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Strategies to prevent urban poverty and promote social inclusion and wellbeing
By 2030 more than 60% of the world’s population is projected to live in cities.
Urban centers will face key challenges in ensuring that the needs of people living in hardship are met. As cities become  smart, they must also provide equal access to the benefits of technological progress for vulnerable social groups and leave no one behind.
Innovation can be a catalyst for change and ensure that our cities and communities are resilient. As part of the Expert Discussion Series, the event will serve as a platform for experts to share their knowledge and identify solutions to the challenges smart cities will face in offering accessible infrastructure, services and information.
H.E. Dr. Michal Mlynár
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Slovakia to the United Nations
Prior to his appointment, Dr. Mlynár was Slovakia’s Director-General for International Organizations, Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid between 2015 and 2017. From 2012 to 2015, he was Ambassador to Kenya and to the United Nations agencies in Nairobi. Dr. Mlynár held several positions from 2010 until 2011, including Head of the Project Team for Security Sector Reform, Deputy Chef de Cabinet in the Office of the Minister, and Head of the Unit for Coordination of Candidatures and Cross-Cutting United Nations activities. Between 2004 and 2009, Dr. Mlynár was Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, and his delegation’s political coordinator on the Security Council from 2006 to 2007. He was also Deputy Chef de Cabinet and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister between 2002 and 2004. Dr. Mlynár holds a master’s degree in teaching and a PhD in the theory of teaching foreign languages from Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Daniela Bas
UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division for Social Policy and Development
Ms. Daniela Bas is of Italian nationality, and is currently serving as the Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs since May 2011. She is a political scientist with a major in International Politics and graduated Magna Cum Laude. In addition to her work at the United Nations from 1986 to 1995, she held managerial roles from 1996 until 2011 in the private sector in Italy and was, inter alias, adviser for the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and for the Presidency of the Council of Ministers on human rights and social affairs. Designated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy, she was a member of the Board of Directors of the European Union Agency of Fundamental Rights; Special Adviser to the Vice President of the European Commission (On. Frattini). At the European Union, she was representative on the topic “Tourism for All” on behalf of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers of her country.
Eugenie L. Birch
Nussdorf Chair for Urban Research, School of Design, University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Eugenie Birch holds the Nussdorf Chair for Urban Research, School of Design, University of Pennsylvania where she chairs the Graduate Group in City and Regional Planning. She is the founding co-director of the Penn Institute for Urban Research and co-editor of Penn Press’s The City in the 21st Century series and the SSRN Urban eInformal Real Estate Markets Work (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016) and “A Midterm Report: Will Habitat III Make a Difference to the World’s Urban Development?” Journal of the American Planning Association (82:4 2016 398-411) In New York City, Dr. Birch has served as a member of the New York City Planning Commission, and on the jury to select the designers for the World Trade Center site. She has also served as a member of the US delegation to Habitat III. Dr. Birch, who lives in New York City, holds a PhD and Master degree in Urban Planning from Columbia University.
Filiep Decorte
Officer-in-Charge, UN-Habitat New York
Mr. Filiep Decorte is currently the Officer-in-Charge of New York Liaison Office of UNHabitat. He was formerly Chief Technical Advisor on UN Habitat’s urbanisation, urban resilience and urban crisis. During his career, Mr. Decorte has predominantly focused on urban initiatives in conflict- and crisis-affected countries, specializing in urban planning, land, and housing issues. He has worked for UN-Habitat for more than fifteen years in different capacities, including long-term assignments in Haiti, the occupied Palestinian territory, Somalia, and Morocco. He also acted as coordinator for UNHabitat’s Global Disaster Management Program. He was trained as a civil engineer, architect, and urban and regional planner with advanced master’s degrees from the Universities of Ghent and Leuven in Belgium.
Roberto Ciambetti
President of the Regional Council of Veneto, Italy
Mr. Roberto Ciambetti was born on July 3rd 1965 in Sandrigo (VI) where he still lives. He is married and he has got two daughters. He is a surveyor and by working in the private sector he has developed high skills in the environmental field, major hazards and Civil protection. He is an expert in Venetian traditions, history and culture. In his legislative capacity, he has been the author of regional laws on the Venetian Quality mark, on food intolerances, pediatric unblocking and lifesaving maneuvers, as well as on environmental issues, such as protection of water resources and fight against light pollution. He has been also the drafter of the law for the implementation in Veneto of Circular Economy. For his environmental commitment, he has had the satisfaction to see the International Astronomical Union (IAU) at Harvard University giving his name to the asteroid 24087, that had been discovered in 1999. Between 2010 and 2015 he was a regional Minister in the Government led by Luca Zaia and he was delegated to the Budget of Veneto, European Funds, local Bodies and Relationships with Banks. Since June 2015 he has been President of the regional Council of Veneto and vice President ELISAN, European Local Inclusion and Social Action network. He was the author of “Nato il 17 marzo”, (Venice, 2011) a pamphlet about the Italian history, and “Il prezzo della Libertà” (Venice 2016) a book about globalization.
Sol Salinas
Managing Director, Accenture Digital at Accenture
Mr. Sol Salinas is the Global Leader of Accenture’s Smart Cities practice and a North America Sustainability Practice Leader. He is responsible for the development and maintenance of a global Smart Cities offering and alliances with global Internet of Things (IoT) providers and directly oversees the work of multi-disciplinary teams supporting Accenture’s work in cities across North America and throughout the world. Prior to joining the Accenture, Mr. Salinas was Founder and CEO of Blue Dot Environmental Consulting, a minority-owned small business specializing in strategic sustainability consulting, and spent 15 years in executive positions with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He holds a joint MA/MBA (minor) from both the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School of Journalism and Kenan-Flagler Graduate School of Business and a BS and a BA from George Mason University.
John Paul Farmer
Director of Technology & Civic Innovation, Microsoft
Mr. John Paul Farmer is the Director of Technology & Civic Innovation at Microsoft, where he leads a cross-functional team which works to co-design prototypes and build partnerships that pioneer ways in which technology can be applied to make cities more livable, more dynamic, and more sustainable. Previously, he served as the Senior Advisor for Innovation at the White House under President Barack Obama, where he co-founded and led the Presidential Innovation Fellows program to attract top private sector technologists and entrepreneurs for focused tours of duty in government. Prior to the U.S. government, Mr. Farmer envisioned and built new business units in the private sector. He holds an M.B.A. with honors from the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University and an A.B. with honors from Harvard University. He is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Robert Venne
Mr. Robert Venne is a Social Affairs Officer in the Secretariat for the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (SCRPD) within the Division for Social Policy and Development in the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs. He conducts research and analysis on mainstreaming disability in the global development agenda. He is also responsible for coordinating DESA’s work with other UN agencies through the Inter-Agency Support Group for the Convention. Prior to joining SCRPD, he worked on issues such as demographic ageing and older persons, social integration, indicators development, family policies, and internal and international migration. He holds a Masters in Sociology from the Free University of Berlin.

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