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About the event


The Urban Forum: Future-Fit Cities aims to take account of the current situation and chart the way forward on how to build resilience and grow green from crises, including through tackling challenges of leadership and finance.



4 October

09:00 - 09:45
Registration, Opening, Welcome 

Languages: English, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Russian, Romanian and Ukrainian 

Room: Main

  • Archil Chikovani, Mayor of Batumi

  • Tornike Rizhvadze, Chairman of Adjara Government

  • Mzia Giorgobiani, Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure (Georgia)

  • Nicholas Cendrowicz, Head of Cooperation Section, Delegation of the European Union to Georgia

  • Anna Chernyshova, UNDP Georgia, RR a.i.

  • Gérald Audaz,  Team Leader, DG NEAR

  • Georges Van Monfort, Deputy Director, UNDP Brussels

10:45 - 11:45

Growing from shock: Using crisis to pivot to greener urban development models

Format: panel discussion and Q&A

Languages: English, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Russian, Romanian and Ukrainian 

Room: Main

  • Dan HillStrategic Designer 

  • Vitalli Lukov, Deputy Mayor of Mykolaiv City

  • Anatoli Topal, Mayor of Ceadir Lunga

  • Denis Gaiovy, Associate Director, EBRD

  • Neil Khor, Special Advisor, Office of the Executive Director of UN Habitat

  • Anna Chernyshova, UNDP Georgia, RR a.i.

Description: Pandemic, drought, floods, mega storms and wildfires, threats of a third world war — how rapidly we have become inured to the list of shocks. So much so that, from time to time, it is worth standing back to consider the sheer strangeness of our situation. Increased unpredictability, large scale transitions like energy and decarbonization, and the changing socio-economic & political environment in which countries find themselves, require discovering the path to development and while crisis, especially what some are calling polycrises, threaten development gains – they can also be used to build a foundation of working differently and cities are at the forefront of these changes.

12:00 - 13:00
Collaboration & Design: How should the cities of tomorrow be organized to drive development?

Format: panel discussion and Q&A

Languages: English, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Russian, Romanian and Ukrainian 

Room: Main

  • Charles Landry, Creative Bureaucracy Festival 

  • Gorka Espiau, ALC

  • Nina Čebokli, Transformative Governance Lead, Demos Helsinki

  • Archil Chikovani, Mayor of Batumi

  • Nina Langerholc Čebokli, Transformative Governance Lead, Demos Helsinki

  • Tina Stoum, M4EG, UNDP (moderator)

Description: This session seeks to delve deep into the core principles, innovative approaches, and strategic collaborations that can guide our urban spaces towards a more green, smart, and sustainable existence. We will explore the crossroads of design and collaboration, and how these can be leveraged to craft the cities of tomorrow. 

13:00 - 14:00
Mayors lunch: Leadership in times of uncertainty
Closed session with mayors)

Languages: English, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Russian, Romanian and Ukrainian 

Room: Armazi

Parallel sessions as follows:
14:00 - 15:00
Innovation ecosystems at the local level

Format: panel discussion

Languages: English, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Russian, Romanian and Ukrainian 

Room: Main

  • Colin Donohue, Startup Grind Batumi

  • Avtandil Kasradze, Head of GITA

  • EU4Digital

  • Anna Pashynska, MetaLab Ukraine

  • Rodica Negru, Local Team Leader,

  • Arturas Piliponis, EU4Digital Facility & EY partner

  • Thibault Charlet, Programme Manager, Digital and Local Economic Development, DG NEAR Unit C1, (Moderator)

Description: The panel discussion will delve into the multifaceted dimensions of unlocking, boosting, and nurturing innovation ecosystems. Distinguished panellists will bring their wealth of insights and experiences from startups, private sector and government to the forefront to shed light on the role of innovation and digital ecosystems as an enabler for local economic development. 

14:00 - 16:30
The Deconstruction of the Bilbao Experience -  driving urban transformation through collaboration and decentralized decision-making

Format: workshop

Languages/Translations: English

Room: Egrisi

Agirre Lehendakaria Center ALC


This session will share the most significant learnings of the Bilbao transformation and specific tools to amplify the existing city innovation capabilities when the city is under extreme socio-economic conditions and external support is limited or non existent.

14:00 - 15:00
Systemic approaches towards green cities

Format: round table conversation

Languages: English, Georgian, Russian

Room: Lazica

  • Nicolae Tudoreanu, Mayor of Festelita, Moldova

  • Giacomo Pinaffo, FDC Messina

  • Ioseb Kakhaleishvili, Mayor, Municipality of Kutaisi, Georgia

  • Györgyi Gálik, Dark Matter Labs

  • Nikhil Chaudhary, EIT Climate-KIC

  • James Vener, UNDP Climate Promise (Moderator)

Description: The conversation features

representatives from Fondazione Messina, Covenant of Mayors, City of Kutaisi, and Denmark as they delve into systemic approaches to green cities within their respective contexts. These approaches encompass bottom-up transformations, demonstration projects, portfolio strategies, and green city campaigns, offering valuable insights into the future of urban sustainability. 

15:00 - 15:30
Coffee Break
14:30 - 16:30
Use of technology in reimagining cities Workshop with generative AI – rethinking cities

Format: workshop

Languages/Translations: English, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Russian, Romanian and Ukrainian 

Room: Armazi

Urbanist Ai 


15:30 - 16:30
Creative industries and culture as the driver for urban rejuvenation 

Format: panel discussion 

Languages/Translations: English, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Russian, Romanian and Ukrainian 

Room: Main

  • Viorica Cerbușca, Artcor Moldova

  • Mamuka Tsotseria, Mayor of Zugdidi, Georgia

  • Emma Baghdasaryan, Portfolio Lead,Gyumri Municipality

  • Ines Radic, Sarajevo Film Festival representative

  • Nina Langerholc Čebokli, Transformative Governance Lead, Demos Helsinki (Moderator)


Our panellists from Artcor, Zugdidi Municipality and Gyumri Municipality will delve into the intricate relationship between creativity, design, and economic growth discussing: - the role of creative spaces, communities and entrepreneurship in the development of the ecosystem; - the value and importance of the creative economy in driving economic growth; - the impact of the creative economy on the liveability and vibrancy of a city; - the opportunities that festivals and events offer cities in bringing together communities and creative expression. 

15:30 - 16:30
Securing resilient urban systems to manage complex risks/crisis in an urban environment​

Format: panel discussion 

Languages/Translations: English,, Russian, Ukrainian 

Room: Lazica

  • Yurii Bova, Mayor of Trostianets 

  • Jakup Huseini, Municipality of Brvenica, North Macedonia, Polog Region

  • Eric Hubbard, Freetown City Council / Urban Biodiversity Hub

  • Marina Smelyanskaya, Policy Advisor /. Health Team Lead, UNDP

  • Idoia Postigo, General Director Bilbao  Metropoli 30

  • Pasquale Capizzi, Arup (Moderator)


This session focuses on investigating the tactics, technologies, and cooperative methods necessary to strengthen and improve the resilience of urban systems in the midst of complex challenges. It highlights cities that are actively putting resilience strategies into action while managing crises, underscoring the crucial and transformative impact of collaboration in building resilient systems and fostering positive societal progress in times of crisis.

16:30 - 17:00

Languages/Translations: English, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Russian, Romanian and Ukrainian 

Room: Main

Networking event

Room: Foyer


09:00 - 09:30
Meet-up with Ukrainian municipalities 

Room: Main lobby

09:30 - 10:30
Financial opportunities for cities: Blending finance and closing the gap for urban transformation

Format: panel discussion and Q&A

Languages: English, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Russian, Romanian and Ukrainian 

Room: Main

  • Torben Juul Andersen, Copenhagen Business School

  • Asen Charliyski, Bankers without Boundaries

  • Tea Melikadze, EBRD

  • Tülin Keyik, AFD

  • Gérald Audaz, DG NEAR (moderator)

Description: What type of instruments and mechanisms are available for urban financing and where are you seeing progress in financing local development? What are the underlying success factors in these cases?

10:30 - 11:30
Financing with the People and the Planet at the Centre: Civic Economy, Urban Commons, Community- and Nature-Based Solutions

Format: presentation/conversation

Languages: English, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Russian, Romanian and Ukrainian 

Room: Main

  • Raj Kalia, Mission Lead, Capital and Investments, Dark Matter Labs

  • Eric Hubbard, Freetown City Council / Urban Biodiversity Hub

  • Gabriel von Roda, Founder, Cashdillo

  • Tinatin Berishvili, Head of Economic Development, Local Self-Government, Propertyand Transport Management Service, Kutaisi Municipality

  • Elina Järvelä, Strategic Designer, UNDP, (moderator)

Description: The session aims to explore if there are emerging ways to imagine and grow a different local economy in our cities, towns, neighbourhoods and villages to build more sustainable routes to shared prosperity.

10:30 - 13:00

How to leverage crowdfunding for urban development

Languages: English

Room: Egrisi

Hajdana Rukavina and Burcu Mavis

Tadamon/AltFin Lab

Description: How to leverage crowdfunding for urban development session aims to introduce participants to the concept of crowdfunding, explore the key elements essential for a successful campaign, and provide examples of how crowdfunding has been utilized for urban development in various municipalities.

11:30 - 11:45
Coffee Break
11:45 - 13:00

M4EG learning reflection session

Format: workshop

Languages: English, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Russian, Romanian and Ukrainian 

Room: Armazi


UNDP & M4EG Deep Demonstrators 

Description: This session is targeted for the deep demonstrator municipalities to reflect and capture their learning journey (Invitation only)

11:45 - 13:00

Urban Game Changers: tipping the system transformation

Format: panel discussion and Q&A

Languages: English, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Russian, Romanian and Ukrainian 

Room: Main

  • Danela Arsovska, Mayor of Skopje

  • Anna Pashynska, MetaLab Ukraine

  • Thomas Kösters, Deep Ecosystems

  • Adrian Brown, Center for Public Impact

  • Robyn Bennett, Creative Bureaucracy Festival (moderator)

Description: The session "Urban Game Changers: tipping the System Transformation" delves into the transformative power of game-changing initiatives in urban development.

13:00 - 14:00
Parallel sessions as follows:
14:00 - 16:00

Introducing the new generation local economic development plans - Pathways for Economic Growth (P4EG) - Soft launch (under the Urban Learning Center).

Format: workshop

Languages: English, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Russian, Romanian and Ukrainian 

Room: Main



Description: Group discussions on relevance, bottleneck and what works

14:00 - 16:00

Gaming the System: Development of ideas to accelerate development 

Format: workshop

Languages: English

Room: Egrisi

Center for Public Impact CPI

Description:  "Gaming the System" is a gamified workshop that harnesses the power of collaboration, adaptability, and creativity within the public sector. 


Through play, attendees will explore the importance of creative engagement in implementing innovative ideas, experiment with new techniques to respond to urban transformation and unexpected challenges, and embark on an action-learning journey.

14:00 - 16:00

Developing cities as a collective endeavor: Agility with a purpose 

Format: roundtable

Languages: English, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Russian, Romanian and Ukrainian 

Room: Armazi

Charles Landry & Robyn Bennett, Creative Bureacracy Festival

Description: This session provides a foundation for understanding the dynamics of change in urban governance. It underscores the significance of adaptability and innovation for city leaders and explores the concept of being 'strategically principled and tactically flexible' with real-world examples.

14:00 - 16:00

Financing for Urban Transformation Workshop

Format: workshop

Languages: English

Room: Lazica

CHÔRA Design

Description: This session invites participants to make sense of how structural finance can be mobilised for the sustainable (green) transitions of cities, and to bring their experience to the formation of collective learning that can be leveraged for cities' financing strategies.

16:00 - 16:30

Languages/Translations: English, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Russian, Romanian and Ukrainian 

Room: Main

Our speakers



Batumi. Georgia

Archil Chikovani

Archil Chikovani has been serving as Mayor of Batumi since July 16, 2020. Previously, he worked in the government of autonomous republic of Adjara and the Ministries of Defense and Internal Affairs of Georgia.


Archil holds a Master of Laws degree from Tbilisi State University. He speaks Georgian, Russian and English.

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Resident Representative a.i. in Georgia

Anna Chernyshova

Anna Chernyshova is a highly qualified UNDP manager with over 16 years of programme and operations experience.


Before joining the UNDP team in Georgia, she served as Country Manager a.i. for the UN Joint Presence Office in the Solomon Islands.


Throughout her career with UNDP, Anna Chernyshova has managed programmes on combatting human and drug trafficking, border management, mitigating the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster and fighting HIV, TB and malaria with support from the Global Fund.


Before joining UNDP, Anna Chernyshova was Programme Manager at the OSCE Advisory and Monitoring Group in Belarus. She managed an EU-funded Programme on Human Rights, Democratization and Elections.


Anna Chernyshova has a law degree from the Belarus Academy of Management and an MBA degree from the European University Viadrina in Germany.

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Project Manager

Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR)

Thibault Charlet

Mr Thibault Charlet has been working as a Programme Manager in the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) for 5 years.


He is currently responsible for managing the EU programmes supporting the digital transformation and local economic development in the Eastern Partnership region (Ukraine, Republic of Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan).


Thibault has a background in international cooperation, economics and public policies. He graduated with Masters’ degrees from Sciences Po Paris and New York University.

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International Programme &

Partnerships Lead

Creative Bureaucracy Festival

Robyn Bennet

Robyn Bennett oversees the festival’s international programme and collaborations with a growing global network of cities, governance organizations, academic institutions, and other actors focused on strengthening democracy.

She has extensive experience in facilitating learning experiences, strategy processes, and other forms of exchange between transdisciplinary actors. With a focus on bridging diverse ideas and agendas, weaving strategic narratives, and nurturing networks, she is passionate about the enabling the relational change needed to accelerate systems change.

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City Advisor & Creative Bureaucracy Festival President

Charles Landry

Charles Landry is the inventor of the Creative Bureaucracy concept and co-founder of the Festival in Berlin. He wrote a  a series of nine short books including The Creative Bureaucracy; Psychology & the City,; The Digitized City: Influence & Impact; Cities of Ambition.

Charles helps cities assess their potential afresh. He sees himself as a 'critical friend' to the cities he works with. He seeks to inspire, stimulate, challenge and facilitate. He combines a global perspective with an acute sense of what matters locally. He grounds ideas in practical projects.  

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Transformative Governance Lead

Nina Langerholc Cebokli

Nina Langerholc Cebokli is leading the Demos Helsinki’s Transformative Governance area. She was a Chief of Staff in the Ministry for Public Administration of the Republic of Slovenia, appointed as a representative for the Center of Government.


Nina has 15 years of experience from the public sector, business sector (from start-ups to corporate environment) and NGOs in the field of innovation management, change management, and system and organization design.


She has worked with a variety of teams in conceptualizing, planning, and implementing change on the team, organization, and system level.

Her unique understanding of the nature of functioning and mindset of different stakeholders and entities that exist in our society supports her work in creation of positive impact, energizing teams, design and roll-out of systemic solutions, and creation of new value arising from synergies, partnerships, and networks.


Her work is also focused on bridging the gaps between public and business sector through innovative approaches and projects, and implementation of novel approaches to large-scale change.

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Programme Manager, Global Development Initiative, Service Designer

Javiera Godoy

Javiera is a design leader and architect with over a decade of experience, specializing in strategy and service design, urban transformation, public innovation, and co-design for governments, changemakers, and global development organizations. These include Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), UNDP, UNWTO, CAF – Development Bank of Latin America,, along with central and local governments across Latin America. She serves as the Programme Manager at CPI's Global Development Initiative.


In her previous role as a Service Design Lead at Unit, Javiera spearheaded Bloomberg's Mayors Challenge program. She collaborated with CPI, supporting city leaders from 10 Latin American cities in designing innovative solutions for responding to complex urban challenges and serving their communities. As a Lecturer and Knowledge Exchange Facilitator at the University of the Arts London, Javiera took a central role in driving the two-year program 'Co-design Your Place', funded by Erasmus+ EU. This initiative effectively established a network of over 100 young changemakers who were equipped with service design tools, enabling them to tackle urban transformation challenges across Europe.


In addition to her work at CPI, Javiera serves as a Visiting Lecturer at the University of the Arts London and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, where she mentors the next generation of changemakers.

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Programme manager

CPI Europe

Beatriz Cano Buchholz

Beatriz joined CPI in March 2020 and leads a range of complex projects with local governments, philanthropies and multilateral agencies across Europe. She focuses on government innovation - supporting public officials to deliver greater impact by adopting collaborative approaches centered on co-creation with residents, system-thinking, experimentation and collective learning.


She's worked on multiple programs in the area of city innovation including the Digital Innovation Initiative for Bloomberg Philanthropies, with and more recently with UNDP, where she led the Urban Imaginaries program, a program delivered with UNDP to support cities across Eastern Europe and Central Asia to reimagine their city by experimenting with residents.


Prior to CPI, Beatriz worked for the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the OECD. She holds a Master in International Development and speaks five languages fluently.

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Avtandil Kasradze

Avtandil Kasradze is a Chairman of GITA. Agency is assigned to coordinate and mediate an important role in the country in terms of innovation and technology development. Having more than 8 years of experience in the legal field, Avtandil in parallel with all the Agency activities has been committed to formalizing the legal framework of the Agency. He was Senior Adviser of the Legal Department at the Chancellery of the Government of Georgia in 2014 and for 2 years Avtandil was Senior Adviser of the Department of Legal Drafting at the Ministry of Justice of Georgia.

In addition to the experience in state entities, Avtandil has working experience in international organizations as well as in NGOs.


He was a Senior Legal Analyst Assistant at OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission. Avtandil’s responsibility in a non-governmental organization, Transparency International Georgia, was first Legal Analyst and later Election and Legal Expert.  In the beginning of his career, he was running an NGO Association for Democracy Development.

As for the international experience, Avtandil was a fellow in the Council of Europe (Venice Commission) in Strasbourg, France. For one year he was a research assistant at the Academic Department of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at Lund University Sweden.

Avtandil Kasradze has a Master’s Degree in International Human Rights Law from Lund University, Sweden, and Bachelor’s Degree in Law from Tbilisi State University, Georgia.

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DEEP Ecosystems

Thomas Kösters

Thomas is building ecosystems in Europe since more than 12 years. He has set up and run numerous international startup programs, including for Microsoft Ventures in Germany and EIT Digital in pre-seed stage in 20 countries in CEE and Southern Europe.


As managing director of DEEP, he is co-creating a global community of innovation leaders and ecosystem builders.

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Innovation designer, design strategist and environmental advocate

Gyorgyi Galik

Gyorgyi brings seventeen years of experience in innovation and service design, having worked in the public, private, and third sectors. Her specialisation spans behavioural and environmental sciences, with a strong understanding of human development, as well as the built and natural environment.


She is currently the ‘City Transitions Mission’ Co-Lead at Dark Matter Labs. Previously Gyorgyi worked as the Head of Strategic Partnerships at the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose as well as Design Council’s Lead Advisor of the Architecture and Built Environment Team and later as the interim Head of Social Innovation. Alongside her work, she also did a PhD in Innovation Design Engineering at the School of Design, Royal College of Art in London. Her research focused on design for sustainability, social psychology, collective action, and climate change.

Gyorgyi's work highlights some of the misleading political, economic, and technological narratives that have been shaping our perception of sustainability and the climate crisis. In her talk, she will share a set of insights from social psychology and behavioural science that could help improve and sustain wider engagement around these complex matters. Gyorgyi will provide some practical ways to develop the necessary institutional capabilities and innovation in governance arrangements to enable and sustain collective action.  

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Kutaisi, Georgia

Ioseb Khakhaleishvili

Over the years, he has been a member of and has also led several NGOs and international organizations, including the following: International Medical Corps, CARE International in Caucasus, Movement against Hunger (Action Contra el Hambre), Save the Children, United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and Local Democracy Agency Georgia (LDA).

Ioseb Khakhaleishvili has extensive experience working in the public sector, having held a management position in Imereti Regional Administration. He has been re-elected for a second term as the Mayor of Kutaisi City Municipality.

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First Deputy Mayor


Vitaliy Lukov

Vitalii Lukov has more than 13 years of practical working experience in municipalities of the Mykolaiv region, including as the Mayor of Voznesensk and the First Deputy Mayor of Mykolaiv.


As for today the area of his responsibilities includes economic development, provision of administrative services, management of municipal facilities, emergency response to the current war situation, organization of defense and mobilization work of the territory, implementation of financial politics and budgeting, and housing issues in the Mykolayiv community.


He has significant experience in attracting investments from national and international partners for the community development and improvement of well-being of its residents. 


During wartime he works closely with the international organizations and twin cities abroad to rebuild the war-affected Mykolaiv.


He is a member of the Mykolaiv City Team for the development and implementation of the  Portfolio "Deep Blue Transition for Mykolaiv".


    Co-Founder and Board Head METALAB NGO

    Anna Pashynska

    Anna Pashynska is a co-founder and curator of an Urban Laboratory "MetaLab", Urban Biennale "City Scanning Session" and makerspace "Pole" in Ivano-Frankivsk (Ukraine). Anna leads on a wide range of projects, specializing in spatial research and design, product design, community-led public space projects, and institutional planning.


    Anna was studying at the technical universities of Lviv (Ukraine) and Vienna (Austria), she was a part of the first Studio by CANactions School For Urban Studies, developing Urban Constitution for Ivano-Frankivsk. She has more than 10 years of experience in urbanism, architecture, and design in Ukraine and Austria.


    Anna and the team work on a city development laboratory Metalab supporting a socially equal, spatially comfortable, culturally rich, environmentally responsible, economically balanced city (environment).

    In order to reach these goals, Metalab aims to create a supportive environment, a field for experiments, where the social and spatial potential of the city can be developed and tested in practice.


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    Zugdidi Municipality, Georgia

    Mamuka Tsotseria

    Mamuka Tsotseria currently serves as the Mayor of Zugdidi Municipality, having been elected in October 2021. He was born on January 10, 1974, and pursued higher education at Iv. Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, where he completed his studies in Macroeconomics from 1996 to 2001. He holds a MA degree in International Relations from the Georgia Diplomatic Academy, which he earned in 1997.

    Mamuka Tsotseria's career has been marked by a series of impactful roles. Before becoming mayor, he held the position of Chairman of Zugdidi Municipality City Council from 2017 to 2021, demonstrating exemplary leadership skills. In addition to his political roles, Mamuka Tsotseria established and directed the Georgia Trade-Industrial Chamber, showcasing his entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to economic growth.


    He also made significant contributions to the Tbilisi City Hall Property Management Agency, where he worked as an Economic Advisor and Head of the Investment Projects and Marketing Department.

    Mamuka Tsotseria's diverse experience has shaped him into a dedicated public servant with a keen understanding of economics and governance.

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    CHÔRA's Climate Change domain lead

    Emma Presutti

    Emma leads CHÔRA's Climate Change domain and her recent focus has been developing CHÔRA's Climate Impact Investment proposition. Emma has led projects in the public and private spheres, and has sector experience in energy, resources, electricity and circular economy transition.


    She previously worked at Boston Consulting Group, where she was a key member of the Energy Practice and Climate-KIC Australia. Emma holds a Bachelor of Renewable Energy Engineering and Arts from the University of New South Wales, Sydney.

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    Project Manager

    AFD (Agence Française de Développement)

    Tülin Keyik

    Tülin has recently been appointed as Project Manager responsible for Transport, Urban development and non-sovereign sectors for Georgia and Azerbaïjan at the AFD South-Caucasus office in Tbilisi.


    She was previously based in Istanbul at AFD Turkey office where she was a Project manager in charge of municipal financing, managing major sustainable infrastructure projects in urban transportation and water & sanitation with important municipalities such as Istanbul, Izmir or Ankara. As an alumni of the College of Europe, Tülin also has a strong background in EU external action and especially in enlargement and neighborhood policies. 

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    Associate Director, Senior Banker, Sustainable Infrastructure Group


    Denis Gaiovy

    Denis Gaiovy is the lead EBRD Banker in charge of municipal and transport (railways)sectors operations in Ukraine, dealing with sectors policy dialogue as well as preparation and implementation of the EBRD funded investment projects in both municipal and transport sectors of Ukraine.


    Municipal Investment portfolio of the Bank in Ukraine exceeds EUR 0.8bn in 19 municipalities across Ukraine while Cumulative Transport Investment Portfolio is circa EUR 2.5bn. Since the start of the Russian war on Ukraine, under Denis’s leadership the Bank has committed urgently needed funding to support critical municipal and transport (railways) infrastructure to the total amount of circa EUR 350m (consisting of both loans and grants) with further EUR 250m under consideration.


    Over the recent years, Denis has been leading EBRD projects and project teams in the municipal and transport (railways) sector of Ukraine covering both sovereign and sub-sovereign projects, capital market transactions, municipal deals in subsectors of public transport, district heating, energy efficiency in public buildings, water and wastewater, solid waste management and urban roads.

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      Innofund Co-founder

      Gabriel von Roda

      Gabriel von Roda is an economist, entrepreneur,  researcher and Web3-for-impact strategist. He co-founded Innofund, a blockchain development company that builds Web3 solutions to meet social impact objectives.


      In the past he has helped build brick and mortar businesses, sharing economy start-ups and big-data analytics companies. In his research he has contributed to policy research projects employing futurology as its core methodology.

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      Mayor of Festelita village, Moldova

      Nicolae Tudoreanu

      Nicolae Tudoreanu, Mayor of Festelita village, Stefan Voda District from the Republic of Moldova. Mr. Tudoreanu was one of the 1st Mayors who joined EU initiative Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy in 2013. In 2014 under the initiative of Mr. Tudoreanu the local administration elaborated its Sustainable Action Plan for Energy having assumed the reduction of CO2 emissions by 20% till 2020. 


      On its way to achieve the CO2 target the Mayor in collaboration with local stakeholders ( NGOs, state and private institutions, international partners and local community) implemented a series of flagship projects in energy efficiency and renewables including: Construction of the 1st municipal photovoltaic park,  3 on-grid photovoltaic systems at public buildings, 4 biomass-based boilers at public buildings, solar collectors for preparing domestic hot water heating; public street lighting and intelligent monitoring & management system, planting short rotation energy crops (5 ha); construction of the local Center of Excellence in Energy Efficiency serving as a demo point for other cities, creation of the ECO Recycling Center and its endowment with sewing equipment, for the prevention of the Covid-19 pandemic; creation of the ECO Educational Center for children. Today the village of Festelita with the population of 3 000 people has the status of the 1st energy intelligent village in Moldova inspiring other local public authorities on how to address energy security, energy saving, energy efficiency and CO2 reduction challenges.  

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      Mayor of Skopje

      North Macedonia

      Danela Arsovska

      Danela Arsovska was elected Mayor of Skopje in 2021, as an independent candidate. She holds a bachelor's degree in Law at the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University and an executive education from the University of Oxford and University of Sheffield. Arsovska holds a range of academic and consulting national and international positions, and has lectured on development topics at universities and conferences.


      In 2014 Arsovska was elected as President of the Macedonian Chambers of Commerce, the union of national chambers of commerce where she chaired until she was elected Mayor. She was appointed Chair of the Macedonian Union of Employers’ Organizations in 2015. On national level Arsovska was Representative in the Assembly in the National Council for European Integration since 2016. She was also the Macedonian representative in the International Chamber of Commerce ICC and served two consecutive terms as elected General Council Member in the World Chambers Federation.


      Danela Arsovska holds several high-level positions in international intergovernmental organizations and a range of expert positions. She has served on the Panel at The World Bank ICSID in Washington, USA since 2016. In 2017 she was appointed as Court Member at the OSCE Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in Geneva, Switzerland and is also Court Member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands.


      In recognition to her work in 2018 the World Business Angels Investment Forum awarded Arsovska as “Best Business Woman Role Model of South East Europe”. In 2019 at the 6th Entrepreneurs Summit of Central and Southeast Europe, she was awarded with the Recognition for her special contribution to entrepreneurship development.

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      Strategic Learning Lead at EIT Climate-KIC

      Nikhil Chaudhary

      Nikhil is a sustainable urban development and climate policy professional and serves as the Strategic Learning Lead at EIT Climate-KIC. He is currently supporting the NetZeroCities initiative to co-design and implement the EU's Climate Cities Mission to enable 112 ambitious cities achieve their 2030 climate-neutrality goals -- through climate action planning, 'systems innovation' portfolios and pilot projects. His role is situated at the intersection of strategic learning and sense-making processes, local economic development planning, impact design, Monitoring Evaluation & Learning (MEL), policy & governance innovation, and systemic transition practices for cities.

      His past experience includes climate policy research, technical advisory, knowledge management, capacity building for multilateral sustainable development programmes by the UN-Habitat, UNEP, WRI, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the World Bank. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture and a Master's in Urban Design & Spatial Planning from India, and a Master of Public Policy from Germany, with a specialisation in climate and innovation policies.

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      Professor at the Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

      Torben Juul Andersen

      Torben Juul Andersen is Professor of Strategy and International Management and Director of the Global Strategic Responsiveness Initiative, Department of International Economics, Government and Business at the Copenhagen Business School, Denmark.

      He also Chairs the Supervisory Board of the Chôra Foundation, Haarlem, Netherlands.

      Torben has previously taught strategy and financial economics at George Mason University and Johns Hopkins University. Before entering academia, he held executive positions with Citibank, N.A., Citicorp Investment Bank Ltd, and Unibank A/S. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Risk Management (IRM) and holds an MSc. Economic (cand. polit.) degree from the University of Copenhagen, an MBA from McGill University, and a PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


      Torben has written numerous academic articles in prime international journals and books with leading publishers on strategic risk management and leadership issues.

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      Africa Regional Focal Point at the Urban Biodiversity Hub and co-leads the NATURA Network Africa Regional Team for the Global Urban NBS Roadmap

      Eric Hubbard

      Eric HUBBARD serves as the Africa Regional Focal Point at the Urban Biodiversity Hub and co-leads the NATURA Network Africa Regional Team for the Global Urban NBS Roadmap. He is based in Sierra Leone and South Africa.


      Since 2019 Eric has served as Senior Advisor / Consultant to the Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone and the Freetown City Council. This support included serving as Technical Advisor for the design and implementation of the #FreetownTheTreeTown campaign to plant, grow and digitally track one million urban trees in the city through a community tree growing model co-designed to address urban climate risk and biodiversity loss, create green jobs, as well as, to structure a process to scale the #TreeTown model other cities in Africa to adopt an ecosystem-based approach to equitable and sustainable locally-led adaptation tied to valuing green and blue natural capital for long-term financing of adaptation through the carbon market.

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      General Director of Bilbao Metropoli-30

      Idoia Postigo Fuentes

      She has 30 years of international experience in urban planning strategies.


      Almost since the creation of the Association for the Revitalization of Metropolitan Bilbao (Bilbao Metropoli-30) in 1991, she has been responsible, among other actions, of promoting and disseminating the Revitalisation Plan of Metropolitan Bilbao and the strategic actions included in it. Her job has contributed to place the Associtation as reference point for the main actors responsible for the urban development of the metropolis, especially public institutions and citizenship. 


      Given that interpersonal relationships are of fundamental importance in her professional performance, she also teaches training modules on Emotional Intelligence, Social Skills, Team Management and Motivation, thus using her skills acquired throughout her professional career and her extensive training on these topics. She is an active member of several societies and networks: ADYPE, Advisory Council of the Urban Agenda at Euskadi-Bultzatu 2050, Bilbao-Bizkaia Action Group, Board Member of the Bilbao Bizkaia Design Council-BiDC, Bilbao Convention Bureau, Bilbao Port Community UNIPORT, INNOBASQUE, the Basque Studies Society-Eusko Ikaskuntza, The International Network for Urban Development INTA and the Governing Council of UN Etxea - UNESCO Center of the Basque Country, among others.

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      Assosiate Director, ARUP

      Pasquale Capizzi

      He is the lead of Resilience and Adaptation Services for Arup’s Europe Region with over 20 years of experience developing climate and urban development programmes in Asia, Africa and Latin America where he has designed and managed more than 40 urban resilience and climate adaptation programmes.


      At Arup, he leads the Climate Change focus area of International Development and deliver advisory services to climate urban projects (e.g. US$100M World Bank in Ghana, US$240M ADB in Myanmar; £60M in Peru); urban climate resilience planning support (e.g. Urban Resilience Roadmap for Zimbabwe for UNDP and Unicef; City Action Plans and Armenia & Georgia Resilience Roadmap for the World Bank). He also leads action-oriented publications for development actors (E.g global guidelines for investment in infrastructure of the GCF; sustainable infrastructure for WWF and GIZ). He regularly leads the development of change methodologies on urban climate change and contributes to global publications (e.g. Global Guidelines for Integrating Urban into NDCs, October 2020). Before joining Arup he worked for 15 years with the UN, 10 of which with UN-Habitatas Chief Technical Advisor and Head of Country Programme.


      In this role, he led the development the national climate change policies and strategies; and supervised the implementation of adaptation projects (green and hard infrastructure). As programme manager he delivered 40+ projects with or for the UN (eg UN-Habitat, UNEP, Unicef, UNDP, UNEP), bi/multi-lateral bodies (eg EU, ECHO, DFID, GIZ), development banks ( e.g. ADB, WB), trust-funds, private foundations and networks (e.g. HSTF, C40, Basf), NGOs (e.g. WWF). He led multiple country offices and large programmes with more than 70 professionals. He supervised mitigation and adaptation developments includings nature-based, hybrid and grey infrastructure (e.g. coastal buffering through Mangrove restoration; cyclone-shelters); low-carbon and sustainable services (e.g. biogas plants); and economic development (e.g. recycling plants)

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      Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia

      Mzia Giorgobiani

      Mzia Giorgobiani has many-years experience of working in managerial positions in public sector.

      During her experience in the Ministry of Finance she went through different career stages from the position of the Advisor of Humanitarian and Technical Assistance Department to the Deputy Head of State and Foreign Funding Department, where she was coordinating development of cooperation strategy with international partners, as well as implementation of obligations under Association Agreement Between Georgia and EU; she worked at international finance institutions and in investments projects, funded by the partners of Georgian public sector, participated in annual and intermediate budget planning. At the early stage of her career, she worked at “Sakteleponmsheni” (JSC) as an accountant.

      Mrs. Mzia has the experience of working with international finance institutions.

      She was the participant of Voice Secondment Program in the World Bank. Her competences included analysis of experience of global projects of the Bank, awareness rising concerning activities, products and procedures of the World Bank. Prior to appointment in the position of Deputy Minister, he held the position of Deputy Head of Department of the State Debt and Foreign Funding of the Ministry of Finance of Georgia.


        Team Leader

        Economic Development, Connectivity and the Green Transition in Eastern Partnership countries

        Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), European Commmission

        Gérald Audaz

        Mr Gérald Audaz is a development cooperation professional with over 15 years of experience. He started his professional life working for civil society organisations with a strong focus on industrial relations.


        He joined the European Commission in 2008. He worked 10 years in the EU Southern Neighbourhood were he was Team Leader responsible for EU bilateral cooperation with Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. He started as a Team Leader in charge of EU cooperation with Eastern Partnership countries in 2022 where he now oversees EU regional cooperation in the fields of economic development, connectivity and digital and green transitions. He also served in two EU country offices in Sierra Leone and Tunisia. 

        During his career he developed a strong expertise in the fields of Public Financial Management, support to the private sector and trade integration. He holds a Master degree in Political Science and recently graduated in Corporate Finance and SME financing.

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        Senior Banker


        Tea Melikadze

        Tea Melikadze has more than 15 years of experience of working in the infrastructure and energy sectors, for both the public and private sectors. She is an Associate Director in EBRD’s Sustainable Infrastructure Group. Tea is in charge of project development and portfolio management for various infrastructure sub-sectors.  

        Tea was one of the originators of the EBRD Green Cities, which offers more than € 5 billion of EBRD and donor support to cities in the EBRD region to address their most pressing environmental challenges through targeted investment, policy actions and capacity building. 




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        Sector lead for Sustainable Urban Finance, member of the Operations & Strategy Group of the Bankers without Boundaries

        Asen Charliyski

        Asen brings diverse experience in project and corporate finance and financial markets from working over a decade in the City of London.


        Over the past few years Asen has been involved in fund management of publicly funded and privately financed energy efficiency facilities and is now mentoring several European cities and start-ups in their financing strategy towards sustainable development.

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        Urbanist CoFounder

        SPIN Unit and UrbanistAI

        Damiano Cerrone

        Damiano Cerrone is an urbanist, researcher and educator. He cofounded SPIN Unit, an urban research and innovation practice; and UrbanistAI, a participatory design platform to reimagine the future of our cities.


        His practice focuses on urban research and policy design for the public sector.


        Cerrone is also affiliated with and teaches at several academic institution in Finland and abroad.

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        Director, Agirre Lehendakaria Center for Social and Political Studies

        Gorka Espiau 

        Gorka Espiau Idoiaga (PhD) is the Director at the “Agirre Lehendakaria Center for Social and Political Studies”, a University of the Basque Country and Columbia University (AC4) collaborative research initiative to share the Basque case of socio-economic transformation under extreme difficulties internationally.

        Espiau is also a founding partner of Social Innovation Laboratory Koop (SILK) and Scientific Director of  Work4Progress initiative powered by La Caixa Foundation.

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        Project Manager, Financial Analyst
        Fondazione MeSSInA

        Giacomo Pinaffo

        Giacomo Pinaffo holds a degree in Business Economics and a Master's in Economics of Local Development.


        He has focused his entire career of study and work on the social economy sector and was project manager for the European Federation of Ethical and Alternative Banks and its financial instrument, investing in several social enterprises throughout Europe.


        He was also Impact Manager at SEFEA IMPACT (Asset Management Company dedicated to impact investing strategies).

        Since the beginning of 2020 he joined the MeSSInA Foundation, where he currently manages international networking and projects.

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        Executive Director


        Adrian Brown

        Adrian is the Executive Director of the Centre for Public Impact which he helped to found in 2015. He is a regular commentator on public policy and government effectiveness and has 20 years experience working with governments, NGOs and social sector organisations around the world.


        Prior to CPI, Adrian was a Principal in the London office of the Boston Consulting Group where he specialised in a range of topics including commissioning strategies, organisational design, cost reduction and digital transformation. He is a global expert on impact investing and is the author of several influential reports on the topic including The First Billion, a forecast of social investment demand in the UK.


        Adrian previously held a range of positions in the UK government, including stints at the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit, the Strategy Unit and as a policy adviser in the Prime Minister's Office.

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        Regional Orchestrator

        M4EG, UNDP IRH

        Tina Stoum

        Tina Stoum has a 15-year career in development, with a decade dedicated to the United Nations including roles within IOM, UN Resident Coordinator’s Office, and UNDP. She's navigated diverse development landscapes, from judiciary xsystems and rule of law to migration, biodiversity, and women’s empowerment. She is passionate about international solidarity and making our societies greener and more inclusive. Tina's UNDP contributions span from Kenya and Turkey to China and the UN HQ in New York.

        Currently, Tina spearheads the transformative EU & UNDP partnership "Mayors for Economic Growth Facility", focusing on urban transformation in the Eastern Partnership nations. Her educational background features an MA in Public International Law from Costa Rica and another MA in Culture Theory and Gender Studies from Norway.

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        Trostyanets, Ukraine

        Yuriy Bova

        Yuriy Bova has been elected as the mayor of Trostyanets six times in a row (2005, 2006, 2010, 2015, 2017, 2020). He possesses extensive experience in local self-government.

        Since March 2000, he has been the founder, chairman, and since 2005, the honorary president of the public organization "Union of Entrepreneurs of Trostyanets region."


        Yuriy Bova is also the founder of the Trostyanets district charitable foundation "Dobrota". In 2016, he became the Vice President of the "Mayors Club." In 2019, he was elected as the president of the "Association of Open Cities" and also serves as the president of the Federation of athletics of Sumy region. Yuriy Bova is a member of the board of the "Energy Efficient Cities of Ukraine Association."

        During Yuriy Bova's tenure as mayor, the city has received 12 awards in the "Best practices of local self-government" competition held by the ministry of regional development, construction, and housing and communal services of Ukraine with the support of the Council of Europe since 2012.

        Under his leadership, Trostyanets has implemented numerous projects in the fields of healthcare, education, culture, sports, and tourism.

        Yuriy Bova also has experience in rebuilding damaged and destroyed community infrastructure resulting from Russian Federation's invasion of Ukraine.

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        Artcor Creative Industries Center

        Viorica Cerbusca

        Viorica Cerbusca is a visionary entrepreneur and a prominent figure in the Moldovan startup ecosystem. With an extensive background in entrepreneurship, business development, and advocacy, she has made significant contributions to the growth and empowerment of startups and small businesses in Moldova. 


        Viorica is the driving force behind the Artcor Creative Industries Center and the Founder & CEO of Yep!Moldova, a startup accelerator established in January 2018. Her leadership has been instrumental in nurturing early-stage startups and fostering a culture of entrepreneurship in Moldova. Yep!Moldova's mission is to inspire and cultivate a new generation of entrepreneurs by promoting entrepreneurial learning and providing valuable tools to turn dreams into successful startups. 


        For two decades, Viorica has been the visionary founder of NIKA Generation, an organization dedicated to empowering entrepreneurs and transforming innovative ideas into thriving businesses. NIKA Generation's approach focuses on accelerating the entrepreneurial ecosystem through Networking, Investments, Knowledge, and Advocacy (N-I-K-A).

        Viorica and her team are committed to promoting the concept of responsible business among SMEs, startups, government bodies, and the community.

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        Team Leader

        Innovation, UNDP Europe and Central Asia.

        Lejla Sadiku

        Lejla is the Team Leader for Innovation at UNDP Europe and Central Asia. She works on deploying system transformation frameworks to address complex development challenges.


        Her interests lie in how policy makers can embrace uncertainty and effectively deploy new approaches.


        Prior to UNDP, she worked with Norwegian development assistance and the World Bank in the area of human development.

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        Mission Lead

        Dm Capital

        Dark Matter Labs

        Raj Kalia

        Raj is Mission Lead of Dm Capital at Dark Matter Labs, and works across different sectors and cities to develop the financial instruments and mechanisms that are needed to build the novel infrastructures required for our cities in the 21st century. His work includes the valuation of analysis of natural capital.


        With 25+ years of international experience in senior capital markets and asset management roles at global banks, Raj managed over $8.0bn in structured finance securitisations and derivatives.


        He developed new markets and structured financing and indexed instruments for hedge fund strategies.


        At Deutsche Bank in New York and London, he helped build the bank's hedge fund financing / origination as European head of Structured Funds & Derivatives Group, in Frankfurt as head of FI Risk Advisory Group.


        At WestLB, he led the bank's balance sheet hedge fund investment group and CLO securitisations.

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        Ceadîr-Lunga, Moldova

        Anatolii Topal

        Anatolii Topal, the Mayor of Ceadîr-Lunga, is a visionary leader at the forefront of driving sustainable urban development in Moldova. His unwavering commitment to transitioning his city to renewable energy sources and fostering energy independence has been exemplified through his pioneering role in the Portfolio Project.


        Mayor Topal's leadership is characterized by his embrace of innovative strategies to tackle complex challenges. His advocacy for a portfolio approach to urban sustainability has transformed Ceadîr-Lunga into a beacon of green energy adoption and efficiency. Under his guidance, the municipality has harnessed the power of multifaceted initiatives, demonstrating the capacity to address a myriad of urban sustainability issues concurrently.


        An advocate for partnerships and resource mobilization, Mayor Topal has forged collaborations with organizations like the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the European Union (EU). These partnerships have enabled the municipality to access critical funding and expertise, further augmenting their capacity to drive change.

        Furthermore, Anatolii Topal's leadership has ushered in a transformative shift in mindsets within Ceadîr-Lunga. His dedication to community engagement and participatory decision-making has empowered citizens and organizations to actively participate in the city's sustainable energy transition. Through his vision and guidance, the city has embarked on a journey of shared ownership, elevated awareness, and sustainable behavior change.

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        Expert in the field of infrastructure and urban development

        Emma Baghdasaryan

        Emma Baghdasaryan manages the planning, scoping and early stages of implementation of all Gyumri portfolio projects together with both state and international (USAID, TUF) organizations, acting as the main contact person for the local authorities and the organizations implementing the city development program.


        She has led a team of urban planners, architects and designers in “Kumayri Revival” historical restoration project. Coordinator of the main activities of investment projects in Gyumri, of restoration and operation of green zones.

        Emma has experience in resource management and flexibility in working with local self-governance bodies, which gives her the opportunity to involve new partners.


        Emma previously worked in the Shirak Regional Government as an assistant to the Regional governor and coordinated the fields of urban development, culture and tourism.


          Visualisation lead


          Cara Stewart

          Positioning herself at the intersections of systems innovation and visual design, Cara brings a deep interest in the role of space, visual abstraction, and representation to inform strategic and trans-contextual design efforts.


          She has designed and facilitated workshops and led the conceptualisation and development process of CHÔRA’s Sensemaking Kit.


          As CHÔRA’s visualisation lead, Cara designs and contributes to developing multi-dimensional social system models and user-friendly collaboration tools to facilitate projects and programs across the tourism, cities and development space.

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          Sarajevo Film Festival

          Ines Radić

          Ines Radić was student of production at Academy of Performing Arts – Sarajevo. Troughout her education she produced 5 student films. She just finished her documentary graduation film ”MLADA”.


          Ines was a member of the Association of Students of Academy of Performing Arts, where she worked as line producer of the student theater festival – POSTFEST. From 2020 to 2021 she worked on podcast POSTCAST. For the third year in a row she has been working at Ponta Lopud festival as coordinator for the DOP Masterclass.


          From 2020 to the end of 2022 she worked as the manager of the Cineplexx Mostar. Ines is currently working as a producer on the series ”OJUŽILO” with director Bobo Jelčić. In 2018, Ines worked at the Sarajevo Film Festival as an assistant in Avant Premiere programme and project Sunny Side of the Federation. From 2020 to 2022 Ines was coordinator of the Sarajevo Film Festival in Mostar. She is currently project manager of Sarajevo city of film – UNESCO project and she works on various projects related to Obala Art Centar as Open Air Programme Coordinator and Location Manager during the festival.

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          Director, Chief of Staff


          Neil Khor

          Neil Khor is Chief of Staff at the Office of Executive Director of UN-Habitat. Before joining the United Nations, he was Chief of Operations at Think City, a subsidiary of Khazanah Nasional, the investment holding arm of the Malaysian Government.

          Neil is a social historian with a special interest in how citizens make their towns and cities. He started working for the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) in April 2019 as the Special Advisor to the Executive Director. In 2020, he was the Officer-in-Charge of the Office of the Executive Director, with oversight duties in the UN-Habitat Covid-19 programme. Since April 2021, he is Chief of Staff at interim of the Programme with special duties including oversight of the Project Review Working Group and the Cities Investment Facility.

          Neil was formerly Chief Operating Officer of Think City, an urban regeneration agency set up by Khazanah Nasional, the investment holding arm of the Malaysian Government. Before Neil was also a journalist with Star Publications, Malaysia's largest English daily, where he got involved in political analysis, heritage-making and civil society activities.

          He is also a published author, having written some 10 books, ranging from Straits Chinese cuisine to his latest, Towns of Malaya: A Visual Urban History of the Malay Peninsula (Editions Didier Millet). Neil holds a PhD in English from the University of Cambridge.

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          Strategic Designer at UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub Innovation Team

          Elina Järvelä

          Elina Järvelä is Strategic Designer at UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub Innovation Team and currently coordinates a strategic innovation practice around portfolio design and management for UNDP country offices and partners aiming for transformative change in the region of Europe and Central Asia.


          She holds a MSc in Environmental Sciences and has over 15 years of experience in international development covering environment, systems innovation, and innovative financing. In the past she has worked for local and national governments and for the Innovation Fund Sitra in Finland. 

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          Director of Melbourne School of Design

          Dan Hill

          Dan Hill is Director of Melbourne School of Design, the graduate school in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne, and Professor of the Built Environment.


          He was formerly Director of Strategic Design at Vinnova, the Swedish government’s innovation agency. A designer and urbanist, Dan's previous leadership roles include Vinnova in Stockholm, Arup in Sydney and London, the Finnish innovation fund SITRA in Helsinki, Fabrica in Italy, and the Future Cities Catapult and the BBC in London.


          Dan is also a Professor at UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Practice and founder member of the Council on Urban Initiatives, a joint venture between UN HABITAT, LSE and UCL. His books include 'Dark Matter & Trojan Horses: A Strategic Design Playbook' (2012) and 'Designing Missions' (2022).

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            Climate and Cities Technical Specialist, UN-Habitat & UNDP

            James Vener

            As Climate and Cities Technical Specialist jointly with UNDP and UN-Habitat, Mr. Vener contributes to corporate efforts to step up efforts and formalize more urban-leaning national climate policy with a spotlight on opportunities for inter-Agency collaboration.  His work builds upon the UNDP Climate Promise – the world’s largest offer of support to developing countries on nationally determined contribution or NDC enhancement and implementation, supporting 120+ countries to increase climate mitigation and adaptation ambition – UN-Habitat Climate Change and Urban Environment Sub-Programme, the focal point for all urbanization and human settlement matters within the UN system. 


            Mr. Vener serves as advisor on urban climate issues, water and waste management, sustainable energy, and long-term strategic (LTS) planning with published work on LTS, urban content of NDCs, forestry in carbon markets, and localization of climate policy.


            Previously with the UNEP energy unit, Mr. Vener managed efforts to provide entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa jump-start finance and technical assistance to participate in carbon markets, and supported solar market development in Indonesia.  James began his career working 10 years as an environmental engineer as a private sector consultant – conducting construction management, environmental due diligence contributing to property transfers, and remediation of contaminated sites.  James holds a Master of Environmental Engineering and Master of Public Administration from University of Florida and Columbia University, respectively.

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            Deputy Project Director, EU4Moldova: Startup City Cahul, Moldovan Association of ICT Companies

            Rodica Negru

            Dynamic Project Lead driven by an unwavering passion for advancing her hometown's digitization and development. With a fervent belief that even the smallest towns can become frontrunners in progress, she has dedicated herself to transforming her community through innovation and sustainable growth by joining the EU4Moldova: Startup City Cahul project, part of the EU4Digital initiative.

            Rodica Negru has been at the forefront of projects aimed at digitizing various aspects of her town's development pathway, fostering a digital economy, and enhancing the region's competitiveness and investment environment. Her visionary leadership is defined by an unwavering commitment to proving that small towns hold immense potential to excel in the digital age, provided that the society is well- equipped with all the essential skills demanded by the current labor market along with improved access to digital solutions.


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            Inspector, Municipality of Brvenica, North Macedonia

            Jakup Huseini

            Jakup Huseini currently serves as Inspector in the Municipality of Brvenica. He was born on December 28, 1986, and pursued higher education at  State University of Tetovo. He holds a MA degree in Civil Law from the State University of Tetovo.

            Jakup also worked in the Municipality of Brvenica as a coordinator in aligning the local public sector with the business sector and several years of experience in the private sector, he used for reducing the gap between them. Currently Jakup also is a Member of the Resilient Polog Network, an advisory stakeholders mechanism that was established within the Polog project.

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            Head of Economic Development, Local Self-Government Property, and Transport Management Service at Kutaisi City Hall, Georgia

            Tinatin Berishvili

            Tinatin Berishvili serves as the Head of Economic Development, Local Self-Government Property, and Transport Management Service at Kutaisi City Hall. With a decade of experience in public service, she specializes in financial management and is a graduate of the ACCA international program. Tinatin has also acted as a financial manager for various projects funded by the European Union.


              Co-founder, Global Innovation Dojo

              Colin Donohue

              Colin Donohue has been in startups & entrepreneurship for over 20 years with expertise in business strategy, marketing, founder development, and building startup networks & community.


              His approach focuses on participatory development for startup ecosystem development and has led one of the more successful early startup ecosystem development processes in Georgia. His focus has been developing private-sector networks and learning systems to drive both knowledge transfer and active peer support.


              He has trained, mentored and/or coached founders in several countries, conducting startup support projects for Tech Growth Ohio, Rev1 Ventures, Ohio University Innovation Center, Georgia’s Innovation & Technology Agency, USAID, US Embassy, and others.


              He has organized over 100 events in Georgia including 2019 Startup Grind Europe-Asia Connect with 2000 participants and the online version in 2020 with 3200 participants and was responsible for making Tbilisi the top chapter in Startup Grind’s 600 chapter network in 2019. But, he most loves working with founders to help them develop and blossom.


              His work in Georgia has spanned scales and capacities from international conferences drawing Silicon Valley experts to hyper-local projects with small municipalities such as Gori and Akhaltsikhe.


              His new project, Global Innovation Dojo is being launched in partnership with Ken Singer, head of the SCET entrepreneurship center at UC Berkeley and Chris Burry, founder of US Market Access Center who has worked in 75 countries with over 3000 founders who have created $25B in enterprise value.


              Global Innovation Dojo draws on world-class research, experience, and development theory to create a next generation of global best-in-class startup development tools for governments, donors, and venture funds.

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              Hilton Batumi,
              40 Rustaveli Ave, Batumi 6010


              Useful city tips



              There are several options to get from the Batumi International Airport (BUS) to the meeting venue.



              ❖ Piazza Batumi 

              Batumi Botanical Garden 

              and more

              ❖ Mtirala National Park


              General information

              Time, wheather, currency, etc.






              The Mayors for Economic Growth Facility (M4EG), a joint initiative of the EU & UNDP, supports local authorities and communities to develop new growth trajectories. The regional network of local authorities has increased to more than 400 diverse members with a clear interest to engage and be frontrunners in new solution pathways. Over 120 local authorities applied to join the Portfolio Journey, that supports cities in achieving their vision, and over 180 local authorities in the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine requested support for urban response and renewal. 

              Registration form


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