Sustainability Summit Speakers
Coordinator of the Secretariat of the Italian University Network for Sustainable Development and Strategic Planning Projects Department, Politecnico di Torino, IT
Paola Biglia started her career at Politecnico di Torino almost 20 years ago as European funded projects manager, first in research projects and since 2015 in mobility projects within the International Relations Area. In 2019 she moved to the Strategy and Planning Area where she started to follow the actions of the Green Team Office of the Politecnico. In particular, Paola took over the management coordination of the Italian University Network for Sustainable Development, which counts more than 80 Italian universities sharing good practices and a common path towards sustainability.
Paola holds a M.Sc. in International Sciences and, following her interest in contributing to a more prosperous and just world, she attended several courses on topics related to sustainable development.
She is committed to supporting networking and sharing experiences in the context of higher education to address global sustainability challenges.
Director of the Centre for Sustainable Development, Ghent University, BE
Thomas Block is professor of ‘Sustainability and governance’ at the Department of Political Sciences at Ghent University, director of the interdisciplinary Centre for Sustainable Development and Special UGent Commissioner Sustainability.
His research focus is on complex decision-making and transition governance, education on wicked sustainability issues, scenarios and future studies, sustainable cities and urban projects. He is promotor of several PhD students, research projects and international consortia.
He is also co-initiator of the Ghent ‘Stadsacademie’ (Urban Academy), an active member of the think tank ‘Transitie UGent’, the jury of the VDK Sustainability Award, the jury of the FUTUREproof Award, etc. He is lecturer of 3 UGent courses: ‘Politics of sustainability’, ‘Sustainable Cities’ and the university-wide elective course ‘Sustainability Thinking’.
Green office, University of Konstanz, DE
Julia is a member of the student-led Green Office at the University of Konstanz. She has just finished a bachelor’s degree in English and Political Science and she is now continuing her studies with a master’s course in English Literary Studies.
Sustainability is and always will be one of the topics that Julia is passionate about. Having always been active in her community and then in different student groups at the university, her focus is on social sustainability and its concerns like for instance human rights. With an increasing interrelation between violations against human rights and the effects of climate change, she began to shift her focus away from humans and animals, towards the environment instead. And that is how Julia ended up at the Green Office.
The mission of the Green Office is to make the university a more sustainable place in every sense. Measures that have already been implemented are e.g., a biennial released “Sustainability Report”, a voluntary and voluntary “Sustainability Certificate” which anchors sustainability in the curriculum and a semestral project week with all kinds of events around the topic of sustainability.
Head of the Staff Unit Sustainability, University of Konstanz, DE
Hilmar Hofmann is the Head of the Staff Unit Sustainability at the University of Konstanz. The mission of the Unit is to support and coordinate sustainable development on all fields of action. In doing so, it promotes the active involvement of all status groups and administrative areas of the university to facilitate and strengthen the transformation process towards a sustainable University of Konstanz.
Hilmar has a background as an environmental engineer and scientist in aquatic physics. He is committed to contributing to a more sustainable future for organisations, people and planet. His focus is on being a sounding board for all members of the university who want to shape and implement sustainability.
Senior Specialist in Sustainability and Responsibility, University of Helsinki, FI
Riina Koivuranta works as a senior specialist in sustainability and responsibility at the University of Helsinki. In her work, she develops the university’s sustainability approach that takes into account the core duties of the university as well as daily operations (UH Sustainability and responsibility plan 2022-2024).
In her work, she emphasises a whole institution approach as well as collaboration in national, transnational and organisational level. She currently acts as the vice-chair of the national Finn-Arma Sustainability group, as well as the secretary of the sustainability working group under UNIFI, Universities Finland, a cooperational organisation for Finnish universities.
The work done in the Unifi working group has resulted in 12 theses on sustainable development and responsibility, that represent the Finnish universities’ shared ambition and will to drive change that has a global impact.
Director of Development and Sustainability, University of Nottingham, UK
An experienced director-level professional with expertise in sustainable development, cities, universities, governance, policy and strategy. 15 years of experience working in the field of sustainability in both the private and public sector. Responsible for providing strategic direction to the University and for delivery of a comprehensive and progressive sustainability strategy, further developing and embedding sustainability to improve the University’s campus, curriculum and community sustainability.
Operational responsibilities include energy and carbon management, environmental management (including waste, transport, engagement and communication), grounds management and transport and logistics.
Responsible for providing strategic direction to the University and for delivery of a comprehensive and progressive sustainability strategy, further developing and embedding sustainability to improve the University’s campus, curriculum and community sustainability. Operational responsibilities include energy and carbon management, environmental management (including waste, transport, engagement and communication), grounds management and transport and logistics.
Director Strategy and Planning, Politecnico di Torino, IT
Mario Ravera has been working at the Politecnico di Torino since 2009. He is currently responsible of the Planning and Strategic Projects Area. Among the main strategic projects managed, the sustainability initiative has had a special focus in the last 5 years.
Between 2009 and 2018, Mario was responsible for the Information Technology, Finance and Personnel Areas of the Politecnico.
Between 1995 and 2009, Mario worked at Accenture (formerly Andersen Consulting) in roles ranging from Assistant to Senior Manager, managing relevant projects in the Supply Chain, Finance and Performance Management domains.
Mario holds a M.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering and a Classical Lyceum diploma.
Managing Director, Department of the Built Environment, Eindhoven University of Technology, NL
Merle is Managing Director of the Department of the Built Environment of Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e). Eindhoven University of Technology is a young university, founded in 1956 by industry, local government and academia. Currently, the TU/e has 13.000 Bachelor and Master students, 2200 PhD and PdEng students and 2600 staff members (academic and non-academic). Today, the spirit of collaboration is still at the heart of the university community. These values helped Brainport Region Eindhoven flourish, and resulted in our university being ranked number 1 by Times Higher Education Ranking for collaboration with industry. 15% of the TU/e scientific publications are created in collaboration with industry, and the university has the highest number of part-time professors from industry in the Netherlands.
Merle has held various positions within TU/e, covering administrative positions within scientific and service departments. As Managing Director she is part of the Departmental Board and responsible for the integral management of the scientific department. This includes finance, HRM, laboratories, ICT, communication, compliance, safety and security. In this she works closely with the dean, vice dean, fellow directors and the Executive Board.
Prior to her current position, she had a combined role as Director Data Management & Library, and Chief Data Officer. Before that, as a staff member for the Executive Board and Head of Business Intelligence, she was responsible for international rankings within the university. Merle graduated within Architecture, Building and Planning at TU/e, and is currently pursuing alongside her work a part-time Master’s degree in Management Sciences at the Open University of the Netherlands.
Green Office, Ghent University, BE
Johannes has a master’s degree in Engineering Physics, and he is a student employee of the Green Office at Ghent University. At the Green Office, Johannes is mainly responsible for the facilitation of discussions and strategy setting at university and Green Office level.
So far, one of Johannes’ main projects was the facilitation of reflections of the university board, commissions, and committees on how sustainability can be integrated in their working. Furthermore, he is facilitating the strategy setting of the Green Office and the preparation and facilitation of various trainings and workshops.
Besides being part of the Green Office, Johannes is a soft skills trainer, and is keen on discovering how to design training sessions that empower individuals to work on the transition to a more sustainable society.
Riet Van De Velde
Environmental Coordinator, Ghent University, BE
Riet Van de Velde is environmental coordinator of Ghent University and head of the Environment Department. Besides following up on the legal environmental obligations, she is one of the driving forces of the sustainability policy of Ghent University.
Together with Green Office staff and students, volunteers and many committed policy staff and academics, she works at well-defined sustainability goals in a climate plan, makes the transition paths visible for the different policy areas and monitors the progress.
She also coordinates the think tank Transitie UGent and several bottom-up initiatives from staff and students.
Jeroen Vanden Berghe
Chief Administrator, Ghent University, BE
Jeroen Vanden Berghe is Chief Administrator at Ghent University (Flanders, Belgium), a position that he holds since September 2012. He has university master degrees in Archaeology, Information Sciences and International Political Sciences. He has a professional background in research and innovation policies, both at university and government level.
Together with the Rector, the Vice-Rector and the Chief Academic Administrator he forms the Management Committee of the university, responsible for the day-to-day management of the university and the co-ordination of the central university administration.
As Chief Logistics Administrator, he has an overall responsibility for the Financial Department, the Department of Information and Communication Technology, the Department of Infrastructure and Facility Management and of the Student Facilities. He has a seat in the Board of Governors and the Executive Board of the University and the university hospital. As representative of the University, he is actively involved in a variety of initiatives, such as the development of the Tech Lane Ghent Science Park and the positioning of the Ghent University Museum.
Senior Director and Strategy and Operations Lead, EAB, US
David Vuletich is a Senior Director in EAB’s Research Advisory Services and serves as the University Operations Team Lead. This team houses EAB’s experts in business affairs, estates, information technology, and financial sustainability, and is responsible for driving value for our partner institutions through consensus building, decision support, and guidance on best practices implementation. Over the last 5 years, David has worked with hundreds of universities to refine strategy around capital planning, space utilization, workforce development, efficiency, and budget allocation models.
David’s expertise in education comes from a background that has included numerous touchpoints with the industry. David worked for the American Institutes for Research as a Senior Editor and was a summer Associate at Huron Consulting. Prior to this he was an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry in the State University of New York system. From these experiences, David has gained an insightful perspective on the challenges facing a variety of stakeholders at education institutions.
David has earned bachelor’s degrees in astrophysics and chemical physics from Michigan State University, a dual-title Ph.D. in biochemistry and astrobiology from the Pennsylvania State University, and an MBA from Indiana University’s Kelley Direct online program.
After serving 10 years as King’s College London’s Senior Vice-President Operations & College Secretary, Ian now holds a portfolio of non-executive and higher education consulting roles. Prior to King’s, he held similar chief operating officer roles at City University London and before that, the University of Adelaide.
The first part of his career was in the Australian Public Service where he rose early on to become a member of the Senior Executive Service. Ian is also an experienced non-executive having served on the Board of King’s Health Partners, the Council of Governors of an NHS Foundation Trust, and the audit committee of the British Academy. He is currently the Chair of the Academic Council of BPP University in the UK,
Since relocating to Europe 20 years ago, Ian became an active member of HUMANE serving on its Executive Committee. He was a regular contributor to the Winter School and was key in the development of its sister Schools, the Berlin Summer School and the Shanghai Transnational Partnership School.
Other sustainability summit team members
Cecile Chicoye is currently consultant with the French association of heads of administration and expert for the French evaluation agency ( HCERES) Until sept 2020 she was head of administration of Toulouse 1 Capitole University well known as the host of the Toulouse School of Economics one of the top 10 teams in economics research whose head is the Nobel prize winner Jean Tirole.
Trained in the “Ecole Nationale d’administration”, she has spent part of her career in ministries in Paris dealing most of the time with the European dimension of public policies: she has been in charge of regional policy and structural funds for France and head of European affairs directorate in the ministry of industry.
Life led her to Toulouse in the southwest of France well known for its “cassoulet” and aeronautics industry where after 5 years as deputy director general of the regional council, she served in the “prefecture” (office of the central government representative in the region) and was in charge of all the projects dealing with the development of research and higher education infrastructures.
She was hired by Toulouse 1 Capitole as head of administration and as such has to lead the modernization of university management resulting from the 2007 law on higher education called the “law on the autonomy of universities“ which initiated a deep reform in the French higher education world . During that time she was actively involved in Humane activities first as a participant then as Chair of Humane Round Table . She left at the end of her mandate after 10 years as Head of administration.
Cat Eastwood is the Director of Operations and Professional Services at the Easter Bush Campus, University of Edinburgh. Cat has specific responsibility for sustainability and ensures that the Campus is a beacon of good practice in Sustainability and Social Responsibility (SRS). Sharing knowledge and increasing awareness of SRS amongst all those who work and study on the Campus and highlighting the importance and impact of initiatives that to contribute to the University’s overall ambitions in this area. Cat leads the Campus Committee and is responsible for monitoring sustainable laboratory and office practice, reducing the Campus’ carbon footprint and driving forward initiatives to support biodiversity.
Cat’s background is in Human Resources (HR), having worked in HR in Higher Education for over 10 years before she became Director of Operations and Professional Services with the University of Edinburgh in 2018. Cat has a Masters in HR Management and graduated from the University of Edinburgh Executive MBA programme in 2017.
Kim Engelen is the policy advisor for sustainability and inclusion at the rectorate of the University of Hasselt. She is starting up the UHasselt Green Office and together with staff and students she works to implement the UHasselt sustainability goals.
Dr. Maaninen-Olsson is the vice dean and the associate dean for undergraduate and graduate programmes at the School of Business, Society and Engineering at Mälardalen University, Sweden. She interested in the domain of organisational learning and knowledge integration in project-based organisations, including virtual global teams.
In the past, Dr. Maaninen-Olsson has done research on MNCs, in particular on organisational issues in global teams.
She teaches and is course responsible for several management courses, including Leadership in Teams, Cross. Cultural Management, Effective Organising, and Bachelor and Master thesis.
Alessandro Mazzari is Energy Manager at the University of Padova with a demonstrated history of working for environmental and energy consultancy companies providing technical support to industries and Public Administrations.
Skilled in Sustainable Development, European projects, Energy, Climate Adaptation strategy, and Renewable Energy.
Matthias Meinecke is assistant to the vice-president for resources and governance of Siegen University. In a relatively recent development the university realized the importance of an integrated sustainability approach which is now part of his job.
Since then, he has come across various topics ranging from sustainability questions more focused on the particular situation of Siegen University – research, teaching, operation, infrastructure and mobility – to more to larger-scale questions like setting up Humboldt n, a state-wide sustainability initiative in North Rhine-Westphalia.
He holds a B.Sc. and a M.Sc. in Economics and is working on his PhD on the formation of early share companies where the development towards persisting companies is an interesting phenomenon in economic history, touching some aspects of sustainability
Marlies Nijemeisland is sustainability coordinator of the Leiden University in the Netherlands. She is responsible for the integration of the central sustainability goals in research, education and operations. Additionally, she is involved in the supervision of Leidens’ Green Office, awareness campaigns and investigation of routes to reduce energy consumption on campus in the near future, especially in laboratories.
Marlies has a PhD in Chemistry and worked both in industry and in higher education. In a previous role as lecturer and scientist at the Technical University of Delft she gained knowledge about stakeholders at different levels within a university and to approach the topic of sustainability from different perspectives
Laura Organte works at the University of Padua and is the head of the Involvement and Sustainability Sector, a structure within the Public Engagement Office – Communication and Marketing Area, which is responsible for coordinating and giving visibility to the University’s social and environmental sustainability actions.
She has a PhD in Linguistic and Literary Sciences and has previously worked in communications for both the University of Padua and other organisations.
Ina Schwarz is head of the Department of Construction and Real Estate at the Ruhr University in Bochum.
An architect by training Ina has a background as project manager in the construction sector and has developed a strong focus on sustainability and energy topics. She has co-founded and is CEO of a corporation between the Ruhr University Bochum and a local energy supplier, developing a central heating plant with cogeneration units and since 2018 supplying campus and the surrounding urban quarters with district heat.
Her operational responsibilities include strategic campus development, procurement, major construction projects as well as the Sustainability Office which serves as a link between various sustainability activities and stakeholders. Her focus is on developing and implementing energy and carbon management strategies.
Griet Verbeeck is professor in Sustainable architecture and coordinator of the Sustainability Research team at the Faculty of Architecture and art. She is also the Institutional Sustainability Coordinator at Hasselt University.
She has a PhD in Architectural Engineering and her research focus has gradually evolved over the years from object-centred (technical-economic scenarios) to human- and planet-centred research, to support decision-making for sustainable use of natural resources, with attention to social justice.
Inspired by the principles of doughnut economics and sufficiency, her mission is to contribute to a good life for all within planetary boundaries, for which she uses her professional and personal agency to help people making more sustainable choices: as supervisor of PhD and master researchers and educator of students in architecture in courses on climate responsive and positive impact design, as member of the UHasselt Platform Building Beyond Borders and of national and international scientific and professional networks on sustainability; as speaker on carbon reduction and doughnut economics for a laymen’s audience; as member of the Environmental Advisory Board and the core team of the Climate Roundtable of her hometown, as climate coach in her community, and as mom of 3 climate-conscious children.