxation purposes. He has become a go-to figure on tax matters, providing ardent support for the digital tax and speaking out against tax evasion. In his national capacity, Paul represented the Dutch Labour Party in the EU elections, served in several party committees and acted as Member of the House of Representatives in the Netherlands.
Ece Temelkuran is an award-winning Turkish novelist, a political thinker, and a public speaker whose work has appeared in the Guardian, New York Times, Le Monde, La Stampa, New
Statesman, and Der Spiegel, among several international media outlets. She won the Edinburgh International Book Festival First Book award for her novel Women Who Blow On Knots and the Ambassador Of New Europe Award for her book Turkey: The Insane and the Melancholy. She is the author of the internationally acclaimed book How to Lose a Country. Together: A Manifesto Against the Heartless World, her latest book has been published in several languages and recently shortlisted for the Terzani Award in Italy. Ece Temelkuran lived in Beirut, Tunis, Paris, to write her novels. She was a visiting fellow at Saint Anthony’s College Oxford to write Deep Mountain: Across The Armenian Turkish Divide. For the last five years, she has lived in Zagreb after the military coup attempt in Turkey in 2016. Currently, she is a fellow at The New Institute, Hamburg, working on a project “A New Vocabulary for 21st Century Progressives”. She runs lettersfromnow.com, a digital communication project based on her book Together. She is on the advisory board of Progressive International and a regular contributor to Internazionale magazine.
With a rich political career spanning more than 20 years, Terron previously served as Spanish Secretary of State for Migration, Secretary for the European Union of the Government of Catalonia, and Member of the European Parliament. As President of Instrategies, Anna Terron offers strategic support to institutions, organisations and companies on managing diversity, immigration, asylum and international mobility. She is advised European Commissioner Cecilia Malmström on migration and Mediterranean issues. She currently serves as Chair of the Advisory Board of the United Nations University’s Institute on Globalisation, Culture and Mobility.
Kirsten is the director of DutchCulture, an Amsterdam-based network and knowledge organisation for international cultural cooperation. She has been elected in the Dutch national Parliament in 2017. Prior to starting her political career, she was working as a ‘change agent’. As such she has been involved in a number of different change projects for companies and organisations such as Nike and Amnesty International. She is also a columnist for several Dutch newspapers on issues ranging from women’s rights to international relations. Trained as an Eastern Europe specialist, she has worked for several international NGOs, including international women’s fund Mama Cash and the European Cultural Foundation. After working as a Communication Officer for LPG multinational SHV Gas, Kirsten also worked as a Programme Coordinator for Cultuurfabriek, a communications and production agency. While there she set up WOMEN Inc., a platform for debate and interaction, and was also involved with several other social and cultural projects.
As the newly-minted Minister for Energy of the De Croo government, Tinne Van der Straeten wants to work on ambitious climate and energy policies while keeping energy affordable. She has a long history with Groen, one of Belgium’s green parties, and served in the Chamber of Representatives of the Federal Parliament before taking up her current position. Van der Straeten previously worked as a climate and energy lawyer, building a successful law firm which works for many major players in the electricity sector and industry.
Wietse is an award-winning Dutch social entrepreneur and conservationist, pioneering regenerative blue economy ventures. Wietse has received wide recognition for his innovative approach to mobilising businesses, governments and citizens to form uncommon partnerships for the social, economic and ecological regeneration of European coastal and ocean areas. His current venture, the Sea Ranger Service, trains unemployed young people from port cities with the help of navy veterans to manage Marine Protected Areas in European seas. A new type of professional sailing vessel has been developed for the Sea Rangers, with cost-effective sea operation and zero emissions.
Elodie Viau is the Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at the European Space Agency (ESA). Before joining ESA, Viau worked for SES, one of the world’s leading satellite owners and operators, for over a decade, most notably serving as director of SES New Space Segment Development and, until recently, as vice-president for SES Technology Programme Management. At SES, she was also a satellite programmes senior engineer, in which role she served as a deputy programme manager for six satellites and programme manager for three satellites built by Airbus Space.
Jon is one the best-known political bloggers and commentators on all things EU politics and Brexit. His commentary on his blog (jonworth.eu) and Twitter account (@jonworth) are well known in Brussels and EU circles. His work around Brexit and especially his famous Brexit diagrams have been featured in international media, including The New York Times and ARD. Jon is a Visiting Lecturer on politics and online communication at the College of Europe in Bruges. He also leads workshops at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, the University of Maastricht and the Italian School of Public Administration in Rome. The Founder of Trains for Europe, a campaign that demands the European Union take action on the issues surrounding long distance rail travel in Europe, Jon is an experienced campaigner, having previously organised a number of online campaigns for United Kingdom politicians and the Atheist Bus Campaign.
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