Implementing the SDGs: Getting Started

2015 International Conference on Sustainable Development

2015 is a pivotal year for sustainable development! As we move from the MDGs to the SDGs, we need to hear from you! This year’s conference theme is Implementing the SDGs: Getting Started. The aim of the conference is to identify and share practical, evidence-based solutions that can support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will be agreed upon at the United Nations immediately following the conference. The ICSD provides a unique opportunity to bring together stakeholders from government, academia, the United Nations, international agencies, NGOs, and grassroots organizers to share practical solutions towards the achievement of more sustainable and inclusive societies.

Draft Program of Parallel Sessions Now Available

Conference attendees may now view a program of the Parallel Sessions and the Abstract Book (click to download).

We will be live streaming portions of this event!

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Featured Speakers

  • President of Malta

    Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca is the ninth President of the Republic of Malta. Her nomination was approved unanimously by a parliamentary resolution of the House of Representatives taken on 1 April 2014, marking a development in the constitutional history of Malta. She took the oath of President of Malta on 4 April 2014.

    At the age of 55 years, Coleiro Preca is the youngest President of the country, and is the second woman occupying the office of Head of State after 32 years.

    Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca was born in Qormi, on the 7 December 1958. She received her education at the Primary School, Qormi, Maria Regina Grammar School and at the Polytechnic, Msida. Later, she graduated from the University of Malta as Bachelor in Legal and Humanities Bachelor and later attained the Diploma of Notary Public.

    Coleiro Preca has been active in politics for the past forty years, starting at the young age of 16 years. Within the Labour Party, she served as a member of the National Executive, Assistant Secretary-General and Secretary General, occupying the latter post between 1982 and 1991. Coleiro Preca is the only woman who ever occupied this important elected position in a Maltese political party.

    Coleiro Preca was also a member of the National Youth Socialists Bureau, President of the Socialist Women’s Group, President of the National Council, President of the National Bureau of Socialist Youths (now the Labour Youth Forum), founder of Ġuze Ellul Mercer Foundation, as well as editor of the newspaper, il-Ħelsien.

    Coleiro Preca served on the board of directors of Maltacom plc (now the GO Company), as well as the Libyan Arab Maltese Holding Company. She was also a member of the National Commission for Fiscal Morality.

    Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca served as a Member of Parliament in the House of Representatives between 1998 and 2014. In the 2008 general election, she was the first candidate elected to Parliament.

    As a Member of Parliament in Opposition, she served as speaker for Social Policy, Tourism and Air Malta, and Health, and was a member of the Parliamentary Committee for Social Affairs and the Family. She also served in the Parliamentary delegation to the Council of Europe and various committees that fall within it.

    On 13 March 2013, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca was appointed as Minister for the Family and Social Solidarity. During the year that she was Minister, she initiated various reforms.

    The key reforms affected during her term of office included those in the area of social housing, as well as the reform for an integrated social system based on community level approaches through the establishment of the Family Resource Centres. Yet another reform brought about the simplification of the benefits system of those who reach retirement age, persons eligible for marriage grant, persons who are eligible for the widow pensions and those eligible for the children's allowance, who now receive the benefits without the need for applications, thus rendering the system more efficient.

    Coleiro Preca initiated the introduction of the single means testing mechanism, as well as a complete overhaul in the area of welfare and more effective anti-fraud social benefits system. She set up a Welfare Reform Task Force to update the Welfare system and curb abuse and fraud.

    During her term as Minister, Coleiro Preca initiated the development of a strategy for the sustainability and adequacy of pensions. She addressed the anomalies in the pension of former shipyard workers and introduced a number of measures, such as the provision of full pension to widows who are working, and the provision of children's supplement to address child poverty motivated by their school attendance, health check-ups and involvement in culture or sports.

    As Minister, Coleiro Preca tabled several laws before Parliament, including the Act on the Protection of Children, as part of the Children’s Act, and which was developed using the innovative bottom-up approach methodology. She established the Sexual Assault Response Team, where for the first time ever, rape victims may receive an integrated service in one location.

    In December 2013, together with the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor, Coleiro Preca launched the LEAP project. This project funded by the European Social Fund, established the Family Resources Centres to provide services at the heart of communities and which gave a start to the implementation of the new Social Investment Package introduced by the European Union.

    In January 2014, Coleiro Preca, together with the Prime Minister of Malta, Dr Joseph Muscat, launched the Green Paper: Structure for Poverty Reduction and Social Inclusion. Over 22,000 children will benefit from the supplementary aid to be introduced to tackle poverty and social exclusion, as part of the strategy.

    As President of Malta, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca founded the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society that will encompass the National Institute for Childhood, the Family Research Centre, and Observatory for Living with Dignity and the Centre for Freedom from Addictions.

    Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca was awarded the Crans Montana Prix de la Fondation 2014, an award given to prominent personalities who strive for peace, freedom and democracy. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca is holds the Honorary Life Presidency of the Arab-European Forum for Dialogue and Development and an Honorary Professorship at the University of Warwick in the UK.

    Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca is married to Edgar Preca and has a daughter.

  • President of Rwanda

    Paul Kagame was born in October 1957 in Rwanda’s Southern Province. His family fled pre-independence ethnic persecution and violence in 1960, crossing into Uganda where Kagame spent thirty years as a refugee. Determined to resist oppressive regimes, as a young man, Paul Kagame joined current Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his group of guerrilla fighters to launch a war to free Uganda from dictatorship. Under the new government, he served as a senior military officer.

    In 1990, Paul Kagame returned to Rwanda to lead the Rwandan Patriotic Front’s (RPF) four-year struggle to liberate the country from the autocratic and divisive order established since independence. Led by Kagame, the Rwanda Patriotic Army defeated the genocidal government in July 1994 and the RPF subsequently set Rwanda on its current course towards reconciliation, nation building and socioeconomic development.

    Paul Kagame was appointed Vice-President and Minister for Defence in the Government of National Unity on 19 July 1994, and four years later was elected Chairman of the RPF, a partner in the Government of National Unity. On 22 April 2000 Paul Kagame took the Oath of Office as President of the Republic of Rwanda after being elected by the Transitional National Assembly. President Paul Kagame won the first ever democratic elections held in Rwanda in August 2003 and was re-elected to a second seven-year mandate in August 2010.

    President Kagame has received recognition for his leadership in peace building and reconciliation, development, good governance, promotion of human rights and women’s empowerment, and advancement of education and ICT, and is widely sought after to address regional and international audiences on a range of issues including African development, leadership, and the potential of ICT as a dynamic industry as well as an enabler for Africa’s socioeconomic transformation. President Kagame currently serves as chair of the UN Secretary General's Advisory Group on MDGs and as co-chair along with Carlos Slim of the ITU’s Broadband Commission.

    Paul Kagame is married to Jeannette Nyiramongi and they have four children. He is a keen tennis player and football fan.

  • President of Liberia

    Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the 24th President of Liberia and Africa’s first democratically elected female Head of State; is serving her second term as President after winning the 2011 presidential election. She’s one of the three who won the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate in 2011. Madam Sirleaf has throughout her career demonstrated passionate commitment to hard work, integrity, good governance and has been advocating for the rights of women and the importance of education to provide a better future for her country and its people.

    Born Ellen Eugenia Johnson in Monrovia on October 29, 1938, she is the granddaughter of a renowned Traditional Chief of western Liberia and a daughter of market woman from the southeast. She grew up in Liberia and attended high school at the College of West Africa in Monrovia. Subsequently, she studied at Madison Business College, University of Colorado and Harvard University Kennedy School of Government where she obtained a Master’s Degree in Public Administration in 1971.

    Her entry into politics began in 1972 when she delivered her famous commencement address at graduation convocation of her alma mater (College of West Africa) in which she sharply criticized the government and demonstrated her determination to speak the truth no matter the consequences. This was the start of a distinguished professional and political career spanning nearly four decades.

    In 1975 she joined the then Treasury Department in Liberia, rising to the position of Minister of Finance in 1979 where she introduced measures to curb the mismanagement of government finances. After the 1980 military coup d’état, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf served as President of the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) but fled Liberia as a result of the increasingly suppressive military dictates of the government that same year. She traveled to Kenya and served as Vice President of CITICORP’s Africa Regional Office in Nairobi, and later moved to Washington, D.C. to assume the position of Senior Loan Officer at the World Bank, and as Vice President for Equator Bank. In 1992 she joined the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as Assistant Administrator and Director of its Regional Bureau of Africa with the rank of Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations.

    However, with her country still very much at heart, Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf resigned in 1997 to return home and contest the general and presidential elections and was ranked second in votes to opponent Charles Taylor. She went into self-imposed exile in Côte d'Ivoire where she kept a close eye on Liberian politics. During that time she established, in Abidjan, Kormah Development and Investment Corporation, a venture capital vehicle for African entrepreneurs, and Mesuagoon, a Liberian community development NGO.

    In 2003 when the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) was formed, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was selected to serve as Chairperson of the Governance Reform Commission where she led the country’s anti-corruption reform by changing the reporting mechanism of the General Auditing Commission from the Executive to the Legislature, thereby strengthening and reinforcing its independence. She resigned this position to successfully contest the 2005 general and presidential elections; resulting in her historic inauguration on January 16, 2006, as President of the Republic of Liberia.

    After decades of fighting for freedom, justice and equality in Liberia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has spent more than nine years rebuilding post-conflict Liberia. She has revived national hope by strengthening the institutions of national security and good governance, leading the revitalization of the national economy and infrastructure, including the construction of more than 800 miles of roads, and restoring Liberia’s international reputation and credibility.

    President Johnson Sirleaf has built strong relations with regional partners and the international community, attracting investment of over $16 billion in Liberia’s mining, agriculture and forestry sectors, and off-shore oil exploration to provide jobs for her people. Her leadership has led to more than $4 billion in debt relief in June 2010 and to the lifting of UN trade sanctions to allow Liberia access international markets. She has increased the national budget from $80 million in 2006 to more than half a billion in 2011 and has driven annual GDP growth to at least 7 percent in the same period.

    President Johnson Sirleaf is Chairperson of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance; having succeeded the founding Chair, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete in January 2012. ALMA is an alliance of African Heads of State and Government working to end malaria-related deaths. She served as Chairperson of the Mano River Union where she leads the effort for political stability and economic cooperation among Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire. The Liberian leader is also Goodwill Ambassador for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Africa. She was a founding member of the International Institute for Women in Political Leadership; was designated in 1999 by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) (now African Union) to serve on the committee to investigate the Rwanda genocide; was a Commission Chair for the Inter-Congolese Dialogue; and was selected by UNIFEM as one of two persons to investigate and report on the effect of conflict on women and women’s roles in peace-building.

    Prior to her ascendancy to the Presidency, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf served on many advisory boards, including the International Crisis Group (USA) and Women Waging Peace (USA). She is also a proud recipient of numerous prestigious awards including: the FAO CERES Medal (2008); the Crisis Group Fred Cuny Award for the Prevention of Deadly Crisis (2008) for outstanding leadership in democracy, development and peace-building in Africa; and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2007), the highest civilian honor bestowed by an American President.

    President Sirleaf has been recognized amid numerous honors such as 14 honorary degrees from American colleges and universities. In 2010, Newsweek magazine listed Johnson Sirleaf as one of the ten best leaders in the world; Time placed her among the top ten female leaders; and the Economist called her “the best President the country has ever had.”

  • Chief Economist, Islamic Development Bank

    Professor Savaş Alpay joined the Islamic Development Bank as Chief Economist in June 2015. Professor Alpay received his PhD in economics from Johns Hopkins University in 1997, and taught at different universities in Turkey. Outside of academia, his professional experience includes consultancy services at a policy institute in the USA, and board membership in a Public Regulation Authority in Turkey. The principal focus of his earlier research has been on interactions among economic growth, international trade and the environment with an emphasis on the design and implementation of policies towards sustainable growth. More recently, his research focuses on policies towards boosting equitable and inclusive socio-economic development as well as knowledge economics, science and technology policies in developing countries. His first book, entitled “Trade and the Environment,” was published by Kluwer in 2002, and more recently he has edited many books on social and economic issues pertaining to OIC Member Countries. He has authored many articles published in different journals and conference proceedings, and has also been the editor of the Economic Cooperation and Development Review and the Journal of Economic Cooperation and Development, which publish scholarly articles on socio-economic development in the OIC Member Countries as well as in other developing countries. Previously he served as the Director General of the Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries (SESRIC) between 2006 and 2015.

  • President, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

    Peter Bakker is President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). He is a distinguished business leader who until June 2011 was the CEO of TNT NV the Netherlands based holding company of TNT Express and Royal TNT Post (formerly TPG Post).

    Under leadership of Mr. Bakker, TNT became a leader in Corporate Responsibility with a ground-breaking partnership with the UN World Food Program, ambitious CO2 reduction targets from its Planet Me initiative and multiple year leading positions in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. He joined Royal TPG Post in 1991 and was appointed financial director of its parcels business unit in 1993. He was appointed financial control director of TPG Post in 1996 and became a member of the Board of Management of TPGPost in 1997. Since the split of TPG N.V. from Koninklijke PTT Nederland N.V. until his appointment as CEO in 2001, he was chief financial officer and a member of the TPG Board of Management.

    Mr. Bakker is a respected leader in Corporate Responsibility. He is the recipient of Clinton Global Citizen Award in 2009; SAM Sustainability Leadership Award in 2010; and the UN’s WFP Ambassador Against Hunger in 2011. In addition he is the Chairman of War Child Netherlands.

  • Director-General, UNESCO

    Irina Bokova, born on 12 July 1952 in Sofia (Bulgaria) has been the Director-General of UNESCO since 15 November 2009, and was successfully reelected for a second term in 2013. She is the first woman and the first Eastern European to lead the Organization.

    As Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova is actively engaged in international efforts to advance gender equality, quality education for all, and combat terrorist financing by preventing the illicit traffic of cultural goods. A leading champion in the fight against racism and anti-Semitism, Bokova has spearheaded UNESCO’s activities on Holocaust remembrance and awareness and is the first Director-General of the Organization to appoint a Special Envoy for Holocaust Education.

    She is a leading advocate for ensuring quality education for all and has championed gender equality, making this her own personal priority for the Organization. Other fields of action include enabling scientific cooperation for sustainable development, such as early warning systems for tsunamis or trans-boundary water management agreements and global advocacy for the safety of journalists and freedom of expression.

    Having graduated from Moscow State Institute of International Relations, and studied at the University of Maryland (Washington) and the John F. Kennedy School of Government (Harvard University), Irina Bokova joined the United Nations Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria in 1977. In charge of political and legal affairs at the Permanent Mission of Bulgaria to the United Nations in New York, she was also member of the Bulgarian Delegation at the United Nations conferences on the equality of women in Copenhagen (1980), Nairobi (1985) and Beijing (1995). As Member of Parliament (1990-1991 and 2001-2005), she advocated for Bulgaria’s membership in EU and NATO and participated in the drafting of Bulgaria’s new Constitution.

    Irina Bokova was Minister for Foreign Affairs, Coordinator of Bulgaria-European Union relations and Ambassador of Bulgaria to France, Monaco and UNESCO and Personal Representative of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria to the “Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie” (OIF). As Secretary of State for European integration and as Foreign Minister, Irina Bokova has always advocated for European integration. She is a founding member and Chairman of the European Policy Forum, an NGO created to promote European identity and encourage dialogue to overcome divisions in Europe. This is an example of her work to endorse the values of dialogue, diversity, human dignity and human rights. Irina Bokova is Executive Secretary of the Steering Committee of the UN Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative (GEFI) and co-Vice-Chair of the Broadband Commission.

    Irina Bokova has received state distinctions from countries across the world and is Doctor Honoris causa of leading universities.

    In addition to her mother tongue, she speaks English, French, Spanish and Russian. She is married with two grown children who live and work in the United States.

  • Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations

    Jan Eliasson was appointed Deputy Secretary-General by UN Secretary-General ban Ki-moon and took office on 1 July 2012.

    Mr. Eliasson was from 2007-2008 the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Darfur. Prior to this, Jan Eliasson served as President of the 60th session of the UN General Assembly. He was Sweden’s Ambassador to the US from September 2000 until July 2005. In March 2006, Mr. Eliasson was appointed Foreign Minister of Sweden and served in this capacity until the elections in the fall of 2006.

    Mr. Eliasson served from 1994 to 2000 as State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, a key position in formulating and implementing Swedish foreign policy. He was Sweden’s Ambassador to the UN in New York 1988-92, and also served as the Secretary-General’s Personal Representative for Iran/Iraq.

    Mr. Eliasson was the first UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and was involved in operations in Africa and the Balkans. He took initiatives on landmines, conflict prevention and humanitarian action. 1980-1986, Mr. Eliasson was part of the UN mediation missions in the war between Iran and Iraq, headed by former Prime Minister Olof Palme. In 1993-94 Mr. Eliasson served as mediator in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). He has been a Visiting Professor at Uppsala University and Gothenburg University in Sweden, lecturing on mediation, conflict resolution and UN reform. Mr. Eliasson has had diplomatic postings in New York (twice) Paris, Bonn, Washington (twice) and Harare, where he opened the first Swedish Embassy in 1980.

    Prior to his appointment as Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson also served as Chair of Water Aid/Sweden and a member of the UN Secretary-General’s Advocacy Group of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

    Mr. Eliasson graduated from the Swedish Naval Academy in 1962 and earned a Master’s degree in Economics and Business Administration in 1965. He was born on 17 September 1940 in Goteborg, Sweden, and is married with 3 children.

  • Vice-President (Operations 2) of the Asian Development Bank (ADB)

    Stephen P. Groff is Vice-President (Operations 2) of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). He assumed office in October 2011.

    Mr. Groff is responsible for the full range of ADB's operations in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific. His mandate includes establishing strategic and operational priorities in his areas of responsibility, producing investment and technical assistance operations amounting to approximately $5 billion annually, managing an existing portfolio of about $23 billion, and leading about 650 staff.

    In addition, Mr. Groff supports ADB's President in managing ADB's overall operations, represents ADB in high-level multilateral fora, and contributes to managing its relationships with its 67 member country shareholders, other multilateral financial institutions, and key government, private sector, and civil society partners.

    Prior to joining ADB, Mr. Groff was Deputy Director for Development Cooperation at the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) where he led OECD's work on a wide range of development-related economic and political issues. He also served as OECD's envoy to the G20 Working Group on Development and was a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council. Prior to this he was the Deputy Vice-President for Operations at the Washington-based Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), where he helped set up the agency and led MCC programs while advising the CEO on development issues, strategy, and policy. Prior to MCC, Mr. Groff held several staff positions at the ADB. Before this, Mr. Groff was the deputy director and chief economist on a large U.S. Agency for International Development project designed to encourage private sector development in the southern Philippines, a Program Director for the U.S. Refugee Program, and a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer.

    Mr. Groff has worked across Asia, Africa, and Latin America and writes regularly on development issues. He also serves on a number of advisory boards for development-related organizations.

    Mr. Groff holds a Master's degree in Public Administration from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Biology from Yale University.

  • Director of Earth Institute’s Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions program and Former Director of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

    Dr. James Hansen, formerly Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, where he directs a program in Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions. He was trained in physics and astronomy in the space science program of Dr. James Van Allen at the University of Iowa. His early research on the clouds of Venus helped identify their composition as sulfuric acid. Since the late 1970s, he has focused his research on Earth's climate, especially human-made climate change. Dr. Hansen is best known for his testimony on climate change to congressional committees in the 1980s that helped raise broad awareness of the global warming issue. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1995 and was designated by Time Magazine in 2006 as one of the 100 most influential people on Earth. He has received numerous awards including the Carl-Gustaf Rossby and Roger Revelle Research Medals, the Sophie Prize and the Blue Planet Prize. Dr. Hansen is recognized for speaking truth to power, for identifying ineffectual policies as greenwash, and for outlining actions that the public must take to protect the future of young people and other life on our planet.

  • Director, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

    Pavel Kabat became the tenth Director of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in February 2012. As Director Professor Kabat is the Chief Executive Office of the Institute, responsible for the formulation, management, and administration of all research programs and other activities at IIASA.

    Born in Czechoslovakia in 1958, Professor Kabat lived and worked in Canada and the Netherlands before moving to Austria to direct IIASA. Previously, he held the Chair of the Earth System Science and Climate Change Group at Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands, where he was also Chair of the Board of the Wageningen Climate Centre, and Science Director and Council Chair of the Dutch National Climate Research Program. As leader of these groups, Professor Kabat helped raise €150 million in funding for integrative research while the Earth System Science Group was evaluated as “excellent” in two consecutive reviews by independent international committees in 2007 and 2010.

    Professor Kabat remains a Professor of Earth System Science at Wageningen University, and Director and Chair of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Institute for Integrated Research on Wadden Sea Region.

  • Global Head, Climate Change Centre of Excellence, HSBC

    Zoe Knight is a Managing Director and Head of the Climate Change Centre of
    Excellence at HSBC. She joined HSBC in 2010 and has been an investment
    analyst at global financial institutions since 1997, initially focusing on
    Pan European small-cap equity strategy and subsequently moving into
    socially responsible investing, covering climate change issues. Since
    joining HSBC Zoe has co-authored reports on low-carbon opportunities in
    bond and equity markets, as well as long-term carbon and water risks. The
    Climate Change Centre of Excellence produces reports on 2°C finance,
    climate policy and climate impacts which are aimed at institutional

    Previously, she contributed a chapter to ‘Investment opportunities for a
    low-carbon world’ (2009). Throughout her career she has been ranked in
    Extel and Institutional Investor. She holds a BSc (Hons) Economics from the
    University of Bath.

  • Special Adviser to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Post-2015 Development Planning

    Ms. Amina J. Mohammed is the Special Adviser to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Post-2015 Development Planning. She is also the CEO/Founder of the Center for Development Policy Solutions and an Adjunct Professor of the Master’s Programme for Development Practice at Columbia University, New York. Prior to that, Ms. Mohammed served as the Senior Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on the Millennium Development Goals after serving three Presidents over a period of six years. In 2005 she was charged with the coordination of the debt relief funds ($1 billion per annum) towards the achievement of Millennium Development Goals in Nigeria. Her mandate included designing a Virtual Poverty Fund with innovative approaches to poverty reduction, budget coordination and monitoring, as well as providing advice on pertinent issues regarding poverty, public sector reform and sustainable development. From 2002-2005, Ms. Mohammed served as coordinator of the Task Force on Gender and Education for the United Nations Millennium Project. Prior to this, she served as Founder and Executive Director of Afri-Projects Consortium, a multidisciplinary firm of Engineers and Quantity Surveyors (1991-2001) and worked with the architectural engineering firm of Archcon Nigeria in association with Norman and Dawbarn UK (1981-1991).

    Ms. Mohammed currently serves on numerous international advisory panels and boards, the Hewlett Foundation on Education, African Women’s Millennium Initiative, the Millennium Promise Initiative, and the Institute of Scientific & Technical Information of China. Ms. Mohammed received the National Honours Award of the Order of the Federal Republic in 2006 and was inducted in the Nigerian Women’s Hall of Fame in 2007.

  • Vice Chairman, GITI Group

    Cherie Nursalim is Vice Chairman of GITI Group, with diversified interests in real estate development, manufacturing, retail and natural resource development. Ms. Nursalim is a Member of the International Advisory Board of Columbia University and the Asia Advisory Board of the MIT Sloan School of Management. She also sits on the boards of the Yale Center for Environmental Law Policy and the University of Indonesia Climate Change Center, as well as the China Disabled Persons Foundation Board and the United in Diversity Foundation. She is a Founding Member of the Global Philanthropic Circle under the Synergos Institute in New York. She has helped develop HIV/AIDS awareness initiatives for the GT organization, which has won awards from UNAIDS, ILO and Indonesian government. Ms. Nursalim has recently been appointed to the Executive Board of International Chamber of Commerce. She is a frequent organizer of international and education forums and has won the Baiyulan Award from the Shanghai government and was listed among the 48 Heroes of Philanthropy by Forbes. Ms. Nursalim received a BA in Engineering Science and Economics from Oxford University and an MBA from the Columbia Business School. She also attended the Harvard Kennedy School Young Global Leader programme.

  • Internationally-Renowned Journalist, Writer and Moderator

    Femi Oke is an international journalist, writer and moderator. Since the 1980s, she has worked for BBC television and radio, Sky TV, all U.K. terrestrial television networks, CNN and U.S. public radio. Oke’s reporting has been recognized by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Communications Agency and InterAction. Her engaging moderating style is well known at the United Nations, World Bank, European Union and numerous NGOs where she regularly moderates at high profile events. You can connect with her anytime via Twitter @FemiOke.

  • Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC)

    A leading scientist on global sustainability with a focus on water resources and access. Rockström is a member of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) and a Professor in Environmental Science with emphasis on water resources and global sustainability at Stockholm University.

    Prof. Johan Rockström is the Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) and a Professor in Environmental Science with emphasis on water resources and global sustainability at Stockholm University.

    Rockström is an internationally recognized scientist on global sustainability issues. He led the recent development of the new "Planetary Boundaries" framework for human development in the current era of rapid global change. Led by Rockström, the SRC identified nine key Earth processes or systems and marked the upper limit beyond which each system would risk a major system crash. These include climate change, along with other human-made threats such as ocean acidification, loss of biodiversity, and chemical pollution.

    He is a leading scientist on global water resources and strategies to build resilience in water scarce regions of the world. Rockström has more than 15 years of experience of research on agriculture, water resources and ecosystem services. He has written over 100 research publications with more than 50 peer-reviewed scientific articles and several books in the fields of global environmental change; resilience and sustainability; agricultural water management; watershed hydrology; global water resources and food production; and eco-hydrology.

    Rockström is a member of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and has served as advisor to several international organizations, governments and the European Union. He is a frequent keynote speaker in several international research, policy and development arenas on topics such as sustainable development, global environmental change, and resilience thinking. Rockström also serves on several scientific committees and boards. For instance, he is the vice-chair of the science advisory board of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact research (PIK). He was chairing the visioning process on global environmental change of ICSU, the International Council for Science. Rockström is also a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and The Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry

    In 2009, Rockström was awarded the title "Swede of the Year" for his work on bridging science on climate change to policy and society. He was ranked the most influential person on environmental issues in Sweden 2013 and 2012, and in August 2010 was given the "Social Capitalist Award" by Veckans Affärer.

  • Deputy Director-General, International Cooperation and Development, European Commission

    Klaus Rudischauser joined the European Commission in 1989 and took up duty in the Directorate-General Environment. Subsequently he worked on assistance to the Newly Independent States and then was Head of Unit at the Directorate-General Personnel and Administration and the Directorate-General Energy and Transport where he was in charge of the Transeuropean Transport Networks.

    From March 2007 to May 2011, Klaus Rudischhauser was Director at the Directorate-General Development and Relations with ACP Countries. His areas of responsibility covered amongst others: Programming of the European Development Fund (EDF), Panafrican issues, Peace and Security in Africa, Migration, Governance, Budget support and debt relief.

    From June 2011 to July 2012, Klaus Rudischhauser was in charge of Directorate B Quality and Impact of Aid at DG Development and Cooperation – EuropeAid. His responsibilities included amongst others: Quality of aid; Evaluation; Inter-institutional relations; Information and Communication.

    Since 22 November 2011 Mr Rudischhauser represents Commissioner Piebalgs in the UN initiative Energy for All.

    As of 1 August 2012 Mr Rudischhauser is Deputy Director General at DG Development and Cooperation – EuropeAid and oversees directorates EU development policy, Sustainable Growth and Development, Human and Society Development as well as the Task-force for an enhanced dialogue with International Organisation and three units dealing with respectively Communication and transparency, Institutional Relations, Quality and Results.

  • Director, Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN); Director, The Earth Institute, Columbia University; Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals

    Jeffrey D. Sachs is a world-renowned professor of economics, leader in sustainable development, senior UN advisor, bestselling author, and syndicated columnist whose monthly newspaper columns appear in more than 100 countries. He has twice been named among Time Magazine’s 100 most influential world leaders. He was called by the New York Times, “probably the most important economist in the world,” and by Time Magazine “the world’s best known economist.” A recent survey by The Economist Magazine ranked Professor Sachs as among the world’s three most influential living economists of the past decade.

    Professor Sachs serves as the Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He is Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals, having held the same position under former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He is Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. He is co-founder and Chief Strategist of Millennium Promise Alliance, and is director of the Millennium Villages Project. Sachs is also one of the Secretary-General’s MDG Advocates, and a Commissioner of the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Development. He has authored three New York Times bestsellers in the past seven years: The End of Poverty (2005), Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet (2008), and The Price of Civilization (2011). His most recent books are To Move the World: JFK’s Quest for Peace (2013) and The Age of Sustainable Development (2015).

    Professor Sachs is widely considered to be one of the world’s leading experts on economic development and the fight against poverty. His work on ending poverty, promoting economic growth, fighting hunger and disease, and promoting sustainable environmental practices, has taken him to more than 125 countries with more than 90 percent of the world’s population. For more than a quarter century he has advised dozens of heads of state and governments on economic strategy, in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

    Sachs is the recipient of many awards and honors, including membership in the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Society of Fellows, and the Fellows of the World Econometric Society. He has received more than 20 honorary degrees, and many awards and honors around the world. Professor Sachs is also a frequent contributor to major publications such as the Financial Times of London, the International Herald Tribune, Scientific American, and Time magazine.

    Prior to joining Columbia, Sachs spent over twenty years at Harvard University, most recently as Director of the Center for International Development and the Galen L. Stone Professor of International Trade. A native of Detroit, Michigan, Sachs received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees at Harvard.

  • Executive Director of Human Resources, Health and Safety, Sustainability and Energy, Vale

    Vania Lucia Chaves Somavilla was appointed Vale’s Executive Director of Human Resources, Health and Safety, Sustainability and Energy in November 2011. She is responsible for the companys Corporate Affairs, Institutional Relations, Business Security, and Communications areas, as well as the Vale Foundation. She was formerly Executive Director of Human Resources and Corporate Services.

    Ms Somavilla joined Vale in 2001 as General Manager of Energy Sales Planning. From March 2004 to March 2010, she was Director of the Energy Department, and she took on the additional functions of CEO of Vale Energia SA from April 2009 to May 2010, and CEO of Petroleum Geoscience Technology Ltda. (now Vale Óleo e Gás SA). She was appointed Director of Vales Environment and Sustainable Development Department in April 2010. Between 1995 and 2001, she worked at CEMIG (Companhia Energética de Minas Gerais) as the coordinator for new hydroelectric plants and other power generation projects.

    She has an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), a postgraduate diploma in Dam Engineering from the Federal University of Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, and an MBA in Corporate Finance from IBMEC Business School, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais. She has also taken the Transformational Leadership Program at MIT, the Mastering Leadership Program at IMD, Switzerland, and an extension course in Management of Hydro Power Utilities at SIDA, Sweden.

  • President and Chief Executive Officer, Ericsson Group

    Hans Vestberg is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Ericsson Group, the world’s leading provider of telecommunications technology and services.

    Vestberg joined Ericsson in 1991. He has broad international experience, having held various management positions for Ericsson in China, Brazil, Mexico and the US. He remains the international advisor to the Governor of Guangdong, China. Vestberg served as Ericsson’s Chief Financial Officer from 2007 to 2009 before becoming CEO.

    Along with the rest of Ericsson’s executive team, Vestberg is focused on advancing the company’s leadership through innovation, technology, services and sustainable business solutions. Under his direction, Ericsson has become the main driver toward the Networked Society, where connectivity is the fuel of progress.

    In 2011 Vestberg was named the 6th most powerful man in wireless by Fierce Wireless.

    He is a leading advocate of the Millennium Development Goals, and for the potential of mobility and broadband to tackle some of the world’s most compelling issues such as poverty, health, education and climate change. He is a member of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, and chaired the Commission’s climate-change working group. He is also on the advisory board of the Digital Health Initiative.


  1. Day 1

  2. Registration Opens

  3. Opening Remarks

    Femi Oke, Internationally-Renowned Journalist, Writer, and Moderator

  4. Kapuscinski Development Lecture Series

    Introduction: Klaus Rudischhauser, Deputy Director-General International Cooperation and Development, European Commission

    Kapuscinski Keynote Lectures

    Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia

    Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN); Director, The Earth Institute, Columbia University; Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals

    Irina Bokova, Director-General, UNESCO

    Mary Robinson, Former President of the Republic of Ireland; President and Chair of the Board of Trustees, Mary Robinson Foundation

    Presentation of the Sustainable Development Goals

    Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations

    Kapuscinski Keynote Discussants: How We Get Started: Perspectives from the Experts

    Amina Mohammed, Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning, United Nations

    Savas Alpay, Chief Economist, Islamic Development Bank (IDB)

    Stephen P Groff, Vice-President (Operations 2), Asian Development Bank (ADB)

    Peter Bakker, President, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

    Pavel Kabat, Director, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

    Johan Rockström, Director, the Stockholm Resilience Centre

    James E. Hansen, Director, Climate Science Awareness and Solutions Program, The Earth Institute, Columbia University

  5. Coffee Break

  6. Press Conference with Jan Eliasson and Jeffrey Sachs: The SDGs and the Post-2015 Agenda

    Media, please contact Kyu Lee to register.

  7. The Future of Global Health: Case Study Ebola

    Introduction: Betsee Parker, Special Advisor, The Earth Institute, Columbia University and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network

    Moderator: Ranu Dhillon, Senior Technical Advisor, The Earth Institute, Columbia University



    Emmanuel Dolo, Advisor to the President/Head of Secretariat, Presidential Advisory Council on Ebola (PACE), Office of the President, Republic of Liberia

    Irwin Redlenner, Director, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, The Earth Institute, Columbia University

    Elizabeth Zehe, Health Systems Program Manager, Center on Sustainable Development, The Earth Institute, Columbia University

  8. Lunch Break

    Participants will leave the venue to take lunch on their own. A list of area restaurants is available on our logistics page (scroll down).

  9. Book Signing

    Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, The Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

    Johan Rockström & Mattias Klum, Big World Small Planet

    Jeffrey Sachs, The Age of Sustainable Development

  10. Mobilizing the Private Sector for Sustainable Development

    Moderator: Stephen P Groff, Vice-President (Operations 2), Asian Development Bank (ADB)


    Zoe Knight, Managing Director and Global Head, HSBC Climate Change Centre of Excellence, HSBC

    Cherie Nursalim, Vice Chairman, GITI Group

    Vania Somavilla, Executive Director, Human Resources, Health and Safety, Sustainability and Energy, Vale

    Hans Vestberg, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ericsson Group

  11. Monitoring the SDGs: Are OECD Countries Ready?

    Moderator: Robert S. Chen, Director and Senior Research Scientist, Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CISEIN), The Earth Institute, Columbia University


    Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, US Global AIDS Coordinator & US Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, US Department of State

    Ambassador Jorge Montaño, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations

    Ambassador Heiko Thoms, Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations

    Christian Kroll, Project Manager, Bertelsmann Stiftung

    Guido Schmidt-Traub, Executive Director, Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)

    Simon Scott, Senior Counselor, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development/Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC)

  12. Press Conference with Hans Vestberg and Jeffrey Sachs: ICT and the SDGs

    Media, please contact Kyu Lee to register.

  13. Coffee Break

  14. 7 Parallel Sessions (See Parallel Session Agenda)

  15. Poster Session and Cocktail Reception

    ** The reception will take place in a different venue on the Columbia campus. Directions will be forthcoming. **

  16. Music for a Sustainable Planet Concert

    All complimentary tickets have been distributed. If you wish to attend the concert but did not win the complementary ticket lottery, you may purchase tickets for $25 and $40 at

  1. Day 2

  2. Careers in Sustainable Development

    Moderator: Benjamin Christ, MDP Candidate, University of Florida


    Gabrielle Lindau, Director of Sustainability Marketing and Communications, Emerald Brand

    Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities, Rockefeller Foundation

    Mathilde Mesnard, Senior Advisor to the Secretary General, The Organisation for

    Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)


  3. Keynote Address

    Her Excellency Marie-Louise Coleiro-Preca, President of the Republic of Malta

  4. Empowering Youth for Sustainable Development

    Moderator: Sam Vaghar, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Millennium Campus Network


    Siamak Sam Loni, Global Coordinator, SDSN Youth

    Seth Marsala-Bell, Treasurer, Students and Alumni Advisory Council (SAAC), Global Association of Masters in Development Practice Programs

    Merybell Nabilah Reynoso, Representative, UN Major Group on Children and Youth

  5. Coffee Break

  6. Parallel Sessions (See Parallel Session Agenda)

  7. Lunch Break

    Participants will leave the venue to take lunch on their own. A list of area restaurants is available on our logistics page (scroll down).

  8. Parallel Sessions (See Parallel Session Agenda)

  9. Coffee Break

  10. Closing Plenary


    Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Sustainable Development Solutions Network; Director, The Earth Institute, Columbia University; Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals

    World Leaders Forum Address

    His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda

    Closing Ceremony

  11. Adjourn



See the logistics page for a full list of restaurants.


See the logistics page for advice on where to stay and how to book.