Participant Bios

  • Hon. Nicholas K. Banda, MP Deputy Minister of Local Government and Housing, Zambia

    Nicholas K. Banda is Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Local Government and Housing, responsible for physical and social planning. He reports to the President of Zambia. Banda ministerial work includes supervising the execution of the ministry’s day-to-day duties as well as obtaining information on all major aspects and activities of the ministry. As his role as Deputy Permanent Secretary, Banda is also responsible for supervising the implementation of government projects, monitoring capital expenditures, and addressing policy matters concerning issues such as famine relief. Banda is also a District Commissioner; in this capacity he facilitates the coordination and alignment of central government functions and all developmental activities with the local authorities. He also presides over various district development coordinating committees and disaster management and mitigation units. In addition to his work with the ministry, in 2001 Banda established and served as director of an animal nutrition company, offering farming and dietary supplies as well as knowledge and training on proper methods of animal feeding. He has also served as a farm manager, where he coordinated all farm activities including livestock feed production and monitoring of animal growth as well as submitting compliance reports to relevant authorities. Banda holds a diploma in Animal Nutrition. He resides in Lusaka.

  • Eugénie Birch Lawrence C. Nussdorf Professor of Urban Research, Department of City and Regional Planning, Penn Design; Co-Director, Penn IUR, University of Pennsylvania

    Eugénie Birch, FAICP, is Lawrence C. Nussdorf Professor of Urban Research, Chair, Graduate Group of City and Regional Planning, University of Pennsylvania School of Design; Co-Director, Penn Institute for Urban Research; and Co-Editor, City in the 21st Century series, University of Pennsylvania Press. Her current research projects include developing the EEB Research Digest for the U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored Energy Efficient Buildings Hub, Philadelphia; the Energy Smart Communities Initiative Knowledge-Sharing Platform (ESCI-KSP) for the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (APEC) Energy Working Group; and a Ford-funded Sustainable Development Indicator Catalog for the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, the alliance between the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Her most recent books are: Women’s Health and the World’s Cities (2011) (with Afaf Meleis and Susan Wachter) Neighborhoods and Life Chances: How Place Matters in Modern America (2011) (with Harriet Newberger and Susan Wachter), and Global Urbanization (2011), Growing Greener Cities (2008) and Rebuilding Urban Places After Disaster, Lessons from Katrina (2006) (with Susan Wachter). Birch is currently President of the International Planning History Society and has served as Chair, Department of City and Regional Planning, University of Pennsylvania; Chair, Department of Urban Affairs and Planning, Hunter College/CUNY; President, Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning; President, Society of American City and Regional Planning History; Co-Editor, Journal of the American Planning Association; and Chair, Planning Accreditation Board. She was a member of the New York City Planning Commission and a member of the jury to select the World Trade Center Site Design. Currently, she is Chair, Board of Trustees of the Municipal Art Society of New York and Co-Chair, UN-HABITAT’s World Urban Campaign.Birch holds an A.B. in History and Latin American Affairs from Bryn Mawr College and a Masters and a Ph.D. in Urban Planning from Columbia University. She resides in New York City.

  • Albert Chan Director of Planning and Development, Shui On Land

    Albert Chan is the Director of Development Planning and Design at Shui On Land, a public company listed in Hong Kong and headquartered in Shanghai. Chan has twenty-five years of experience in planning, design, and real estate development, including fifteen years in China. Chan is responsible for the conceptualization, master planning, and design of the company’s large-scale community developments. He also chairs the company’s sustainable development committee, which leads China in the development of LEED-ND communities.  From 1997 to 2001, he led the overall planning and design effort for Shanghai Xintiandi, an adaptive reuse development widely regarded as a landmark in China. He has master planned over 20 million square meters of large-scale mixed-use community developments in various cities in China. Prior to joining Shui On, Chan was a Project Director at the New York City Department of Design and Construction. He has also previously worked at Cooper, Robertson + Partners in New York City. Chan has an M.S. in Urban Design from Columbia University, an M. Arch. from UC Berkeley, and an MBA from the Stern School at New York University. Chan is a Registered Architect of New York State, and a juror of the Urban Land Institute Awards for Excellence program. He resides in Shanghai. 

  • Joan Clos Executive Director, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT)

    Joan Clos is the Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) at the level of Undersecretary-General by the United Nations General Assembly. Clos took office at the Programme’s headquarters in Kenya on October 18, 2010. Prior to joining UN-Habitat, he was twice elected Mayor of Barcelona, serving two terms during the years 1997 to 2006. He was appointed Minister of Industry, Tourism, and Trade of Spain and served from 2006 to 2008. In this role, he helped rationalize the Iberian Energy Market in line with European Union Policies. Prior to joining the United Nations, he served as Spanish ambassador to Turkey and Azerbaijan. At the international level, he was elected President of Metropolis, the international network of cities, in 1998. Two years later, he was elected President of the World Association of Cities and Local Authorities Coordination (WACLAC). Between 2000 and 2007, Clos served as Chairman of the United Nations Advisory Committee of Local Authorities (UNACLA) and, between 1997 and 2003, he was member of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR ). He has received a number of awards including a gold medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1999 for transforming Barcelona. In 2002, he won the UN-Habitat Scroll of Honor Award for encouraging global cooperation between local authorities and the United Nations. Clos received his M.D. from the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona (UAB) and studied Public Health and Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh. He resides in Nairobi. 

  • Ashvin Dayal Managing Director, The Rockefeller Foundation

    Ashvin Dayal is Managing Director at The Rockefeller Foundation’s Asia Office. He joined The Rockefeller Foundation in 2008 and currently manages the Foundation’s regional office in Bangkok, Thailand, overseeing work across  Asia and strengthening and complementing the Foundation’s initiatives around the globe. Dayal leads a major initiative (Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN)) aimed at building the capacity of cities to cope with the effects of climate change. Dayal also leads the Foundation’s SPEED initiative aimed at scaling up decentralized renewable energy solutions for off-grid rural communities and oversees global efforts in Asia on strengthening institutional capacities for achieving universal health coverage, advancing cross-border collaboration in disease surveillance, and promoting an enabling environment for the growth of impact investing and philanthropy. Before joining the Foundation, Dayal held leadership roles over fifteen years with the British aid organization Oxfam Great Britain, most recently heading their South Asia operations from New Delhi, India, where he was responsible for developing and managing strategy and programs and also led a process to establish Oxfam India (now an independent affiliate of Oxfam International). Prior to that, he was Oxfam’s East Asia Director, where, among other responsibilities, he ran Oxfam’s largest-ever relief and recovery effort in the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami in Aceh, Indonesia. Dayal holds a bachelor’s degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies at London University and a master’s degree from the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. In addition to India, Thailand and the UK, he has lived in Israel and the United States.

  • Jinsong Du Managing Director, Head of Real Estate Research, Credit Suisse

    Jinsong Du is a Managing Director, Head of Real Estate Research at Credit Suisse. He ran his own company in China before joining the financial industry in New York and Hong Kong. His past fifteen years’ projects involve agriculture, healthcare, and real estate. His current research coverage focuses on private and public housing, urbanization policies, and social welfare in China. Jinsong obtained his MBA degree from New York University Stern School of Business. He resides in Hong Kong.

  • Yu Gao China Country Director, Landesa Rural Development Institute

    Yu Gao is the China Country Director of the Seattle-based non-profit development organization Landesa (formerly Rural Development Institute). Since 1967, the organization has championed the power of land rights as the key to a better, safer future for our world. Gao has almost two decades of working experience in areas of poverty reduction, international relations, and environmental policy. This includes his most recent position before joining Landesa as the Global Director of China for a Global Shift Initiative of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). He also served the United Nations Development Program in different management and research roles on issues of poverty, regional economic and social cooperation, and human development. Gao was educated at the Beijing Foreign Studies University and the University of Cambridge. He resides in Beijing.

  • Robert Garris Managing Director, The Rockefeller Foundation

    Robert Garris is the Managing Director of Bellagio Programs and a member of the senior leadership team at The Rockefeller Foundation, where his work enhances and extends the Foundation’s global network, search activities, and overall convening capacity through outreach, recruitment, and selection of conferences and resident fellows at the Foundation’s Bellagio Center in northern Italy. He also leads the Foundation’s global and U.S. work on the philanthropic sector. Prior to joining The Rockefeller Foundation, Rob spent eight years at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), where he served most recently as Senior Associate Dean. In this role, he was responsible for ensuring that strategic planning, external affairs, global partnerships, and student affairs advanced the School’s core mission to train students and produce research that promoted global public interests. Prior to SIPA, he held leadership positions at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Garris holds a Ph.D. in European History from the University of North Carolina with a focus on immigration and urban policy. He resides in New York City.

  • Hariprasad Hegde Global Head – Operations, Wipro Ltd.

    Hegde is Global Head – Operations of Wipro Limited, a $7.5 billion IT and Consulting Services provider with a presence in fifty-four countries. Hegde, in his present role, is responsible for the company’s supply chain and operations, including the corporation’s global procurement and its creation of new infrastructure. Wipro has built more than 16 million square feet of office space and holds one of the largest corporate portfolios of green buildings globally. Hegde has worked closely on the creation of these facilities and campuses as well as on “Wipro Water” (Wipro’s water business), which he scaled up and led until 2012. He champions many sustainability initiatives for Wipro. Hegde is on the Karnataka State and Southern Regional Council of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and leads its Water Task Force. He is also on India’s National Water Council and other consultative groups on energy and green buildings. He was a core member of an industry working group on Land & Water and Green Manufacturing’ for the twelfth Five-Year Plan. He is on the Governing Council of the Electronic City Industrial Township Authority that runs a newly formed autonomous industrial town, a recent progressive attempt by the government at local self-governance. Hegde brings a deep understanding and broad expertise on micro- and macro-issues of managing water in a rapidly urbanizing world and experience of dealing with the challenges related to large-scale commercial development in Indian cities. Emerging trends and future solutions in the area of sustainability, water, energy, and mobility are his areas of work and he has spoken internationally on these subjects. Hegde received a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Jawaharlal Nehru University. He resides in Bangalore.

  • Karin Ireton Director of Sustainability Management, Standard Bank

    Karin Ireton is the Director of Sustainability Management at Standard Bank, Africa’s largest financial services group. She guides the incorporation of sustainability principles and thinking into the way the group conducts business. The bank is active in advising, arranging finance for, and funding renewable energy projects as well as finding ways to include the millions of economically active people in Africa who fall outside the mainstream financial sector. Prior to joining the bank, Karin held a similar role at mining giant Anglo American. She has previously served as a sustainable energy advisor at Eskom and Manager of the Industrial Environmental Forum. She serves on numerous sustainability advisory boards and chairs the International Stakeholder Council for the Global Reporting Initiative and the Institute of Directors’ Sustainable Development Forum. Ireton received her M.A. in International Political Economy from the University of Leeds.  She resides in Johannesburg.

  • Ferdous Jahan Professor of Public Administration, University of Dhaka; Academic Coordinator, BRAC Development Institute, BRAC University

    Ferdous Jahan is a professor of Public Administration at the University of Dhaka and the Academic Coordinator at BRAC Development Institute (BDI). Jahan teaches courses on development, management of land acquisition, governance, organizational theory and behavior, financial administration and political science. She is also a senior level expert in program evaluation and policy research. Jahan is well versed in conducting qualitative studies (including focus group discussions, participatory rural appraisal, participatory wealth ranking, interviews, etc.) and designing and administering quantitative surveys and research. Her current academic and research interests include governance, social protection, urban poverty, legal empowerment of the poor, and women’s empowerment issues in developing societies. Jahan obtained a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Pennsylvania. She resides in Dhaka.

  • Claudia Juech Managing Director, The Rockefeller Foundation

    Claudia Juech is Managing Director at The Rockefeller Foundation. She joined the  Rockefeller Foundation in 2007 and currently leads the Foundation’s Strategic Research Department, a strategy function that identifies and assesses the impact potential of intervention opportunities across all four of the Foundation’s thematic priority areas. She established and oversees the Foundation’s horizon scanning activities to inform foundation-level strategy and areas of programmatic work on an on-going basis and created a global “Searchlight” network of trend monitoring grantees as input into the idea-generation processes at the Foundation. Prior to joining The Rockefeller Foundation, Juech was a Vice President at DB Research, Deutsche Bank’s think tank for trends in business, society, and financial markets. Reporting to Deutsche Bank Group’s Chief Economist, she provided decision-making support on a broad range of economic, political, and sector-specific topics well as trends in the areas of education, demographics, health, and consumer behavior. Juech has a degree in Information Science from Cologne University of Applied Sciences and an International M.B.A from the University of Cologne. She resides in New York City.

  • Steven Koonin Professor of Information, Operations & Management Sciences, New York University Stern School of Business; Director, NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress

    Steven Koonin is Professor of Information, Operations & Management Sciences at New York University’s Stern School of Business and was appointed as the founding Director of NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) in April 2012. That consortium of academic, corporate, and government partners pursues research and education activities to develop and demonstrate informatics technologies for urban problems in the living laboratory of New York City. Koonin previously served from May 2009 through November 2011 as the second Senate-confirmed Under Secretary for Science at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). As Under Secretary for Science, Koonin functioned as the DOE’s chief scientific officer, coordinating and overseeing research across the DOE. He led the preparation of the DOE’s 2011 Strategic Plan and was the principal author of its Quadrennial Technology Review. In particular, he championed research programs in high performance simulation, exascale computing, inertial fusion energy, and greenhouse gas monitoring, reporting, and verification. He also provided technical counsel on diverse nuclear security matters. Prior to joining the Obama administration, Koonin was BP’s Chief Scientist; in that role, he was a strong advocate for research into renewable energies and alternate fuel sources. He came to BP in 2004 after almost three decades as Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology. He also held a position at the Science and Technology Policy Institute of the Institute for Defense Analyses in Washington, D.C. Koonin is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the George Green Prize for Creative Scholarship at Caltech, a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, a Senior U.S. Scientist Award (Humboldt Prize), and the DOE’s Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award. He is a Fellow of several professional societies, including the American Physical Society, the American Association of the Advancement of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Koonin received his B.S. in Physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1972 and his Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from MIT in 1975. He resides in New York City.

  • Alan Mabin Professor, School of Architecture and Planning, University of the Witwatersrand

    Alan Mabin is Professor at the School of Architecture and Planning, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, and was head of the School from  2005 to 2010. Mabin has worked in a variety of development fields for twenty-five years. He was involved in the transformation of local government in South Africa, particularly in Johannesburg, and has collaborated with colleagues in Brazil, France, and other countries on several projects. Mabin helped to establish in 1985 Planact, an NGO that works with communities to “make cities work for people,” and was a member of the Board for many years. He leads the Wits research initiative on cities and works closely with the University of Pretoria cities research theme. His current research concerns the changing roles and relationships of the public and private sectors in city development. Mabin holds a doctorate from Simon Fraser University, Canada, and a master’s degree from Wits, and is a member of the South African Planning Institute. He resides in Johannesburg.

  • Sheela Patel Founder Director, Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC)

    Sheela Patel is the Founding Director of the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC), a Mumbai-based NGO that has been working on housing and infrastructure rights for the urban poor for the last two decades. Prior to founding SPARC, Patel worked at a community center called the Nagpada Neighbourhood House. She serves on numerous national and international advisory boards and has published widely. She chairs the Board of Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI) a transnational network of national slum dwellers active in thirty-four countries. She resides in Mumbai.

  • Jonathon Porritt Founder Director, Forum for the Future

    Jonathon Porritt is the Co-Founder of Forum for the Future and is an eminent writer, broadcaster, and commentator on sustainable development. He is also Co-Director of The Prince of Wales’s Business and Sustainability Programme, which runs seminars for senior executives around the world. He is a Non-Executive Director of Wessex Water and of Willmott Dixon Holdings. He is a Trustee of the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy and is involved in the work of many NGOs and charities as Patron, Chair, or Special Adviser. He was formerly Director of Friends of the Earth (1984-90); Co-Chair of the Green Party (1980-83), of which he is still a member; Chairman of UNED-UK (1993-96); Chairman of Sustainability South West, the South West Round Table for Sustainable Development (1999-2001); a Trustee of WWF UK (1991-2005); and a member of the Board of the South West Regional Development Agency (1999-2008). He stood down as Chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission in July 2009 after nine years. Porritt was installed as the Chancellor of Keele University in February 2012 and is also Visiting Professor at Loughborough University. His latest books are Capitalism As If The World Matters (Earthscan, revised 2007), Globalism & Regionalism (Black Dog 2008), and Living Within Our Means (Forum for the Future 2009). His next book, 2050: The World We Made, is due for publication this year. Porritt received a CBE in January 2000 for services to environmental protection. He resides in Gloucestershire.

  • Solomon Prakash Founder, India Drivers Network

    Solomon Prakash is the Founder of India Drivers Network, a social enterprise that builds a network of commercial drivers in India and offers services to the driver community through location-based technologies. Prior to this, he was Ashoka’s country head in India and belonged to the organization’s Global Leadership Group. In 1989, he founded Maya, a nonprofit organization to improve public education and the livelihood of poor and disadvantaged communities. He also founded Maya Organic, a for-profit marketing and design company, which built a network of collective enterprises run by artisan communities and produced competitive, global market-quality products in four different sectors. He also founded LabourNet, another for-profit social enterprise, to create and enhance job opportunities for the informal sector service workers in urban areas. LabourNet connects jobs and workers, improves work systems at job sites, encourages skill development, and provides access to social security. Prakash studied to be an engineer, but has spent most of life as a social entrepreneur. He lives in Bangalore.

  • Judith Rodin President, The Rockefeller Foundation

    Judith Rodin is president of The Rockefeller Foundation, one of the world’s leading philanthropic organizations. She was previously president of the University of Pennsylvania and provost of Yale University. Since joining the Foundation in 2005, Rodin has recalibrated its focus to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century and today the Foundation supports and shapes innovations to strengthen resilience to risks and ensure more equitable growth around the world. The Foundation accomplishes these goals through initiatives to address climate change in poor communities, to strengthen global health systems, to catalyze the field of impact investing, to mobilize an agricultural revolution in Africa and to shape smart, sustainable transportation policies in the United States. A widely recognized international leader in academia, science, and development, Rodin has actively participated in influential global forums, including the World Economic Forum, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Clinton Global Initiative, and the United Nations General Assembly. She is also a member of the African Development Bank’s High Level Panel, a board member of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (co-created by The Rockefeller Foundation). In November 2012, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo named Rodin Co-Chair of the New York state 2100 Commission on long-term resilience following Superstorm Sandy. A pioneer and innovator throughout her career, Rodin was the first woman named to lead an Ivy League Institution and is the first woman to serve as The Rockefeller Foundation’s President in its nearly 100-year history. A research psychologist by training, she was one of the pioneers of the behavioral medicine and health psychology movements. She is the author of more than 200 academic articles and has written or co-written twelve books. She has received eighteen honorary doctorate degrees and has been named one of Crain’s fifty most powerful women in New York for three years in a row. She has also been recognized as one of Forbes world’s 100 most powerful women in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Rodin serves as a member of the board for several leading corporations and nonprofits including Citigroup, AMR Corporation, Comcast, and the White House Council for Community Solutions. Rodin is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and earned her Ph.D. in Psychology from Columbia University. She resides in New York City.

  • Hon. Mulenga Sata Deputy Mayor, Lusaka, Zambia

    Mulenga Sata is Deputy Mayor of Lusaka. He was elected in 2012, having previously served as Kabulonga ward councilor. Sata has an academic background in engineering. He resides in Lusaka.  

  • Twarath Sutabutr Deputy Director General, Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency (DEDE), Ministry of Energy, Thailand

    Twarath Sutabutr is Deputy Director General of the Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency (DEDE), Ministry of Energy, Thailand. Sutabutr has more than ten years of experience in a wide range of energy policy coordination and initiatives such as renewable energy, nuclear power, and strategic planning. He started his energy career as the Director of Policy and Strategy Coordination, where he worked with the National Economic and Social Development Board in Energy Infrastructure Development Planning, and was involved in the liberalization of electricity and natural gas sectors. Through this work, he developed strong relationships with major energy players in Thailand, such as EGAT and PTT. With the release of DEDE’s recent strategic renewable energy plan, he has been recognized internationally for the plan’s contribution to energy development and investment policy. Sutabutr received his Bachelor of Engineering from Chulalongkorn University, his Masters of Engineering at the Asian Institute of Technology, and his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He resides in Bangkok.

  • Vijay Vaitheeswaran China Business and Finance Editor, The Economist

    Vijay Vaitheeswaran is the China Business and Finance Editor at The Economist and an award-winning senior correspondent. His editorial responsibilities range from business and finance to science, technology, and innovation. His  latest book, Need, Speed and Greed: How the New Rules of Innovation Can Transform Businesses, Propel Nations to Greatness, and Tame the World’s Most Wicked Problems (Harper Collins), is about the future of global innovation. Vaitheeswaran is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is an advisor on sustainability and innovation to the World Economic Forum and a regular speaker at the Clinton Global Initiative. He teaches at NYU’s Stern Business School and his commentaries have appeared on NPR and the BBC, in the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the New York Times. Vaitheeswaran joined The Economist’s editorial staff in 1992 as its London-based Latin America correspondent and opened the magazine’s first regional bureau in Mexico City. From 1998 to 2006, he covered the politics, economics, business, and technology of energy and the environment. From 2007 to 2011, his portfolio encompassed innovation, global health, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. Vaitheeswaran is an engineering graduate of the MIT, where he was named a Harry S. Truman Presidential Scholar by the U.S. Congress. He resides in Shanghai.

  • Susan Wachter Richard B. Worley Professor of Financial Management, Wharton School; Co-Director, Penn IUR, University of Pennsylvania

    Susan Wachter is the Richard B. Worley Professor of Financial Management at The Wharton School and Professor of City and Regional Planning at PennDesign. She is the Co-Director of the Penn Institute for Urban Research, along with Eugénie Birch. Her most recent publication is Revitalizing American Cities (2013) (with Kimberly A. Zeuli). She has also published Women’s Health and the World’s Cities (2011) (with Afaf Meleis and Eugénie Birch), Neighborhoods and Life Chances: How Place Matters in Modern America (2011) (with Harriet Newberger and Eugénie Birch), and Global Urbanization (2011), Growing Greener Cities (2008), and Rebuilding Urban Places After Disaster, Lessons from Katrina (2006) (with Eugénie Birch). She is currently editing Informal Real Estate Markets in India and Brazil with Eugénie Birch and Shahana Chattaraj. As Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research at HUD from 1998 to 2001, she was responsible for national housing and urban policy. During that time she served as a member of the White House Interagency Taskforce on Liveable Cities and directed the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing for the development of sustainable design in housing. In addition, Wachter is the Founder and Director of the Wharton GIS Lab and the Wharton Geospatial Initiative. The author of over 100 articles, she is a past president of the American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association and a past editor of Real Estate Economics. Wachter holds a B.A. in Economics from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in Economics from Boston College.  She resides in Berwyn, Pennsylvania.

  • Sameh Wahba Sector Manager, Urban Development and Resilience Unit, World Bank

    Sameh Wahba is Sector Manager, Urban Development and Resilience Unit, World Bank, where he is responsible for the Bank’s urban policy, strategy, and analytics at the global level. Prior to this position, Wahba was the Brazil Sector Leader of the Sustainable Development Department at the World Bank’s Latin America and the Caribbean Region, where he was responsible for coordinating the bank’s investment program and policy advisory/analytical services in Brazil in the areas of urban development, infrastructure, disaster risk management, and social development, as well as coordinating the bank’s portfolio in several states including Sao Paulo. Since joining the World Bank in 2004, he has worked on urban development, housing, and infrastructure in Latin America and the Caribbean and the Middle East and North Africa Regions. While at the World Bank, he has managed numerous investment and technical assistance activities related to housing, land and urban upgrading policy, infrastructure, local economic development, municipal/urban development issues, and disaster risk management in several countries. Prior to joining the bank, he worked at the Institute of Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS) in Rotterdam and at the Harvard Center for Urban Development Studies in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He holds a Ph.D. and Masters in urban planning from Harvard University and a M.Sc. and B.Sc. in engineering from Cairo University. He has eighteen years of experience in urban development, infrastructure and sustainable development. He is fluent in Arabic, French, English, and Portuguese. He resides in Washington D.C.

  • Luc Gnacadja UN Assistant-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary,United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

    Luc Gnacadja was till 30 September 2013 the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).Since becoming UN Assistant-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UNCCD in October 2007, Mr. Gnacadja has dedicated himself to mobilizing political will for the fight against desertification, land degradation and to mitigate the effects of drought. As a passionate advocate of global sustainability through caring for land and soil as natural capital and global common, he is promoting the vision of a land-degradation neutral world, calling for a goal of sustainable land use for all and by all, along with a target of Zero Net Land Degradation by 2030, to secure the continuing availability of healthy and productive land for present and future generations. He believes that “a land-degradation neutral world is the final piece of the puzzle that unites the challenge of land degradation with the tools at our disposal and the level of ambition needed to achieve ‘The Future We Want’.”Born in Benin, he is an architect by profession. Prior to UNCCD,  he served as Minister of Environment, Housing and Urban Development of Benin from 1999 to 2005. He gained firsthand knowledge of environment and sustainable development issues over a number of years in his capacity as a global player on development issues as well as Head of Delegation to the Conference of the Parties of a number of Multilateral Environmental Agreements, such as the UNCCD, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).In March 2003 he was honored with the "2002 Green Award" in Washington by the World Bank. (

  • Bob Scholes Systems Ecologist, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa

    Dr. Bob Scholes is a systems ecologist, employed at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in South Africa, where he is Research Group Leader for Global Change and Ecosystem Dynamics. He has worked on various aspects of Global Change – particularly on how African savannahs interact with the global carbon cycle – for over two decades. Bob was co-chair of the Working Group on Condition and Trend in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and is on the steering committee of its research follow-up, the Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society. He is co-PI of Vital Signs, a project aiming to provide integrated ecosystem service and human wellbeing observations in Africa. He has been a Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its third, fourth and current (fifth) assessments. He was one of the designers of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems and is the chair of the GEO Biodiversity Observation Network. He was a member of the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change. (

  • James Goodman Deputy Director, Systems Innovation and Head of Futures, Forum for the Future

    James Goodman is Deputy Director, Systems Innovation and Head of Futures at the Forum for the Future. He specializes in collaborative processes using “futures tools” such as scenarios, trends, and visions. He also is responsible for the whole range of methods the Forum uses to ensure we have the right processes to shift food, energy, and finance systems towards sustainability. Goodman came to the Forum in 2001 from a market research agency, where he managed global research projects

    for tech firms. After joining the Forum, James focused initially on what the digital revolution meant for sustainability and co-wrote a book on the subject, Making the Net Work (2003). He has kept his interest in information and communications technology for example through sitting on Vodafone’s sustainability advisory panel, but has broadened the work he does. In 2006, he established the Forum’s futures team. Goodman has developed the Forum’s futures tools to be as practical as possible. He feels the futures approach has become one of the most effective ways available for creating change, whether that means working with individual organizations (such as PepsiCo or Unilever) to imagine sustainable future business models or with whole industries (such as tourism or shipping). Goodman received a degree in history from the University of Manchester, UK. He currently resides in London. (

  • Carolyn Whelan Editor, Management Thinking, Economist Intelligence Unit

    Carolyn Whelan is an Editor at the Economist Intelligence Unit, spearheading the creation of white papers, articles, reports and other materials. She broke into journalism by covering the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio for the Earth Island Journal and subsequently worked for non-governmental organizations including the World Wildlife Fund in Switzerland. Whelan segued back into journalism as a staff writer for Barron’s Online in New York covering technology, and as a Dow Jones Newswires reporter in Paris covering healthcare. Her other experience includes writing conference materials for Digital Equipment Corporation, the United Nations, Telecom, and the 2003 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). Most recently, Whelan was a freelance correspondent for Fortune, Newsweek, the International Herald Tribune, and Scientific in New York and Buenos Aires, where she wrote about trade with China, Argentina’s economic collapse, and Brazil’s growing clout, among other subjects. Whelan earned a B.A. in communications and studied international relations at the University of Virginia, and was a 2005-2006 Knight-Bagehot Fellow at Columbia University (Business and Journalism). She is American and Swiss and resides in New York City.