Meet the judges

We are honoured to announce the 2022 UN SDG Action Awards Judges – a panel of leaders, innovators, and creatives from across the globe.
 
From UN leaders to grassroots activists, from civil society mobilizers to government representatives, creatives, advocates and impact-driven business champions; from all corners of the world, we are thrilled to work with these SDG changemakers who selected the winning initiatives for the 2022 UN SDG Action Awards.

AHMAD ALHENDAWI

Secretary General, WORLD ORGANIZATION OF THE SCOUT MOVEMENT

Ahmad Alhendawi is the Secretary General of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) — leading educational movement of 57 million members in 172 countries. Previously, Mr. Alhendawi served as the first-ever United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth. He also worked at the League of Arab States; the World Bank-funded program to the Arab League on Institutional Development; the Iraq Office of the UN Population Fund; Save the Children and Danish Youth Council’s projects in the Middle East and North Africa region. Mr. Alhendawi is a recipient of the King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein Order for Distinction and was named one of the 100 most influential Arabs under 40 by the Arabian Business, and of the 99 most influential policy professionals under 33 by the Diplomatic Courier’s list. Mr. Alhendawi holds a master’s degree in Advanced European and International Relations from the Institut Européen (Nice, France) and a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems from the Al-Balqa Applied University in Jordan. 

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. 

Natasha Wang Mwansa

Founder and Executive Director, Natasha Mwansa Foundation

Natasha Mwansa is the founder and Executive Director of Natasha Mwansa Foundation, which aims to see a world in which young people’s health, safety and development are a priority and invested in while their potential is unleashed, and they are given equal opportunity to share power with stakeholders and equipped enough to be the change they want to see. Natasha is the youngest recipient of the WHO Global Health Leaders award worldwide in recognition of her work towards adolescent health – particularly sexual and reproductive health and her speech on what young people want during the 72nd World Health Assembly opening. In addition, she was voted as Zambia’s most influential young person in 2020 and awarded a national Emerging Leaders award by PUSH Network. She currently works with WHO on their adolescent health flagship program and sits on the WEF Global Future’s and NALA feminist Councils. She is also a Social Accountability Monitor and a third-year student at University of Zambia studying Media and Communication Studies with a minor in Political Science 

Mitzi Jonelle Tan

Convenor, Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines

Mitzi Jonelle Tan is a climate justice activist based in Metro Manila, Philippines. She is the convenor and international spokesperson of the Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP) – the Fridays For Future (FFF) of the Philippines. She is also engaged  with FFF International and FFF MAPA (Most Affected Peoples and Areas), making sure that voices from the Global South are heard, amplified, and given space. She is committed to changing the system and building a world that prioritizes people and planet, not profit, through collective action. 

H.E. KHALIFA JASSIM AL-KUWARI

DIRECTOR GENERAL, QATAR FUND FOR DEVELOPMENT

H.E. Mr. Khalifa Jassim Al-Kuwari is the Director General of the Qatar Fund for Development, managing the State of Qatar’s foreign aid and international development activities. Previously, he worked at the Qatar Investment Authority and at the Qatar Central Bank, and Ashghal & Urban Planning Authority, having in-depth experience in accounting, auditing, financial analysis and investment management. H.E. Mr. Al-Kuwari has been appointed to the boards of leading institutions, including Harrods, Volkswagen Group, Fairmont Raffles Group, Songbird Real Estate, Qatar Exchange, Katara Hospitality and Mowasalat. H.E. Mr. Al-Kuwari is the president of Qatar Leadership Centre Alumni Association Council, member of Qatar University Alumni Association, chairman of the Qatar Academy for Science and Technology Board of Advisors; he was also elected to the Board of Directors of Qatar Foundation for Social Work. H.E. Mr. Al-Kuwari holds an executive MBA in Business Administration from the London Business School in United Kingdom, an MBA in Accounting from Cleveland State University in the United States and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Qatar University. He graduated from the Leadership Development Program at Harvard Business School in the United States and Qatar Leadership Center. 

Melanie Kubin-Hardewig

Vice President of Group Corporate Responsibility, Deutsche Telekom

Melanie Kubin-Hardewig is Vice President, Group Corporate Responsibility at Deutsche Telekom. She is responsible for the group-wide design and execution of Deutsche Telekom’s Corporate Responsibility Strategy. This covers a wide range of issues from environmental to social aspects, including sustainable supply chains and finance as well as the development of Deutsche Telekom’s strategic targets. She also leads Deutsche Telekom’s top sustainability initiatives. Melanie has previously held various management roles at different entities of Deutsche Telekom. She is a trained lawyer and holds a Master of Business Administration. 

Ovais Sarmad

Deputy Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Ovais Sarmad joined UNFCCC in 2017 as Deputy, advising the Executive Secretary on a range of issues relating to the inter-governmental affairs and strategic planning. He provides oversight to the overall operations of the UNFCCC covering human and financial resources as well as organizational development. Previously he served as Chief of Staff at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Geneva. Mr. Sarmad worked in several management and policy capacities in IOM over a period of 27 years. Prior to IOM, he worked in the private and public sectors in London, where he qualified as a Chartered Management Accountant and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He graduated from Osmania University in Hyderabad, India, as a Bachelor of Commerce.   

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.    

Niels Annen

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

Niels Annen was nominated Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in December 2021. He is a vocal advocate of maintaining and cultivating the rules-based global order and strongly believes in seeking multilateral solutions to current conflicts and crises. Based on a firm commitment to universal human rights, fostering humanitarian aid, peace mediation and the preservation of the global arms control architecture, Niels Annen promotes a strong role for the Federal Republic of Germany in international diplomacy for a sustainable future of our planet. Prior to his current position, he was Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office between 2018 to 2021 and served for several years as spokesperson on foreign affairs of the Social Democratic Party Parliamentary Group in the German Bundestag. Niels Annen was a member of the Social Democratic Party’s executive committee from 2003 to 2019.   

HAMZAT LAWAL

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF CONNECTED DEVELOPMENT & FOUNDER OF FOLLOW THE MONEY

Hamzat Lawal is an activist with more than 15 years of experience in leading grassroots campaigns and working in the non-profit sector in over 40 African countries. Lawal is the Chief Executive of Connected Development (CODE), a civil society organization recognized with the ONE Africa Award and the Council of Europe Democracy Innovation Award. He is also the Founder of Follow The Money, a Pan-African grassroots data-driven movement, working with technology and innovation-driven campaigners to promote accountability and amplify the voices of marginalized communities across Africa. Follow The Money was a 2019 UN SDG Action Award winner in the Mobilize category. As a Malala Fund Education Champion, he is currently leading an education campaign to accelerate girls’ education and end child marriage in the northeast of Nigeria. Lawal was recently appointed as an Advisory Board Member of the Global Citizen Fellowship Program, powered by Beyonce’s BeyGOOD foundation. In 2018 and 2019, he was listed as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in digital government by Apolitical.  

Anna Scavuzzo has been Vice Mayor of the City of Milan and Deputy Mayor for Education since 2016. She is also in charge of the Milan Food Policy. Within an innovative framework for food system governance, she is developing actions in several fields: reducing food waste, healthy diets, and local public procurement. As Deputy Mayor of Education, she works closely with the municipal agency for school canteens and promotes policies for organic local procurement and healthier diets. Ms. Scavuzzo holds a master’s degree in physics and has worked with a leading editorial group in applied information technologies, data analytics and public administration. 

Ben Turner

CEO, Graphite  

Ben Turner is the CEO of Graphite, a music management and brand services company. Graphite has a long history of advising brands in the music space. Mr. Turner is Co-Founder, with Pete Tong, of the IMS Ibiza Summit, and Co-Founder and Chair of the Association for Electronic Music, a not-for-profit trade body. He is on the board of music-tech investment fund Plus 8 Equities, and Co-Founder of web3 venture Pixelynx with Hawtin and Deadmau5. 

Pablo Ciano

Executive Vice President Corporate Development, Deutsche Post DHL Group

Pablo Ciano is the Executive Vice President of Corporate Development, where he supports the Corporate Board and top management in shaping the strategic agenda of the DHL Group. He began his career at Deutsche Post DHL Group as DHL Express’ Senior Director for Strategy and Business Implementation in 2005. From 2007 to 2012 he held several Vice President roles within the DHL Express US organization before he was promoted to the role of Chief Information Officer, DHL Express Americas in 2012 and became a member of the Express Americas Management Board. In 2014, Pablo took additional responsibilities as Head of Customer Service DHL Express Americas and was subsequently appointed Managing Director DHL Express Central South Americas in January 2016. Pablo holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from the Darden Business School, University of Virginia. 

ROHEYATOU MALICK LOWE

MAYOR, CITY OF BANJUL

Madam Lowe is the first elected female Mayor of Banjul, The Gambia. Madam Lowe is currently UCLG Policy Councillor, the President of the African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum, the President of the Refela-The Gambia National Chapter, Executive Member of the Global Parliament of Mayors, and the 2nd Deputy National President of the United Democratic Party. Madam Lowe has been a key participant in several international forums, advocating for the localization of the SDGs. Madam Lowe was a member of a party called Social Democrats which gave her the opportunity to serve as a key member of the Child Welfare Committee of Nyköping Municipality, with the mandate to oversee the schools within her jurisdiction. She studied international relations at the University of Falun in Sweden, and she has strong academic experience in public administration. 

Marina Sereni

Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Italian Republic

In March 2021 Marina Sereni was appointed as the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Prior to her current role, she was elected for the first time to parliament in 2001 in the constituency of Umbria, and she was subsequently the first Vice President of the Chamber of Deputies from 2013 to 2018. From 2018 to 2019 she was a member of the National Secretariat of the Democratic Party. She is currently a member of the National Directorate of the Party. Minister Sereni was active in student organizations and the movement for peace from a very young age. 

SANDRA UWERA

GLOBAL CEO, FAIRTRADE INTERNATIONAL

Sandra Uwera 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’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 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.  

Ruairí de Búrca

Director General, Irish Aid, Department of Foreign Affairs, Ireland

Ruairí de Búrca is the Director General of Irish Aid with the Department of Foreign Affairs. A career diplomat, he was most recently Joint Secretary to the British-Irish Secretariat in Belfast, Northern Ireland (2014-17). Prior to that, he was Ambassador of Ireland to Mozambique, Angola and Botswana, and has also served abroad in Mexico, Spain and Greece. At headquarters, Mr. de Búrca has worked on Northern Ireland, Western Balkans, Humanitarian Aid, and European Union issues. He has also worked in the Irish Department of Finance. 

The Right Honourable Lord Mark Malloch-Brown

President, Open Society Foundations

The Rt Hon Lord Mark Malloch‐Brown is president of the Open Society Foundations, the world’s largest private funder of independent groups working for justice, democratic governance, and human rights. He has served on the Open Society’s global board since 2009. In his career of service, The Rt Hon Lord Malloch-Brown has worked to advance human rights, justice, and development in a variety of roles: serving as Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations under Kofi Annan; heading the United Nations Development Programme; directing external affairs at the World Bank; and working as a British government minister. He also co-founded Crisis Group, which works to prevent and resolve deadly conflict. More recently he chaired Best for Britain, a group that advocates internationalism as a practical approach to global problems. He has worked with a range of private companies and led the boards of the Royal Africa Society, the UN Foundation, and the Business Commission for Sustainable Development.

Lucia Silva

Group Head of Sustainability and Social Responsibility, Assicurazioni Generali

Lucia Silva is the Group Head of Sustainability and Social Responsibility for Assicurazioni Generali, since 2015, where she leads the definition and the 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 ensure they are successful now and in the future. 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 the business, looking at insurance products and investment strategies. 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.      

Florian Weischer

Co-Chairman, Weischer.Media Group

Florian Weischer is the Co-Chairman of Weischer.Media Group. After working for several international advertising agencies, he stepped into the family business in 1990 and, together with his brother, brought Weischer.Media from a small media service agency of 20 people to a staff of over 400. The Company since then has developed into a market leader in Screen Advertising and in the Outdoor broking business in Germany. In 2014 Mr. Weischer was elected as President of global screen advertising trade body, SAWA. In 2015, SAWA began to support the Sustainable Development Goals. Since then, Weischer.Media continuously runs campaigns for good for the United Nations in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and for SAWA globally. For this effort Weischer.Media was nominated as Official Supporting Partner of the Sustainable Development Goals by the UN SDG Action Campaign.  Mr. Weischer holds a degree in economics from Universität Hannover. 

Sandra Ortiz Diaz

Member of the Executive Leadership Team, BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt

Sandra Ortiz Diaz joined the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt in 2012. In her first years at the foundation, Sandra led the work of the BMW Foundation in Latin America helping to foster and strengthen the regional network of Responsible Leaders and has accompanied the development of catalytic organizations such as Sistema B, League of Intrapreneurs, LATIMPACTO. She has advanced the foundation’s work on leadership, community building, and joined the Executive Leadership team of the organization in 2021. With a background in art therapy and a master’s degree in Cultural - and Media Management, Sandra organized national and international exhibitions for the social enterprise Dialogue in the Dark for more than six years. She also worked as an intercultural trainer, moderator, and mentor. Sandra is passionate about connecting people and ideas, creating the right conditions for deep rooted relationships, and promoting social change. 

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.

Céline Soubranne

Chief Sustainability Officer, AXA Group

Céline Soubranne has been AXA’s Group Chief Sustainability Officer since 2018. After graduating with a major in political science, she initially gained experience in journalism, local policymaking, and consulting. In 2006, she joined AXA as Head of Transformation and Communication, then became Director of Corporate Responsibility at AXA France. She drove the first ESG integration program in insurance products in France, with the creation of the “Citizen Insurance” Label. In 2014, she was awarded the Women’s Citizenship Trophy at the “Women in Insurance” Trophies. Now, she is leading an ambitious ESG and Climate strategy at AXA, for the whole Group, in its capacity as an investor, insurer and role model company. Since 2019, she has advocated for a better integration of biodiversity into investment and insurance decisions notably through the AXA-WWF report “Into the Wild.” 

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. 

MS. RABAB FATIMA

High Representative, Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS)
Rabab Fatima began her tenure as High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States in August 2022, working to raise awareness of their economic, social, and environmental potential and ensure that the pressing needs of the 1.1 billion people who live there remain high on the international agenda. She is the Secretary-General of the forthcoming Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5) in Doha, Qatar, in March 2023. One of Ms. Fatima’s first priorities will be to lead the implementation of a new Programme of Action for the LDCs. She will also lead preparations for the Third United Nations Conference on the Landlocked Developing Countries and the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Small Island Developing States, both of which are scheduled for 2024. Prior to her appointment, she was the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations in New York. During that stint, she co-chaired the preparatory committee of the LDC5 Conference. She has also served as the President of the Executive Board of UNICEF (2020) and of UN-Women (2022), Vice-President of the UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS Executive Board, Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, and has led other inter-governmental processes. Ms. Fatima holds a master’s degree in international relations and diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, United States, and a bachelor’s degree in social science from the University of Canberra, Australia.

Jennifer Morgan

State Secretary and Special Envoy for International Climate Action, Federal Foreign Office, Federal Republic of Germany

Jennifer Morgan was appointed  State Secretary and Special Envoy for International Climate Action of the German Federal Government in March 2022.  Some of her previous roles include Director of the Global Climate Campaign at WWF International, Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the Council for Sustainable Development of the Federal Government. Before assuming her current position with the Federal Foreign Office, she was from 2016 to 2022 the Managing Director of the environmental organization Greenpeace International. Ms. Morgan studied political science and international relations at Indiana University, Bloomington and at the American University in Washington, D.C. 

Achim Steiner

Administrator, United Nations Development Programme

Achim Steiner became the UNDP Administrator in 2017 and started a second four-year term in June 2021. He is also the Vice-Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group. Over nearly three decades, Achim Steiner has been a global leader on sustainable development, climate resilience and international cooperation. Prior to joining UNDP, he was Director of the Oxford Martin School and Professorial Fellow of Balliol College, University of Oxford. He led the United Nations Environment Programme between 2006 -2016 and 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 graduated with a Master of Arts in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Worcester College, Oxford University and holds a Master of Arts from the University of London/School of Oriental and African Studies. 

Sophie Münzberg

NGO Partnerships Manager, TikTok DACH

Sophie Münzberg is the NGO Partnerships Manager at TikTok DACH, specializing in NGO, culture, and education partners. She empowers non-profit organizations to scale their impact by sharing their creative content with millions of people every day. Most recently, she led campaigns to boost awareness for refugees worldwide, raise donations for WASH, and to leverage TikTok as an educational tool for commemorating the Shoah. Sophie holds a Master of Public Policy from the Hertie School in Berlin. Prior to joining TikTok, she helped build a global network for social entrepreneurship and innovation. 

ILONA SZABÓ DE CARVALHO

PRESIDENT, IGARAPÉ INSTITUTE

Ilona Szabó de Carvalho is a civic entrepreneur, and Co-Founder and President of the Igarapé Institute an independent think tank focused on public, digital and environmental security, working with research, new technologies, communication and public policy. Previously, she was the Executive-Secretary of the Global Commission on Drug Policy and of a national gun control campaign in Brazil. Carvalho serves on several boards, including the UNSG High-Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism. She is a columnist at Folha de São Paulo newspaper, a podcaster, broadcaster and TV anchor, a TED speaker and author of three books. Carvalho was nominated a Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum in 2015, and in 2020 as one of the world’s top 50 thinkers for the COVID-19 age by Prospect Magazine. She earned a master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Uppsala in Sweden, is an affiliate scholar at the Princeton University Brazil Lab, and was a public policy fellow at Columbia University in New York. 

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.

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. 

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.

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. 

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.