Plenary Session 1: National governments, international organisations, or the citizen: who is setting the pace?
8 November 2021 - 11.15-12.30 / Council of Europe Hemicycle
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Alex Taylor is a European journalist. He has produced and presented TV and radio programmes for 30 years, mainly on French TV and radio (France Télévisions, France Inter), but also for international broadcasters (Euronews, TV5 Monde, ARTE, BBC). He was Programme Director for Radio France Internationale in charge of implementing the current 24 hours news format. Parallel to journalism, he has hosted some 1 500 international conferences on a wide variety of topics, especially environmental issues. He has also written a best seller on his passion, languages, of which he speaks (more or less) 7. He also once worked as a camel trainer in a circus.
Secretary General of the United Nations
Having witnessed the suffering of the most vulnerable people on earth, from refugee camps to war zones, the Secretary-General has centered his efforts on ensuring human dignity for all. In a period of unprecedented global challenges, he has drawn on his commitment to the UN Charter to mobilize people and launch action to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, address the climate emergency, advance gender equality, and achieve ambitious 21st century reforms to enhance the Organization’s vital efforts to secure peace, sustainable development, human rights and humanitarian aid. Prior to his appointment as Secretary-General, Mr. Guterres served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015, heading one of the world’s foremost humanitarian organizations during some of the most serious displacement crises in decades and in a period in which the number of people displaced by conflict and persecution rose from 38 million in 2005 to over 60 million in 2015. Before joining UNHCR, Mr. Guterres spent more than 20 years in government and public service. He served as prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, during which time he was heavily involved in the international effort to resolve the crisis in East Timor. As president of the European Council in early 2000, he led the adoption of the Lisbon Agenda for growth and jobs, and co-chaired the first European Union-Africa summit. He was a member of the Portuguese Council of State from 1991 to 2002. Mr. Guterres was elected to the Portuguese Parliament in 1976 where he served as a member for 17 years. During that time, he chaired the Parliamentary Committee for Economy, Finance and Planning, and later the Parliamentary Committee for Territorial Administration, Municipalities and Environment. He was also leader of his party’s parliamentary group. From 1981 to 1983, Mr. Guterres was a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, where he chaired the Committee on Demography, Migration and Refugees. For many years Mr. Guterres was active in the Socialist International, a worldwide organization of social democratic political parties. He was the group’s vice-president from 1992 to 1999, co-chairing the African Committee and later the Development Committee. He served as President from 1999 until mid-2005. In addition, he founded the Portuguese Refugee Council as well as the Portuguese Consumers Association DECO, and served as president of the Centro de Acção Social Universitário, an association carrying out social development projects in poor neighbourhoods of Lisbon, in the early 1970s. Mr. Guterres is a member of the Club of Madrid, a leadership alliance of democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world. Mr. Guterres was born in Lisbon in 1949 and graduated from the Instituto Superior Técnico with a degree in engineering. He is fluent in Portuguese, English, French and Spanish. He is married to Catarina de Almeida Vaz Pinto, Deputy Mayor for Culture of Lisbon, and has two children, a stepson and three grandchildren.
Greenpeace European Campaigns Coordinator
Virág Kaufer was born in Budapest, Hungary. She started her career as a grassroots environmental activist, during the times when Hungary was eyeing EU accession. She is the member of the generation who had started their adult life with the promise of becoming part of Europe and realizing liberal democracy in Hungary. Between 2010 and 2012 Virag served as a Green MP in Hungary, and was also a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. She resigned from that post when the Constitution and the rules of the parliament were overturned unanimously by the ruling coalition. Soon after that she joined Greenpeace and currently works as a strategic advisor for the European Programme since 2017. She is proud that Greenpeace played a very active role during the last EU parliamentary elections in 2019 to rally progressive voters to the polls, and contributed to the historic achievement that climate action has become the top priority for the current EU Commission.
Governor of the Khanti-Mansiysk – Yugra autonomous region
Ms Natalia Komarova was born in 1955 in the Pskov Region. In 1978 she graduated from Kommunarsk Institute of Mining and Smelting, the faculty of Engineering and Economics, majoring in “Economics and organization of construction”. Between 1980 and 1992 she worked in the administration of Novy Urengoi, Tyumen Region. In 1994, she became the Head of Administration in Novy Urengoi, a post she had until 2000. Between 2000 and 2001 she was the Deputy Governor of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug. In 2004 she became the Head of the Natural Resources and Nature Management Committee of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and remained at that post until 2007. In 2010, she became the Governor of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug - Ugra.
Assistant Secretary- General and Head of UNEP’s New York Office
Ms. Ligia Noronha began her role as United Nations Assistant Secretary- General and Head of the New York Office at UNEP on 1 April 2021. In this role she works in establishing and maintaining critical links with the Permanent Missions of Member States to the United Nations, the United Nations Secretariat, other UN System organizations and entities headquartered in New York, major groups, civil society organizations, academia and the private sector. Through her leadership of the New York Office, she seeks to promote effective integration of the environmental dimension in the UN System, in the inter-agency mechanisms and in the intergovernmental processes while raising awareness of emerging environmental issues and the outcomes of the United Nations Environment Assembly. An economist with over 30 years of international experience in the field of sustainable development, Ms. Noronha previously served as Director of UNEP’s Economy Division based in Paris and Nairobi, leading UNEP’s work on climate mitigation and energy transitions; on inclusive green economies, circularity and sustainable consumption and production, as well as on trade and sustainable finance; on extractives, and the nexus of environment, pollution and health. During her tenure, Ms. Noronha positioned the Economy Division as a center for integrated actions in support of the 2030 Agenda. Prior to joining UNEP, Ms. Noronha worked as Executive Director at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi; she served as Secretary of the Asian Energy Institute and as Coordinator of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnerships (REEEP), and worked with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada. She holds a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Mumbai, as well as a Master’s degree in Sea Use Law, Economics and Policy and a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics. Ms. Noronha is married with three children.
Master's student in international relations, Sciences PO, Strasbourg
Master's student in international relations, Sciences PO, Strasbourg Strasbourg