Plenary conference sessions

Plenary conference programme

Sessions overview

Plenary session

Looking beyond COVID-19: Integrated pathways to address health, economy, and climate

28/10/2020, 14:45 - 15:45


COVID-19, the first major pandemic of our century, confirms the crucial importance of sustainable healthcare systems and technologies in fighting health emergencies. Although science, technology and innovation are challenged during this pandemic, they play a vital role in how countries tackle the spread of the coronavirus and prepare for new outbreaks.

Systems for faster development of tests, vaccines, and pharmaceuticals are made possible by intensive collaboration among countries and coordination by the WHO. The use of telemedicine and other communication technologies is instrumental in making health systems more responsive and productive during critical pandemic phases. The integration of mathematical sciences in the prediction and modelling of essential elements proves to be a valuable resource for health sector authorities and managers to make rapid and precise decisions. Access to off-grid decentralised renewable power is crucial in mitigating the human catastrophe and speeding up the global recovery process, especially for developing countries.

Speakers during this plenary session will shed light on how different technological innovations are helping the fight against COVID-19 in different regions of the world. At the same time, they will reflect on the legal plausibility, ethical soundness and effectiveness of deploying emerging technologies under time pressure. Striking the right balance is crucial for maintaining public trust in evidence-based public health interventions.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic clearly shows we are facing a double-edged challenge in the long term. While the economic slowdown can have adverse effects on countries’ ongoing efforts towards climate mitigation, the gradual resumption of large-scale economic activities can put renewed pressure on the environment. In this way, the COVID-19 pandemic reconfirms the need for long-term development models designed around the core principle of building a resilient economy that ensures health and wellbeing of citizens and tackles climate change challenges. This plenary session will be an excellent opportunity to examine new technologies that catalyse broader change and tackle the climate change challenges ahead, maintaining the positive outcomes of this COVID-19 pandemic.

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Special session

IEEE’s support of sustainable development – Thoughts and actions

28/10/2020, 13:30 - 14:30


IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) is the world’s largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity.  With its “Technology for the Benefit of Humanity” mission, IEEE is a thought leader in the UN Social Development Goals. But IEEE doesn’t just think and talk about the SDGs, it also acts on them.

This session showcases some of IEEE’s impactful SDG projects by its global members and partners. Some of the UN SDGs represented in these talks are Zero Hunger, Quality Education, Gender Equality, Clean Energy, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Good Health, Clean Water, and Climate Action.

Chaired by

José M. F. Moura

José M. F. Moura

Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers

2019 President and CEO

José M. F. Moura is the Philip L. and Marsha Dowd University Professor at Carnegie Mellon University, a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and the U.S. National Academies Navy Study Board, corresponding member of Portugal Academy of Sciences, and Fellow of U.S. National Academy of Inventors, IEEE, and American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He has received several awards for his technical work. He holds a doctorate from MIT and an EE from Instituto Superior Técnico, Lisboa (IST), Portugal.

José holds 16 patents, including two used in over 3 billion disk drive chips in 60% of all computers sold in the last decade and the subject of a 2016 US$750 million settlement between Carnegie Mellon and a semiconductor manufacturer. He is President and cofounded Spiralgen, a company that specializes in super-fast software components for cutting-edge parallel platforms. This includes technology licensed by Intel (10 million lines of code in Intel’s IPP) and licensed and used by several other companies.

Besides being 2019 IEEE President and CEO, José has served the IEEE in several other positions including as Technical Activities Vice-President and Division IX Director and member of the Board.

Presentation 13:30 - 13:45

Achieving holistic development through energy access

How can you achieve holistic development through energy access? Paras Loomba focuses on using energy access as a tool, to further sustainable development in communities through creating interventions in education and livelihood. This brings an overall impact in the communities and in the process to achieve various SDGs.

Paras Loomba

Global Himalayan Expedition


Paras is the founder of Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE), a social impact enterprise, that provides clean energy and livelihood access to the remote Himalayan communities.

Over last 8 years, Paras has led several leadership expeditions to Himalayas (India) to setup solar microgrids for the remote off-grid communities that are thriving for centuries without access to any kind of basic electricity. His initiative GHE has been instrumental in electrifying 110 remote Himalayan villages and impacting over 55,000 lives. In the process, GHE has also created livelihood generation for more than 140 village level women entrepreneurs that run traveler homestays in these solar electrified villages to promote community-based tourism.

An engineer by profession, Paras merges technology and passion with an approach to entrepreneurial models in these high-altitude areas advocating use of sustainable tourism solutions that would eventually providing stimulus to local economy, reducing local emigration and preserving age old cultural Himalayan heritage.

Presentation 13:45 - 14:00

Implementing sustainable development in local Maasai communities

The Maa Trust is a sustainable development implementer and a community-based non-profit in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. The Maa Trust increases benefits that local Maasai communities receive from safari tourism, focusing on the traditionally disadvantaged. The trust works to empower women, youth and children through three thematic areas: Education and Skills, Water and Health, and Alternative Livelihoods. The Maa Trust’s programs are research-based, built upon Dr Mogensen’s PhD examining the relationship between conservancies and development in the Maasai Mara.

This presentation will touch on the following UN SDGs:

  • No poverty: reducing poverty through livelihood diversification and income generation, women’s empowerment and the provision of basic services.
  • Good health and wellbeing: providing quality healthcare to marginalized rural communities through an Integrated Community Healthcare Project.
  • Quality education: making sure that all children attend school, and then once they are in school, that they receive a quality education.
  • Gender equality: preventing all forms of gender-based violence and discrimination, including female genital mutilation, child marriage, and child pregnancy.
  • Clean water and sanitation: moving away from troublesome boreholes and focusing on large scale rainwater harvesting and natural spring rehabilitation.
  • Affordable and clean energy: piloting a new modular solar system called the SunBlazer and rolling this out across the area, including charging electric vehicles.
  • Decent work and economic growth: coordinating three social enterprises, two for women (Maa Beadwork and Maa Honey) and one for youth (Maa Bricks).
  • Climate action/life on land: working with wildlife conservancies to ensure that communities benefit from the protection of wildlife and habitat through evidence-based community development.

Crystal Mogensen

The Maa Trust


Crystal holds a Ph.D. in African Studies from the University of Edinburgh and runs the Maa Trust, a community-based non-profit in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. The goal of this trust is to increase the benefits that communities receive from wildlife conservation.

Presentation 14:00 - 14:15

Green Village Electric Projects

GVE Projects Limited is a leading renewable energy solutions provider in Sub-Saharan Africa. In line with our vision of being the first-choice renewable energy enterprise sort globally, we have a business footprint that covers the design, sales, installation and maintenance of renewable energy solutions predominantly solar energy and hybrid power systems for residential, commercial, industrial and rural off-grid or under-served communities through commercially sustainable business models in line with our clients’ needs.

GVE pioneered Clean Energy Mini-Grid technology for Energy Access in West Africa and has raised US$7.8million (mix of a grant, equity, and debt) which has been used to successfully complete twelve (14) PV solar mini-grid pilot projects (2013 – 2020) in 7 states using a commercially sustainable PAYG business model. These are currently serving 14,868 homes in these communities. GVE’s energy access business plan was rated one of the top-5 most promising Clean Energy & Climate Investment opportunity by UNIDO/ PFAN, USAID, AfDB, ECREEE, EBID, BOAD etc. GVE was recognized by the London Stock Exchange Group as one of the fastest-growing private companies in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Ifeanyi B. Orajaka

Green Village Electric Projects

Founder & Managing Director

Ifeanyi B. Orajaka is a 32-year old Engineer, Obama Foundation Fellow, Global Shaper (World Economic Forum), socio-entrepreneur, Green Ambassador, Mentor and Founder/CEO of GVE Projects Limited. Ifeanyi has over ten years’ experience in renewable energy systems design, installation/maintenance, business development, project management, GIS-based rural electrification planning, policy/strategy formulation and conflict resolution. As the founder and Managing Director of GVE Projects, he is directly involved in the development and implementation of strategies geared towards positioning the young company as a leader in the African renewable energy industry.

He holds a B.Eng in Electrical Electronics Engineering from the Federal University of Technology Owerri and an M.Eng in Power Systems Engineering from the University of Port-Harcourt both in Nigeria. He has also participated in training on Corporate Finance, New Venture Finance, Operations Management, Public-Private Partnerships and Marketing. He is a certified Project Manager and has had professional internship experiences in leading multinational companies (ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell & NIIT).

Ifeanyi’s mission to end extreme energy poverty in Africa has attracted him several international recognitions such as the 2016 Future Africa Award in Business, the 2016 Africa Energy Leader of the Year, the 2018 participant of the Dutch Visitor Program and the IEEE Smart Village Ambassador.

Ifeanyi was recognized as one of Nigeria’s top 100 most innovative CEOs in 2019 by the Guardian Newspaper. His leadership in the renewable energy industry in Africa earned him a Board seat in the Finance working Group of the Africa Mini-Grid Developers Association and an advisory board seat in the Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria where he also chairs the association’s Access to Finance Working Group. Ifeanyi is equally a member of the Africa-Europe High-Level Platform for Sustainable Energy Investments in Africa which is an initiative of the African Union and the European Commission aimed at bolstering more collaboration between both continents towards increased energy investment in Africa for sustainable growth and job creation.

Presentation 14:15 - 14:30

The Women-in-Tech Challenge and the Digital-Change-Maker Challenge

Doreen will highlight some of the UN- ITU’s work with Women-in-Tech Challenge and the Digital-Change-Maker Challenge in various parts of the world.  Some of the SDG’s highlighted are Zero Hunger, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Reduced Inequalities.

Doreen Bogdan-Martin

International Telecommunication Union

Director Telecommunication Development Bureau

Doreen Bogdan-Martin was elected Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau in November 2018 and took office on 1 January 2019.

She is a strategic leader with 30 years’ high-level experience in international and inter-governmental relations, and a long history of success in policy and strategy development, analysis and execution. ​

​From 2008-2018, she led the Strategic Planning & Membership Department of ITU, and also served as Coordinator of United Nations affairs.

She was one of the architects of the annual Global Symposium for Regulators and leads ITU’s contribution to the EQUALS Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age. She serves as Executive Director of the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, and is leading ITU’s collaboration with UNICEF and others on the GIGA project to connect the world’s schools.

She holds a Master’s degree in International Communications Policy from the American University in Washington, DC and a post-graduate certificate in Strategies for Leadership from the Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland.

She is an affiliate of the Harvard University Berkman-Klein Center for Internet and Society, and a Generation Unlimited Champion. She serves on a number of advisory bodies, including the Geneva-Tsinghua Initiative, the SDG Lab Advisory Board, and the UN Technology Innovation Labs.

Special session

Sustainable Finance for Business Transformation

27/10/2020, 11:45 - 13:00


This plenary session, which is organised by CSR Europe in cooperation with G-STIC, is part of the European SDG Summit that aims to connect 5000+ actors through Plenary sessions and 40+ European and National Roundtables. CSR Europe is the leading European business network for Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility. With its corporate members, National Partner Organisations (NPOs), and Associated Partners, CSR Europe supports 10.000 businesses & industry sectors in their transformation and collaboration towards practical solutions and sustainable growth, co-building with the European leaders and stakeholders an overarching strategy for a Sustainable Europe 2030.

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak, restoring the old economic order is not an option to achieve sustainable growth. That would only increase inequalities and proliferate unsustainable practices, creating new risks and uncertainties.

If we want to build back better and leave no one behind, we have to learn from this crisis. We urgently need to realise a green transition, decoupling economic development from environmental degradation and shifting from a volume-driven to a value-driven economy. The UN Sustainable Development Goals provide the framework to reach the ambitions set out in Europe’s Green Deal and Industrial Strategy.

Finance and investment will play a key role in this. The development of new technologies and sustainable solutions requires significant R&D investments, while scaling-up impact investments are needed to bring these solutions to the market. In this way investors, governments and companies can define the boundaries of the new economic system. The role of the financial sector and the responsibility of corporate Chief Financial Officers are the keys to success.

Speakers and high-level panellists will highlight the EU policy direction to expand the European Taxonomy and review Corporate Non-Financial Disclosure rules, while others will provide updates on their contributions to a global impact measurement and valuation standard for monetizing and disclosing impacts of corporate activity.

Conference programme overview
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