Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Songhai Advisory and Trustee, Footprints Africa
Kissy Agyeman-Togobo co-founded Songhai Advisory over 12 years ago with the ambition of supporting investment into Africa with analysis and advice, anchored in local knowledge. Passionate about seeing communities thrive, Kissy enjoys working on projects engaging entrepreneurs, women and young people, and her work as a trustee of Footprints Africa for over 3 years plays an important part in fulfilling this purpose.
Circular Economy Research Fellow, Chatham House
Jack Barrie is an expert on the circular economy and holds a PhD (University of Strathclyde) on circular economy innovation policy.
In his current role, Jack leads pioneering research examining the intersections between the circular economy and international trade, geopolitics, finance (including green taxonomies) and the UN’s SDGs. He works on a range of different global projects including circular value chains with the European Commission and sustainable manufacturing with UNCTAD. He sits on a team of specialists advising UNECE on the circular economy. He is also a Royal Society of Edinburgh Young Academy of Scotland member.
He has worked in a technical capacity on a range of radical sustainable technologies across Europe, Africa and Asia including solar home systems, airborne wind energy systems and desalination plants.
Managing Director, International Council for Circular Economy
Shalini Bhalla is the author of India’s first book on the circular economy; editor of the Journal on Circularity with a focus on policy, innovation and research; and founder of the International Council for Circular Economy. She has represented India on multiple international platforms through her speeches and programs and writes for various Indian as well as international magazines. Passionate about circularity, she has been on circular economy committees of a government think-tank of India, Niti Aayog. Shalini has also been a part of several development programmes in association with the Government of India and state bodies. She is a member of the technical committee at ISO/TC 323. Working on various national and international projects, she is a true woman leader who dons multiple hats.
Tommy Oliver Boachie
Special Advisor to the Minister, Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ghana
Oliver Boachie advises the Minister on issues related to technology and innovation, environment and climate change, and the circular economy.
Boachie is a member of the governing board of Ghana’s EPA, member of the technical committee of PACE, member of the technical committee of ACEA, and chairs the technical committee of Ghana’s NPAP. Earlier in his career and prior to his migration back to Ghana, Boachie worked with global technology companies in the United States, including Texas Instruments and IBM.
Director, Sustainable Inclusive Business, KEPSA
Karin Boomsma perceives businesses as a force for good and the circular economy as a key model for the new systems and ultimately a circular society. She uses creativity and innovation to turn climate change and circular economy concepts into relevant business strategies, communications, fruitful partnerships, networks, activities and positive impact. Her key focus is boosting businesses to rethink their DNA and redesign models into future proof ones. With a background of social and cultural studies, her passion for diversity, behavioural change and youth is big. She is a visionary in building partnerships and creating multi-stakeholder movements.
Associate Investment Director, Novastar Ventures
Abel Boreto works for a global VC with offices in Lagos, London and Nairobi with more than $200 million in assets under management. He kicked off his professional career in 2011 as a credit research analyst at Bloomberg L.P. in the USA after graduating with an AB degree in Government from Harvard University. Boreto relocated to Kenya in 2014 to launch Sarora Dairies, a milk processing and retail distribution company in Eldoret, Western Kenya. He sold the dairy business in 2018 and joined Tulaa, a Nairobi-based agritech and fintech startup providing smallholder farmers with access to credit and markets.
Head of Sustainable Trade, World Economic Forum
Kimberley Botwright has previously worked at the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD,) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). She holds an MA in European Economics and Policy from l’Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po) and a BA from the University of Oxford. She is fluent in English and French, and is a citizen of the UK and Switzerland.
Co-Founder and CEO, Rewoven
Esethu Cenga runs Rewoven, an early-stage textile recycling startup based in Cape Town, South Africa. Rewoven diverts textile waste from landfills by collecting it from the source and facilitating its reuse and recycling to make various products in the furniture, automotive, construction and fashion industries.
Rewoven’s vision is a fully circular Pan-African clothing industry that is embedded strongly in environmental, social and cultural sustainability. Currently, Rewoven has diverted over 500,000 kilograms of textile waste from landfills in Cape Town. The start-up currently employs seven people.
Co-founder and CEO, BioBuu
Kigen Compton supports the idea that for us to change our impact on the environment, there must be a commercial motive. People will not change if it effects their financial position negatively. This is what has driven him towards this idea that solutions exist to the problems we face, and he is committed to solving at least one of them. He believes that to enact true change, the experience must be lived, not only at home but in our everyday lives.
Kigen has 15 years’ multinational experience in operational development across multiple sectors including construction, security, telecom and IT. He has worked in Europe, East Africa and the Caribbean, and served at different levels in the private sector, including projects, accounting, business performance and asset management.
Senior Operations Officer, Climate Investment Funds
Dora Cudjoe has over 16 years’ experience in natural resources and environment management, and climate resilient development. She joined the World Bank in 2007 as a young professional and played a key role in establishing the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) in 2008. In 2018, she rejoined the CIF as program coordinator for stakeholder engagement where she has been championing inclusive and transparent climate finance governance. Prior to the World Bank and the CIF, she worked with the Global Environment Facility Evaluation Office.
Dora has worked across countries in South Asia and Africa on forest landscape restoration, nature-based tourism and biodiversity conservation in roads infrastructure. She holds a Master of environment management degree from the Yale University School of the Environment and a B.Sc. in NRM from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi. She also holds a leadership certificate from the Manhattanville College in New York.
Associate Director, Urban Systems, ICLEI Africa
Paul Currie supports African local government officers and stakeholders to take on systems approaches both in strategy and in implementation across themes of urbanisation, informality, food and the circular economy. Paul’s work contributes to new ways of engaging that bridge creative expression, science and policy for improving resource equity, urban planning and sustainable development in cities around the world.
Director General of Environment and Climate Change, Ministry of Environment, Rwanda
Beatrice Cyiza oversees the development and dissemination of legal instruments, strategies and programmes related to environment protection, climate change and pollution control. Through various positions and trainings, she accumulated vast experience in environment management.
Before joining the Ministry of Environment, she worked at Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture as the administrative coordinator for academic affairs, extension and applied research.
Prior to that, she served as an environmental audit and monitoring officer at Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) for more than seven years and also as the alternate focal point for the Montreal protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer, and the Nagoya Protocol focal point, where she managed different projects aiming at regulating access to the genetic resources.
In her capacity as an environmental audit and monitoring officer, she conducted environmental audit activities for different projects under operation and monitored their compliance with environmental regulations.
She is a member of the African Women in science and Engineering.
A Rwandan national, Beatrice holds a Master’s in biodiversity conservation from the University of Rwanda.
Senior Officer, Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI)
Michelle DeFreese is embedded with the Ministry of Environment of the Government of Rwanda and is the project manager for the Waste to Resources: Improving Municipal Solid Waste and Hazardous Waste in Rwanda initiative. She has completed the executive certificate from Cambridge Judge Business School in Circular Economy and Sustainability Strategies and participated in the 2022 from linear to circularity workshop held in Kigali, Rwanda funded by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Michelle has been with GGGI since 2017 and previously served as a Mickey Leland International Fellow in Morogoro, Tanzania.
Co-Founder, African Circular Economy Network (ACEN)
Peter is a circular economy strategic adviser with 40 years’ experience as a senior executive in corporate and international development organisations. In 2016 he co-founded the African Circular Economy Network. ACEN’s vision is to build a restorative African economy that generates well-being and prosperity for all its people through new forms of economic production and consumption which maintain and regenerate its environmental resources. He is based in the UK.
International Affairs Directorate, Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the Netherland
Peter Díez’s portfolio covers the full range of international policies within the ministry. Besides climate and climate change, environmental and spatial planning policies, the mandate of the ministry encompasses all water and transport issues.
Peter started his civil service career at the Dutch ministry of justice in 1990, where he worked on immigration policy and international co-ordination. From 1998 to 2006 Peter headed the ministry’s international affairs and was responsible for the co-ordination of input for international negotiations and international collaboration on justice issues.
From 2006 to 2010, being based in Brussels, Peter headed the justice section at the Permanent Representation of the Netherlands to the European Union. He negotiated in the framework of the Council of the EU on initiatives of the European Commission on EU asylum and migration issues. From 2010 to 2017 Peter was deputy director on migration policy of the Dutch ministry of security and justice. In this role he was responsible for the development and implementation of the international and European strategic policy of the department.
He holds a Masters’ in European and international law.
Resident Representative, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP )
Maxwell Gomera is a resource economist with over 20 years’ experience in nature conservation and agricultural development. He has worked on economic development issues, including being part of a team that developed the “Global Green New Deal” for reviving the global economy and boosting employment in response to the financial and economic crisis of 2008.
“The 2008 crisis offered many lessons. An enduring one for me was the need for us to take time for introspection and make sure that we are building futures for ourselves that have a purpose far greater than the zeroes on a bank balance,” he said.
Max has worked extensively with governments and corporates from across the world on a range of issues, including tourism development, human rights and wildlife management. “Until the people who live with wildlife recognise them as an important resource, the future for wildlife will remain uncertain,” he said.
Max is a Senior Fellow of Aspen New Voices. He is an accomplished writer and is widely published. He has been a member of many boards. Max is married and has two daughters and a son – they all love Arsenal Football Club.
International Policy Officer – Africa and South Asia, European Commission, DG Environment
Gaëtan Ducroux is currently in charge of bilateral and regional environmental cooperation with Africa and South Asia in the European Commission Directorate General for Environment. He promotes the circular economy and EU circular economy policies with third countries and organisations from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. He has notably monitored studies on the circular economy in EU-Africa co-operation and is involved in the work of the African Circular Economy Alliance (ACEA), as well as in the bilateral EU-India partnership on Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy.
In previous functions, he worked seven years on the European Commission’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis and ten years for development co-operation projects in various countries in the Middle East and Africa. He holds a Master’s degree from the University La Sorbonne, Paris, in development cooperation and humanitarian action.
Lydia Obenewa Essuah
Director, Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ghana
Lydia Obenewa Essuah has over twenty years’ experience in development planning and public financial management in the Ghana Civil Service. She has risen through the ranks to the position of a director. Essuah is responsible for the policy formulation in the areas of e–waste and plastics management, project design and appraisal, and the negotiation and implementation of poverty reduction projects. She is the project coordinator for the German–funded projects for sustainable management of e–waste.
Minister of Environment & Climate Change Canada, Environment & Climate Change Canada
Steven Guilbeault was elected Member of Parliament for Laurier—Sainte–Marie in 2019. He was appointed Minister of Canadian Heritage in 2019. He is a prominent advocate in the fight against the climate crisis. In 1993, Guilbeault co–founded Équiterre, the largest environmental organisation in Quebec. He also worked for Greenpeace; Cycle Capital Management, a Canadian fund dedicated to the development of clean technologies; Deloitte & Touche as well as Copticom, a consulting firm specialising in transportation and the green and social economy.
As an activist and strategic advisor for dozens of governments and businesses in Canada and abroad, Guilbeault is a pragmatist who works to make a difference by building bridges and relationships. An avid cyclist and sportsman, he has been riding his bike 12 months a year for the last 30 years.
Anchor , CNBC Africa
Tania Habimana is a bi-lingual French and English, award-winning Belgium-Rwandan entrepreneur and lead anchor for CNBC Africa’s primetime business and financial markets show Closing Bell. Habimana holds a BSc from Cardiff University in the United Kingdom as well as an MSc in international management from Erasmus University in the Netherlands, with a specialisation from Bocconi University in Milan, Italy.
Habimana is the co-founder of Nonzēro Africa, a Pan-African purpose-driven marketing agency focused on SME development and impact programmes in Africa and also sits on several advisory boards and enjoys mentoring business enthusiasts and youth all over the world.
Special Adviser to Governor on SDGs & I, Lagos State Office of the SDGs and Investments
Solape Hammond has over 20 years’ experience in the private sector. A co-founder of Impact Hub Lagos, a rapidly expanding global network of over 16,000 members across 90+ open hubs in 50 countries worldwide, Solape has supported several national macro-economic transformation initiatives.
She is passionate about social change and has served on the boards or advisory councils of various organisations domestically and internationally. An alumnus of the prestigious University of Ibadan with a BSc. degree in economics (1999), Solape also holds an MBA degree from INSEAD.
Senior Innovation Advisor, Nordic Innovation
Marthe Haugland has worked with businesses, circular business models and the transition to a circular economy in the Nordics for the past five years. She has previously worked in Innovation Norway, Myanmar and the EU.
Minister for the Environment, Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the Netherlands
Vivianne Heijnen was appointed Minister for the Environment on 10 January 2022. Between 2009 and 2018 she was head of the Maastricht University Campus in Brussels. In 2018 she became a member of the Maastricht municipal executive with responsibility for the economy, housing, regional policy and social innovation. Heijnen was born on 8 October 1982 in Spaubeek. When asked about what motivates her as a minister, her response is as follows:
“I want the Netherlands to be a country that is liveable and accessible for everyone and where we reuse more. I’m committed to reducing travel time in a sustainable way, with a particular focus on border regions, cities and our neighbouring countries.”
Head of Global collaboration unit for Sustainability solutions, The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra
Kari Herlevi has worked in the circular economy in both the public and private sectors. He has helped develop national circular strategies as well as the WCEF platform. He is a multi-skilled circular economy and sustainability expert.who headed Sitra’s Circular economy project for eight years.
Previously, Kari led the Green Growth programme at Business Finland, which is associated with the circular economy and has a financing volume of more than 100 million euros. He also has experience in Silicon Valley, where he had the privilege of working with the best people in the field.
Kari has Masters’ in finance and political science. He believes that in 2030 we will be closer to an environment-positive society in which, for example, traffic emissions have been minimised and the circular economy is reducing waste.
Global Director, Environment, Natural Resources and the Blue Economy (ENB), The World Bank
Valerie Hickey was earlier the manager for advisory and operations in the Climate Change Group, where she oversaw the implementation of the World Bank’s commitments on climate change, climate mainstreaming and climate finance. Before that, she was the practice manager for ENB in Latin America and the Caribbean, where she managed a cross-sectoral team that supported countries and communities on issues related to climate change, sustainable forest management, integrated conservation and development, integrated coastal zone management, fisheries, pollution management and environmental health, environmental economics, and environmental risk management. Valerie holds a PhD in environmental science and policy from Duke University.
Head of Circular Economy Division, European Investment Bank (EIB)
Philipp is heading the newly established division within the Environmental & Natural Resources Department in the EIB Projects Directorate. His experience includes sustainable construction, energy and solid waste management. The division he heads consists of a JASPERS advisory team (Joint Assistance to Support Projects in European Regions) mainly based in Bucharest and Vienna, which gives independent expert advice for projects within the EU. The division also has a Luxembourg-based team delivering advisory, appraisal and implementation support within and outside Europe, with a focus on Africa and Latin America.
Director of Resource Circularity, Centre for Nature and Climate, World Economic Forum
Kristin Hughes is the director of the resource circularity pillar and a member of the World Economic Forum’s executive committee. She also leads the Global Plastic Action Partnership, a public-private partnership that aims to shape a more sustainable and inclusive world through the eradication of plastic pollution.
Over the past twenty years Hughes has represented companies and governments in driving complex global programs focusing on sustainability, economic development, gender equity and stakeholder engagement. Focusing an approach that addresses both social and environmental impact throughout her experience, Hughes has addressed the needs of those working in a number of industry supply chains, improving working conditions in factories and remediating human rights atrocities while designing sustainable, environmentally focused strategies for companies’ approach to their business models.
Managing Partner, Officelord Consulting Services
Jonathan Obinna Ikeolumba is a certified chartered accountant and finance consultant with vast experience working across several organisations with different business structures and operating models. He is very passionate about solving complex business problems and helping businesses create and optimise value. His core area of specialisation is in financial management and sustainability gathered from over 15 years’ experience across roles in banking, development finance and consulting.
Ikeolumba has collaborated with leading local and international brands on delivering sessions on finance and the circular economy. He is currently the managing partner at Officelord Consulting, a finance and strategy consulting Firm, as well as an International Finance Corporation (IFC) master trainer and certified assessor. He is a Doctoral student and researcher at the Lagos Business School in Nigeria focusing on how financial institutions and private sector finance can catalyse the acceleration to a circular economy.
Patricia Akinyi K’Omudho
Chief Environment Officer, Nairobi City County Government
Patricia Akinyi K’Omudho runs Nairobi, Kenya’s environment programme. Following her championship with Nairobi’s participation at the 2018 World Habitat Day, the city was the first to benefit from the Waste Wise Cities campaign. Patricia presented Nairobi’s waste case at UNEA 5.2.
She also participated in the African Circular Cities Initiative, 2022 delivered by ICLEI with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and funded by MAVA. Patricia is a member of the African Circular Economy Network (ACEN). She is a DANIDA fellow as well as member of the Green and Circular Economy alumni network in Kenya.
Patricia holds a BSc. in environmental health and an MSc. in health systems management.
President, The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra
Jyrki’s career has focused on analysing societal change, finding solutions and decision-making. Before his appointment to Sitra, he was vice-president for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness at the European Commission.
Prior to the Commission, he has held the positions of prime minister and minister of finance. During his 15 years as a member of the Finnish Parliament Jyrki has chaired the Committee for the Future among other appointments.
Co-Founder and CEO, MycoTile Ltd
Mtamu Kililo is an ardent impact design enthusiast, passionate about a more equitable and just Africa. He envisions a reality of this passion through design processes and products that promote economic stimuli and resilience especially in under-served groups.
He is the co-founder and CEO of MycoTile, a company that offers alternative building materials in Kenya. The materials are manufactured locally using readily available agricultural waste and rapidly growing mushroom mycelium as a bonding agent.
An alumni of the African Design Centre in Kigali, a fellowship programme by MASS Design Group that trains and empowers the youth to become creative design leaders, he is currently also a Consulting Architect at Cave_bureau, a Nairobi based bureau of architects and researchers charting explorations into architecture and urbanism within nature.
Global Managing Director, Dalberg Implement
Steve Kisakye leads the new and rapidly growing Dalberg Implement business based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Dalberg deploys top talent to work directly with clients in a bespoke manner that allows for sustainability and impact to be accentuated.
Steve currently works in several sectors, including health, agriculture, climate change and youth employment. His work mostly involves leading teams that drive systems change by embedding in client spaces, including government, donors, funders and private sector actors. He has led the establishment of several project management offices and delivery units across a host of countries in Africa. He is part of a team that serves as the secretariat for the African Circular Economy Alliance (ACEA).
Policy Insights Manager, Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Amelia Kuch develops and communicates policy insights to national and city governments and other key ecosystem players, including businesses and universities. Her work is driven by a belief that an inspiring, positive vision is essential for any large-scale transformation. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked as a researcher and consultant in Europe and Africa, covering various topics including migration, land reform and urban development. Amelia has a PhD in International Development from the University of Edinburgh and is an alumna of the University of Oxford.
Vice-Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Ministry of the Environment, Finland
Terhi Lehtonen joined the Ministry of the Environment in July 2019 from the European Commission Directorate General for Climate Action. Before DG CLIMA, she advised the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament on environmental and climate policy for 14 years. From 2001−2003 she worked as the head of office for MEP Heidi Hautala in Brussels and Strasbourg. Lehtonen set up the European Office of the city of Turku, Finland, in Brussels in 1998 and represented the region in EU institutions until 2001.
Executive Director, Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE)
Ramona Liberoff started her career in multinational innovation. She moved into development, innovation and impact investment in 2010, and has since been COO of an energy investment fund and CEO of SPRING Accelerator. Liberoff has invested in over 25 climate and “tech for good” startups. She holds Masters’ from the London School of Economics and Yale University.
Aik Hoe Lim
Director, Trade and Environment Division, World Trade Organization
Aik Hoe Lim leads WTO’s work on environmental sustainability, climate change and trade, as well as on the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade. In this role, he has strengthened WTO’s partnership with UNEP as well as other international environmental organisations. He led the establishment of WTO’s Trade and Environment Week, which is now an annual flagship event for the organisation.
He joined the WTO in 1999 and served in the external eelations division, the Director-General’s cabinet and the trade in services division. He was previously counsellor to two WTO Director-Generals, advisor to the Director General’s consultative group, and secretary to WTO committees, working groups and negotiating bodies on services trade and domestic regulation.
He represents the WTO in the UN Environmental Management Group and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and is a member of the Advisory Board of the UNEP Global Environmental Outlook. Some of his publications include contributions to the Research Handbook on Climate Change and Trade Law (2017), Win-Win: How International Trade Can Help Meet the Sustainable Development Goals (2017) and an edited volume on WTO Domestic Regulation and Services Trade (2014).
Director Partnership, Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF)
Ada Marmion has over 12 years’ experience in renewable energy, energy access, climate and inclusive finance in sub-Saharan Africa and Europe in both for-profit and the development sector. She is now at AECF, the largest pan-African catalytic investor in early stage and growing businesses.
Prior to joining AECF, Ada worked with EIT Climate-KIC, the largest European public private partnership investing in climate innovation, where she lead the circular economy portfolio. Before that she supported project developers and SMEs in the energy access sector in East and West Africa raising capital and growing their operations with Energy 4 Impact.
Managing Director for Africa and Global Partnerships, World Resources Institute (WRI)
Wanjira Mathai formerly served as vice president and regional director for Africa, co-chair of WRI’s Global Restoration Council and a senior advisor to the Global Restoration Initiative. She is also the current chair of the Wangari Maathai Foundation and the former chair of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, the organisation her mother, Wangari Maathai (2004 Nobel Peace Prize laureate), founded in 1977.
An inspiring leader, Wanjira has over 20 years of experience advocating for social and environmental change on both local and international platforms. Over the years, Wanjira has also served important strategic and advocacy roles raising the prominence and visibility of global issues such as climate change, youth leadership, sustainable energy and landscape restoration.
Wanjira currently serves on the Board of the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), as a Leadership Council member of the Clean Cooking Alliance and a member of the High-Level Group of the Africa-Europe Foundation. Wanjira is one of a few Six Seconds EQ Practitioners in Kenya and was named one of the 100 Most Influential African Women in 2018, 2020 and 2021.
Country General Manager, Enviroserve Rwanda
Olivier Mbera is an environmental engineer by profession with ten years of experience in the recycling industry. He is currently working for a leading e-waste recycling company in East Africa which operates the only state-of-the-art e-waste dismantling and recycling facility in Rwanda.
Mbera has worked for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) as national expert and participated in numerous projects. He has led the development of Rwanda’s e-waste management project as well as worked as a national expert in resource efficiency, cleaner production, sustainable consumption and the Lake Victoria Environment Management Program II. He has an MSc. Degree with honours from the China University of Geosciences.
Director of Standards and Control, Ministry of Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development, Cameroon
Hyacinth Mboh was also Focal Point for the Vienna Convention and it’s Montreal Protocol related to substances that deplete the ozone layer.
Principal Programme Coordinator, African Development Bank
Davinah Milenge coordinates several special initiatives on climate change within the Climate Change and Green Growth Department of the African Development Bank. These include the Africa Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) Hub, a platform hosted at the Bank to help African countries implement their Paris Agreement climate commitments; the Secretariat of the African Financial Alliance on Climate Change (AFAC), an initiative launched by the Bank AfDB to mobilise, catalyse and leverage domestic climate finance; and the Africa Circular Economy Facility. She also manages portfolio due diligence for the Bank’s green bonds programme.
Kgauta Sylvester Mokoena
Chief Director, Chemicals and Waste Policy Specialist Monitoring Service, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, South Africa
Kgauta Mokoena is a circular economy specialist and chemicals and waste practitioner in South Africa. He is co-ordinator for the African Circular Economy Alliance (ACEA) and country focal point for the Global Alliance for Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency (GACERE).
Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya
Minister of Environment, Rwanda , Ministry of Environment, Rwanda
Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya is the minister of environment in Rwanda since November 2019. She served as ambassador of Rwanda in Russia from 2013 and rector of Kigali Institute of Science and Technology KIST (2011-2013); Rwanda’s minister of Gender and Family Promotion (2008-2011); minister of Education (2006-2008); state minister in charge of higher education (2005-2006) and state minister in charge of primary and secondary education in the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Scientific Research (2003-2005).
She is a PhD holder in Physical-Chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology-IIT Roorkee. She is passionate about environment conservation towards green growth for Rwanda’s socio-economic transformation.
Deborah Ohui Nartey
Research Analyst, Footprints Africa Limited
At Footprints Africa, Deborah Ohui Nartey has coordinated the building of an all-African circular economy database, contributed to the production of the group’s circular economy reports and represented the organisation at events to share insights gathered through their research. She is also the founder and director of Dreams Arise Ghana, a charity that advances education for students and youth in certain rural communities in Ghana and advocates for rural community development.
Director, Hustlenomics Pty Ltd
Nhlanhla Ndlovu is the founder of Hustlenomics. He is a qualified bricklayer with a business focused on up-skilling and creating opportunities for youth, by replacing shacks with formal housing through an affordable finance plan. This young entrepreneur lives in Soweto and has his sights set on changing his neighbourhood, one house at a time.
Research and Operations Supervisor, Hinckley E-Waste Recycling
Israel Olagunju is a value-driven waste advocate and currently manages an electronic waste recycling company. He is interested in the responsible management of plastic waste and plans to build a facility that can find new uses for all materials recovered from electronic waste. He played an instrumental role in the E-waste Compensation as an international financing mechanism in Nigeria (ECoN) project, a Prevent Waste Alliance pilot. The project focused on flat panel displays and lithium-ion batteries.
Olagunju is an accomplished creative artist with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the Federal University of Technology Akure and a Master’s degree in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Lagos.
Vice-Minister, Ministry of the Environment, Japan
Hiroshi Ono has had a long and varied career in public service, particularly in environmental leadership positions. He has led environmental transport, waste management and recycling, and global environmental affairs at Japan’s Ministry of the Environment. Born in 1962, Ono first began working on environmental issues in 1987, soon after graduating from the Graduate School of Engineering at the University of Tokyo.
The Finnish National Youth Council Allianssi
Paula Pättikangas is a young active who is passionate about holistic sustainability, intergenerational justice and systemic changes. As co-chair of the Youth Agenda2030 group and a board member of Fingo, the umbrella organisation of Finnish global development associations, Paula actively works for a more equal and sustainable society. In 2023-2024 she will act as Finland’s UN Youth delegate.
Paula is a Master’s degree student in futures studies and excels also in sustainable development, responsible business management and cultural history.
Chair, ACEN Foundation and CEO, Trinomics
Koen Rademaekers began his career with four years as an assistant professor at the University of Brussels teaching public finance and econometrics, followed by a position as head of the study department of a political party. This was followed with four years as chief economist of the international bank BNP-Paribas-Fortis in Europe and Asia, followed by a position as the lead on finance, energy, environment and climate change at the cabinet of the Flemish Minister of Economics. He then took on the role as the director of investor relations of the Group Electrabel-Suez (today ENGIE) and finally as the European energy buyer for all the plants of Arcelor-Mittal in Europe.
With the profits of Trinomics, Koen is funding the Foundation, which is the implementing body of ACEN. ACEN Foundation has the aim to develop circular economy road maps and action plans in most African countries, hand in hand with the governments.
Circular Economy Programme Manager, The African Leadership University (ALU)
Arsh Raina‘s mission at the ALU is to help young leaders use the circular economy as a tool to solve problems in their local communities.
Arsh believes in the power of youth leadership, and experiences in his adult life have consistently revolved around empowering the youth.
Counselor – European Green Deal, Rural Development, Trade Sector, Delegation of the European Union to Zambia and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
Matthias Reusing has been managing very diverse and integrated sector portfolios throughout his career, taking him to assignments in Africa, Asia, Oceania and Europe. He started his career as a consultant in 1997 and worked in different functions for German co-operation in Ethiopia and Zambia until 2006, before he joined the EU Delegation to Sierra Leone. Having worked for 14 years in different African countries, his next assignment took him in 2010 to the EU Delegation to China and Mongolia in Beijing, China. Back at the European Commission HQ in Brussels, Reusing was since 2014 responsible for EU’s regional co-operation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). He later took up a similar position, being in charge among others of regional co-operation with the Pacific region and bilateral co-operation with Timor-Leste, until his return to Zambia 2019.
Reusing holds an MSc in Geography at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany. In 2009, he certified at the Executive Education Programme on “Mastering Trade Policy” at Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, USA. He also certified in “Circular Economy and Sustainability Strategies” at the Executive Education Programme of the Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, UK.
Minister of Environment, Ministry of Environment, Chile
Maisa Rojas holds a PhD in atmospheric sciences from Oxford University, UK. She has held the position of associate professor in the department of geophysics of the University of Chile and director of the Climate and Resilience Science Centre (CR2). Her research areas are paleoclimate and regional climate change. She has also worked in impact assessments of sectors such as agriculture and water resources with numeric climate models as her main analysis tool.
Rojas was coordinator of the scientific committee for UNFCCC COP25 at the Ministry of Science of Chile. She was member of the Presidential Advisory Council for COP25 and participant of the Chilean delegation at COP26. She also coordinated the Scientific Advisory Committee on Climate Change. Rojas was a leading author of the Fifth Assessment Report of IPCC, AR5, and she also participated as coordinating author of the Sixth Assessment Report, AR6.
Aissa Toure Sarr
Country Manager, African Development Bank
Aissa Toure Sarr is a Senegalese national with over 25 years of extensive experience working in three continents and twelve countries for five international organisations. She joined the African Development Bank (AfDB), Rwanda Office in March 2021. Prior to that, Aissa worked as the Country Director for Burundi and in different roles in IFAD from 2011 to 2021. Prior to joining the UN system, Aissa worked as the country representative at Water Aid (2003 –2007) and as deputy director for West Africa at Oxfam America (2007-2009). She was with Sahara and Sahel Observatory-OSS, working as a research for development programme coordinator in 2009-2010. From 2009 to 2011, she worked as an independent consultant, focusing mainly on climate change and financing, as well as monitoring and evaluation of projects.
Aissa holds a post-graduate degree (D.E.S.S) in rural sector, enterprise development and food processing project management (1993), a Master’s in economics and project financing engineering (1992), a BSc, in economics and project financing engineering (1991), and Bachelor’s Degree in Rural Economy (1990), all from University of Montpellier I, France.
Head of Africa Programmes, World Green Building Council (WorldGBC)
Vere Shaba works part time with WorldGBC while also co-leading Greendesign – an ESG and green building consulting firm specialising in the design, construction, commissioning and certification of sustainable built environments. Vere’s career in green buildings began in 2010 when she was a part of the WSP-LUC-DHK winning team for the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace & Environmental Studies international carbon-neutral design competition. Since then, Vere has been passionate about net zero green buildings that do less harm to people and to the climate and environment – having contextualised and facilitated sessions on green buildings in 22 countries in Africa through the ongoing development of Green Building Councils (GBCs).
In her role at WorldGBC, she delivers regional programmes to catalyse the uptake of sustainable built environments on the African continent with WorldGBC’s regional partners and collaborators, including the African Union.
As an ESG and sustainability consultant, her mission is to transform the built environment across WorldGBC’s three strategic areas – climate action, health and well-being, and resources and circularity – and she believes that GBCs in every country in Africa will be the catalyst for this transformation on the continent.
Menna Shahin نة شاهين , born in 1987, is an Egyptian entrepreneur. She’s a pharmacist, founder of She Travels, and cofounder of an application to fight food waste called Tekeya. By the end of 2021, Tekeya was able to save more than 30,000 meals and offset 75 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
Menna is an experienced public speaker who has given a Tedx Talk in 2019 and was a keynote speaker at the World Youth Forum. In 2021, she won the Africa region of the category “women in tech” at the Global Startup Awards and was a finalist at the Egypt Entrepreneur Awards.
Head of the International Economic Cooperation Department, Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of the Republic of Tajikistan
Dilshod Sharifi is a Circular STEP national focal point and his role in facilitating international collaboration for achieving SDGs is remarkable. He is passionate about making Tajikistan a more economically developed, circular and sustainable country throughout his career. He constantly works on being updated on global trends and building his knowledge, including through attending training. He is fluent in English, French, Russian and Tajik. In his free time, he enjoys playing tennis, as previously he had a successful career as a professional tennis player. He holds a PhD in world economics from Tajik National University and an MBA and Bachelor’s in international studies from Francis Marion University, United States.
Director, Department of Environment, UNIDO
Stephen Sicars holds an MA in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Hanover in Germany. He has managed the Research Centre for Refrigeration and Heat Pumps in Germany; headed his own consultancy undertaking research for international industries, NGOs and governments; provided policy advice on environmental matters and has been a technical expert on several international panels. In 2004-2014 he worked with the UN Multilateral Fund for the implementation of the Montreal protocol.
Since 2014, as a director at UNIDO, Sicars has been focusing on the reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases, minimising industrial pollution and advancing the circular economy. In addition, he oversaw UNIDO’s energy portfolio from 2020-2022 and was responsible for managing climate action across the organisation.
Co-founder, Closing the Loop
Reinhardt Smit is the South African co-founder of Closing the Loop and is responsible for all the company’s operations in Africa. He has experience in working with the informal sector in the collection of electronic waste and in transporting this waste for responsible recycling. In addition to this, Smit is involved in discussions at a higher level to develop business models that facilitate the collection and sound recycling of electronic waste from developing countries. Together with the PREVENT Waste Alliance and the StEP Initiative, he worked on a discussion paper regarding the practical implementation of the Basel Convention PIC procedure, which was presented in Geneva in June 2022.
Co-Chair, International Resource Panel
Izabella Teixeira is an expert in environmental management, impact assessment and licensing. She is a former Environment Minister of Brazil and was named a Champion of the Earth by UNEP in 2013.
Director General, Geological Survey of Finland
Kimmo Tiilikainen has previously acted as a member of parliament for 16 years and also held several ministerial positions. Combining environment and the economy is one of his guidelines, key elements being sustainability and circular economy. Tiilikainen was one of the EU’s ministerial negotiators of the Paris Agreement and signed it on behalf of Finland in 2016. He was one of the facilitators in the negotiations on adaptation to climate change when the Paris Rule Book was finalised. As a minister of energy, he implemented the Finnish climate policy by promoting both renewable energy and a ban on the use of coal.
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Vietnam
Tran Hong Ha is responsible for developing and implementing environmental legislation, regulations, standards, policies and guidelines in Vietnam. This includes total landscape management, remote sensing, surveying and mapping, planning and use of land, water resources, maritime and islands, mineral resources, geology, hydrometeorology, environment protection, biodiversity conservation and climate actions. He holds a PhD in Mineral Technology and Management.
CEO, The Conversation Strategists
Nozipho Tshabalala is CEO of a firm dedicated to facilitating consequential conversations on global stages. She describes it as “helping smart people have simple conversations that make the world a better place.” Her clients are international organisations (UN, World Bank Group, AU, ILO, etc.), governments and multinationals in Africa. Nozipho is also a human capital advocate for the World Bank and global citizen in southern Africa. She is chairman designate for LRMG and extends her leadership on various other boards including Africa Leadership Initiative-South Africa, TEDx Gresham Place and the BeyGOOD Global Citizen Fellowship. She has served in government (The Presidency, RSA), civil society (Umlambo Foundation) and corporate entities (Tata Africa, CNBC Africa).
Ambassador for Circular Economy and Energy, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland
Anne Vasara is a career diplomat with more than 30 years of experience in different diplomatic functions in Europe, the United States, Africa, OECD, Council of Europe, WTO and the European Union.
Director, African Circular Economy Network (ACEN)
Chris Whyte is a co-founder of the ACEN Foundation and director of five commercial companies working in the circular economy space. As a circular economy strategist with 30 years’ experience, his impact has created thousands of jobs across Africa and earned him 18 national and global awards. His primary focus is innovation: using waste to create value chains. This unlocks economic opportunities in energy, water, waste, agriculture, infrastructure, construction, mining, manufacturing and tourism, with positive impacts in health, education, the environment and social upliftment. He believes that a circular economy transition is the only path forward for Africa.
Adriana Zacarias Farah
Senior Programme Manager, Head of GO4SDGs, Deputy Head 10YFP Secretariat, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
Adriana Zacarias Farah is a graduate from Cambridge, UK, with a Masters’ in environment and development, and BSc in political science from ITAM in Mexico. She is an international expert on sustainable development, resource efficiency and sustainable consumption and production. Adriana joined UNEP in 2003. In her current position, she supports policies, strategies and initiatives related to the green economy, the circular economy, innovation for SMEs and sustainable lifestyles, among other themes. GO4SDGs accelerates regional solutions for inclusive green economies and circularity and works in three areas: policy coherence, SME innovation and youth empowerment.