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Speaker Biographies

Full speaker biographies will appear here shortly, please check back regularly for updates.


Karmenu Vella

Karmenu Vella

Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, European Commission


Maltese nationality. Married with two children.

European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (2014-present)

- Minister for Tourism and Aviation (2013-2014)

- Chairman of the Orange Travel Group (2010-13)

- Group Coordinator for the Labour Party Parliamentary Group (2008-13)

- Executive Chairman of Corinthia's Mediterranean Construction Co (2008-10)

- Executive Chairman of Corinthia Hotels International (2001-07)

- Master's degree in Tourism Management (2000)

- Tourism Minister (1996-98)

- Industry Minister (1984-87)

- Minister for Public Works (1981-83)

- Member of the Maltese Parliament (1976-2014)

- Architect, Director in various companies (1973-81)

- Bachelor's degree in Architecture and Civil Engineering (1973)

Kaspars Gerhards

Kaspars Gerhards

Minister for Environmental Protection and Regional Development, Latvia


Kaspars Gerhards was appointed as Minister for Environmental Protection and Regional Development of the Republic of Latvia in November 2014. The Ministry is responsible for implementing policy in three areas - environment protection, regional development as well as information society and e-government.

Previously Mr Gerhards held the positions of Minister for Economics and Minister for Transport and Communications; he also served as State Secretary at the Ministry of Economics for 8 years.

Since 2008 Mr Gerhards has been a Member of one of the oldest political parties in Latvia – “For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK”.

Mr Gerhards was born in Jelgava in 1969. He graduated from the Faculty of Economics at University of Latvia. Mr Gerhards has also studied at Westphalia Wilhelms University and Goethe Institute in Germany.

Carole Dieschbourg

Carole Dieschbourg

Minister for the Environment, Luxembourg


Carole Dieschbourg was born on 3 October 1977 in Ettelbruck. Following secondary school studies at the Lycée classique d’Echternach from 1990 to 1997, Carole Dieschbourg pursued higher education studies in historical sciences as well as German language and literature at the University of Trier from 1997 to 2005, where she was awarded a Master of Arts in 2005. Following the legislative elections of 20 October 2013, Carole Dieschbourg joined the government as Minister for the Environment on 4 December 2013 in the coalition government formed by the Democratic Party (DP), the Luxembourg Socialist Workers’ Party (LSAP) and the Green Party (“déi gréng”). At local level, Carole Dieschbourg served as a municipal councillor in Echternach from 2011 to 2013, an office she held until her appointment to the government. Within the programme “Leader+ Müllerthal”, Carole Dieschbourg was the project coordinator for “Moulins – inventaire, excursion et sentier régional” (“Mills – inventory, excursion and regional trail”) and “Millebuch” (“Book on mills”) from 2005 to 2006. In 2007, she published the book Die Mühlen des Müllerthals. Carole Dieschbourg is a board member of Moulin J.P. Dieschbourg, the family mill business established in 1897.

Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP

Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP

Rapporteur for the Circular Economy, European Parliament


Ms Sirpa Pietikäinen is a Finnish member of the European People's Party (EPP) in the European parliament. Ms Pietikäinen is former Finnish Minister of Environment (1991–1995). Her career at the Finnish parliament is extensive, ranging from the year 1983 to 2003. She first came to the European parliament to replace Alexander Stubb in 2008, and was re-elected in 2009.

In the European parliament, Ms Pietikäinen is a Member of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee and a substitute member of the Women’s Right and Gender Equality Committee and of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. She is the rapporteur for the circular economy package in the European Parliament. A graduate from the Helsinki School of Economics, Ms Pietikäinen has MSc (Business), and still teaches university courses on negotiations theory and practices.

Ms Pietikäinen has a long track-record in the field of promoting sustainable development. She has actively worked with a number of NGOs promoting environmental issues, democracy, and human rights.

Kurt Vandenberghe

Kurt Vandenberghe

Director for Climate Action and Resource Efficiency, DG RTD, European Commission


Kurt Vandenberghe is Director for Climate Action and Resource Efficiency at the European Commission's DG Research and Innovation since July 2013.

He previously worked as head of the cabinet of European Commissioner Janez Potočnik, first in charge of science and research (2008-2009) and subsequently in charge of environment policy (from 2010).

Kurt was deputy head of Janez Potočnik’s cabinet between 2004 and 2008, where he was in charge of coordinating the research area and the research framework programmes. Between 1999 and 2004, he was a member of the cabinet of European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin, where he was in charge of life sciences, biotechnology, public health, space policy, transport, science and society issues, ethical questions and press and communication.

Kurt joined the European Commission in 1996 as co-ordinator of the Commission’s Intermodal Transport Task Force and of the Transport Research Programme. He subsequently was co-ordinator of DG Transport’s relations with the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions.

Before entering the Commission, Kurt worked for 4 years as a manager at Ernst & Young Association Management, where he set up, managed and represented international trade associations. Assignments included FreightForward Europe, a lobby group of the world’s nine largest freight forwarding companies, and the US automotive components industry.

After reading French and Italian literature at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL) and obtaining a degree in Public and International Affairs at the University Catholique de Louvain-la-Neuve (UCL), Kurt gained a Master of Arts degree in International Relations at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (S.A.I.S.) in Bologna, Italy and Washington D.C., US.

Kurt is co-founder and board member of and the VZW Scriptieprijs.

Trisa  Thompson

Trisa Thompson

VP, Corporate Responsibility, Dell


Trisa Thompson is the VP of Corporate Responsibility & Talent and Capabilities at Dell, with responsibility for Dell’s global philanthropy and sustainability. Prior to this role, Trisa was a Vice President in Dell’s Legal Department for 12 years.

Trisa graduated with honors from The National Law Center, George Washington University. She received her undergraduate degree, magna cum laude, from Boston University in 1983, where she majored in Mass Communications.

Outside of the office, Trisa currently serves on the boards of I Live Here, I Give Here, an Austin organization promoting philanthropy in Austin, and Lifeworks. Trisa also serves on the Emeritus Advisory Board for Law and Technology News and is a member of the Global Giving and Sustainability Councils at Dell.

Previously, Trisa served on the Boards of the United Way in Central Texas, the Women’s Giving Network, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and was president of the Zach Scott Theatre and KLRU Boards. She was also a founding member of the Austin/San Antonio Chapter of the Texas General Counsel Forum.

Trisa received the 2008 Volunteer of the Year award from the United Way of Austin. In addition, in 2014, the National Diversity Council awarded her the Most Powerful and Influential Women of Texas Award and they also named her as one of the Top 50 Women in Technology in 2014.

Koen Coppenholle

Koen Coppenholle

Chief Executive, CEMBUREAU, Speaking on behalf of The Concrete Initiative


Koen Coppenholle is Chief Executive of the European Cement Association (CEMBUREAU) since 1 July 2012. CEMBUREAU is the representative organisation of the cement industry in Europe. The Association acts as spokesperson for the cement industry before the European Union institutions and other public authorities, and communicates the industry’s views on all issues and policy developments with regard to technical, environmental, energy and promotional issues.

Before joining CEMBUREAU, Koen was Head of European Affairs for ArcelorMittal in Brussels. Between September 2000 and November 2007, he was Senior Counsel European Affairs with General Electric EMEA in Brussels. In that capacity, he assisted GE’s businesses on European regulatory issues and represented them before European and national authorities. From 1995 – 2000, Koen was senior associate with the law firm Linklaters De Bandt in Brussels, where he advised clients on all aspects of EU law and pleaded cases before the European Court of Justice, including as representative of the Belgian government. He has been working as a “référendaire” in the cabinet of the Dutch Judge P.J.G. Kapteyn at the European Court of Justice from 1992 to 1995 and was teaching European law at the University of Leuven before that period.

Koen graduated “magna cum laude” at the Law Faculty of Leuven University in 1988 and holds an LL.M. degree from Harvard Law School (1990). He is author of various publications on European Community law and a regular speaker at conferences.

Joanna Drake

Joanna Drake

Director for SMEs and Entrepreneurship, DG GROW, European Commission


Joanna Drake has occupied her current position since 16th of January 2010. Since October 2005, she was Head of the European Commission Representation in Malta. During the preceding five years Joanna had been Company Secretary and Head of the Legal & Regulatory Department of Vodafone Malta Limited.

Before venturing into the telecommunications sector, Joanna’s professional career centred entirely around European Union matters, with an accent on law, which she taught and researched full-time for five years at the University of Malta. After obtaining her post-graduate qualifications in law from the College of Europe in Bruges, where she specialised in EU competition and internal market law, Joanna spent five years as Senior Legal Officer at the EU Directorate of the Foreign Office in Malta and a further year as Legal Research Officer at the Maltese Embassy in Brussels. As a core group member of MEUSAC (Malta-EU Steering and Action Committee) she was closely involved in the pre-accession negotiations between Malta and the European Union.

Kęstutis Sadauskas

Kęstutis Sadauskas

Director for Green Economy, DG ENV, European Commission


Kęstutis Sadauskas, born in 1969 in Lithuania. In 1994 graduated Vilnius University where he obtained Master Degree in International Relations at the Institute of Political Science and International Relations and Master Degree in Geography at the Faculty of Natural Science.

He started his professional career in September 1993 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, Vilnius, in the sector of Government's foreign relations, dealing with Lithuanian policies on Council of Europe, Human Rights, UN, OSCE, NATO.
In 1996, Kęstutis Sadauskas joined the Permanent Mission of Lithuania to the United Nations, New York, as Deputy Permanent Representative-Counselor responsible for general political affairs, UN Security Council activities and reform, international security.

In 2000, he went back to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, Vilnius, as Head of Unit of the EU Department, and later as Director, responsible for Lithuanian policy towards EU, EU accession negotiations of Lithuania, Convention of Future of EU.

In August 2002, he joined the Permanent Representation of Lithuania to EU, Brussels, as Minister-counsellor responsible for coordination of EU accession negotiations of Lithuania, general coordination of activities in the COREPER, negotiations of Financial Perspectives 2007-2013.

In September 2006, Kęstutis Sadauskas was appointed Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Vilnius, Lithuania. In February 2010, he joined the European Commission as a member of the Cabinet of Commissioner Šemeta and in April of the same year he became the Head of the Cabinet.

1st November 2014 he assumed his role as the Director for Green Economy.

Jocelyn Blériot

Jocelyn Blériot

Executive Officer - Communications & Policy Lead, Ellen MacArthur Foundation


Jocelyn Blériot, whose academic background drew focus on literature, philosophy and sociology, has spent most of his career in the media industry as a journalist and editor. Having joined Ellen MacArthur in 2007, he was central to the creation of the Foundation and is responsible for effective communication of many of the ideas. He notably develops written and video content, coordinates academic and professional reports and edits educational resources produced by the Foundation. He represented the Foundation on the European Resource Efficiency Platform (European Commission) and manages the relationship with EU institutions.

Piotr Barczak

Piotr Barczak

Policy Officer for Waste, European Environmental Bureau


Piotr Barczak was born in Poland in 1984. Having studied in Poznan and Bremen, Piotr holds a Masters degree in Geography with a specialisation in Spatial Management and Regional Development. He also has a diploma in Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change.
He started his professional career as a land surveyor for a private company providing technical analysis of urban and coastal areas.

In 2010 he started working in the Polish Ministry of the Environment where he joined the International Cooperation Unit. In 2011 he was sent to Brussels to reinforce the Environmental Policy Unit at the Permanent Representation of Poland to the EU. After a successful Polish Presidency at the Council he decided to leave the diplomatic service and join the NGO world where he worked on shale gas and landgrabbing in Africa. He has worked in several missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan collaborating with Caritas and the UN Mission to South Sudan.

Piotr came back to Brussels in 2013 to join the EU Policy Team of the European Environmental Bureau working on air pollution and waste. He is now responsible for the waste policy at the EEB representing the voice of around 140 national NGOs dealing with environmental protection. He chairs the EEB Waste Working Group which consists of waste experts from Member States with hands-on experience in waste management and prevention measures. He collaborates closely with the Zero Waste International Alliance as well as with municipalities, progressive industry and waste management organizations.

Françoise Bonnet

Françoise Bonnet

Secretary General, ACR+


Françoise Bonnet is Secretary General of the Association of Cities and Regions for Recycling and Sustainable Resource Management (ACR+). In addition to the day-to-day management of the team, Françoise, who is specialised in legal and economic instruments linked to waste/resource policy, is in charge of the EPR Club project. Françoise holds a degree in law, complemented by a diploma in European law from the College of Europe and in specialized studies in environmental law. She has a thorough knowledge on European waste/resource legislation and policies, as well as broad experience in project management and planning. During her professional life, she worked not only for public authorities such as Brussels Region Administration, the UN or the European Commission, but also for private companies. Thanks to this, she is familiar with local administration systems and North-South cooperation with the countries in the Mediterranean region.

Hermann Erdmann

Hermann Erdmann



Hermann Erdmann, CEO of REDISA NPC (Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa), is an entrepreneur with extensive experience in the manufacturing and retail sectors having served on a number of industry related boards in South Africa.

His interest in sustainable leadership, his drive for senior management to focus on extended producer responsibility as part of a company’s strategy, and his passion for transformation and empowerment of the previously disadvantaged, resulted in the establishment of REDISA.

REDISA’s Integrated Industry Waste Management Plan was legislated by the Department of Environmental Affairs in 2012, and has successfully created a circular economy within the tyre industry specifically.

Gary Crawford

Gary Crawford

Vice President - International Affairs, Veolia


Gary Crawford is employed by Veolia as Vice President of International Affairs. He is based in Veolia’s Corporate Headquarters in Paris, France. He has over 25 years of experience in the waste industry and has held various operational, technical, and managerial positions.

He is responsible for establishing active partnerships with key global stakeholders and institutions to support the Company’s current activities and developing business. He is focused on emerging growth markets associated with cross-cutting subjects such as the Circular Economy, Climate Change and Smart and Sustainable Cities. He is also responsible for identifying new business models for developing economies that deliver sustainable development benefits and business value.

Prior to this position, he was the Vice President of Sustainable Development for Veolia Environmental Services (VES). He led an international team that was responsible for the development and implementation of the Corporate Health, Safety, and Environmental policies, programmes, and initiatives. His team also provided support and expertise to VES’s world-wide business units on carbon management and the execution of sustainable development projects.

He is a member of the Board of the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) and is Chair of the ISWA Working Group on Climate Change and Waste Management. Representing ISWA, he is a member of the Steering Group and Lead Partner of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) Municipal Solid Waste Initiative.

Mr Crawford received a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology from Cook College, Rutgers University and a Master of Science degree in Engineering Geology from Drexel University in the U.S.

Arthur ten Wolde

Arthur ten Wolde

Manager Public Affairs Circular Economy, De Groene Zaak


Dr. Arthur ten Wolde was born in 1963 in The Hague, The Netherlands. He graduated in experimental physics in Leiden (1986) and obtained his PhD at the University of Amsterdam. In 1990 he started working for Shell Research, where he became a certified polymer technologist, in 1994 for the STT Study Centre for Technology Trends where he performed a study on nanotechnology, and in 1998 as Advisor Technology Policy for the Confederation of Netherlands Industries and Employers VNO-NCW. In 2006, Arthur joined sustainability Think Tank and consultancy IMSA Amsterdam where he is Coordinator Circular Economy and has led projects on the circular economy, chemistry, energy and the annual Springtij Forum for Sustainability, including an obstacle analysis for the circular economy and two studies on plastic marine litter. Since 2014 he works as Manager Public Affairs Circular Economy at the Dutch Sustainable Business Association De Groene Zaak.


Kevin Bradley

Kevin Bradley

Managing Director, Energy, Environment & Natural Resources, Hume Brophy


Dr Kevin Bradley is an experienced public policy and regulatory affairs consultant with more than 23 years’ experience at the EU and international level in a variety of positions ranging from the European Commission to international trade associations and consultancy. His specialist areas include energy, environment and resources policies. He has worked for a range of clients in the basic commodities, processing and consumer goods sectors as well as working for public authorities in the water, regional policy and environmental policy fields.

Kevin has more than 10 years’ experience in managing and directing international associations based in Brussels, in the natural resources-based (wood-based) and minerals (nickel) areas. In both areas he has worked with the top ten mining and forest-based companies.

Kevin currently leads the Hume Brophy Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Practice and is advising clients in the energy supply, distribution, resources, chemicals and FMCG sectors.

James Stevens

James Stevens

Senior Vice President & Senior Partner, FleishmanHillard


James Stevens is a Senior Vice President and Senior Partner in FleishmanHillard’s Brussels (European Union) office, where he specializes in EU public affairs. He currently chairs the company’s Energy Sector Group in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region and the Chair of the EU Committee of the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium.

Since joining FleishmanHillard in 2002, James has counselled a wide range of corporate and trade association clients on EU environmental policy, including the WEEE and RoHS Directives, the REACH Regulation and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive.

Before joining FleishmanHillard, James worked on the staff of a British Member of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee. He holds a first class degree in Government and European Union studies from the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, England. In addition, James holds a master’s degree in European studies from the College of Europe (Warsaw, Poland), where he specialized in the interdisciplinary analysis of E.U. eastward enlargement.

James is a British national and speaks English, French, and Italian.



Thursday 5 March, 2015
08.30 to 15.30




Stanhope Hotel

Rue du Commerce 9, B-1000 Brussels

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