keynote speakers

Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson is Adjunct Professor for Climate Justice in Trinity College Dublin and Chair of The Elders.  She served as President of Ireland from 1990-1997 and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997-2002. She is a member of the Club of Madrid and the recipient of numerous honours and awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from the President of the United States Barack Obama. Between 2013 and 2016 Mary served as the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy in three roles; first for the Great Lakes region of Africa, then on Climate Change leading up to the Paris Agreement and in 2016 as his Special Envoy on El Niño and Climate. Her Foundation, the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, established in 2010, came to a planned end in April 2019.

A former President of the International Commission of Jurists and former chair of the Council of Women World Leaders she was President and founder of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative from 2002-2010 and served as Honorary President of Oxfam International from 2002-2012. She was Chancellor of the University of Dublin from 1998 to 2019. 

Mary Robinson serves as Patron of the International Science Council and Patron of the Board of the Institute of Human Rights and Business, is an Ambassador for The B Team, in addition to being a board member of several organisations including the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and the Aurora Foundation. Recently she became joint Honorary President of the Africa Europe Foundation. Mary’s memoir, ‘Everybody Matters’ was published in September 2012 and her book, ‘Climate Justice – Hope, Resilience and the Fight for a Sustainable Future’ was published in September 2018. She is also co-host of a podcast on the climate crisis, called ‘Mothers of Invention’.

Kumi Naidoo

Kumi was International Executive Director of Greenpeace International, from 2009-2015, and Secretary General of Amnesty International, from 2018-2020. As of June 2020, he is Global Ambassador for Africans Rising for Justice, Peace & Dignity.

He has served as the Secretary-General of Civicus, an international alliance for citizen participation, from 1998 to 2008.

Kumi has also served the Global Call to Action Against Poverty and the Global Call for Climate Action, which brings together environmental aid, religious and human rights groups, labour unions, scientists and others and has organised mass demonstrations around climate negotiations.

Princess Esméralda of Belgium

Princess Esméralda is a member of the Belgian Royal family. She is a journalist, author and keynote speaker. She has also co-produced three documentaries and written books about her family, environmental issues and female Nobel Peace Prize winners. Esméralda is a human rights’ campaigner, particularly for the rights of women and indigenous people, and an environmental activist. She has spoken out on a number of sensitive issues. She believes that we all have a responsibility to confront the past and build a better society in the future. 

In June 2020, Princess Esméralda voiced her support for the #BlackLivesMatter campaign in the wake of the death of George Floyd. She spoke about Belgium’s colonial past and its rule over the Congo when millions of Congolese died during the reign of her great grand-uncle, King Leopold II. She argued vehemently that we need to address the institutionalised racism in our society. 

She also dedicates a lot of her time to environmental issues and took part in the Extinction Rebellion protests in 2019. She was one of 1,200 people to be arrested. 

She is the President of the Leopold III Fund for Nature Exploration and Conservation, founded in 1972 by her late father who was one the first European to visit the Xingu National Park in Brazil during the sixties and to spend months with indigenous communities.

Claudia S. de Windt

International lawyer and expert in political sciences, from the Dominican Republic.  Visiting Scholar at The Environmental Law Institute (ELI). Adjunct Associate Professor at American University, Washington College of Law. Collaborating Researcher of the Center of Constitutional Studies of the Supreme Court of Mexico. Member of the Steering Committee of the World Commission on Environmental Law of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), of the group  of experts of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for crimes that have serious impacts on the environment, and the group of experts in environmental law of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Central America. Keynote speaker at national and international forums, frequently addressing high-level authorities including heads of state, ministers, parliamentarians, and judges.

Runa Khan

Runa Khan, Founder and Executive Director of Friendship, an International Social Purpose Organization supporting remote vulnerable communities in Bangladesh. Established in 2002, Friendship brings direct services to over 6.5 million lives a year. Its promise is based on 4 themes: Saving Lives, Poverty Alleviation, Climate Adaptation and Empowerment. Friendship has also been active in the Rohingya crisis response in Bangladesh with health, water and sanitation, and educational services. She is the Founder and Co-chair of Friendship International which operates from five European countries, building an improved understanding and stronger relationship between resource providers and beneficiaries, advocating new concepts of working together as a Global Team supporting and believing in Friendship’s actions, concepts, and ideas, and providing valuable affiliations and linkages, as well as financial and nonfinancial support to Friendship. Her work is based on simple logic, empathy, respect, innovation, and a deep sense of justice.

Runa Khan is also a member of the board of Global Dignity, the Advisory Council of British Asian Trust, the board of BIC Corporate Foundation, and the Business Advisory Board of Independent University Bangladesh. She is an advocate of climate change and human rights, women’s empowerment and leadership and the importance of nurturing human values. She is an International Speaker at Conferences and Universities on the above subjects. International awards and recognitions received include:

Ashoka fellow (1994); Rolex Awards for Entrepreneurship (2006); Social Entrepreneur Award, IDB (contribution toward Women in Development) (2008); Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur (2012); Social Innovation Leadership Award by the World CSR Congress (2014); Green Award by Positive Planet Foundation (2016). 

Dr Mithika Mwenda

Dr Mithika Mwenda is a distinguished a strategic thinker, dynamic, consummate networker and team builder, with vast experience working and catalyzing transformative change in communities, civil society and other sectors he has worked. In 2016, the influential Pan African Magazine, Le Afrique, named him among the top 50 African Intellectuals due to his contribution to climate policy discourses in the continent.  Dr. Mwenda was named the “100 most influential people in the world” on climate policy in 2019.  His vision is to see an accelerated implementation of the Paris Agreement to help millions of African people grossly affected by climate change rebuild their livelihoods through various initiatives catalyzed by the Agreement. He is leading PACJA and partner organizations to translate provisions of the Paris Agreement, such as adaptation, mitigation, finance, technology transfer, loss and damage, and transparency into actions.

Nigel Topping

Nigel Topping is the UK’s High-Level Climate Action Champion, appointed by the UK Prime Minister in January 2020. Nigel works alongside the Chilean High-Level Climate Action Champion, Gonzalo Muñoz. The role of the high-level champions is to strengthen collaboration and drive action from businesses, investors, organisations, cities, and regions on climate change, and coordinate this work with governments and parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Nigel was most recently CEO of We Mean Business, a coalition of businesses working to accelerate the transition to a zero carbon economy. Prior to that he was Executive Director of the Carbon Disclosure Project, following an 18 year career in the private sector, having worked across the world in emerging markets and manufacturing.

Ashley Komangaapik Rose Cummings

Ashley Komangaapik Rose Cummings, Indigenous rights activist for Inuit communities in Canada; Member of Canadian Prime Minister’s Youth Council

Ashley Cummings is a proud Inuk youth from Pangnirtung, Nunavut and currently living in Whitehorse, Yukon. As an alumna of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council, Ashley advised the Prime Minister on issues that have included (but are not limited to) rural and northern health/well-being, supporting ethical and Indigenous-led tourism, mental health and other issues affecting youth across Canada. Her colourful background living in Nunavut, Yukon, Nova Scotia, Quebec and New Brunswick has given her a comprehensive perspective on life for Indigenous young people from coast to coast to coast. Ashley has been accepted to the Bachelor of Indigenous Governance program at Yukon University and she looks forward to meaningfully studying the ways she can work to better her communities. When Ashley’s not working, she loves sharing stories with friends, learning new skills, and exploring the beautiful places she calls home.

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim is an environmental activist and member of Chad’s pastoralist Mbororo people. She is dedicated to the protection of all Indigenous peoples and to the value of their traditional knowledge in the fight against climate change and biodiversity protection.
She began advocating for Indigenous rights and environmental protection at age 16, founding the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad (AFPAT) to introduce new income revenue activities and collaborative tools such as 3D participatory mapping to build sustainable ecosystems management and reduction of nature-based resource conflicts. She is a member of the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee and serves as co-chair of the Facilitative Working Group of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform of the UNFCCC. She also serves as a UN Sustainable Development Goal Advocate, Conservation International Board Member, and Earthshot Prize Council Member. Ibrahim’s work with indigenous communities at the local and global level has achieved broad recognition and support including, the 2021 Rolex Award for Enterprise; the 2020 Refugee International’s Holbrooke Award; the 2019 Pritzker Emerging Environmental Genius Award and the Daniel Mitterrand Prize.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was elected WHO Director-General for a five-year term by WHO Member States at the Seventieth World Health Assembly in May 2017. In doing so, he was the first WHO Director-General elected from among multiple candidates by the World Health Assembly, and was the first person from the WHO African Region to head the world’s leading public health agency.

Born in the Eritrean city of Asmara, Dr Tedros graduated from the University of Asmara with a Bachelor of Biology, before earning a Master of Science (MSc) in Immunology of Infectious Diseases from the University of London, a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Community Health from the University of Nottingham and an Honorary Fellowship from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Following his studies, Dr Tedros returned to Ethiopia to support the delivery of health services, first working as a field-level malariologist, before heading a regional health service and later serving in Ethiopia’s federal government for over a decade as Minister of Health and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

As Minister of Health from 2005 to 2012, he led a comprehensive reform of the country’s health system, built on the foundation of universal health coverage and provision of services to all people, even in the most remote areas.

Under his leadership, Ethiopia expanded its health infrastructure, developed innovative health financing mechanisms, and expanded its health workforce. A major component of reforms he drove was the creation of a primary health care extension programme that deployed 40 000 female health workers throughout the country. A significant result was an approximate 60% reduction in child and maternal mortality compared to 2000 levels.

As Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2012 to 2016, he elevated health as a political issue nationally, regionally and globally. In this role, he led efforts to negotiate the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, in which 193 countries committed to the financing necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Prior to his election as Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros held many leadership positions in global health, including as Chair of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, Chair of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, and Co-chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Board.

After taking office as WHO Director-General on 1 July 2017, Dr Tedros initiated the most significant transformation in the Organization’s history, which has generated a wide range of achievements.​









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