Committed to connecting the world

Meet the Speakers

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Mr. Houlin Zhao
ITU Secretary-General

Houlin Zhao was elected ITU Secretary-General at the 19TH Plenipotentiary Conference in Busan, Korea, in October 2014. He took up his post on 1 January, 2015. Prior to his election, he served two terms of office as ITU Deputy Secretary-General (2007-2014), as well as two terms as elected Director of ITU's Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (1999-2006).

 A graduate of China's Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications, with an MSc from the UK's University of Essex, Mr. Zhao has spent most of his career working in the international arena. His leadership has been characterized by a tireless commitment to further streamlining ITU's efficiency and enhancing strategic partnership between Member States and Sector Members. He has boosted ITU's level of international cooperation with other international organizations, and is dedicated to harnessing technology to bridge the gap between developing and developed countries.

|As Secretary-General, Mr. Zhao is committed to further extending ITU's community to include academia from around the world, as well as promoting the greater involvement of small- and medium-sized enterprises in the work of the Union.
He is married with one son and two grandchildren, and is fluent in three official ITU languages: English, French and Chinese.

Dr. Rolph Payet
Executive Secretary, Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions

Rolph Payet was appointed as Executive Secretary for the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions Secretariat in October 2014. He was previously Minister of Environment and Energy, and in 2008 founded the first University in Seychelles, where he also served as its first President and Vice-Chancellor. He is also Associate Professor at the University of Linnaeus, Sweden. Previously, he has served on numerous global forums such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the World Bank Blue Ribbon Panel, the UN Group of Experts for the Regular process for global reporting and assessment of the state of the marine environment, the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts and Islands, and as the Interim Coordinator of the Nairobi Convention UNEP Regional Seas Programme.

He is also founding member of a number of conservation-oriented foundations such as the Global Island Partnership, the Sea Level Rise Foundation, the Seychelles University Foundation, the Seychelles Centre for Marine Research and Technology, the Island Conservation Society and the Silhouette Foundation.

He has received numerous international awards and recognition for his work including sharing in the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize as an IPCC Lead Author, a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and a Honorary Doctorate in Science from the University of London.

Mr. Graham Alabaster
Chief of Section, Sanitation and Waste Management

Dr. Graham Alabaster is a public health engineer from UN-Habitat where he is Chief of Waste Managment and Sanitation. He has a special interest in urban systems and is experienced in provision of services to low income urban populations. He is currently on loan to UNHCRs WASH Unit. Prior to that he was seconded to WHOs Department for Public Health and Environment from UNHABITAT, where he developed joint programmes on urban development, health and environment. He is the co-chair of the UN-Water taskforce on wastewater and water quality. Before this assignment at UNHABITAT he was Section Chief responsible for Africa and Latin America in Human Settlements Financing Division of UNHABITAT. He is an Engineer by profession, with first degree in Chemical Engineering and a PhD in Civil Engineering. Starting his professional life as a Research Fellow, he travelled extensively in Africa, Asia and Latin America, providing technical assistance on sustainable wastewater management and sanitation, thereafter as an International consultant. He joined UNHABITAT in 1992 and has played a key role in building the Water, Sanitation and Infrastructure Branch. He is a Charted Engineer and Fellow of the Royal Society of Health. He represents UNHABITAT on many inter-agency bodies. He was the agency representative on the WHO Panel of Experts for the Environmental Control of Vector-borne Diseases (PEEM), with a special interest in urban vector-borne diseases. He has over 35 years experience in the public health sector focussing on water sanitation and solid waste management sector, working in over 50 countries. In addition to designing and implementing projects in Africa, Arab States, Asia and Latin America, he has global responsibility for policy issues relating to sanitation, pro-poor water and sanitation governance, solid and hazardous waste management, and monitoring water and sanitation MDGs/SDGs. He is committed to urban development and sustainable urbanization. 

Dr Maria Neira
Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health
World Health Organization​

Dr Maria P. Neira was appointed Director of the Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health at the World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland in September 2005.

Prior to that, she was Vice-Minister of Health and President of the Spanish Food Safety Agency. She had previously held several senior positions in WHO. Dr Neira began her career as a medical coordinator working with refugees in the Salvador and Honduras for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).

Dr Neira is a Spanish national, and a medical doctor by training. She specialized in Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases; and Public Health. Dr Neira has been awarded the Médaille de l'Ordre national du Mérite by the Government of France and is a member of the Academy of Medicine, Asturias, Spain.​

Mr. Anders Aeroe
Director, Division of Enterprises and Institutions
International Trade Centre

Anders Aeroe has been Director of the Division of Enterprises and Institutions of the International Trade Centre (ITC), Geneva, Switzerland since November 2016. Mr Aeroe, a Danish national, joined ITC in 2007 and has since then held several positions within ITC, including as Acting Deputy Executive Director, as Director of Division of Market Development, and as Chief of the Market Analysis and Research Section. During his professional career Mr Aeroe has focused on the interrelated topics of trade development at enterprise, institutional and policy level, trade intelligence, competitiveness, sector and value chain development, and industrial transformation.

Before joining ITC, he spent a number years in South Africa, as a regional adviser to the Danish Industrialisation Fund for Developing Countries and prior to this position as Senior Manager Trade Promotion at the Western Cape Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (WESGRO). He was Chairman of the Board of the Western Cape call centre business association (CallingtheCape) and was appointed as a member of the South African Maritime Industry Task Team. He also served as a member of the Advisory Council to the Cape IT Initiative. 

Prior to moving to South Africa, Mr Aeroe held positions as Head of the Research and Policy Division at the Danish Society of Engineers and Export Manager at the Danish Federation of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. Mr Aeroe holds a PhD in industrial economics from Copenhagen Business School. He has been a Research Fellow at University of California Los Angeles and at the Danish Institute for International Studies, and a post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Technical University of Denmark.​​

Ms. Antonia Gawel
Head of Circular Economy Initiative
World Economic Forum 

Antonia Gawel is an expert on clean energy, environment and sustainability policy.

Currently heading the World Economic Forum’s Circular Economic Initiative, she has worked in Bhutan as an advisor on environment and clean energy programmes and at the International Energy Agency (IEA). She was responsible for IEA’s work on monitoring and evaluating clean energy policy and deployment progress as input to the Clean Energy Ministerial and G-20 processes, and was a lead author of IEA’s flagship energy technology publication, Energy Technology Perspectives 2012. She was formerly Deputy Director, Energy and Climate, at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development in Geneva, and has worked in energy and sustainability policy in the private and NGO sectors, including with SustainAbility and the International Institute for Sustainable Development.

Mr. Oliver Boachie
Special Advisor to Ghana’s Minister of Environment, Science, Technology & Innovation

​Oliver Boachie is currently serving as Special Advisor to Ghana’s Minister of Environment, Science, Technology & Innovation (MESTI). Prior to his appointment in February, 2017, Mr. Boachie was the Managing Director of NTS Telecom Ltd., a Ghanaian-registered company based in Accra. In his current position, Oliver works closely with stakeholders within Government, public research institutions, academia, the private sector and with Ghana’s Development Partners to establish the foundation for sustainable management of the Environment, and to develop strategies for the development and application of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) for Ghana’s socio-economic development. He is also overseeing the implementation of STI strategies that have already received Cabinet approval under Ghana’s current administration.

Before setting up NTS Telecom in 2000, Mr. Boachie was the first Managing Director of DATATEL, a Joint-Venture company that was established in partnership with Ghana Telecom in 1995 to provide data services as add-on services to the voice communication services of Ghana Telecom. DATATEL was the first to provide online data services for multi-nationals such as Barclays Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Shell Oil, Mobil Oil, Petrofina-ELF and local institutions such as SSB Bank and Ghana’s Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT).   

Prior to his migration back to Ghana, Mr. Boachie worked in the United States with several companies, including Texas Instruments and IBM Corporation. He specialized in the design and implementation of software for communication systems in various application areas such as telecommunications, banking and retail. Oliver sees current and emerging Technology & Innovation initiatives in Ghana as the building blocks of a framework based on which the country will leverage on science, technology and innovation to drive its economy, moving it from one that is resource-dependent to one that is technology-driven.

Mr. Boachie graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in Physics and Computer Science in 1980. In 1992, he earned a post-graduate Diploma in Software Engineering from Florida Atlantic University and the Software Engineering Institute of Carnegie Mellon University. He attended the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology in Ghana before proceeding to the United States in 1977 to study Computer Science under a Rotary Foundation Graduate Fellowship.

Oliver is married with two (2) children.

Ms. Vivian Ahiayibor Meinel
Managing Director
City Waste Recycling Ltd

Vivian Ahiayibor is the Managing Director of City Waste Recycling Limited (CWR). The company offers complete solutions for waste management including Waste Segregation, Haulage, Recycling and Disposal. CWR employs more than 500 people both directly (formal sector) and indirectly (informal sector). Through the collection of wastes from industries and institutions CWR recycles materials ranging from e-waste, saw-dust, plastic and cooling aggregates. CWR also specializes in de-contamination of compressor oils, lead-acid batteries, lithium batteries management and Catalytic Convertors. Vivian was the Head of the e-waste section of CWR, in which from 2012 she led the fridge degassing project. In June 2012 until September 2015 she also coordinated the Best of two World project (Bo2W) for CWR. The project aimed to investigate and facilitate the transition to sustainable recycling solutions, in order to recover scarce and valuable metals from locally generated end-of-life (EOL) electronic equipment and EOL vehicles. Vivian worked on developing and implementing new strategies to recycle electronic scrap flows in a manner that protects public health, is environmentally sound and socially acceptable. In 2016 CWR became SAG-SEED Award winner for running an eco-inclusive enterprise. CWR was also the beneficiary of the European Switchafrica Green Phase I from 2013 to 2016. Vivian is currently the lead for CWR in the European Union / Switchafrica Green Phase II E-Waste Management Project in Ghana (e-magin project). CWR has also become a recycling partner of the Caritas E-waste project “Care for our common home”, in which the company has set up collection points and provided training and employment to youth. As a Social Development Specialist Vivian facilitates people to fully participate in their own development processes by using the “Triple Bottom Line Approach”: Economically, Socially and Environmentally.​​​