Day 1: Opening Plenary

22 August 2018
Opening Plenary | 10 - 11:30 A.M. 
Conference Room 4 | Overflow rooms: Conference Room 1, 3
[ Watch online]

Welcoming Remarks

Ms. Alison Smale
Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications

Ms. Smale was appointed the Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, United Nations Department of Public Information by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on 9 August 2017. At that time, Ms. Smale was Chief of Bureau of The New York Times in Berlin, having been a journalist FOR almost 40 years. She has a proven track record as reporter, editor and senior leader. Appointed Executive Editor of the International Herald Tribune (IHT) Paris, in 2008, she is the first and only woman to have held that post. Ms. Smale went to the IHT in 2004 as Managing Editor from The New York Times, where she had been Deputy Foreign Editor since 2002, having joined The Times in 1998 as Weekend Foreign Editor. Earlier in her career Ms. Smale reported for United Press International and The Associated Press as Bureau Chief for Central and Eastern Europe, Vienna (1986-1998) and Correspondent, Moscow and Bonn (1983-1986, 1978-1983). Ms. Smale studied in Bristol, Munich and at Stanford University and holds a BA in German and Politics, and an MA in journalism. In 2009 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Law from Bristol University.

Mr. Bruce Knotts
Chair, NGO/DPI Executive Committee

Bruce Knotts is chair of the NGO/DPI Executive Committee and director of the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office. Mr. Knotts worked for Raytheon in Saudi Arabia and on a World Bank contract in Somalia, before he joined the Department of State as a United States diplomat in 1984. Bruce had diplomatic assignments in Greece, Zambia, India, Pakistan, Kenya, Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire and The Gambia, where he was Deputy Chief of Mission. While in Cote d’Ivoire, Bruce served as the Regional Refugee Coordinator for West Africa covering all 16 nations of West Africa. In 2004, Bruce was elected to the Board of Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA). Bruce retired from the Foreign Service in 2007 and joined the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office as its Executive Director at the beginning of 2008.

Ms. Madison Ross and Ms. Shermin Luo
Co-Chairs, DPI NGO Conference Youth Sub-committee

Madison Ross is the co-chair of the Youth Conference Planning Sub-committee, and a member of DPI NGO Youth Representatives Steering Committee and Mercado Global’s NGO Youth Representative to DPI. As an international business student at LIM College, Madison focuses on responsible consumption and production in the business and fashion industries. Her NGO, Mercado Global, is headquartered in Guatemala and works with female artisans while promoting the UN’s global goals. With DPI/NGO, Madison helped organize last year’s UN Fashion Show as well as a briefing that showcased sustainable designers from around the world and discussed the challenges of applying sustainability in the fashion industry.

Shermin Luo is the co-chair of the Youth sub-committee, a member of DPI NGO Youth Representatives Steering Committee and NGO Youth Representative of the Global Youth Mentorship Initiative (GYMI) to DPI. She co-founded the nonprofit GYMI, which is dedicated to bridging educational disparities by providing underprivileged students with mentorship focused on independent learning, interdisciplinary studies and critical thinking. Shermin also served as the COO for the social venture Ipromoter Image, which is an AI-powered personal fashion assistant that helps professional women in developing countries dress for success. Shermin graduated with a B.S. in operations research engineering management system from Columbia University and is pursuing her master’s degree in public policy at Harvard Kennedy School.

Ms. Penny Abeywardena
Commissioner for International Affairs, New York City

Penny Abeywardena is New York City's Commissioner for International Affairs. As head of the Mayor's Office for International Affairs, she leads the City's global platform for promoting its goals for a more just and accessible society, showcasing the diversity of New Yorkers and sharing policies and best practices with the world. Prior to joining Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration, Penny was the Director of Girls and Women Integration at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), a non-partisan organization that convened global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to the world's most pressing problems. Before joining CGI, Penny worked in both development and programmatic areas for Human Rights Watch, the Funding Exchange and the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy. In 2017, Penny was named by the French American Foundation as a Young Leader. She is a World Economic Forum 2016 Young Global Leader, and a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She serves on the Board of Directors of the United Nations Development Corporation. In her personal time, Penny serves on the Innovation Advisory Committee for 92Y and on the Founding Member Committee of Lincoln Center’s Global Exchange.

Ms. Winnie Byanyima
Chair of the 67th UN DPI/NGO Conference, Executive Director, Oxfam International

Winnie Byanyima is Executive Director of Oxfam International, a confederation of 20 organizations working in more than 90 countries empowering people to create a future that is secure, just and free from poverty. Ms. Byanyima is a global women’s rights leader, human rights defender and a global authority on economic inequality. Prior to Oxfam, Ms. Byanyima led the directorates on gender and development at the UN Development Programme and the African Union Commission. She served eleven years in the Ugandan Parliament. Ms. Byanyima led Uganda's first parliamentary women's caucus and co-founded Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE), a leading women’s rights organization in Uganda. Born in Mbarara, Uganda, her activism was first inspired by the courageous women in her village and of her family. She continues to support women’s rights and social justice movements around the world. Ms. Byanyima currently serves on the Gender Equality Advisory Council for Canada’s G7 Presidency in 2018, and the Global Commission on the Future of Work established by the International Labour Organization. She is Chair of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Africa Regional Strategy Group, and has previously served as Co-Chair of the WEF Annual Meeting in Davos. She has recently served on the United Nations (UN) High-Level Panels on Access to Medicines and on Women’s Economic Empowerment. She serves on numerous public boards and global advisory bodies, including the World Bank’s Gender Advisory Board.

Ms. Yafrieci Peralta
Spoken Word Performance - "No Poverty in Unity"


H.E. Ambassador Martha Pobee
Vice-President, Office of the President of the General Assembly

Prior to her appointment, Ms. Pobee has been a career diplomat, serving in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs for almost 30 years, most recently as Deputy Head of Mission and Chargé d’affaires at the Ghana High Commission in Pretoria since 2012.  Before holding that position, she was Director of the Information and Public Affairs Bureau at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs from 2010 to 2012 and Head of Chancery at the Ghanaian Embassy in Washington, D.C., from 2006 to 2010.  Ms. Pobee was Acting Director of the bureaux for Human Resources and Administration, in 2006, and for Information, Culture and Linguistics, from 2004 and 2006.  Posted to the Ghanaian Embassy in Tel Aviv, she served as Minister-Counsellor and Deputy Head of Mission from 2002 to 2004, and as Chargé d’affaires from 2000 to 2002. She served as Acting Director of the Personnel and Training Bureau from 1998 to 2000, having been previously posted to Ghana’s Permanent Mission to the Office of the United Nations in Geneva from 1995 to 1998 and to the Embassy in Moscow, where she served as First Secretary from 1994 to 1995. Between 1993 and 1994, she was assigned to the Policy and Planning Research Bureau.  She began at the Ministry in 1989 assigned to the International Organizations and Conferences Bureau, where she served until 1992.

H.E. Mr. Juan José Ignacio Gómez Camacho
Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations and Co-Facilitator for the Global Compact on Migration

Ambassador Gómez Camacho was appointed Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York in February of 2016. He is career diplomat since 1988, who has held different positions within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and abroad, amongst them: Head of Mission to the European Union and Ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg; Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva; and Ambassador to Singapore, Myanmar and Brunei Darussalam. Ambassador Juan José Gómez Camacho holds a Master’s Degree in International Law from Georgetown University.

Mr. Elliott Harris
Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development and Chief Economist

Elliott Harris has served as Assistant Secretary-General and Head of the New York Office of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for the past three years. He joined UNEP’s Senior Management Team in 2013 and has since been the Director of the New York Office and Secretary to the Environment Management Group. In September 2008, Mr. Harris became the IMF’s Special Representative to the United Nations, in addition to serving as Assistant Director of the Strategy and Policy Review Department. In this capacity, he was named Vice Chair of the High-Level Committee on Programs of the UN Chief Executives Board for Coordination. From 2007-2008 he headed the Development Issues Division, which in addition to these areas, also was responsible for the IMFs relations with the Development Committee. Additionally, Mr. Harris became an Advisor in the Policy Development and Review Department (PDR) in 2002, was named Chief of the West Africa II Division of the African Department in 2000, joined the Fiscal Affairs Department in 1995, rejoined the African Department in November 1996 as Assistant to the Director, and joined the Fund in the Economist Program (EP) in 1988.

Civil Society Voice 

Ms. Mijori Goodwin
Performance - "Someday We'll All Be Free"​


Ms. Elizabeth Cousens
Deputy CEO, United Nations Foundation

Elizabeth Cousens is the Deputy Chief Executive Officer at the UN Foundation. Before joining the UN Foundation, Elizabeth Cousens served as U.S. Ambassador to the UN Economic and Social Council and Alternate Representative to the UN General Assembly (2012-14). She previously served as Principal Policy Advisor and Counselor to the Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations, Susan Rice (2009-12). In this capacity, she was lead U.S. negotiator on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, including representing the United States in the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals. During her stint as ambassador, she led U.S. diplomacy at the UN on human rights, humanitarian, social and environmental issues; served on the boards of UN agencies, funds, and programmes, and was the U.S. representative to the UN Peacebuilding Commission. She was also sherpa to Ambassador Rice for the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability. Cousens has lived around the world, serving with UN political missions in Nepal and the Middle East and working as an analyst in conflict zones, including Bosnia and Haiti. Her prior experience includes Director of Strategy for the HD Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue which promotes and conducts mediation of armed conflict; Vice President of the International Peace Institute, where she led initiatives on global crisis management and UN reform; and Director of the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum, a research group that provides country and regional expertise to the UN on conflict and crisis situations.

Mr. Nyle DiMarco
Deaf Activist, Model and Actor

Nyle DiMarco is an actor, producer, model and activist. He is a native New Yorker and was born into a large multigenerational Deaf family. He is an alumni of Gallaudet University, the only liberal arts University in the world for the Deaf, with a B.A. in mathematics. Nyle DiMarco has been breaking down barriers and winning over audiences since he burst onto the scene in 2014. As a fan favorite on cycle 22 of AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL, DiMarco became first Deaf contestant on the hit CW series. Shortly after winning the competition, he signed with Wilhelmina Models and recently walked for Giorgio Armani at Milan Fashion Week S/S17. He also went on to win ABC's Dancing With The Stars, being the first Deaf winner. In early 2018 he joined the Broadway revival of Children of a Lesser God, as a producer. This is DiMarco’s first producing credit, bringing a unique perspective as a Deaf artist and invaluable insight to telling such a meaningful story. DiMarco is a firm believer in creating opportunities where they are not available, in front of and behind the camera. He is currently in development on scripted and non-scripted programs, expanding his creative reach and platform. As a founder of the Nyle DiMarco Foundation and an honorary spokesman for Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids, Nyle is passionate about language and literacy and advocacy within the Deaf Community.

Ms. Kehkashan Basu
Youth Ambassador, World Future Council​

Kehkashan Basu, the Youth Ambassador for the World Future Council, is a young environmental and social activist living in the United Arab Emirates whose sole objective is to involve and mobilize children and youth in the movement for a sustainable and green future around the world. She was the youngest participating international delegate at Rio+20 held in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Kehkashan is the founder of a youth organization, GREEN HOPE UAE, which seeks to provide a networking platform to children and youth in the region to carry forward the Rio legacy.  She is a Climate Justice Ambassador for Plant-for-the-Planet and in her role as the Academy Coordinator conducted the first Plant-for-the-Planet in the UAE which inducted scores of school children in the fight for climate justice. She is an active member of United Nations Major Groups for Children & Youth (UNCSD MGCY), UNEP TUNZA and the Emirates Environmental Group. Kehkashan was the Global Coordinator for Children & Youth and a member of UNEP’s Major Groups Facilitating Committee. She is the first minor, ever, to be elected into this position. As the youngest member of Middle East Solar, she has been a speaker at its forums as a voice of her youth constituency & part of “WOMEN IN SOLAR” group, which seeks to encourage women in the solar industry. She works with UNICEF and UNHCR, conducting relief campaigns for migrants, refugees and disaster victims. For her inspiring work, she is the recipient of the 2014 Non Resident Indian of the Year award, the 2014 GESS Award as Ambassador for the Environment and the 2015 Diana Award for Active Campaigner. She was awarded the International Children's Peace Prize in 2016 for her work.

Ms. Hunter Lovins
Founder, Natural Capitalism Solutions​

Ms. L. Hunter Lovins serves as Senior Advisor of CO2IMPACT. Ms. Lovins is the President and Founder of the Natural Capitalism Solutions. Additionally, she serves an Advisor to the Energy Minister of the Government of Afghanistan, and an Advisor of both EOS Climate, Inc. and KWhOURS, Inc. She has consulted for scores of industries and governments worldwide including the International Finance Corporation, Royal Dutch Shell, Interface, Clif Bar and Wal-Mart. Her areas of expertise include Natural Capitalism, sustainable development, globalization, energy and resource policy, economic development, climate change, land management, and fire rescue and emergency medicine. She serves as Member of Environmental Advisory Board of Green Mountain Energy Company. She is associated with Rocky Mountain Institute and Natural Capitalism Inc. She co-founded the Rocky Mountain Institute, which she led for 20 years. She is a founding Professor of Business at Presidio School of Management and the Bard College MBA in Sustainability. Recipient of such honors as the 2008, Sustainability Pioneer Award, Right Livelihood Award, Lindbergh Award and Leadership in Business, she was named Time Magazine 2000 Hero of the Planet. Called by Newsweek, "the green business icon," she has co-authored 15 books and hundreds of papers, including the Economic Case for Climate Protection, the Climate Protection Manual for Cities, and Solutions at the Speed of Business, a web-based tool that helps small businesses cut their emissions profitably. Her latest book A Finer Future is coming out in October.”


Full list of Speakers Biographies