Synolakis, Costas

Professor Costas Synolakis is a Member of the Academy of Athens, the 40-person hellenic national Academy and a professor at the University of Southern California. He is the Head of Greece’s National Committee on Climate Change. He is a leading coastal engineer whose research over the past three decades spans natural disasters, crisis management, tsunamis, beach maintenance and development, erosion, and geology. He is a vocal advocate of the plight of natural beaches under climate change conditions.

He has gotten the major international scientific awards in his field, including ASCE’s Moffat and Nichol Coastal Engineering, the International Coastal Engineering Award and EGU’s Soloviev Medal. He has published numerous highly cited, key scientific papers on disasters. He produced all inundation maps for the California coastline for evacuation planning. He has appeared in tens of documentaries, has authored tens of editorials for the Wall Street Journal and has given hundreds of interviews in international media such as the NYT, Washington Post, LA Times, CNN, BBC, ABC, NBC, and Kathimerini.

Schellnhuber, John

Director Emeritus of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)

Hans Joachim (“John”) Schellnhuber studied physics and mathematics and completed his doctorate at the University of Regensburg. After a postdoctoral position at the Institute for Theoretical Physics, Santa Barbara, he held professorships at the Universities of Oldenburg and Potsdam, as well as at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. In addition, he held numerous visiting professorships (e.g., University of California, Santa Cruz; Oxford University; and Santa Fe Institute).

As founding director of PIK, he led the institute from 1991 until 2018. From 2001 until 2005, he was also research director at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in Great Britain. Among other learned societies, he is a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the German National Academy Leopoldina, the US National Academy of Sciences, and the Academia Europaea. He received, inter alia, the German Environment Prize (2007), the Volvo Environment Prize (2011) and the Blue Planet Prize (2017).

He served as scientific advisor to a number of eminent political and religious leaders, including the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Pope Francis. He has been a member of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) ever since its establishment in 1992. He also contributed in various ways to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

For his achievements, Queen Elizabeth II named Hans Joachim Schellnhuber a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (2004). He was also awarded the Order of Merit of the State of Brandenburg (2008) as well as the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2011).

Papadimitriou, Maria

Maria Papadimitriou is a Greek contemporary visual artist living and working between Athens and Volos, Greece.  After graduating with an honours degree in painting from the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (ENSBA), Paris, Papadimitriou began practicing as a visual artist in 1989. She uses the medium of sculpture, installation, public art, video and photography to realize her artworks.

In 2002 she represented Greece for the 25th edition of the São Paulo Biennial with the project T.A.M.A. (Temporary Autonomous Museum for All), an ongoing project still central to her artistic practice. She is the founder of the nonprofit organization T.A.M.A. and the Art Canteen Souzy Tros. Since November 2016 she has been collaborating with the artist Rick Lowe in the organization and development of Victoria Square Project. She is Professor of Visual Arts at the Department of Architecture of the University of Thessaly in Volos. Matters of identity, social integration and exclusion are the recurring issues in her work. Her work has been presented in numerous shows internationally. In 2003 she won the DESTE prize for contemporary Greek art and in 2016 she was awarded with the rank of “Officier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Academiques” by the French government.

Osiris, Khalil

International speaker of exponential thinking and transformational leadership

Khalil Osiris is an international speaker on exponential thinking and transformational leadership.  An author, educator and activist, he spent 20 years of his life in prison and while there earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Boston University. He transformed his life and emerged from prison with a deep understanding of how to use personal crisis and challenges as opportunities for self-improvement.
He is author of The Psychology of Incarceration, which is taught in over 60 prisons across America. While living in South Africa, Khalil implemented the country’s first criminogenic needs re-entry program, GOSO (Get Out and Stay Out) Africa. On Nelson Mandela Day, July 18th, 2013, the first graduating class of 120 men celebrated their successful completion of the GOSO Africa program.

Lowe, Rick

Rick Lowe is a twenty-first-century Renaissance man. He is an artist, architect, urban designer, developer, businessman, and activist who is a catalyst for social outreach for underserved neighborhoods. Lowe’s early founding of Project Row House in Houston’s Third Ward in 1993 became the template for others to follow on how to bring local people together to engage their own creative energies and aesthetic values to produce a “collective expression” to reinstate a community. Lowe’s socially engaged methodology helps individuals excavate talents that they might have either forgotten about or just lost sight of.

Descours, Jérôme

After an extensive experience in systems engineering, automatic control and computer sciences, Jérôme decided to take a leap of faith and joined the world of communication and of transitions.

His day-to-day: transform complexity into obviousness.

His favourite fields: sustainable development, CSR, employment, environment, culture and industrial process.

His activities: value systems analysis, communication strategies consultancy, publishing, turnkey communication project management and transitional management, Strategic coaching.

His keywords: Joie de vivre, Commitment, Efficiency, Dialogue and Creativity

Alongside his involvement in the World Human Forum and in addition to his activities with Teamaël, which he founded, Jérôme is the Secretary General of the “Observatoire des Valeurs”, his speciality: Values and Organisations.

Previously, he was in charge of the development of the “Blue Whale Project”, one of the major side events of the COP21 in Paris, which aimed to raise public awareness around the world delivering positive messages around environment, biodiversity, climate and eco-citizenship.

« I’ve decided to be happy as it’s good for one’s health. »
attr. to Voltaire

Björkman, Tomas

A Swedish entrepreneur and change maker Tomas Björkman (b. 1958) has a master’s degree in physics and studied macroeconomics on the side. He has made a career as an entrepreneur in a variety of businesses within financial services, media, property development, and banking and has worked all over Europe. He founded Investment Banking Partners AB and served as chairman of EFG Investment Bank.

In 2008, Tomas established Ekskäret Foundation in Stockholm. The foundation developed a conference facility on its island Ekskäret in the Stockholm archipelago, and the mission of the foundation is to facilitate personal development and social change. He is also co-founder and director of the publishing company Fri Tanke Förlag (Freethought Publishing) and a member of The Club of Rome.

Tomas lives in London and works in Stockholm, Netherlands and Switzerland.

Belafonte, Gina

Gina Belafonte was born in New York City, USA. She attended the High School of Performing Arts and is a graduate of State University of New York at Purchase. Belafonte is a civil rights activist, actor, producer and director, who has appeared on stage, film and television. She produced the acclaimed documentary Sing Your Song about her father, Harry Belafonte, and is the director of Lyrics from Lockdown, a hip-hop musical about racial profiling. She co-organised the 2017 Women’s March in Los Angeles and co-directs, a social justice organisation using culture and entertainment in advancing justice, peace, equity and equality.

Taprantzi, Melina

Always a volunteer, ready to offer help to various charities, she recognised the need for their existence as well as their difficulties to remain sustainable, in order to accomplish the relief of social problems.

Social entrepreneurship is exactly what fulfills her; this is why she created “Wise Greece”. A social enterprise that on the one hand promotes top quality Greek products and on the other uses the profits from sales in order to buy foods in bulk and donate them to soup kitchens, children, families and the elderly in need. Today Wise Greece, has received many important awards for its work, among which the prestigious award from the President of the Greek Republic “Models of Excellence”.

Melina often presents “Wise Greece” and its model of Social Entrepreneurship at international congresses and conferences aiming to inspire young people to create their own social enterprise. She has spoken at Forums that support female entrepreneurship. A IVLP Alumni, a co-builder of the international “World Human Forum”. Lately she writes articles on social entrepreneurship for newspapers and magazines.

Sotirakos, Yannis

Founder of Generation Alpha Ventures. Working towards “Upgrading Humanity”

Yannis believes that in an era of exponential technology evolution, it seems that Humanity has been left behind. This is a great opportunity – and need – for all to work towards Upgrading Humanity. Unleashing the potential of Humanity as Creators.

Starting with a new global generation which we call “Generation Alpha”.

Current ventures include:

–  Exponential technologies to bring superpowers to People
– Big Bang Education. Unleashing Human potential and Intelligence (HI)
– EY ZHN live, virtual, digital experiences. Unleashing the power of brands to make positive change
– Alpha labs: Familiarising Generation Alpha with exponential technologies to create the future

Yannis has been also the founder / co-founder of companies and projects in 10 countries (including Olympic Games projects in Russia and Greece). Holds a BSc in civil / transportation engineering from National Technical University Athens and a MSc/DEA from Sorbonne Paris 4 University. He is a member of Abundance 360 community, a mentor for start ups at EGG incubation and speaker in events like TEDx, Panorama of Entrepreneurship, TiLE in London and Maastricht.

Vounatsou, Myrto

Myrto Vounatsou holds a BA(hons) in Media & Communication from U.C.E. Birmingham and an MA in Arts Management & Arts Criticism from City University, London. She has studied classical singing at the Birmingham Conservatoire but also delved into traditional music. She was for many years Senior Press Officer at Megaron – The Athens Concert Hall. She regularly collaborates with cultural institutions in Greece and abroad as project co-ordinator. She has always been fascinated by the relation of the arts, education & technology, and is currently exploring soundscaping and its use for educational purposes.

Sandig, Jochen

Jochen Sandig was born in 1968. The cultural entrepreneur is living in Berlin since 1990 where arts and politics became his main focus as founder and director of several cultural institutions: after the fall of the Wall he founded the legendary Tacheles with artists from all over the world. With the German choreographer Sasha Waltz he founded Sasha Waltz & Guests in 1993 and the independent theatre Sophiensaele in 1996. In 2006 he founded Radialsystem as a space for arts and ideas together with Folkert Uhde. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Global Parliament of Mayors. In 2020 he will be the new intendant of the Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele. Jochen Sandig is a father of two children – László (19) and Sophia (14).

Mitsotaki, Alexandra

Alexandra Mitsotaki holds a degree in Political Studies at the Institute of Political Studies of Paris and a post graduate degree on Development issues.
She worked at OECD where she specialized further in poverty issues in the developing world. She is a profound believer in civil society mobilization and in citizen responsibility and their capacity to hold governments accountable at all of levels of civic engagement.

In 1998 she founded the Greek affiliate of ActionAid, the international organisation against poverty and injustice. ActionAid Hellas, which she still chairs, has become the biggest Greek NGO.
Since 2009 she chairs the Hellenic Cultural Center in Paris, with the aim of establishing a tool of cultural diplomacy for Greece in the Francophone world.
Reacting to the financial crisis in Greece, in 2014 she co founded and chairs, Action Finance Initiative, the first microcredit organization in Greece with partners ActionAid Hellas and Adie France.

She teaches seminars on Political Economy of Development at the Institute of Political Studies of Paris as a guest speaker.

Bataille Papaligouras, Irène

Passionate about human progress, Irène feels extremely concerned with the societal, ethical, environmental, economic and geopolitical issues generated by the actual paradigm shift and has been dedicated in co-building the World Human Forum concept ever since the idea emerged.

After many years spent in big corporations, Irène founded Leaders Excellence Partners in 2010. She works as a catalyst of cultural, behavioral and organizational transformation with multinational firms but also with start-ups, helping young entrepreneurs on innovation, creativity and strategic issues.

Of multicultural origin and education, dual national Greek/French, multilingual, Irène studied science and economics in the USA, Great-Britain and France. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Brown University, a Master of Science from the London School of Economics and a PhD in Organization Science from Paris-Dauphine.

Often invited by Universities and Companies as a speaker, Irène is also on the board of various non profit organisations such as the Observatoire des Valeurs and the Greek Cultural Center in Paris.