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Plenary speakers

Stan Grant

Stan Grant

Vice Chancellor's Chair, Australian / Indigenous Belonging, Charles Sturt University

Stan Grant is the Vice Chancellor’s Chair of Australian/Indigenous Belonging at Charles Sturt University. He was formerly ABC’s Global Affairs and Indigenous Affairs Analyst.

He is one of Australia’s most respected and awarded journalists, with more than 30 years experience in radio and television news and current affairs. Stan has a strong reputation for independence and integrity and has interviewed international political and business leaders, including our own prime ministers and senior ministers.

Prior to taking up his latest role Stan served for a decade at a Senior International Correspondent for CNN in Asia and the Middle East, broadcasting to an audience of millions around the world.

He has interviewed numerous world leaders including Nelson Mandela, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Condoleezza Rice, Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, Shimon Peres, Bill Clinton, and Australian Prime Ministers Bob Hawke, Paul Keating, John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott, and Malcolm Turnbull.

Stan has won numerous international and Australian awards including a Peabody Award, Columbia University Alfred I. duPont award, four times winner of the prestigious Asia TV awards including best news story and reporter of the year, twice winner of the coveted Australian Walkley Award, as well as a TV Logie award, GQ Magazine agenda setter of the year and an Australian Academy of Arts Cinema and Television Award (Australia’s Oscars) as male TV presenter of the year.

Stan is an award winning and best selling author of several books and has contributed articles to many major Australian newspapers, magazines and journals.

Valérie Verdier

Valérie Verdier

Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD)

Valérie Verdier has just been appointed Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD-France), by the Council of Ministers meeting on12th February 2020. The appointment is in response to the nomination by Frédérique Vidal, Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation and by Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the government bodies which supervise the IRD. Valérie Verdier will chair the IRD Board of Directors and oversee management of the institute. She succeeds Jean-Paul Moatti, who has served as interim president of the IRD since his term ended in spring 2019.

At the time of her appointment, Valérie Verdier was working as Director of the Interactions Plants Micro-organisms Environment (IPME) joint research unit and headed up one of the five IRD scientific departments: Ecology, biodiversity and functioning of the inland ecosystems (ECOBIO). In this capacity, she contributed to the strategic positioning of the IRD’s scientific policy in favour of sustainable development and fair partnerships with researchers and research institutions in the with the researchers and institutions in the Global South.

Lidia Arthur Brito

Lidia Arthur Brito

Regional Director for Sciences, Latin-America and Caribbean, UNESCO

A forest engineer, with a Master and Doctorate in Forest and Wood Sciences from Colorado State University in the USA, born in Mozambique, and staff of Eduardo Mondlane University since graduation in Forest Engineering in 1981.

She has held senior positions in Mozambique such as Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs of Eduardo Mondlane University and Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology.

She joined UNESCO in November 2009 as Director for Science Policy and Sustainable Development, in Paris, and currently she is the UNESCO Regional Director for Sciences in the Latin-America and Caribbean region.

Her areas of expertise range from forestry and sustainable management of Natural Resources to Higher Education, Science and Technology policies and programmes as part of public policies for sustainable development. She has chaired several commissions and task teams in particular in Higher Education and STI for Sustainable Development.

She co-chaired the Scientific Organizing Committee for Planet Under Pressure Conference in London, a major conference for the preparation of Rio+20, and she has been a member of several international Boards such as African Foresters Forum Governing Board, UNU Governing Board, CHET Board, Stockholm Environmental Institute Governing Board, Bioversity Governing Board among others.

Currently she is the co-chair of the Organizing Committee for the 3rd Open Science Forum for Latin America and the Caribbean (CILAC 2021).

Filippo Veglio

Filippo Veglio

Managing Director & Senior Management Team, WBCSD

Filippo Veglio is Managing Director at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), a CEO-led, global coalition of some 200 leading corporations. The Council is the leading voice of business supporting companies in scaling up true value-adding business solutions to some of the most pressing global sustainability issues and in creating the conditions where more sustainable companies will succeed and be recognized.

As part of the Senior Management Team, Filippo heads up a variety of teams engaging senior representatives of member companies across various industry sectors, business organizations, multilateral institutions, NGOs, media and academia. The focus areas under his responsibility encompass Vision 2050, People & Society, Sustainable Development Goals, Transforming Mobility, and three Outreach functions (Communications, Events, and Global Network of partner organizations).

Filippo is President of the Swiss Platform for Sustainable Cocoa, chairing the Board of this multi-stakeholder initiative that convenes 65 Swiss-based organizations engaged across the cocoa value chain.

Filippo joined WBCSD in 2005 and holds an M.A. in International Relations from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. A Swiss national and fluent in six languages, Filippo was formerly a professional tennis player and has been a member of the Swiss Davis Cup team

Leena Srivastava

Leena Srivastava

Deputy Director General for Science, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Austria

Leena Srivastava is the Deputy Director General for Science of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Austria. Prior to this, she was the Vice Chancellor of the TERI School of Advanced Studies, New Delhi – an inter-disciplinary higher education institution, focused on sustainable development – since 2012. She has over three decades of research experience in the areas of energy, environment and climate change policies at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), including nearly nine years as its Executive Director.

She has a Masters in Economics from the University of Hyderabad and a PhD in Energy Economics from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India.

Thomas Melonio

Thomas Melonio

Executive Director of Innovation, Research, and Knowledge, Agence Française de Développement (AFD)

Thomas Melonio has been the Executive Director of Innovation, Research and Knowledge since September 2018. His department is responsible for social and economic research, evaluating projects financed by the AFD, training managers in developing countries, financing innovative projects relating to the environment (through FFEM, the French Facility for Global Environment) and helping to promote innovation throughout the AFD. He is a former head of the AFD Partnerships department (relations with and financing of NGOs, local community organisations, businesses and donors). From 2012 to 2017, he was Deputy Advisor, then Advisor on Africa to the President of the Republic of France. As an economist by training (with a degree from HEC Paris and a doctorate from Sciences Po Paris), he has published several studies within the AFD’s research department on financing education, higher education, and international migration.

Sharan Burrow

Sharan Burrow

General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation

Sharan Burrow is the General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, representing 200 million workers in 163 countries and territories with 332 national affiliates.

Previously President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) from 2000 – 2010, Sharan is a passionate advocate and campaigner for social justice, women’s rights, the environment and labour law reforms, and has led union negotiations on major economic reforms and labour rights campaigns in her home country of Australia and globally.

Sir Peter Gluckman ONZ KNZ FRS

Sir Peter Gluckman ONZ KNZ FRS

Heads Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures, University of Auckland, Chair, International Network of Government Science Advice (INGSA) and President-elect, International Science Council (ISC)

Sir Peter Gluckman ONZ KNZ FRS heads Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures in the University of Auckland. He is also chair of the International Network of Government Science Advice (INGSA) and President-elect of the International Science Council (ISC).  From 2009-2018 he was first Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Ministers of New Zealand.  He trained as a pediatrician and biomedical scientist, publishing over 700 papers and several academic and popular books in animal science, developmental physiology, growth and development and evolutionary biology and evolutionary medicine. Sir Peter has written and spoken extensively on science-policy, science-diplomacy and science-society interactions. He co-leads the International Covid Scenarios project of the ISC. In 2016 he received the AAAS award in Science Diplomacy. He holds a Distinguished University Professorship in the University of Auckland, New Zealand and honorary chairs at the University College London, University of Southampton and National University of Singapore.

Imme Scholz

Imme Scholz

Deputy Director, German Development Institute

Imme Scholz is Deputy Director of the German Development Institute (DIE) and  Honorary Professor of the Centre for Ethics and Responsibility at Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg. Imme studied sociology at the Freie Universität Berlin. She joined DIE as a researcher in 1992 and worked on trade regulations for environmental requirements to products and production processes. With her PhD she tried to understand the limited effect of certification schemes for sustainable forestry on the sustainability of the timber trade in the Brazilian Amazon region. From 1999-2002 she was an environmental policy advisor in the Amazon region of Brazil on behalf of German development cooperation, as part of a large pilot programme for the protection of Brazilian rainforests. On her return to DIE in 2002 she took over the newly founded environmental department where she created a research group on adaptation to climate change. In 2009 she was appointed as deputy director of the Institute. Imme is very active at the science-policy interface, within the T20, the European Think Tanks Group and in policy dialogues with China on sustainable development. She is deputy chair of the German Sustainability Council, a member of  the German Bioeconomy Advisory Council and of the German Committee Future Earth (DKN Future Earth). 

John Agard

John Agard

Director, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Trinidad and Tobago

Professor John Agard, Ph.D. is Director of the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Trinidad and Tobago. He has also been appointed by the UN Secretary General as Co-Chair of the United Nations Global Sustainability Development Report to be drafted by 15 independent scientist and published in 2023. His research interest is in the field of sustainability science especially as it relates to mainstreaming environmental considerations such biodiversity and ecosystem services conservation, along with climate change mitigation and adaptation, and blue and circular economy development into the core of policy and decision making.

Internationally he has previously served as an independent advisor on environment and sustainability policy to the Board of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in Washington DC. He has also been on the Scientific Advisory Panel of UNEP for the Global Environmental Outlook (GEO6) and was previously a Coordinating Lead Author for the Scenarios chapter in GEO4. He has also been a Coordinating Lead Author of the of the Intergovernmental (Science-Policy) Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), first global assessment chapter 5 ‘Pathways to a Sustainable Future’. He is currently the Review Editor for Small Islands in the current 6th assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and has previously served as a Lead Author in IPCC’s previous 4 and 5th Assessments.

Joshua Gilbert

Joshua Gilbert

Indigenous consultant, agriculturalist and innovator

Joshua is a Worimi man, whose family ancestors are recorded as having the first recorded birth in a cave in the Gloucester mountains. His connection to the Worimi nation stems through both his parents, tracing back to the Bugg family.

Josh’s work seeks to connect traditional Aboriginal knowledge and history to current contexts, translating past wisdoms and learning to the opportunities of the future. His work brings together the old and the new, weaving them together to develop new insights and findings.

He is an entrepreneur and business advisor, working predominantly in the Aboriginal cultural, agricultural and environmental spheres. He has worked with numerous of not for profits, businesses and government to develop change and bring people on a journey of change.

Josh pursues transformation through modern truth telling, bringing new concepts to the forefront through acknowledgement of the past.

Meg Parsons

Meg Parsons

Senior Lecturer, School of Environment, The University of Auckland

Dr Meg Parsons is a historical geographer from Aotearoa New Zealand whose family history (Māori, Lebanese, Danish, Scottish) is ancestral kaleidoscope of different cultures, geographies, and experiences of colonialism, which shaped her research interests. Her research is transdisciplinary and crosses the boundaries between human geography, history, Indigenous studies, and environmental management, and focuses on Indigenous experiences of social and environmental crises and radical changes that followed on from colonisation. After receiving her PhD from the University of Sydney, Dr Meg Parsons worked at Waitangi Tribunal (NZ) then took up a position as a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Melbourne. Since 2013 she has worked at the University of Auckland and is now a Senior Lecturer within the School of Environment. Her research now includes a focus on Indigenous Knowledge and its application within transformative approaches to environmental management, decarbonization, and climate change adaptation as well as the alignment of climate justice with gender justice initiatives in the Global South and Global North. She is a contributing author to IPCC’s Sixth Assessment of Working Group II Report (Small Islands) and her most recent book on the theory and practical realities of achieving more equitable and just freshwater management and governance approaches in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Rebecca Matsie

Rebecca Matsie

Senior Researcher, South African Local Government Association

Rebecca Matsie is a sociologist by training with working experience in urban housing research and advocacy, promoting a participatory approach to informal settlement upgrading. She is passionate about strengthening how local government supports the needs, ideas and aspirations of its most vulnerable urban citizens through its service delivery programmes. As an early-career researcher, her work brings together her commitment to social justice, inclusive governance and urban citizenship.

Jessica Hellmann

Jessica Hellmann

Executive Director, University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, Ecolab Chair in Environmental Leadership

Jessica Hellmann is an ecologist, climate change scientist, and the executive director of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment and the Ecolab Chair in Environmental Leadership. As an institute director, she provides strategic leadership for a mission-based organization using the tools of higher education to help build a future where people and planet prosper together. Her research focuses on the impacts of climate change for endangered species and human-dominated landscapes, ways of mitigating those impacts with adaptation, and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. This work is published in leading journals, is part of regional and national planning and assessment, and led to the creation of Geofinancial Analytics, a private venture that monitors methane emissions for investors in publicly-traded companies. She serves on the boards of directors of the National Audubon Society, the Science Museum of Minnesota, COMPASS, and the Great Plains Institute, organizations at the cutting-edge of conservation, science education and communication, and energy transition. She is a Fellow of the Ecological Society of America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Hellmann holds a PhD in biology from Stanford University and a BS in ecology from the University of Michigan.

Lil Alessa

Lil Alessa

Chief Scientist, Joint Special Operations University

Dr Lilian “Doc” Alessa is a President’s Professor and Director, Center for Resilient Communities at the University of Idaho. She is Affiliate Faculty with The Texas A&M University System as well as George Mason University and is currently acting as a Senior Advisor to the Department of Defense. She has previously served as a Defense Intelligence Senior Level-equivalent Special Advisor for Advanced Data and Analytics for DOD. Additionally, she served as Deputy Chief of Global Strategies with the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Strategy, Policy and Plans. She has over 25 years of Arctic experience working with Academic, Federal, State, Local, Tribal and Territorial partners (FSLTTP) across Canada and the United States, focused on security, defense and the resilience of systems, people and communities.

She has led several large advanced data analytics programs as well as written extensive strategies, policies and implementation plans, working closely with Federal agencies, Academia and the public. She brings a rare approach of ensuring technologies are used as tools within the construct of social and cultural systems, validated through evidence-based monitoring. She has pioneered unique advanced coupled technology-enhanced surveillance and observing capabilities that incorporate humans as sensors in the land, air and maritime domains. An internationally recognized expert in the Arctic, resilience, early warning systems and remote regions, she sits on several national committees including a National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) focused on helping the Intelligence Community chart their research and development futures. She has led the development of two joint Canada-United States Arctic resilience toolbox assessments: The Arctic Water Resources Vulnerability Index (AWRVI) and the Arctic Adaptation Exchange Portal (AAEP), leveraging her vast professional networks across Canada and the United States as well as internationally. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States and is part of the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee Collaboration.

Zarina Patel

Zarina Patel

Associate Professor of Human Geography, Department of Environmental and Geographical Science, University of Cape Town

Zarina Patel is an Associate Professor of Human Geography in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Science at the University of Cape Town. She currently holds a Visiting Fellowship with the Urban Institute at the University of Sheffield. Her research addresses the politics and practices of achieving just and sustainable urban transitions. The distinctive focus of her scholarship is the use of transdisciplinary approaches to navigate alternate insights and responses to complex urban issues in southern contexts. She is the Principal Investigator of the project The New African Urban University, funded by the Worldwide Universities Network Research Development Fund; and is co-leading a study on Learning from Transdisciplinary Approaches for Sustainable Urban Development in Africa on behalf of the International Science Council. Zarina is editor-in-chief of Urban Forum and serves on the editorial boards of Local Environment: the International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, and npj Urban Sustainability. International collaborations and research leadership have been developed through the Mistra Urban Futures Programme (2012 – 2019) a knowledge co-production programme with partners from the Global North and South; the World Economic Forum’s Global Futures Council on Cities and Urbanisation (2019); and Pan-African collaborations focussing on transdisciplinary urban research through the Leading Integrated Research for Agenda 2030, known as LIRA 2030 (current since 2017).