• Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh
    Malmö, Sweden; ICLEI First Vice-President

    Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh is, since 2013, the first female Mayor of Malmö. In this capacity, she has been on the board of SKL (Swedish Municipalities and Counties), which gave her an invaluable insight into the opportunities and challenges faced by cities around Sweden. Her experience as a Mayor also allowed her to have responsibilities in terms of finance, public procurement, business and commerce and in steering the city’s corporations and agencies. Under Mayor Jammeh’s leadership, Malmö is particularly focused on seven Sustainable Development Goals: No Poverty, Good Health and Well-Being, Quality Education, Gender Equality, Reduced Inequalities, Sustainable Cities And Communities and Peace, Justice And Strong Public Institutions. Mayor Jammeh was elected to the ICLEI GexCom for the first time in 2018, and she became ICLEI’s First Vice-President in 2021. Malmö is host of the ICLEI 2021-2022 World Congress.
  • Peter Kurz
    Mannheim, Germany; Chair of Global Parliament of Mayors

    Dr. Peter Kurz has served as the mayor of Mannheim, Germany since 2007. Mayor Kurz became active in public service during his law studies and clerkship in Mannheim, Speyer, Heidelberg, and San Diego (USA). He went on to work in a law firm, as a researcher at the University of Mannheim, and as a judge at the Administrative Court of Karlsruhe. From 1999 to 2007, Dr. Kurz served as Mannheim’s deputy mayor for education, culture, sports, and city marketing. Since becoming mayor in 2007, Dr. Kurz has worked to realign municipal policy to ensure that the city administration relies on the participation of its citizens in implementing change and driving the social, cultural, scientific, and economic development of the city. In 2019, Mayor Kurz led a process to localize the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the city’s mission statement, Mannheim 2030. The city developed Mannheim 2030 with the active participation and input of over 2,500 citizens. After successfully developing the mission statement, Mannheim became the first German city to carry out a Voluntary Local Review (VLR) to measure progress toward its implementation. Mayor Kurz presented the city’s VLR at the UN’s High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. Mayor Kurz has also overseen an economic and entrepreneurial transformation in the city. He has championed the city’s start-up agency in their development of seven start-up centers. These centers now offer 28,000 square meters of office space, along with mentoring and accelerator programs in the fields of health, environment, and culture. The city’s investments have made Mannheim a leading startup hub in Germany that promotes economic, technological, and cultural innovation. When the U.S. military released land in Mannheim, Mayor Kurz spearheaded the rapid and innovative development of new urban neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are intentionally designed, with an emphasis on sustainability and social cohesion. A green corridor is being developed, which connects these new neighborhoods with the city center and provides the entire city with fresh air. These developments serve as positive examples of urban transformation with supra-regional impact.
    Under Mayor Kurz’s leadership, Mannheim has become a Local Green Deal (LGD) pilot city. Mannheim’s LGD is not simply the implementation of the European Green Deal. It identifies existing gaps in the city’s work and brings together ideas, projects, and stakeholders from across Mannheim to accelerate the city’s green transformation.
    Mayor Kurz is active in a variety of European and international organizations, including United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), and the European Committee of the Regions (CoR). Dr. Kurz was also one of the founding members of the Global Parliament of Mayors (GPM) in 2016. He has served as chair of the organization since 2019. In recognition of his commitment to international cooperation between cities, Mayor Kurz received the 2021 World Mayor International Award from the City Mayors Foundation.
  • Minna Arve
    Mayor, Turku, Finland; ICLEI Vice President

    As Mayor of Turku, Minna Arve, has highlighted major issues such as sustainable growth, urban inclusion, the prevention of social exclusion, and new means of industrial and business policies. Her special interests include climate policy and circular economy. Arve is an active member of Finland's circular economy steering group, and chairs the working group on cities and regions. She has contributed to numerous Finnish and European processes and took part actively in COP25 and 26, as well as the UN Secretary General Climate Summit in 2019, where she delivered several keynotes and panel contributions on climate action and circular economy. Mayor Arve has served as Mayor of Turku since 2017. Prior to this, she was Managing Director of Turku Chamber of Commerce. Previous roles include: Party Secretary of the Finnish National Coalition Party, full-time Chairperson of the City Board in Turku, and Marketing Manager of HyTest Oy. She holds a master's degree in economics and previously worked as a nurse. Mayor Arve was elected Vice-President of ICLEI in 2021.
  • Wolfgang Teubner
    Director, ICLEI Europe Region

    Wolfgang Teubner is the Director of ICLEI European Secretariat, and as such, he is responsible for the strategic and economic development of the ICLEI in Europe. He has more than 25 years of professional experience working with local governments on sustainable urban development, climate adaptation and mitigation, Local Agenda21, waste management, as well as sustainable urban transport policies. During his career he has been involved in more than 150 European and international projects, including several research activities. In the period between 1994 and 1999 he coordinated the ICLEI‘s European Cities for Climate Protection Campaign and ICLEI‘s European Local Agenda 21 Guidance and Training Programme. From the start in 1994 he has been involved in the European Sustainable Cities and Towns Campaign and has participated in the drafting of the Aalborg Charta as well as the Aalborg Commitments and the 2016 Basque Declaration. Between 1999 and 2004, he represented the Local Government sector on the European Environment and Health Committee and has been a speaker at many high-level international events including the European Council of Ministers.
  • Yunus Arikan
    Director of Global Advocacy, ICLEI World Secretariat

    An environmental engineer by training, Yunus Arikan has been working with ICLEI since 2009. Between 2002-2008, he took an active role in promotion of progressive climate change policies in Turkey and Central and Eastern Europe, specifically in Turkey's involvement in the international climate process and access to the Kyoto Protocol in 2009. Between 2009-2012, he acted as the Manager of the Cities Climate Center of ICLEI, based in Bonn, Germany, as the focal point for Local Government and Municipality Constituency Authorities to the UNFCCC, Secretariat Director of the World Mayors Council on Climate Change and Manager of Bonn Center for Local Climate action and Reporting – carbonn. Since 2013 he is the Head of Global Policy and Advocacy at ICLEI, actively involved in leading ICLEI’s work at the United Nations, with intergovernmental agencies and at Multilevel Environmental Agreements.
  • Ekrem Imamoglu
    Mayor, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality

    Ekrem İmamoğlu is the Mayor of Istanbul since 2019. His work focuses on promoting social justice and environmentally-friendly urban development. He joined the Republican People's Party (CHP) in 2009 as a member of the CHP‘s Beylikdüzü District Organization. He has served as the Mayor of Beylikdüzü between 2014 and 2019, and realized a wide range of projects that transformed the district's appearance and elevated its living standards. On March 31, 2019, Mr. İmamoğlu was elected Mayor of Istanbul with 48.8% of the votes. This was the highest percentage of votes that any Mayor of Istanbul had received in over 30 years. The vote was annulled following the objections made by the ruling party. In a re-do election on June 23, 2019 however, Mr. İmamoğlu was elected Mayor of Istanbul once again – this time with 54.2% of the votes. Ekrem İmamoğlu has been living in Istanbul since 1988, and his academic background is in management and human resources.
  • Serdil Dara Odabasi
    Mayor, Kadikoy Municipality

    He was born in 1973 in Şanlıurfa. His primary school years were spent in Ankara. In 1992, he entered Istanbul University Faculty of Law. He was the representative and chairman of Istanbul University of Social Democratic Universities Platform. He served in the SHP Central Election Office in the 1994 local elections. In 2011, he served as CHP Istanbul Provincial Vice President and Board Member; In 2012, he was re-elected as Deputy Mayor and Provincial Vice President responsible for election legal affairs. In 2015, he worked as CHP Istanbul Provincial Secretary. From 1999 until the day he was elected as the Mayor of Kadıköy Municipality in the 2019 Local Elections, he worked as a self-employed lawyer in his own law firm. He is a member of Social, Economic and Political Research Foundation of Turkey (TÜSES). In addition, he conducts studies with various civil organizations. In 2020, Odabası representing Kadıköy Municipality, was elected to the executive board of The European Coalition of Cities against Racism (ECCAR) which was established by UNESCO in 2004 to create a network where cities share their experiences in order to improve the city policies to combat racism, discrimination and xenophobia.
  • Tunc Soyer
    Izmir Metropolitan Municipality; Co-Chair on Climate Action, ICLEI Global Executive Committee

    Born in Ankara in 1959, Tunç Soyer has lived in Izmir since his early childhood. After graduating from Bornova Anatolian Highschool as a boarder, he completed his university degree at the Ankara University Facul ty of Law. During this time, he worked as a correspondent in the Turkish News Agency. He has also translated a work on the tragedy of women in immigrant camps into Turkish. Tunç Soyer has a Master's Degree on “International Relations” from Webster College in Switzerland and on the “European Union” from Dokuz Eylül University. Being a fluent English and French speaker, in 1991, he founded a holiday village in Seferihisar that is still in operation. He was an active manager in the tourism sector for nine years. In 2003, he became a Consultant of the Mayor of Izmir Metropolitan Municipality Ahmet Piriştina on the obtainable financial resources of the European Union and has strengthened his experiences on the economy and social life of Izmir within this period. From 2004 to 2006, he served as the Director of Foreign Relations of the Izmir Chamber of Commerce. In 2006, he was appointed as the General Secretary of EXPO Izmir. In 2009 he was elected as the Mayor of Seferihisar and carried on this task for two terms. He has implemented the international local-scale development model Cittaslow (Slow City) first to Seferihisar and then introduced it to the seven geographical areas of Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. In 2013, he was appointed the Vice President of the Cittaslow Unity centered in Italy, became the Chairman of the Board of SODEM (Social Democrat Municipalities Association) in 2014, was elected as a Board Member of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) in July 2019, and in October 2019 he was elected vice-chairman of the Council of Europe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities Regional Governments Assembly. Along with these duties, he has been elected as the Mayor of Izmir Metropolitan Municipality at the local elections held in March 2019. He is married and has two daughters.
  • Gorgun Taner
    Director-General, IKSV

    Gorgun Taner (born 1959) is the General Director of the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), a non-profit, non-governmental organisation founded in 1973 that organises four international festivals (Film, Theatre, Classical Music and Jazz), the Istanbul Biennal, and the Istanbul Design Biennial. He has been working at the Foundation since 1983 and served as assistant director and Program Coordinator for Foreign Relations (1987–1994) and Director of the International Istanbul Jazz Festival (1994–2002) before being appointed as General Director in 2002.
    A Boğaziçi University History graduate, Taner is currently Faculty Member of the Cultural Management Program of Istanbul Bilgi University. He is a board member of the Istanbul Modern Art Museum and chairman of the Europen Cultural Foundation. Previously, he served as the President of the European Jazz Festival Association between 1998 and 2002. He was a member of the advisory board of the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency. He was the Turkish commissioner during the Cultural Season of Turkey in France, between July 2009 and March 2010. Following this task, he was awarded by the French government with the legion of honour (Chevalier dans l’ordre national de la Légion d'honneur) in January 2011. In September 2010, he was appointed the Art Consultant of the Amstrerdam Municipality. He is a member of the international advisory committee of the Master of Management in International Arts Management in Montreal since November 2012.
  • Mert Fırat
    Goodwill Ambassador of UNDP Turkey

    Mert Fırat, after graduating from Ankara University in 2006, he got accepted into Oyun Atolyesi that was founded in 1999 by famous Turkish actors Zuhal Olcay & Haluk Bilginer, and which is one of the most prestigious independent theater companies in Istanbul, and performed in Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew”. He received his first major film role in Başka Dilde Aşk in 2009, a critical success in Turkey. Fırat also received awards from international film festivals with his work. Some of them are Moondance International Film Festival 2014 Best Leading Actor Butterfly's Dream, Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival 2010 Best Screenplay, Love in Another Language, Berdyansk International Film Festival 2010 Special Award for Young Talent.
    In addition to his award-winning acting career, Mert Fırat is a social good person and a volunteer. He is a co-founder of Ihtiyacharitasi.org (Map of Needs); a web platform to connect those in need of something with others who can help. Mert is also the spokesperson for Gönüllü İyilik Hareketi (Voluntary Social Good Movement); an NGO founded in 2016 that collects donations in various fields, based in Ankara and a co-Founder of SanatMahal (Art in Neighborhoods), an independent space based in Bursa that aims to promote a common ground for the arts, connecting underdeveloped neighborhoods.
  • Merve Akı
    Urban Mobility Director, WRI Turkey

    Merve Akı is a Phd candidate who works as Urban Mobility Manager at WRI Turkey Sustainable Cities. Since 2013, she works on non-motorized transportation, integrated transportation projects and public space and complete street design projects. She also works on a project that aims to evaluate the impact and performance of projects (KPI methodologies) and capacity building studies (Impact at Scale) within the Institution. Previously, Merve worked as a researcher at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University on a project entitled “Urban Regeneration Processes and their Socio-Economic and Physical Impacts on the Gecekondu Neighborhoods of Sariyer District” which is funded by TUBITAK. Merve also engaged in extra-curricular activities related such as Street Belongs to Us, an NGO focused on human-centered cities and streets.
  • Irem Daloglu Cetinkaya
    Bogazici University Institute of Environmental Sciences

    Assist. Prof. Irem Daloğlu Çetinkaya has experience in social-ecological systems modeling. She received her bachelor’s degree in Geological Engineering from Middle East Technical University (2005), Master’s degree in Engineering Management from Northeastern University, Boston, USA (2008) with Fulbright scholarship and PhD degree in Resource Ecology and Management from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA (2013). Before joining Boğaziçi University, Institute of Environmental Sciences in 2015, she worked as a research scientist at the School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan. She conducts research to model and understand the impacts of climate change on ecosystems, and lectures on climate change and environmental policies. Her work has been published in several journals, including PNAS, Ecology and Society, Environmental Science and Technology, and Agricultural Systems.
  • Onur Eryuce
    Secretary General, SODEM

    Mr. Onur Eryuce is committed to strengthening transborder economic, social, and cultural ties between cities and civil society, European Union, and global institutions. In 2011, he played a pivotal role in the foundation of the Association of Social Democratic Municipalities. It is Onur Eryuce’s responsibility to establish and develop social, cultural, and economic dialogue between the member municipalities and their counterparts from all around the world. In April 2019, he was appointed as the Counsellor to the Mayor by the Izmir Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Mr. Tunc Soyer, and this decision was unanimously approved by all of the Municipal Councillors. In his new function, Onur Eryuce is engaged and focused on linking Izmir and its local communities to the global value chain and global cooperation networks.
  • Sule Topcu Kilic
    Sule Topcu Kilic

    Sule Topcu Kilic is the Deputy Head, Turkey at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Sule Kilic has over 25 years of experience working on a variety of projects in project finance, financial advisory, M&A, private equity, bank acquisition. Before joining the EBRD, Sule has spent six and half years at Unicredit Group, most recently as Managing Director leading project finance activities for the Investment Banking Platform in Turkey. Prior to Unicredit, Sule held an array of Directorships and Vice Presidencies in project and structured finance, private equity in organisations such as Bayerische Hypo und Vereinsbank (Istanbul), Garanti Bank (Istanbul), Emporiki Private Equity (Athens & Istanbul), CitiBank (Istanbul) and Privatisation Administration (Ankara). Sule is a Turkish national with a PhD in Finance from Boğaziçi (Bosphorus) University, a Master’s (MBA and MSc) degree from Manchester School of Management (UMIST) (with distinction degree) and BSc in Industrial Engineering from Istanbul Technical University (ITU).
  • Ali Orkun Ercengiz
    Mayor, Burdur Municipality

    He graduated from Ege University Faculty of Pharmacy in 1997. Between the years of 2003 and 2005, he was a Board Member in the Republican People's Party City of Burdur Central District. From 2003 to 2011, he served on the board of directors of the 15th Region Isparta Burdur Chamber of Pharmacists, and also served as a provincial representative of Burdur. He served as the delegate of the Turkish Pharmacists Association congress and various sub-committees. After the meeting held in Burdur on 14 June 2011 by the Turkish Pharmacists Association, he was appointed to the founding management of the 54th Region Burdur Pharmacist Chamber. He was elected chairman by the Board of Directors. He became the Mayor of Burdur from the Republican People's Party in the 2014 Turkish local elections. While he was serving as the Chairman between 2014-19, he was the Chairman of the Union of Municipalities of Burdur twice and a member of the Committee of the Healthy Cities Association of Turkey twice. In the same period, in the local elections held on March 31, 2019, he was elected as the Mayor for the second time with 53.4% of the votes and he is still Mayor of Burdur. In addition to his duty as the 2nd President of the Healthy Cities Association of Turkey, he is a member of the Board of the Association of Social Democratic Municipalities. He is married and has a child.
  • Fatma Kaplan Hurriyet
    Mayor, Izmit Municipality

    She graduated from Kocaeli University Faculty of Law in 2004. Kocaeli University Social Sciences Institute Private Law Master's education is still continuing. She worked as a freelance lawyer affiliated to Kocaeli Bar Association. She was the director of Kocaeli Provincial Women's Branch. She worked as Kocaeli Izmit District manager. She took office in Kocaeli Izmit District Labor Commission. She was a member of Kocaeli Izmit Organizing Commission. He served as the district representative. She was elected as Kocaeli Deputy on 7 June 2015. She became a member of the GNAT Equal Opportunity Commission for the 25th term. On November 1, 2015, she was re-elected as Kocaeli Deputy. She was elected as a clerk member of the 26th term of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. She became a member of the 26th term Constitutional Commission. She was elected as a clerk member of the Presidency Council of the Turkish Grand National Assembly for the 27th term. She is a member of many associations and NGOs she. She speaks english fluently. She is married and has one child.
  • Birsen Celik
    Mayor, Bozkurt Municipality

    Born in Denizli, Birsen Çelik completed his primary, secondary and high school education in Denizli. Having completed her university education at Ankara University Faculty of Pharmacy, Çelik started her career in 1981 by opening Hambat Pharmacy in Bozkurt district of Denizli. Paying attention to his profession, Çelik was entitled to receive nearly 70 certificates. She also worked in the Denizli Chamber of Pharmacists' board of directors for two terms. Later, she worked in Denizli CHP Provincial Administration for two terms. During these years, Bozkurt took part in many non-governmental organizations such as Kemalist Thought Association (ADD) Manager, Hambatlılar Association Founding Member, Contemporary Life Support Association (ÇYDD) membership. In the general elections held in 2007, Denizli became a CHP deputy candidate from the 3rd row. In the 30 March 2014 local elections, Bozkurt was elected as the Mayor. Celik, who is married and has 2 children, continues to serve as CHP Denizli Bozkurt Mayor in the local elections of 31 March 2019.
  • Recep Gurkan
    Mayor, Edirne Municipality

    He graduated from Trakya University Edirne Education School in 1983 and from Anadolu University Social Sciences Department in 2001. Between 1998 and 2003, he worked as a branch manager and deputy director of National Education at the Directorate of National Education in Edirne. In 2004, he worked as Edirne Governor's Provincial Planning and Coordination Director, and in Edirne Governorship's Cross-Border Cooperation activities and European Union education and youth programs. He resigned on March 10, 2011 to become the CHP Edirne Deputy Candidate Candidate. He served as the rapporteur of the University Administrative Board and the University Senate. He was elected in the 1st place in the primary election held on April 3, 2011 on the basis of members and became a CHP Edirne Deputy candidate. He was elected as CHP Edirne Deputy in the 12 June 2011 elections. He served as a member of the National Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Commission in the Turkish Grand National Assembly. Gürkan was re-elected as Edirne Mayor in the Local Administrations General Election held on March 31, 2019. Recep Gürkan, who is married, has two children.
  • Jordi Pascual
    Culture Committee Coordinator, UCLG

    Jordi Pascual is a programme manager and researcher specialized in cultural policies, sustainable development and international cooperation. He is the founding coordinator of the Committee on culture of the world organisation of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) whose main aim is the progress of an Agenda 21 for culture. Jordi has been a member of the jury of the European Capital of Culture (2010, 2011, 2013 and 2016) and teaches cultural policies and management at the Open University of Catalonia. He is one of the leaders of the global campaign. He has published books, articles and reports on international cultural relations, culture and sustainability and the governance of culture, which have been translated to more than 20 languages. Some examples: "Rio+20 and culture: advocating for culture at the centre of sustainability" (UCLG, 2012), "Culture and sustainable development: institutional innovation and a new cultural policy model" (UCLG, UNESCO, 2009), "On citizen participation in local cultural policy development for European cities" (European Cultural Foundation, 2007), "Third system: arts first! Local cultural policies, third system and employment".
  • Julia Bartmann
    Bonn, Almanya

    Julia Bartmann has been a senior programme officer in the Middle East & North Africa division since February 2021, initially working on Israel, Palestine, Egypt & Jordan, and since September 2021 on North Africa & Iran. Previously, she worked as a project officer at the hbs European Union & North America division being responsible for projects on Turkey, Greece and European Energy Transition. She studied Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies in Marburg and Kocaeli (Turkey) and International Politics & International Public Law and Migration & Diversity in Kiel.
  • Gerd Trogemann
    UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub Manager

    Previously, Gerd has been the acting Director (July 2016 to April 2017) and Deputy Director (since July 2013) of the Regional Service Centre for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In 2012/2013, he led the change management processes underpinning the relocation of the previous sub-regional office from South Africa to Ethiopia. Prior to this, he served as Director a.i. (2011) and Deputy Director (2005-2010) for Resources Mobilization in New York as well as with the UNV programme in various programme and management functions (1995-2004). Before joining the UN, he headed the office of the Spokesperson for Development Policy of the Liberal Parliamentary Group in the German Parliament (1992-1994). Gerd studied in Germany, Viet Nam and the UK. He holds a Master’s degree in Southeast Asia Studies, Law and Economics.
  • Louisa Vinton
    UNDP Turkey Resident Representative

    Louisa Vinton is the Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Republic of Turkey from May 2021. Vinton is a development professional with more than 30 years of work experience in the region covered by the Regional Bureau for Europe and Central Asia. Previously she served as the UNDP Resident Representative in Georgia from November 2018 to March 2021. Earlier she held the dual roles of UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in North Macedonia, from November 2013 to October 2018, and Croatia, from July 2010 to June 2014. In these roles, she successfully championed UNDP initiatives focused on job creation and self-employment, vocational training, public service delivery, local and regional economic development, social inclusion, gender equality, human rights, flood prevention, nature protection, energy efficiency, climate resilience, and crisis prevention and post-conflict recovery. She led the UN response to the migration crisis of 2015-16 in North Macedonia and spearheaded COVID-19 socio-economic response and recovery efforts in Georgia in 2020-21. She has a strong track record in building partnerships with Government, civil society, the private sector, academia and the international community. Her first post with UNDP was as Division Chief in the Regional Bureau for Europe and Central Asia in New York, starting in February 2004, where she was responsible for UNDP activities in seven countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine. She also led UN coordination on issues related to the legacy of the Chernobyl nuclear accident of 1986. Before joining UNDP, Louisa Vinton worked for the Economist Intelligence Unit for nine years, first as Editor of the weekly newsletter Business Eastern Europe and Editor in Chief of the company's East European business publishing operations in Vienna, and later as head of the company's Executive Services unit in New York. She is a champion of effective communications and excels at advocacy and messaging. Between 1988 and 1994 Louisa Vinton worked as a Senior Research Analyst for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc., in Munich, specializing in coverage of Polish politics and economics. She holds a B.A. in Russian Studies from Cornell University and an M.A. in History from the University of Michigan. As well as English, she speaks conversational Croatian, German, Polish and Russian.
  • Guven Eken
    President of Board of Directors, Izdoga A.S.; Counsellor to the Mayor, Izmir Metropolitan Municipality

    Eken was born on January 1, 1973 in Gallipoli. After completing his secondary and high school education in İzmir, he graduated from Ege University Faculty of Medicine in 1996 and continued his doctorate in ecology, which he started at Middle East Technical University. In the same years, he worked as the Ecological Networks Coordinator at the World Bird Protection Agency. After serving as the general manager and then the president of Doğa Foundation between 2004 and 2014, he was the nature editor of Atlas Magazine and the editor of Green Atlas between 2001 and 2005. Between 2009 and 2012, he was a columnist for Radikal Newspaper. Due to his work on nature, he was selected as one of Turkey's "Change Makers" in May 2011. Eken also developed the methodology of global scientific standards for selection of protected areas, the Key Biodiversity Areas concept, which was published in BioScience. In the fallowing he has undertaken the first national application of the Key Biodiversity Areas concept in Turkey. He has four books and more than two hundred written publications on nature. He has been giving theoretical and applied courses since 2013 at Seferihisar Nature School, which he founded with his teammates, and still acts as the founder of Seferihisar Nature School. EKEN works as the Consular to the Mayor at Izmir Metropolitan Municipality and as the Chairman of the Board of Directors at Izdoga.
  • Alper Tasdelen
    Mayor, Cankaya Municipality

    Mr. Alper Taşdelen was born in Çankaya District of Ankara, Turkey in 1974. He completed his primary education in Çankaya Primary School, secondary and high school education in TED Ankara College, he graduated from Ankara University Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of International Relations in 1996. He received his master’s degree in the branch of International Relations from Columbia University, at the same time; he completed Middle East Institute of Columbia University and received his "Middle East Expertise" in 1998. He wrote his lecture thesis on "The Municipal Role in Contemporary Urban Development" by taking the lecture of "Contemporary Municipalism and Urban Governance" from former New York Mayor David Dinkins. In 1996, he participated in the 20th Congress of the Socialist International as the "Youngest Delegate" with Mr. Erdal İnönü and Mr. Deniz Baykal. He did journalism as a diplomacy and politics reporter at Kanal D (Turkish TV Channel) in 2000-2001. He worked as the Advisor to the Prime Minister in the 57th Government Period established by Mr. Bülent Ecevit in 2001-2003. Afterwards he moved to private sector and served as the "Assistant General Manager in Charge of External Relations" in Petroleum Agency Inc., where he worked for ten years. In 2010, he took place in the "Party Assembly Science and Culture Platform List" of General Chairman Mr. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu at the 15th CHP (Republican People's Party) Extraordinary Meeting. In 2011, he participated in the General Elections as "CHP Ankara 2nd Region Deputy Candidate." Mr. Alper Taşdelen was elected as Mayor of Çankaya by taking 65% of votes in the March 30, 2014 Local Elections of Turkey as CHP candidate. He was re-elected as the CHP candidate in the March 31, 2019 Local Elections of Turkey with 73.48%, the highest vote in the history of Çankaya Municipality. He is fluent in English. There are numerous articles published in newspapers and magazines in the fields of foreign policy and politics and local governments he wrote. Mr. Alper Taşdelen is married and he has two children.
  • Chris Castro
    Director, Office of Sustainability & Resilience, City of Orlando, USA

    Chris serves as the Senior Advisor to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Director of Sustainability & Resilience, and 'Future-Ready' steering committee member at the City of Orlando -- developing a comprehensive set of policies & programs that has turned Orlando into one of the leading cities in America accelerating sustainability, resiliency, and climate action. Chris is best known for his entrepreneurial efforts prior to coming to the City, including co-founder and President of the global sustainability nonprofit, IDEAS For Us, a clean energy consulting firm Citizen Energy, and a renowned urban farming social enterprise Fleet Farming. In 2020, Chris also joined partners to launch ‘Climate First Bank’, the first B-Corp community bank in Florida working to advance ESG and local sustainable investing. Outside of work, Chris serves on many nonprofit and academic boards, including the UCF Energy Research Center, US Green Building Council of Florida, Project Greenschools, and Goodwill Industries of Central Florida. In December 2018, Chris starred in the National Geographic documentary on climate change called "Paris to Pittsburgh" to share the Orlando journey on climate action to millions of people around the World.
  • Verena Schwarte
    Department of International Affairs and Global Sustainability, City of Bonn, Germany

    Verena Schwarte started working in the Department of International Affairs and Global Sustainability at the City of Bonn in 2009. There she coordinates the project partnerships with La Paz (Bolivia) and Cape Coast (Ghana). Since 2015, she has been mainly engaged in the localisation of the Agenda 2030 in Bonn. Among other tasks, she has coordinated the two-year consultation-process to develop Bonn’s first sustainability strategy and has been involved in various projects on SDG-reporting, among others in the publication of Bonn’s first Voluntary Local Review.

    Prior to this she worked for more than 12 years for different non-governmental organizations (Diakonie, Malteser, Welthungerhilfe, medica mondiale), both in the head offices in Germany and in West and East Africa (Sierra Leone, Liberia, DR Congo, Sudan, Rwanda). She has worked mainly in project management in the areas of agriculture, women's rights and health. Verena Schwarte studied Economics in Bonn, Bath (UK) and Trier and holds a diploma in Economics with a specialization in international relations and development. She also completed university certificate courses in Sustainable Development and Municipal Sustainability Management.
  • Buket Uzuner

    BUKET UZUNER is an author of novels, short stories, and travelogues. She is trained as a biologist and environmental scientist; studied at universities in Turkey, Norway, USA and Finland.

    Buket Uzuner won The Yunus Nadi Literature Prize for her novel “The Sound of Fishsteps” in 1993 and her novel “Mediterranean Waltz” was awarded as the Best Novel of 1998 by the University of Istanbul. Her books are translated into ten languages.

    Uzuner has been presented as honorary fellow writer by The University of Iowa (IWP) and is selected among the 75 Most Influential Women of the Republic of Turkey, by the civic leaders, members of the press, and academia to celebrate the Republic of Turkey’s 75th anniversary.
  • Dr. Goktug Kara
    Sustainable Mobility and Climate Change Team Coordinator, Economic and Social Development Section, EU Delegation to Turkey

    Goktug Kara graduated from TED Ankara College in 1994. Mr. Kara enrolled to international relations department of Bilkent University with scholarship. After his graduation, he was awarded British Chevening scholarship to continue his studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science University. He graduated with success in 1999 and wrote a thesis on the possible repercussions of Turkey’s exclusion from the EU enlargement process. Despite obtaining a scholarship and acceptance for a PhD study at the LSE, he preferred to return to Turkey in 2000 and started working for BOTAS, the State Pipeline Corporation of Turkey. In his assignment, Mr Kara coordinated the implementation of host government agreement related to the execution of the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan Crude Oil Pipeline Project in Turkey. Currently he is working at the Delegation of the European Union to Ankara, responsible programme manager for the transport policy and infrastructure investments. He is also a part time academic member of the international relations department of the Bilkent University delivering a lecture on sustainable development and climate change. Mr Kara has so far been instrumental in upholding many reforms in the transport sector to align with the EU policies. Mr Kara holds a PhD in international relations from the Bilkent University. He studied Russia’s transformation in the post-Cold War period with a particular focus on the energy sector and its relationship to the Russian foreign policy engagements.