Meet the speakers
Stay tuned to this website and our social media feeds for updates on speakers set to share their insights in Mannheim.
Dr. Peter Kurz
Dr. Peter Kurz, born in 1962, has been the Mayor of the City of Mannheim since 2007. He has numerous functions in municipal subsidiaries and various honorary posts in European and international committees. From 1999 to 2007 Peter Kurz was Mayor of Education, Culture, Sports and City Marketing in Mannheim. He studied law and completed his legal clerkship in Mannheim, Speyer, Heidelberg and in San Diego, USA. His political career began during his studies. He became a member of the District Advisory Council and worked as an assistant to a member of the state parliament. He was a member of the Mannheimer city councils and various supervisory boards, deputy district chairman of SPD, chairman of Mannheim’s SPD municipal council faction and member of the SPD state executive committee in Baden-Württemberg. From April 2018 to January 2020, Peter Kurz, represented the German Association of Cities and Towns at the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and since January of this year he has actively continued his work as substitute member.
At the European level, Peter Kurz has also been a deputy member of the Main Committee of the German Section of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) since 2010. The international work of the CEMR continues in the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), where he is one of five German local representatives of the World Council and one of two German mayors of the Executive Board. Furthermore, Peter Kurz has actively participated in the founding of the Global Parliament of Mayors (GPM) in 2016 and held the position of Vice Chairman until he was appointed Chair, at the annual general meeting of the GPM in November 2019. Mayor Kurz shares that global politics and agendas can only be implemented successfully when they are being localised and the involvement of citizens for shaping urban life is the core of his vision. He hereby invites all interested parties to be part of Mannheim2020!
Rita Schwarzelühr-¬Sutter is parliamentary state secretary at the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety since 2013. Until 2005, the graduate business economist was active in the areas of marketing, consulting and communication. She first became a member of the German Bundestag in 2005, where she headed the Sustainable Mobility working group in the SPD party executive from 2008 to 2009. Since 2014, she is the chairwoman of the board of trustees of the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU) as well as chairwoman of the supervisory board.
Bernice Notenboom is a polar explorer, climate journalist and filmmaker.
She goes on extreme expeditions that give a face to the changing climate. These have included expeditions to the North and South Poles, Greenland ice sheet, Everest, in Siberia and throughout Africa.
She aims to show what the consequences of climate change will be for humans, animals and the planet, through her expeditions, journalism, videos, and lectures for companies, at congresses, in museums, and at schools.
Notenboom writes books, articles in newspapers and magazines, and makes television series and documentary films. Her latest film "Sea Blind – The Price of Shipping our Stuff" is about shipping emissions and what awaits us with opening new shipping routes in the Arctic. In 2017/2018, she organised three expeditions to Spitsbergen with leaders in industry, real estate, project development, and the financial world. The Spitsbergen ambition was developed there, a manifesto to measure banks, insurers and investors on their carbon footprint.
Winfried Kretschmann MdL
Winfried Kretschmann has been Minister-President of the State of Baden-Württemberg since May 2011. He cultivates a new style of politics and has set himself the target of implementing a process of ecological and social renewal in the State.
Politically active since his time as a student, Kretschmann and other like-minded associates founded The Green Party in Baden-Württemberg in 1979. One year later, Winfried Kretschmann became a member of the first parliamentary group of The Green Party to be elected to the State Parliament of Baden-Württemberg. In 1986, he was appointed by Hessen’s Minister of the Environment Joschka Fischer as a policy advisor to the first Green Party Ministry of the Environment. After two years in Wiesbaden, he returned to the Baden-Wurttemberg State Parliament in 1988, where he has remained ever since with only one period out of office. In 2002, Kretschmann was elected Chairman of the Green Party in parliament which he remained until 2011. On May 12, 2016, Winfried Kretschmann was re-elected Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg in the State Parliament.
Prof. Tim Jackson
Prof. Tim Jackson is Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP), and Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Surrey in the UK. CUSP builds on Tim’s vision over three decades to explore the moral, economic and social dimensions of prosperity on a finite planet. He's served as an advisor on sustainability to numerous commercial, government and intergovernmental organisations.
During five years at the Stockholm Environment Institute in the early 1990s, he pioneered the concept of preventative environmental management—a core principle of the circular economy framework—outlined in his 1996 book Material Concerns: Pollution Profit and Quality of life. Between 2004 and 2011, Tim was Economics Commissioner on the UK Sustainable Development Commission, where his work culminated in the publication of his controversial book Prosperity without Growth (Routledge 2009/2017). In 2016, he was awarded the Hillary Laureate for exceptional international leadership.
In addition to his academic work, Tim is an award-winning dramatist with numerous radio-writing credits for the BBC.
Lamia Kamal-Chaoui is a key member of the OECD Senior Management team, where she supports the Secretary-General in achieving the OECD’s mission to advance economic growth and social progress, as well as contribute to global economic and sustainability agendas. Throughout her extensive career at the OECD, she has led the Inclusive Growth initiative, been Head of the Urban Programme in the Directorate for Public Governance and Territorial Development, as well as forged numerous strategic partnerships for the OECD with prominent organisations, multilateral institutions, and the private sector.
She is a member of many International Committees and Advisory Boards, such as the World Economic Forum Deputy Board of Trustees, and the Shanghai World Expo. She has also been a Lecturer at Sciences Po Paris.
She recently received the "Women of the Decade in Enterprise and Leadership" award of the Women's Economic Forum.
Werner Hoyer (tbc)
Speaking role TBC
Prof. Dr. Dirk Messner
Prof. Dr. Dirk Messner is President of the German Environment Agency, Co-Chair of the German Advisory Council for Global Change, and Director of the United Nations University – Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS). He is an internationally recognized expert on the topics of digitalization, sustainable development, transformation towards the decarbonization of the global economy, and global governance.
He has held the position of Professor of Political Science at the University of Duisburg-Essen since 2006, and Co-Director of the university’s Käte Hamburger Kolleg, Centre for Global Cooperation Research since 2012. His voice is an active and thoughtful one in the world of sustainability and adaptation, and he is the author or co-author of more than 300 publications.
Ana Sanchis Huertas
Ana Sanchis Huertas is a Senior Researcher working on research, development, and innovation at the Valencia Institute of Building (IVE). Ana is an architect by education, with a particular focus on in energy efficiency and sustainability. She joined IVE in 2019 to contribute to the TripleA-reno project, which aims to improve the performance of deep renovation through enhanced quality control and targeted CPD (continuous professional development) and training.
She has experience designing and supervising architectural projects for both public and private organisations. Some of her research has included the use of Geospatial Science for smart cities and communities, as well as construction processes and buildings. Ana has collaborated with the JRC Institute for Energy (Italy) and on urban sustainability projects included in the Covenant of Mayors Programme.
Anne Katrin Bohle
Aziza Akhmouch is the Head of the Cities, Urban Policies and Sustainable Development division within the Centre for entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities of the OECD. She oversees a team of 30+ experts providing governments with new data, evidence, analysis and guidance in a wide range of urban policies to foster smart, inclusive, competitive and sustainable cities. Amongst others, she oversees the OECD metropolitan and National Urban Policy Reviews, and a broad range of thematic work related to housing, transport, cities and inclusive growth, cities and environment, metropolitan productivity and governance, and localising the Sustainable Development Goals. Aziza Akhmouch spearheaded the OECD Principles on Urban Policy and the OECD Water Governance Initiative. She also manages the OECD Champion Mayors Initiative for Inclusive Growth, the OECD Roundtable of Mayors and Ministers, and the OECD-UN Habitat-Cities Alliance National Urban Policy Platform. She holds a PhD and Ms Degree in Geography, specialised in Geopolitics from the University of Paris 8-Vincennes, and a Master’s degree in international relations.
Cheryl Jones Fur
Cheryl Jones Fur has been the Deputy Lord Mayor of the Municipal Council, as well as Deputy Chairperson of Växjö’s Technical Services Board, since 2018. She is on the board of directors of the municipality-owned energy company, Växjö Energi. From 2016-2018, Cheryl Jones Fur was Chairperson for Växjö’s Strategic Committee on Environment and Sustainability. Prior to this, she was Spokesperson for the Green Party in Kronoberg County and Chairperson for the Green Party in Växjö. Cheryl Jones Fur holds a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Uppsala (Sweden).
Dario Nardella holds a law degree and a Ph.D in Public Law, Construction and Environmental Law from the University of Florence. His political career began in 2004 as Councillor for the City of Florence (Democratic Party). He has since held a number of positions politically, including legal advisor to the Minister of Institutional Reforms, Deputy Mayor, and from 2014 Mayor of Florence and elected ANCI coordinator for the metropolitan cities (national municipal association).
Dr. Douglas Salt
Dr. Douglas Salt has twenty-five years of experience in commercial IT, as well as a doctorate in the semantic and information-theoretic aspects of databases, including formal ontologies.
He has worked at the James Hutton Institute since 2016, where he has developed an active interest in agent-based modelling. His work mainly focuses on the agriculture, environment and energy sectors, on projects funded by the Scottish Government and the European Union.
Erion Veliaj was re-elected as Mayor of Tirana in June 2019, after being first elected in June 2015. His first term in office was marked by an urban transformation of the city, oriented towards the implementation of child-friendly policies as part of his vision of giving the city back to the citizens. Prior to his tenure, Veliaj served as a Member of Parliament of Albania and Minister of Social Welfare and Youth from 2013 through 2015.
Before joining the ranks of the Socialist Party of Albania in 2011, Veliaj had a long experience as the leader and founder of the youth movement “MJAFT”, a civic organization which gained huge popularity for inspiring peaceful protest since its creation in 2003.Veliaj has also worked with several international humanitarian organisations in the Americas, Eastern Africa and Kosovo.
Felicitas Kubala has been the Mayor of Citizens’ Service, Environment and Technical Operations of the City of Mannheim since 2013. In the municipality, she is responsible for public green space, environmental and climate protection, and municipal enterprises, like waste management, waste water, and the city cemeteries. Since 2015, Felicitas Kubala has been the chairwoman of the Environment Committee of the Association of the Cities of the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg. From 2001 to 2012, she was member of the Berlin House of Representatives as vice-chairwomen of the parliamentary group of Bündnis90/Die Grünen. During her term, she has worked extensively on developing city parks and playgrounds to enhance the living quality and well-being of citizens.
Filippo Antonio Capizzi
Filippo Antonio Capizzi is a renewable energies engineer at the Brussels-based, greentech consulting company, Greenfish. His business development experience is on smart grids, energy efficiency for buildings, and Industry 4.0 solutions for the manufacturing industry. He is actively involved in disseminating European energy policies amongst sector professionals, and coaches and empowers his clients using an educational approach. His focus on targets, rather than technological trends, ensures that the energy transition is faced with boldness, flexibility, and adaptability.
Previously, Filippo Antonio Capizzi worked as an Energy Policies Expert at VITO (Flemish Institute for Technological Research), which focuses on the transition to a competitive, clean and secure energy system. In this role, he was a member of the European Topic Center for Air Pollution and Climate Change Mitigation.
Franz Untersteller MdL
Franz Untersteller, Minister of the Environment, Climate Protection and Energy Sector, was born on 4 April 1957 in Saarland. After graduating from the Nürtingen-Geislingen University of Applied Science with a degree in Landscape Planning in 1982 he initially worked for the Öko-Institut (Institute for Applied Ecology). From 1983 he was parliamentary advisor to the Green Parliamentary Group in the Baden-Württemberg State Parliament before being elected to the Parliament himself in 2006. From 2006 to 2011 he also acted as deputy chairman of the Green Parliamentary Group. Franz Untersteller has been Minister of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector in Baden-Württemberg since 2011.
Gorka Urtaran has been Mayor of Vitoria-Gasteiz since 2015. The city played an important role in the 8th European Conference on Sustainable Cities & Towns, which took place in 2016 and was hosted by the Basque Country. Mayor Utaran also brings unique knowledge on sustainable cities, as Vitoria-Gasteiz was the European Green Capital in 2012.
Harriët Tiemens became an alderman of the municipality of Nijmegen in 2014, where she is responsible for sustainable climate and energy, housing, mobility, parking, parks, and water. Since joining the political party, GroenLinks, in 1999 she has been an active member.
Before politics, she worked as an organizational consultant in business services and assisted companies and governments in policy and organizational development. She studied both Environmental Science and Public Administration.
In 2017, Harriët Tiemens placed fifth on the Sustainable Top100 list by the Dutch independent news publication, Trouw. In 2018, Nijmegen was a European Green Capital city, and it intends to be climate neutral by 2030.
Henk Kok is a senior strategist for the City of Eindhoven, where supports the interconnectivity between city projects and the European Agenda.
With more than thirty-five years of multi-level experience, Henk’s past roles include working at the grassroots level with neighborhood organizations, where he advocated for the integration of healthy living conditions for all. And, as a consultant, where he gained a sensitivity for co-designing solutions and balancing the technological, digital, and financial aspects of a project with all stakeholders. His awareness of data use and of the value of co-designing, complement his interests in climate neutrality and smart cities.
Dr. J. Gary Polhill
Dr. Gary Polhill has worked for over twenty years on agent-based modelling of various systems, as well as a professional programmer, in the fields of artificial intelligence and neural networks. His work mainly focuses on the agriculture, environmental, and energy sectors, on projects funded by the Scottish Government, the European Union and research councils in the UK and Norway. From 2016 to 2020, he was the President of the European Social Simulation Association, the leading learned society for agent-based modelling.
Dr. Jana Deforche
Dr. Jana Deforche is a project leader for the city of Antwerp, working on the Horizon 2020 project 'Social Innovation in Energy Transitions' (SONNET). Together with partners from the city community, she is building a living lab that is providing solutions to energy poverty through concrete experiments in the field. She has been working for the city of Antwerp as an EU funding advisor for Energy and Environment since 2014.
Following studies in Civil Engineering and Engineering Geology, Jonas Byström worked 20 years as a environmental and waste management consultant, based in Sweden, Japan, Malaysia and Denmark. He also held a position as Assistant Technical Attaché to the Swedish Embassy in Tokyo, Japan.
In 2007, Jonas Byström joined JASPERS in Luxembourg as waste management specialist, where he supported the preparation of EU co-funded projects. In 2010, he joined the Projects Directorate at the European Investment Bank, where he carries out due diligence and monitoring of solid waste, circular economy and urban development projects. He also undertakes sector development work, with particular focus on circular economy, and supervises technical assistance assignments.
José Sá Fernandes
José Sá Fernandes has been Deputy Mayor of Lisbon’s City Council since 2007, where he is responsible for Environment, Green Structure, Climate, and Energy. He has contributed greatly to the definition and implementation of climate change-focused strategies and policies, and was pivotal to Lisbon’s achievement of the European Green Capital Award for 2020.
Currently, his primary focus is developing Lisbon’s water efficiency policy, which includes measures for consumption reduction and the reuse of treated wastewater in parks and gardens. He has been responsible for integrating Urban Allotment Gardens which have reached 650 families, as well as 200 new hectares of urban green space.
His decades-long commitment to public causes has earned him the role of prominent environmental activist in Lisbon. He was previously a lawyer.
Judit Boros is a product and service designer who provides strategic design consultation for service and business development to organisations ranging from large service providers, to start-ups or NGOs.
Although her background is in engineering, she started her Ph.D. project in 2017, where she is investigating the role of design in the integration of nature-based solutions (NBS) to urban environments. With her thesis work, she is joining the NATURVATION research program that seeks to understand the effects and implications of NBS to specific urban challenges, and unlock the potential of NBS for sustainable urban development. She is interested both in the theoretical and practical aspects of applying transition design to urban sustainability challenges.
Prof. Laszlo Pinter
László Pintér is Professor and Head of Department at the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy at the Central European University (CEU), and Senior Fellow at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). László has been working on sustainable development for nearly three decades.
During his years at IISD, he carried out pioneering work on sustainability indicators, sustainable development strategies and integrated assessments, often with an emphasis on the natural resources sectors. While at CEU, he has been conducting research on the potential of nature-based solutions (NBS) to re-nature cities in the Horizon 2020 funded NATURVATION project.
Dr. Luise Noring
Dr. Luise Noring's applied research and scholarship focus on urban governance and finance, which target cities and city stakeholders to spur inclusive economic growth through urban redevelopment, infrastructure investments, affordable and social housing, and devolved political and fiscal powers. Noring is Assistant Professor and Research Director of the City Solutions Team at Copenhagen Business School (2016-present) and Visiting Researcher at HafenCity University Hamburg (2018-present). She was a Research Fellow at The Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program (2016-2018) and has served as an EU-commissioned policy expert advising on sustainable urbanisation and nature-based solutions (2014-2015). Noring has sat on numerous advisory boards related to sustainable urbanisation and business development, and she is a recognised leader in driving processes of urban change.
Maria is a Member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), one of the EU consultative bodies, representing the Spanish Trade Union 'Comisones Obreras'. She is also the President of the Association for the Development of Timebanks in Spain. In the EESC, she participates in the Agriculture, Rural Development, and Environment sections, contributing to the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform and the Sustainable Development Observatory. She is also involved in the Transport, Energy and Digitalisation section, by participating in the focus group on Services of General Interest.
Markus Duscha has 30 years of experience in strategic political consulting and research for sustainable development. Prior to the establishment of Fair Finance Institute (2016), he served as managing director and as the head of the department for topics related to the energy turnaround at IFEU – Institut für Energie- und Umweltforschung Heidelberg gGmbH for nearly 25 years. Since 2014, his focus has been on the necessary restructuring of the financial system towards sustainability. Thus, FaFin focuses on consulting, research and design for sustainable finance.
Martin W. W. Horn
Martin Horn holds a Bachelor's degree in International social work from The Ludwigsburg Protestant University of Applied Science (Evangelischen Hochschule Ludwigsburg) and a Masters degree in European and World Politics from the University of Bremen. Before being elected Lord Mayor of Freiburg in 2018, Horn worked as European and Development Coordinator for the City of Sindelfingen (Germany) and as a freelance lecturer at the Ludwigsburg Protestant University of Applied Science.
Marvin Rees was elected mayor of Bristol in May 2016, following a rich career in international development, social justice, and journalism. He holds a number of public appointments, including the National Community Forum, Yale World Fellow, and co-founder of the City Leadership Programme. During his time in office, he has overseen the building of over 8,000 homes, announced the development of a mass transit system and led city-wide campaigns on period poverty and child hunger. He has also volunteered with the National Health Service Bristol's Public Health team on Delivering Race Equality in Mental Health. His academic background is in Political Theory and Government, and Global Economic Development.
Minna Arve has served as the Mayor of Turku since 2017. Turku-born Arve is a Master of Economics and a nurse. During her career Arve has worked as the Managing Director of Turku Chamber of Commerce, Party Secretary of the Finnish National Coalition Party, full-time Chairperson of the City Board in Turku, and Marketing Manager of HyTest Oy. She has also led a long career in municipal politics. As the Mayor of Turku, Arve has highlighted major issues such as sustainable growth, urban inclusion, the prevention of social exclusion, and new means of industrial and business policies.
Stefan Goemaere is a community worker in the Flanders region of Belgium. For the past twenty years, he has worked as a community builder at Samenlevingsopbouw West-Vlaanderen. He has spent much of the past eight years fighting energy poverty and the social aspects of housing quality. This has included conducting household visits, and being a help-desk for local public social aid agencies in the pursuit of tackling energy poverty. He also leads lobbying work on the Flemish and Belgian policy levels.
Currently, he is leading the Papillon project, a circular economy product-as-service rental model for energy saving household appliances for people in poverty. The project is co-created with Bosch Belgium.
Susan Aitken became Leader of Glasgow City Council when the Scottish National Party (SNP) became the largest party on the Council and formed a minority administration in May 2017. She was elected as a councillor for the Langside ward, where she lives, in 2012 and has been leader of the SNP group since 2014, having previously served as the group spokesperson on health and social care.
Before being elected, Susan worked in a variety of policy and research roles in the Scottish Parliament and the third sector, and as a freelance writer and editor specialising in health and social care policy. She grew up in Biggar in South Lanarkshire and is a graduate of both Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities.
Thomas Kastrup-Larsen has been a member of Aalborg City Council since 1998. From 2007-2013, he was Mayor of the Department of Health and Sustainability, and since 2014 he has been the Lord Mayor of Aalborg Municipality, the third largest municipality in Denmark.
Thomas Kastrup-Larsen is on the Transformative Action Award Jury.
Tine Heyse has been the Deputy Mayor of the City of Ghent since January 2013. She currently holds an executive portfolio combining energy, climate, international solidarity and environmental policies. She is also co-president of Climate Alliance. Combining an effective local climate policy with social justice is one her main areas of focus right now.
Climate and energy have been common themes throughout her career, having worked as a campaigner for Greenpeace for 10 years and at the climate change unit of the Belgian Federal Ministry of Environment. Before taking office as Deputy Mayor of Ghent, she was the climate and energy expert for the Green Party in the Belgian federal parliament.
Trevor Graham is the director of Urbanisland, a company focused on innovative sustainable communities and economic development. He works with public, private, academic, and non-profit partners as a strategic advisor and project manager, using a partnership approach and sustainable development and community perspective. He works primarily with sustainable cities, but also in rural and island development contexts.
Originally from the UK, Trevor spent fifteen years leading sustainability work for the City of Malmö (Sweden), driving urban regeneration, innovation, and sustainable business models. More recently, he has worked as Director of Environment on the island of St Helena, with responsibilities ranging from spatial planning and property management, to agriculture and environment.
Dr. Wander Jager
Wander Jager is an Associate Professor at the University of Groningen and the Managing Director of the Groningen Center for Social Complexity Studies. His teaching and research focuses on how interactions between people give rise to the emergence of collective behavior. In particular, he is interested in the spreading of new technologies, opinion dynamics and polarization, and the societal transition towards sustainability.
He uses behavioural theory and empirical data in agent-based simulations to study processes of social innovation, such as transportation, farming and city-planning.
Wolfgang Teubner is the ICLEI regional director for Europe and the managing director of the ICLEI European Secretariat. With more than 25 years of professional experience, Wolfgang has been working with local governments on sustainable urban development, climate adaptation and mitigation, waste management, and sustainable urban transport policies. Since 1994, he has been involved in the European Sustainable Cities and Towns Platform, during which he participated in the drafting of the Aalborg Charter and the 2016 Basque Declaration. He has been involved in more than 150 European and international projects, including several research activities.