Judges

We’re honored to announce the line-up of 2022 UN SDG Action Awards Judges – A panel of leaders, innovators, and creatives from across the globe.

From world-renowned architects, actors and digital artists, to para-athletes and government representatives; from founders of civil society organizations to founders of leading impact-driven businesses 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.

Aya Yoshida

Director, Global Issues Cooperation Division

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan

Aya Yoshida is a diplomat who is currently in charge of facilitating international cooperation for sustainable development. Her main issues of coverage include: domestic and global implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, disaster and risk reduction, education, gender, as well as innovative finance for development. Ms. Yoshida previously served as the Head of the Asia Pacific and Partnership Division at the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris between 2016 and 2019, working to enhance the relationship between the IEA and growing economies in Asia, including India, China, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore. She has also served as a senior negotiator for climate change and worked for the adoption of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Charles Muchiri

Immersive Production Specialist

BlackRhinoVR

Charles Muchiri is an immersive content creator at BlackRhinoVR based in Nairobi, Kenya. He has worked with both 2-dimentional and 3-dimensional mediums and he believes that immersive platforms are truly the future of tech and human synergy. As a young African immersive storyteller, his mission is to advocate for tech-based storytelling platforms and he is incredibly excited to see what the future holds for the storytellers of our time, especially in Africa.

Dr. Danny Sriskandarajah

Chief Executive (CEO)

Oxfam GB

Dr. Danny Sriskandarajah became Chief Executive of Oxfam GB in 2019. Prior to that, he led CIVICUS – the global alliance of civil society organisations. He had previously been Director General of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Interim Director of the Commonwealth Foundation, and held various posts at the Institute for Public Policy Research. From 2018 to 2019, he was a member of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, co-chaired by Jack Ma and Melinda Gates, and from 2015 to 2016, a member of the High Level Panel on Humanitarian Finance.

Dia Mirza

Actor, Producer, UN Environment Programme Goodwill Ambassador, SDG Advocate

Dia Mirza is an award-winning Actor, Producer, UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador and United Nations Secretary-General Advocate for Sustainable Development Goals. As a champion of nature, Dia Mirza dons many a hat with élan and ease. She has become the voice of environmental and wildlife conservation in the country and a torchbearer for causes related to nature.

Felix Zimmermann

Coordinator, Development Communication Network

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Felix Zimmermann coordinates the OECD Development Communication Network (DevCom), a global platform that helps development organisations improve their communications strategies and campaigns. In this role, Felix facilitates peer-learning events and workshops for communicators. He also runs the SDG Communicator blog and has just published DevCom’s new Toolkit for Sustainable Development Communicators. Felix has 20 years of experience in brokering global dialogue and learning on foreign aid, development finance and education policy. Besides various OECD roles, his career includes assignments with UNESCO and IFAD. Felix holds a Masters in International and European Law from the Free University of Brussels, and completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Sydney and Humboldt University in Berlin.

Flora Bitancourt

Leader

Socialab Brazil

Flora Bitancourt is a Social Entrepreneur, founder and co-president of Impact Beyond – a consultancy specialized in social business, leader of Socialab Brazil, and member of the Global Shaper Community – a World Economic Forum initiative. Flora is an activist for human rights and works for different impact business projects, building a world with more equality and diversity.

Francesca Lavazza

Member of the Board of Directors

Lavazza Group

Francesca Lavazza is a Board Director of Lavazza Group, a leading Italian player in the coffee industry with operations in over 140 countries worldwide. From 2005 to 2015 Francesca Lavazza has covered the role of Corporate Image Director and managed important projects, such as the Lavazza Calendar and international ADV campaigns. From photography and the visual arts to graphic design by way of architecture – the Lavazza Museum in Turin for example – Francesca has engendered creativity in the company’s communication channel, and as a shareholder, she has the strategic role of overseeing all initiatives across the entire global business.

Gabriela Gandel

Executive Director

Impact Hub Global Network

Gabriela Gandel is an experienced international manager, facilitator, coach and consultant in areas of senior leadership development, team effectiveness, innovation and entrepreneurship, diversity and sustainable organisational transformation. Gabriela spent the last 15 years working as a senior manager or consultant with a mix of not for profit and for profit global organisations including: AIESEC International, Future Considerations, Impact Hub, Oxfam, Carbon Trust, HSBC, KPMG, BP, Cadbury, and TATE. In her current role as Executive Director of the Impact Hub Network, she leads global strategy development and execution, scaling and strategic partnerships development. And with this pursuing her stand of a connected humanity acting as a power for good through impact entrepreneurship.

Georgia Arnold

Executive Director and Founder

MTV Staying Alive Foundation

Senior Vice President, Social Responsibility

Viacom International Media Networks

Georgia Arnold was instrumental in establishing the MTV Staying Alive Foundation (SAF) in 2005, and was appointed Executive Director in 2007. MTV SAF is a United States and United Kingdom-based charity, set up to tell stories to change lives – creating movements with purpose to improve young people’s health and well-being globally. As part of this, Ms. Arnold conceived and created the multi award-winning MTV Shuga – a 360-degree mass-media HIV prevention, sexual and reproductive health edutainment campaign with proven impact. Since 2017, Ms. Arnold has been the co-Champion of ‘Fusion’, Viacom’s employee resource group on Cultural Diversity.

Giorgio Marrapodi

Director General for Development and Cooperation

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy

Giorgio Marrapodi is the Director General for Development and Cooperation with Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is currently a member of the UN Advisory Board for the preparation of the Food Systems Summit. A career diplomat with 33 years of experience, he previously served as Ambassador to Austria from 2013 to 2017; and as Director for Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2010 to 2013. His previous assignment was Deputy Chief of Mission at the Italian Embassy to Spain. Prior to Madrid he was assigned to the Permanent Mission of Italy to the European Union in Brussels.

Husnah Kukundakwe

Para-athlete

International Paralympic Committee

Husnah Kukundakwe is a 13-year-old para-athlete from Uganda who aims to participate in the Tokyo 2021 Paralympic Games. As a result of her hard work, Husnah was awarded the 2019 “Most Inspirational Athlete of the Year” by the Uganda Swimming Federation and the 2019 “Most Disciplined Athlete of the Year” by the Uganda National Paralympic Committee. Furthermore, in 2019 Husnah was the youngest competitor to take part in the World Para Swimming Allianz Championship in London. She strives to inspire many persons with disabilities and encourage engagement in parasports. As a role model, Husnah participated in the Allianz for Life Future Sessions and was also featured in the Malala Fund Assembly as one of the Game Changers of 2020.

Dr. Ingolf Dietrich

Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Germany

Dr. Dietrich is BMZ Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and leads BMZ Directorate with a programmatic focus on the 2030 Agenda, poverty, inequality, democracy, rule of law, governance, human rights, gender equality and education. Before this role, he was responsible for energy, biodiversity, water, urban development and mobility, and headed the Divisions of “Southern Africa” and “Policy issues of bilateral development cooperation”. Dr. Dietrich studied agricultural science at Munich and Berlin Technical University. He holds a doctorate in agricultural economics from Munich Technical University.

Jonathan Herzfeld

Executive Director

fiiS

Activist, lecturer and passionate supporter of social innovation, Jonathan Herzfeld is convinced that changing the world must be fun. He volunteers at the Cealivi Foundation, an organization that facilitates opportunities for people with blindness, and he is a Board Member of the Julieta Foundation, an organization that helps abandoned dogs find a home. He studied business and administration at Universidad Diego Portales and is Innovation Director at Universidad Hebrea Jerusalem in Chile. BMW Foundation recognized him as a Responsible Leader in 2018 for his work promoting social innovation in Latin America and around the world. He has spoken at the SDG Global Festival of Action, SXSW, Colaboramerica, and Encuentro+B, encouraging people to become change-makers.

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.

Laura Velez Villa

Manager, SDG Program & Partnerships

B Lab

Laura Vélez Villa leads B Lab’s program and partnerships to drive business action on the Sustainable Development Goals. B Lab creates standards, policies, and tools for business, and certifies companies—known as B Corps—who are leading the way. Laura joined B Lab’s New York-based Strategic Growth team in 2016, after serving as Executive Director of B Lab’s partner. Prior to B Lab, she led Endeavor Chile’s Search and Selection team and served as a Research Associate at Harvard Business School. Laura graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University with a Bachelor’s in Economics and International and Global Studies. She is currently pursuing an M.A. degree in International Business and Policy at Georgetown University.

Dr. Liv Tørres

Director

Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies – NYU CIC

Liv Tørres is the Director of Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies at the Center on International Cooperation of New York University. She is the former Executive Director of the Nobel Peace Center and former Secretary General of Norwegian People’s Aid. Previously, she served as a Political Advisor at Norway’s Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion, Research Director at Fafo, Associate Professor at the University of Oslo, and Senior Advisor at the Research Council of Norway. Liv holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Oslo and is a visiting professor at Wits University in South Africa.

Lysa John

Secretary General

CIVICUS

Lysa John is passionate about governance, accountability and social justice and has spent a large part of her work coordinating large-scale civil society campaigns, including ‘Wada Na Todo Abhiyan’ (Don’t Break the Promise campaign, India) and the Global Call to Action against Poverty. Her past roles include serving as Head of Outreach for the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Agenda and Global Campaign Director for Save the Children International. Lysa has authored several reports, including assessments on the role and influence of emerging powers.

Stefano Boeri 

President

Triennale of Milan

Architect and urban planner, Stefano Boeri is Professor at Politecnico in Milan and visiting Professor in several international universities. In Shanghai, he is Director of the Future City Lab at Tongji University: a post-doctoral research program which explores the future of contemporary metropolis under the perspectives of biodiversity and urban forestry. In 2018 he was appointed President of Triennale Milano, a major international cultural institute and was Co-Chair of the Scientific Committee for the first World Forum on Urban Forest. In 2019 he presented the Great Green Wall of Cities project, developed with FAO, C40, UN Habitat and other international research organizations, on occasion of the UN Climate Action Summit 2019. 

Thamyra Thamara

MYWorld 360° Creator

Thamyra Thâmara is a journalist, screenwriter, producer of 360º narratives and a doctoral student in Social Communication at Universidade Federal Fluminense, where she develops research on black identities. Thamyra is the founder of GatoMÍDIA, a media and technology learning network for young black people and people from local communities. In addition, she directed and scripted the short films: ‘Bença, Vó’, ‘Minha Vida é Aqui’, ‘Black Women in Politics’ and ‘Decolonize Your Eyes,’ which was screened at the SDG Action Zone in 2019 as part of the MYWorld 360º selection.

Uğur Gallenkuş

Artist and Activist

Uğur Gallenkuş is a world-renowned digital artist based in Istanbul. He started to develop his art in the wake of the Syrian civil war as a spontaneous reaction to the disturbing image of Aylan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed up on the shores of the Mediterranean in 2015. His collages address the widening global divide between the privileged and oppressed, taking an unflinching look at the realities that surround us. By traversing the space between wealth and poverty, struggle and comfort, love and grief; Gallenkuş aims to change how we perceive the differences between us.

Ulrika Modéer

Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy

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. Ms. Modéer holds a BA in International Relations from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. 

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. 

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. 

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.

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.

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.