MEET THE 2023 JUDGES

The Panel of Judges for the 2023 UN SDG Action Awards is comprised of distinguished individuals from around the world – from UN leadership, high-level government representatives, grassroots activists, civil society, creatives, and impact-driven business champions. Given their extensive experience and knowledge, our judges are uniquely positioned to identify and celebrate the most impactful initiatives and individuals that mobilize, inspire and connect people to drive positive change.
 
The UN SDG Action Campaign is honoured to work with such a distinguished group of leaders committed to flipping the script to build a peaceful, greener and sustainable world for all.

Muhammed Muheisen

Canon Ambassador & Founder of Everyday Refugees Foundation

Canon Ambassador Muhammed Muheisen is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist and founder of the Everyday Refugees Foundation. He has been documenting the world’s refugee crisis for over a decade under the theme ‘a smile in the middle of the rubble’. Muhammed has seen a great deal pass before his lens. Since 2001, he has photographed major events around the world including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Yemeni revolution, the US-led war in Iraq, and the Syrian civil war. He has also documented the funerals of the former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and the late South African president Nelson Mandela, and the capture of the former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

Inger Ashing

CEO, Save the Children International

Inger Ashing is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Save the Children International. A respected child rights activist, she set up her own youth organisation at the age of 12, working against racism and violence at county level. Since then, Inger has been determined to make children’s voices heard. She has been associated with Save the Children for more than 25 years, first serving as a youth advocate and later on the Boards of Save the Children Sweden and Save the Children International. Prior to her appointment in September 2019, Inger held various national and international roles focused on children’s rights and was most recently Director General at the Swedish Agency against Segregation. 

The Honourable Karina Gould

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Government of Canada

The Honourable Karina Gould was elected as a Member of Parliament in 2015. She has served as Minister of International Development and Minister of Democratic Institutions. A graduate of McGill University and the University of Oxford, Minister Gould is passionate about helping Canadian families, public service, and international development. Before being elected, she worked as a trade and investment specialist for the Mexican Trade Commission in Toronto, and as a consultant for the Migration and Development Program at the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C. With the birth of her son Oliver, Minister Gould became the first woman federal Cabinet minister to give birth while holding office. She is passionate about breaking down barriers for women, youth, and underrepresented groups.

Tunç Soyer

Mayor of Izmir Metropolitan Municipality, Republic of Türkiye

Mayor Soyer was the Mayor of Seferihisar for two terms, between 2009-2019, and was elected as the Mayor of Izmir Metropolitan Municipality in March 2019. He has taken on numerous international leadership roles such as being the Vice President and member of the Executive Bureau in the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (CoE). He is also a full member of l′Assemblée Régionale et Locale Euro-Méditerranéenne (ARLEM), representing Mediterranean coastal cities (MedCities). Mayor Soyer completed his university degree at Ankara University, Faculty of Law. He holds a master’s degree in international relations from Webster College in Switzerland and a master’s degree in the European Union from Dokuz Eylül University in İzmir.

The Honourable Emma Inamutila Theofelus

Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Republic of Namibia

The Hon. Emma Theofelus is a young, 27-year-old Namibian born in Windhoek, who is currently a Member of Parliament and the Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology in the Republic of Namibia. Before her appointment, The Hon. Emma Theofelus was a youth activist for issues of gender, children’s rights, sustainable development, and youth unemployment. She served as the Deputy Speaker of the Youth Parliament of the Republic of Namibia and the Junior Mayor of the City of Windhoek, amongst other roles. Hon. Emma Theofelus holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) from the University of Namibia, a Diploma in Business Management from Amity University and a Diploma in Afrikan Feminism and Gender Studies from the University of South Africa. Hon. Emma Theofelus has been awarded the Laureate in the Individual Category of the United Nations Population Award in 2022 and serves as a board member of the Leadership Council of Africa REACH and council member of Nala Feminist Movement.

Felizitas Graeber

Managing Director, Capgemini Invent Germany

Felizitas is the Managing Director of Capgemini Invent Germany, the digital innovation, design and transformation brand of the Capgemini Group. She joined Capgemini, a leading global consultancy group with more than 360,000 employees worldwide, over 20 years ago. Felizitas consults international clients across industries, driving topics such as sustainability, digital strategy and innovation, future organizations, major transformations, and leadership coaching. Sustainability, diversity, inclusion and social responsibility are strong beliefs in her role as a leader, but also in her private life, Felizitas studied economics at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich with stops in Paris and New York and lives with her family in the Bavarian capital.

Martina Caironi

Paralympic Athlete

Martina Caironi, born on July 24, 1989, in Milan, Italy, is a renowned Paralympic athlete and advocate for sustainable development. Competing in para-athletics, specifically in the T42 classification, Martina has achieved remarkable success on the international stage. Her most notable accomplishment came at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, where she won a gold medal and set a world record in the 100 meters T42 event.  Martina has also secured multiple podium finishes at World Championships and other prestigious competitions, solidifying her status as one of Italy’s most celebrated para-athletes. In 2022, she was honoured to carry the Paralympic Flame at Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games. She is now a member of the IPC Athletes’ Council and an active athlete, running towards Paris 2024.

Beyond her athletic achievements, Martina Caironi is dedicated to promoting sustainable development and inclusivity. With a background in environmental science, she possesses a profound understanding of the importance of preserving our planet and creating a more inclusive society.

Niels Annen

Parliamentary State Secretary, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Federal Republic of Germany

Niels Annen has been the Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development since December 2021.  Prior to this, Mr. Annen served as Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office (2018-2021), foreign policy spokesperson for the SPD parliamentary group in the German Bundestag (2014-2018), and member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and deputy member of the Committee on Economics and Energy (2013-2018).

Mr. Annen is a strong advocate of universal human rights, fostering humanitarian aid, peace mediation, and inclusive sustainable development.

Shomy Hasan Chowdhury

Co-Founder, Awareness 360

Shomy Hasan Chowdhury is an award-winning Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) activist from Bangladesh. She is a development professional with 10+ years of experience in community development. Shomy co-founded the global non-profit Awareness 360, through which she empowers young people across 40+ countries in advancing the UN Global Goals. She has been recognized by Samsung Global and UNDP as the first ever Generation17 Young Leader from the Asia Pacific for the inaugural cohort, one in 4 in the world. For her outstanding social impact, she was listed as a Forbes 30 Under 30 and was spotlighted as a Featured Honoree. She is also a Schwarzman Scholar, Specialist of the US State Department’s CEE Program, Global Citizen Youth Advocate, former Asia Representative of the Commonwealth Students’ Association, Global Changemakers Fellow, Royal Commonwealth Society Fellow, Queen’s Commonwealth Trust Member, Youth Advisory Board Member of Youth Combating NTDs, Advisor at Social Enterprise World Forum, and sits in leadership & advisory positions of multiple international organizations. In 2018, Shomy was invited to Pakistan as an International Election Observer to observe the Pakistan General Elections, appointed by the Commonwealth Secretary-General Rt Hon. Patricia Scotland. Shomy spoke at the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park, New York, addressing a crowd of over 60,000 people. She was also invited to Kensington Palace, UK to meet His Royal Highness Prince William. Her notable recognitions include the President’s Volunteer Service Award (Gold) by President Barack Obama, the Putra Icon Award, Global Leader Award, and The Diana Legacy Award.

Gemma Styles

Podcaster, writer, MQ Ambassador and SDG Champion

Gemma Styles is a Podcaster, Writer and MQ Ambassador who uses her voice to raise awareness on a variety of global matters she is passionate about. With the aim to use her platforms for good, Gemma has built a loyal audience who are invested in learning and are eager to implement change. As the host of the award-winning podcast, Good Influence, Gemma invites discussion on topics that we should be familiar with, from mental health to sustainability and feminism. After three successful seasons, Gemma has reached over 900k downloads and won ‘Podcast of the Year’ at the 2022 Blogosphere Awards. In partnership with Kenmark, Gemma crafted her own brand, Gemma Styles Eyewear, launched three successful sunglasses collections, and branched into optical eyewear last year.

Inna Modja

Musician, Co-Founder & CEO of Code Green and UNCCD Goodwill Ambassador

Inna Modja is a Malian-French singer, musician, and visual Artist. She is also a UNCCD Goodwill Ambassador and women’s rights activist. She is the CEO and Co-Founder of Code Green, a web3 green-tech company, and a leading figure in the web3 and NFT space. Through her music, she empowers women and people living at the frontline of climate change. Her photography is inspired by the work of her mentor Malick Sidibé, and West African photographers of the 60s, including Seydou Keita and Sory Sanlé. Growing up in Bamako, she was fascinated by the natural elegance of the people in the streets, which she loves to capture in sophisticated compositions.

Carmelo Troccoli

General Director, World Farmers Markets Coalition

Carmelo Troccoli is the General Director of the World Farmers Market Coalition. He began his work with Coldiretti in 2002 at Coldiretti’s Representation to the Community Institutions in Brussels, as a policy advisor on issues such as intellectual property, international agreements, and innovation programs in agriculture. From October 2009 to January 2018, he was National Secretary of Coldiretti Giovani Impresa, for which he organized “Oscar Green”, the main competition on innovation in the primary sector. Since November 2016, he has been director of the Campagna Amica Foundation, which promotes the world’s largest network of farmers, selling directly under the same brand. 

In recent years, there have been many projects he has focused on including the creation of the World’s First Coalition of Farmers Markets, enhancing food education programs in schools, strengthening the network of Social Farming farms, and defending and safeguarding biodiversity.

ACHIM STEINER

Administrator, United Nations Development Programme

Achim Steiner became UNDP Administrator on 19 June 2017. The United Nations General Assembly confirmed his appointment following his nomination by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. In April 2021, the UN General Assembly confirmed his appointment to a second four-year term beginning in June 2021. Mr. Steiner is also the Vice-Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group, which unites 40 UN system entities that support sustainable development.

Mr. Steiner has served across the United Nations system, looking at global challenges from both a humanitarian and a development perspective. He led the United Nations Environment Programme (2006-2016), helping governments invest in clean technologies and renewable energy. He was also Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi. Achim Steiner previously held other notable positions, including Director General of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Secretary General of the World Commission on Dams. Achim Steiner has lived and worked in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Latin America and the United States. He graduated in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (MA) from Worcester College, Oxford University and holds an MA from the University of London/School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

Rebeca Grynspan

Secretary-General, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

Rebeca Grynspan, of Costa Rica, was appointed the eighth Secretary-General of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on 13 September 2021. She is the first woman to hold this position in the history of the organization. She is also Coordinator of the Task Team of the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance set up by the UN Secretary-General to help support developed and developing countries face the economic shocks related to the war in Ukraine. 

Prior to her UNCTAD appointment, she was the Secretary-General of the Ibero-American Conference from 2014 to 2021, the first woman to lead the organization. She is also a former Under Secretary-General of the UN and Associate Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and a former Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. Prior to joining the UN, she served as Vice President of Costa Rica from 1994 to 1998. She also held the positions of Minister of Housing, Minister Coordinator of Economic and Social Affairs, and Deputy Finance Minister.

Ms. Grynspan holds a degree in economics from the University of Costa Rica and a Master’s degree in economics from the University of Sussex. She was awarded a Doctorate Honoris Causa by the University of Salamanca, the University of Extremadura, and the European University of Madrid in recognition of her outstanding professional achievements.

Chioma “Cill” Ogbonna

Singer, Songwriter, Artivist and SDG Advocate

Cill (born Chioma Ogbonna) is a Singer, Songwriter and Artivist based in Lagos State, Nigeria. Cill uses her music for promoting social causes, focusing on the themes of political participation, human rights, and accountability. She is a member of the Music for Democracy Network, which collaborates with other artists from different parts of the world, especially in Africa. In 2019, she won the Accountability Music Award after being nominated alongside great artists such as Falz, Fatoumata Diawara, Sauti Sol and Platinum Prince. She became a Fair Play Music Ambassador in 2020, a global platform launched by Transparency International, JM International, and the International Anti-Corruption Conference for young artists to connect with global changemakers fighting corruption and amplifying their voices.

Jean-Sébastien Decaux

Member of the Supervisory Board of JCDecaux SE

Jean-Sébastien Decaux joined JCDecaux Group in 1998.  He became CEO for Belgium in 2004, taking over operations for Luxembourg, Southern Europe, Africa, and Israel by 2010. Mr. Decaux became a Board Member of the group in 2013. In 2019, he left his operational functions to devote himself to his role as Co-CEO of JCDecaux Holding (Family Holding). In May 2020, he became Member of the JCDecaux Group Supervisory Board. He also founded in 2017 the Terre & Fils endowment fund and impact investing vehicle, operating on patrimonial know-how in France.

Sandra Uwera Murasa

Global CEO, Fairtrade International

Sandra Uwera Murasa is the Global CEO of Fairtrade International. Previously, she served as CEO of COMESA Business Council, the leading Business Member Organization in Africa and a private sector institution of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), which represents 34 business sectors across 21 countries. As part of Ms. Uwera Murasa’s work with CBC and COMESA, she has led projects and programs on sustainable solutions for small and medium enterprises, advocacy, technical capacity-building, industry competitiveness and market access, digital financial inclusion, and programs focused on women and youth empowerment. Ms. Uwera Murasa is also an Eisenhower fellow and sits on various Boards in Africa and internationally. She holds a Master of Science in Strategic Planning, a Bachelor of Arts in Corporate Communications, and has undertaken advanced professional training in international trade policy and law, digital inclusion, and leadership for business sustainability.

Pablo Ciano

CEO, DHL eCommerce Solutions, Deutsche Post DHL Group

Pablo Ciano is the CEO of DHL eCommerce Solutions at Deutsche Post DHL Group. He began his career at Deutsche Post DHL Group in 2005 as DHL Express’ Senior Director for Strategy and Business Implementation. Over the years, he took on various leadership roles within the DHL Express US organization, including Chief of Staff CEO US positions from 2008 to 2012. In 2012, he was promoted to the role of Chief Information Officer at DHL Express Americas and became a member of the Express Americas Management Board. Pablo’s responsibilities expanded in 2014 when he took on the role of Vice President of Customer Services for DHL Express Americas, followed by his appointment as CEO Central and South America in January 2016. In 2018 he took over the position as EVP Corporate Development & Corporate First Choice in Deutsche Post DHL Group and successfully led the development and roll out of the Group wide “Strategy 2025”. With his wealth of experience, he was appointed as a Member of the Board of Management at Deutsche Post AG in 2022. Pablo holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the Darden Business School at the University of Virginia.

Lucia Silva

Group Chief Sustainability Officer, Assicurazioni Generali

Lucia Silva is the Group Chief Sustainability Officer for Assicurazioni Generali, where she leads the definition and implementation of the Group Sustainability strategy and policies.

Lucia is a senior sustainability professional with 20 years of experience. She strongly believes that by aligning people, planet, and profit, companies can ensure they are successful now and in the future, also creating shared value for their stakeholders. In her current role, she has the opportunity to work on some of the most pressing challenges of our time, such as climate change, ageing population, demographic changes, and digitalization. Her focus is on integrating sustainability into business practices, looking at insurance products, and investment strategies. Lucia also covers the role of Board Member for some Generali companies such as: Generali Italia, Generali Deutschland, Generali Real Estate and the Foundation The Human Safety Net. 

Prior to joining Generali, Lucia worked for 15 years at KPMG, where she successfully supported various companies from a wide range of sectors in defining and developing their sustainability strategy. Lucia holds a Master’s degree in ‘Governance, Business Ethics and Risk Management’ from Libero Istituto Universitario Carlo Cattaneo University and a degree in Philosophy from Statale di Milano University.

Jayathma Wickramanayake

United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth

Jayathma Wickramanayake was appointed as the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth in 2017 at the age of 26. She is the youngest senior official in the UN and the first woman to hold this position. In this role, Jayathma works to expand the UN’s youth engagement and advocacy efforts across all four pillars of the organization’s work and serves as a representative of and advisor to the Secretary-General. In 2019 Jayathma was recognized by Time Magazine as one of “Time 100 Next: Rising stars shaping the future” and in 2020 was recognized by Forbes magazine as part of its “30 under 30” list. Originally from Sri Lanka, she has worked extensively on youth development and participation, including playing a key role in transforming the youth development sector. Prior to taking up her post, Jayathma was instrumental in creating the movement for civic and political engagement of young people, especially young women, in Sri Lanka through the “Hashtag Generation” movement. Previously, she advocated for global youth development on an international level including as the first ever Sri Lankan Youth Delegate to the UN and as the youth lead negotiator and member of International Youth Task Force of the World Conference on Youth.

Steven W. Stavrou

Co-Founder & Director, CyprusInno
Steven is a PeaceTech entrepreneur, deeply passionate about using social innovation to tackle complex issues in fragile contexts. He is the Co-Founder of CyprusInno, an award-winning social venture that connects and empowers entrepreneurs across the divided island of Cyprus via digital tools, live programs, and physical spaces as a path towards peace. He is also the Co-Founder of The Base by CyprusInno, a Social Impact Generator™ situated within Cyprus’ Buffer Zone and the first innovation space of its kind in the world located in a demilitarized zone. Steven is a European Obama Leader (2022) and a Yunus & Youth Social Entrepreneurship Fellow (2019).

Paola Andrade

Co-founder and Executive Director, Ecuador Says No More Foundation

Paola Andrade is an international activist and expert on sexual violence and prevention. She is the Co-founder and Executive Director of Ecuador Says No More Foundation, which received a 2022 UN SDG Action Award in the Mobilize category for driving a series of inspirational campaigns to empower sexual abuse survivors to become ‘SUPER survivors’ and realise their potential as agents of change. Paola received UNICEF’s “Champion for Children” medal in 2022. She is also a spokeswoman for UN Women’s #HearMeToo Campaign for Latin America.  As a video producer, writer, and campaign specialist, she has created innovative resources and audio-visual tools with 22 million downloads to prevent sexual violence across the world. She is currently developing “SHEroes of 5 Continents”, a series of worldwide events focused on inspiring and giving practical resources to Latina women refugees and migrants in Europe who are survivors of, or at risk of, sexual violence. She is passionate about rethinking how to flip the script through transformative and creative leadership with one purpose: a safe world.

Billie Dumaliang

Co-Founder and Trustee, Masungi Georeserve Foundation

Billie Dumaliang is a Trustee of the Masungi Georeserve Foundation, an award-winning environmental conservation organization protecting a threatened karst ecosystem in Rizal, Philippines, through research, education, protection, and innovation geo-tourism. Today, her team’s goal is to reforest some 2,700 hectares of degraded watershed areas, serving as the capital’s natural defence against climate change.  Billie is an honouree of the 2022 Forbes 30 under 30 in Asia List for Social Impact, the 2021 Vanity Fair Changing Your Mind Travel Awards, and was named “Warrior of the Year” by Esquire Magazine PH in 2021, together with her sister Ann Dumaliang. The Masungi Georeserve was the winner of the 2022 UN SDG Action Award in the Inspire category.

Srishti Bakshi

Founder, WOMB – Women of My Billion

After spending more than a decade in the corporate world, Srishti’s passion for gender equity led her to embark on a remarkable journey. She walked 3,800 kilometres over 230 days across India to put a spotlight on social norms that limit a girl’s potential. Srishti conducted over 100 workshops focussed on importance of digital literacy and financial independence for all women. Her journey has been captured in an 11-time awarded documentary, WOMB – ‘Women Of My Billion’. After her walk, Srishti, further committed herself to grassroots projects focussed on gender equity in education and resilient livelihoods.

In recognition of her outstanding contributions, Srishti has received several awards, including the 2022 UN SDG Action Award in the Changemaker category. Her work has been featured in two TED talks, TEDWomen, and TED Salon.

Hon. Antonio Tajani

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Republic of Italy

The Honourable Antonio Tajani is the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for the Government of Italy. He was appointed Vice President of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on 22 October 2022. Mr. Tajani was born in Rome on 4 August 1953. From 2019 to 2022 he served as Chair of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs and of the Conference of Committee Chairs of the European Parliament. In January 2022, he was re-elected, by acclamation, Chair of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs. He actively worked to implement the Conference on the Future of Europe and was a key player in the talks over the Brexit agreement, always upholding the rights of European citizens living in the United Kingdom. He has participated, for over 20 years, in the volunteer work of the non-profit organization “Comunità in Dialogo” in Trivigliano (Frosinone), aimed at the recovery and social reintegration of young people with substance use disorder. Since 2018, he has been donating his pension as former Vice President of the European Commission to this very organization. He graduated in Law from the University of Rome – La Sapienza and was an officer in the Italian Air Force. He is married and has two children. He speaks French, English, and Spanish fluently. 

Carolina Cosse

Mayor of Montevideo, Uruguay

Mayor Cosse is the elected Mayor of Montevideo, the capital and largest city of Uruguay, and she also serves as the President of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG).Ms. Cosse’s involvement in politics began in 2007, when she assumed the position of Director of the Information Technology Division of the Departmental Government of Montevideo. In May 2010, President José Mujica appointed her as president of the National Administration of Telecommunications, a position she held until 2015. She was appointed as Minister of Industry, Mining and Energy in March 2015, at the beginning of the Presidency of Tabaré Vázquez. She is a member of the Frente Amplio Party. She holds a degree in electrical engineering from the University of the Republic and a master’s degree in mathematical engineering. 

Ambassador Fergal Mythen

Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations in New York

Ambassador Fergal Mythen is the Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations in New York. Prior to this appointment, Ambassador Mythen spent considerable periods of his career working for the Government of Ireland in support of the Northern Ireland peace process and implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. 

Most recently, as the Director-General of the Ireland, UK and Americas Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs from 2017 to 2022, he led the team working on Northern Ireland, Irish-British relations, Irish-US and Irish-Canadian relations, and relations with the Latin America-Caribbean region. Ambassador Mythen also previously served in Ireland’s Permanent Representation to the European Union in Brussels, and with the EU in Sarajevo.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Trinity College, Dublin, and a higher diploma in business studies from University College Dublin.

Antonella Baldino

Head, International Cooperation and Development Finance, Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), The Italian National Promotional Institution

Ms. Baldino is currently Board Member of The Marguerite Fund, of the European Development Finance Institutions (EDFI), and of the Italian Public Development Bank for Sport and Culture. Ms. Baldino has extensive experience in corporate and investment banking, focusing on infrastructure, public and development finance, in primary financial institutions in Italy and abroad. She served as member of the Senior Advisory Board at Italy’s Ministry of Finance. Prior to that, she gained experience at the World Bank and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

 

Mr. Rain

Italian singer, rapper, record producer

Mr. Rain is an Italian singer-songwriter, rapper, and producer, hailing from Brescia, Italy. He boasts an impressive track record with 16 Platinum and 6 Gold records.

In February 2023, he secured a third-place finish at the world famous Sanremo Festival with the hit song ‘Supereroi.’ Mr. Rain’s growing popularity has led to sold-out concerts and a highly anticipated 2023 summer tour which will see him perform across Italy.

INNA MODJA

VISUAL ARTIST AND MUSICIAN
Inna Modja is a Malian-French visual artist and musician. She is a United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification’s Land Ambassador and a strong global figure for social, gender and climate justice. She has been advocating for the African-led movement Great Green Wall for the past five years. She co-founded the non-profit organization Code Green, which is disrupting traditional fundraising models to accelerate social and climate solutions and helping grow a Web3 community of artists and collectors who harness the power of technology for green justice.

THE HONOURABLE EMMA INAMUTILA THEOFELUS

DEPUTY MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY, REPUBLIC OF NAMIBIA
The Hon. Emma Theofelus is a young, 26-year-old Namibian born in Windhoek, who is currently a Member of Parliament and the Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology in the Republic of Namibia. Before her appointment, The Hon. Emma Theofelus was a youth activist for issues of gender, children’s rights, sustainable development and youth unemployment. She served as the Deputy Speaker of the Youth Parliament of the Republic of Namibia and the Junior Mayor of the City of Windhoek amongst other roles. The Hon. Emma Theofelus holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours Degree) from the University of Namibia, a Diploma in Business Management from Amity University and a Diploma in Afrikan Feminism and Gender Studies from the University of South Africa.

Katlego Kai Kolanyane-Kesupile

CULTURAL ARCHITECT, COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST AND PERFORMANCE ARTIST

Katlego Kai Kolanyane-Kesupile is an international award-winning cultural architect, communications specialist, performance artist, development practitioner and human rights advocate. OkayAfrica named her one of the 100 Most Influential Women of African Descent in 2018. Her accolades include being nominated for the US State Department’s International Women of Courage Award, a TED Fellow, Queen’s Young Leader, Chevening Scholar, Mandela Washington Fellow, and OutRight’s UN Religion Fellow. She holds a Sociology Masters in Human Rights, Culture, and Social Justice, with a focus on Disability Rights and Public Space Design, from Goldsmiths University of London, UK. Her published writing spans theatre, academic texts and policy analyses. 

TOLU OLUBUNMI

FOUNDER AND CEO, LIONS WRITE

Tolu Olubunmi is a Nigerian-born, American-raised chemical engineer turned political strategist, social entrepreneur and public speaker. She is the founder and CEO of the social impact venture, Lions Write. In 2018, Tolu was tapped by the Director-General of the UN Migration Agency (IOM) for a special appointment as Advisor to the UN Department of Global Communications and Manager of the Climate Action Campaign ActNow.  Tolu has established and led numerous NGOs and campaigns focused on education, migration, economic inclusion, sustainability, and climate change. She has worked closely with leaders in government, the private sector, and civil society to shift culture, influence public policy and build strategic and mutually beneficial partnerships – she served on the World Economic Forum’s Migration Council, co-founded Immigrant Heritage Month, and has helped draft and implement U.S. immigration policies.  

Tolu sits on the Board of Directors of the Anti-Defamation League, Board of Directors of USA for IOM. In 2015, the World Economic Forum named her one of 15 Women Changing the World and an Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur. Her inspiring personal story and work have been profiled by several media outlets, including BBC, MSNBC, TIME, CBS, US News and World Report. Tolu is an inaugural Leadership Institute Fellow at the Center for American Progress and holds a chemistry-engineering degree from Washington and Lee University. 

Ulrika Modéer

Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy (BERA) United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Ms. Ulrika Modéer officially began her role on 20 August 2018 as UNDP’s Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy. In this role she leads the organization in nurturing and growing key relationships with Member States, and new and emerging partners, as well as lead UNDP’s communications and advocacy, as it works to realize the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals. Ms. Modéer previously served as Sweden’s State Secretary for International Development Cooperation and Climate and has been instrumental in reshaping the country’s international development cooperation to support the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. She combines a strong policy background with parliamentary and civil society experience and has had several assignments in Latin America (Bolivia, Guatemala) and Africa (Mozambique/South Africa). Ms. Modéer holds a BA in International Relations from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

MARINA PONTI

DIRECTOR OF THE UN SDG ACTION CAMPAIGN
Ms. Ponti is the Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign since July 2018.
 
Prior, Ms. Ponti served as Global Deputy Director and Regional Director for Europe for over a decade and was at the vanguard of innovative campaign initiatives, building multi-stakeholder coalitions, mobilizing resources and forging long-term partnerships between civil society organizations, local government, parliamentarians, media, the private sector and the UN.
Ms. Ponti served as an advocacy and resource mobilization specialist with UNICEF and the UN Secretariat. She also was Chief Operating Officer of Catapult -a girls and women’s right crowdfunding platform and as Special Advisor on post-2015 during the final negotiations of the Agenda 2030 for the global network Social Watch.
 
Ms. Ponti holds an MA in Political Science from the University of Milan and has completed an executive education programme from INSEAD in Global Management, Finance and Partnerships.

MAME BALLA

ARTIST, SINGER, SONGWRITER, MUSIC ENTERTAINER, PRODUCER

Mame Balla is a Senegalese singer, songwriter, and music producer based in Europe who sings about peace, environmental issues, the experiences of growing up in West Africa and more.

Mame Balla has worked with Bouba Ndour, producer and brother of the famous singer Youssou Ndour, with whom he released two internationally successful albums. Between his solo career and the former music groups Dancehall Masters and Darou Salam, Mame Balla has partnered with international artists of different music genres such as Senegalese pop singer Viviane, dancer Ndeye Geye, hip hop group Gokh-Bi System, and Dutch-Albanese rapper Jon Tarifa. He has also partnered with Polish and German artists for a jazz project, and performed with Congolese afrobeat singers in the Netherlands. Between 1999 and 2004, Mame Balla and his former group Dancehall Masters received awards as Best New Group and Best Group in The Gambia; and also received the prize Prix de l’intégration at a Senegalese hip-hop awards. Mame Balla took a course in music production at the State of Mic Studio in The Gambia. Performing with Pape Samory and Issa Ndiaye. 

Amina J. Mohammed

Deputy Secretary-General
Executive Office of the Secretary-General (EOSG)

Ms. Amina J. Mohammed is the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group.

Prior to her appointment, Ms. Mohammed served as Minister of Environment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria where she steered the country’s efforts on climate action and efforts to protect the natural environment.

Ms. Mohammed first joined the United Nations in 2012 as Special Adviser to former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with the responsibility for post-2015 development planning. She led the process that resulted in global agreement around the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ms. Mohammed began her career working on the design of schools and clinics in Nigeria. She served as an advocate focused on increasing access to education and other social services, before moving into the public sector, where she rose to the position of adviser to four successive Presidents on poverty, public sector reform, and sustainable development.

Ms. Mohammed has been conferred several honorary doctorates and has served as an adjunct professor, lecturing on international development. The recipient of various global awards, Ms. Mohammed has served on numerous international advisory boards and panels. She is the mother of six children and has two grandchildren.

His Excellency Mr. Khalifa Jassim Al-Kuwari

Director General

Qatar Fund for Development

Since 2014, Khalifa Jassim Al-Kuwari has led the establishment, strategy-setting, partnerships, and funding programs of the Qatar Fund for Development in developing countries. Previously, Mr. Al-Kuwari was the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director – Joint Venture and International Business of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). He has been appointed to the boards of leading organisations, including: Harrods, Volkswagen Group, Fairmont Raffles Group, Songbird Real Estate, Qatar Exchange, Katara Hospitality, and Mowasalat. He holds an Executive MBA in Business Administration from the London Business School, an MBA in Accounting from Cleveland State University and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Qatar University. He graduated from the Leadership Development Program at Harvard Business School and Qatar Leadership Center.