Prof Edgar Pieterse

Director, African Centre for Cities

Professor Edgar Pieterse is founding director of the African Centre for Cities (ACC) at the University of Cape Town. His research and teaching gravitate around urban development politics, everyday culture, publics, radical social economies, responsive design and adaptive governance systems. He publishes different kinds of text, curates’ exhibitions and difficult conversations about pressing urban problems. He is consulting editor for Cityscapes—an international occasional magazine on urbanism in the global South. His books, City Futures (Zed, 2008) and New Urban Worlds (Polity, 2017) are regarded as key reference points for both theoretical and applied discourses on cities in Africa and the global South more broadly. Between the appearance of these two books, he co-edited a further six books during the last decade, dealing with a wide-ranging set of topics related to contemporary urbanism and place-making.

David Maddox

Director, The Nature of Cities

David loves urban spaces and nature. He loves creativity and collaboration. He loves theatre and music. In his life and work he has practiced in all of these. He is committed to the creation of sustainable, resilient, livable, and just cities. After a PhD in ecology and statistics at Cornell he spent 10 years with The Nature Conservancy working on climate change and stewardship, leaving in 1995 to work in theatre and the arts. In 2012, David founded The Nature of Cities and remains its Executive Director. TNOC is a transdisciplinary essay and discussion site—with 700+ writers from around the world, from scientists to activists, designers to artists—on cities as ecosystems of people, experience, nature, and infrastructure. He is also a composer, musician, playwright, and theatre artist. He lives in New York City.

Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr

Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone

Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr OBE was sworn in May 2018 with a commitment to transform Freetown using an inclusive, data-driven approach to address challenges in the city. The 3-year Transform Freetown plan details 19 concrete targets across 11 sectors and covers issues ranging from tackling environmental degradationto facilitating the creation of jobs in the tourism sector. Afinance professional with over 25 years of private sector experience in strategic planning, risk management consulting and project management, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr’s public sector engagement began with her work during the 2014- 2015 Ebola epidemic and her subsequent role as Delivery Team Lead for the second phase of a multi-stakeholder programme to drive socio-economic recovery in Sierra Leone post Ebola.Mayor Aki-Sawyerr is a Chartered Accountant and holds an MSc in Politics of the World Economy from the London School of Economics and a BSc Hons in Economics from Fourah Bay College.

Gil (Guillermo) Penalosa, MBA, PhDhc, CSP

8 80 Cities Founder & Chair
World Urban Parks Ambassador
Gil Penalosa & Assoc. President

Gil Penalosa is passionate about creating vibrant and healthy cities for all people. Because of his unique blend of experience, pragmatism and passion, cities and organizations worldwide have invited him to work in over 350 different cities in all continents.
Gil is the founder and chair of the internationally recognized Canadian non-profit organization 8 80 Cities. He is also first Ambassador of World Urban Parks.
Before immigrating to Canada, Gil was Commissioner in Bogota where he led the construction of over 200 parks and development of new Ciclovia which has turned into the world’s largest temporary park and where each Sunday 1 of 4 citizens walk, run, bike, and enjoy each others company. He holds an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, where he recently was selected as one of the “100 Most Inspirational Alumni” in the school’s history. Gil
received a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the Faculty of Urban Planning at the prominent University in Sweden, SLU. Last year Gil was listed in Planetizen’s Top 100 Most Influential Urbanists and recently received in Australia the World Urban Parks Annual Distinguished Individual Award.

Prof Davis Mwamfupe

Mayor of Dodoma, the Capital City of The United Republic of Tanzania

Davis George Mwamfupe is Mayor of Dodoma, the Capital City of The United Republic of Tanzania. He is a member of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi Political Party,the dominant ruling party in Tanzania, and a professor at Dodoma University. He also served at the University of Dar es Salaam from 2005 to 2008.

Kobie Brand

Regional Director: ICLEI Africa, Global Director: ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center

Kobie has more than 25 years of practical and managerial experience in Environmental Management and Urban Development. Her expertise range from biodiversity, climate change, coastal management to urban sustainability and planning. She is responsible for the strategic direction, growth, partnerships, programmes and scope of work for ICLEI in Africa. Kobie is also Global Director for ICLEI’s Biodiversity and Nature-based solutions work, and in this capacity heads up the Cities Biodiversity Center embedded in ICLEI Africa.

Dr Geci Karuri-Sebina

Associate, South African Cities Network
Visiting Fellow, Wits School of Governance

Dr Geci Karuri-Sebina is an Associate with South African Cities Network, a peer-based learning network of South Africa’s largest cities, and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Wits School of Governance. Her experience and interests particularly relate to cities, socio-technical systems and
the future. Geci holds a PhD in planning and innovation systems (Wits University, Johannesburg), Masters’ degrees in Architecture and in Urban Planning (UCLA, California), and undergraduate degrees in Computer Science and Sociology. Geci has worked with various government and science
council programmes in South Africa over the past two decades, including National Treasury, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). She also serves in numerous public-good development formations including the Boards of
AfricaLics, the Johannesburg Development Agency – JDA, and PlanAct NGO, and is National Organiser of the Civic Tech Innovation Network.

Murielle Diaco

Murielle is the founder and CEO of DJOUMAN (www.djouman.com), one of the leading platform catalyzing innovation for sustainability in Africa. With a background in computer science and engineering, she worked for more than 6 years in the financial industry. In 2013, she decided to engage more actively in sustainable development in Africa. Coming from Cote d’Ivoire, she really wanted her work to impact positively the continent. She decided to undertake a MBA, following which she turned to entrepreneurship. In January 2016, she launched platform DJOUMAN which goal is to provide effective means to the people who are building tomorrow’s Africa to grow their projects. The platform works with innovative start-ups and SMEs to help them transform their potential into success. She facilitates connection with the right experts, business partners and investors. DJOUMAN is involved in projects in renewable energies, waste management, sustainable agriculture but also health and education.
Today, the platform counts more than 2000 members primarily located in western and central Africa.

Lorenzo Fioramonti

Lorenzo Fioramonti is Full Professor of Political Economy at the University of Pretoria and a world-renowned expert in wellbeing-based development models. Until December 2019, he was Minister of Education, University and Research in Italy, where he introduced mandatory classes about sustainable development and climate change in all schools and universities.


Nachi Majoe

With 10 years’ experience in local government research, policy and practice, Nachi Majoe is a development practitioner currently working at ICLEI Africa, were she occupies a dual role – Manager: Strategic Alliances and Senior Professional Officer: Climate Change, Energy & Resilience. She holds a Masters in International Planning and Sustainable Development (Urban Resilience) from the University of Westminster, United Kingdom and a Masters in Public Management and Governance from the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. Nachi’s areas of expertise are integrated development planning, capacity building and facilitation, stakeholder management and project management.

Jehan Bhikoo

Jehan has extensive experience in public sector healthcare design development and infrastructure delivery. With a deep understanding of the correlation between environmental issues and public health, and the importance of good planning, urban development and policy she pursued a Masters in Environment and Sustainable Development from University College London (UCL). Positioned within the urban systems team at ICLEI Africa, Jehan enjoys exploring a range of areas from mobility to circular development.

Paul Currie

Paul Currie completed his MPhil in Sustainable Development, Cum Laude, at Stellenbosch University in 2015 and is busy with his PhD at the same university. Paul’s expertise is urban dynamics and cities process flows of resources, people and information to improve sustainability. He lived and studied in New York and worked as Research and Team Coordinator of the Urban Modelling and Metabolism Assessment Research Team, at Stellenbosch University, since 2016. Paul is passionate about finding creative approaches to the challenges that African cities face and works on several urban transition projects in ICLEI Africa.

Timothy Blatch

Timothy is an urban development professional with a background in the social sciences and a masters degree in city and regional planning. As a Professional Officer for ICLEI Africa and ICLEI’s global Cities Biodiversity Center, Tim is the global coordinator of the flagship partnership initiative, CitiesWithNature. Tim, an avid systems thinker, is interested in the nexus of humans, nature, and urban development in cities, specifically in the African context, and is passionate about nature conservation and advocacy at the local level.  Amongst other projects, Tim co-leads ICLEI’s work on the localisation of the Sustainable Development Goals, and offers urban development support to the range of ICLEI Africa’s projects.

Solophina Nekesa

Professional Officer: Urban Systems

Solophina is passionate about the sustainable built environment and its governance on the African continent. She has more than 3 years’ experience in the fields of green architecture and sustainable urban design. Her work focuses on building energy efficiency, envisioning low carbon lifestyle futures and urban food systems. Previously, she has worked with an architectural practice to plan off-grid sustainable communities and affordable net-zero energy buildings in Uganda.  As a sustainability consultant, she has worked on projects that seek to promote comprehensive sustainable practices at a company and sector level.

Solophina holds a Master of Architecture (Sustainable and energy Efficient Cities) Degree from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.