International Advisory Board

Colin Fudge

International Advisory Board Chair, Chalmers University, Organisation Committee Member

Colin Fudge, who is an architect and city planner, is Professor of Urban Futures and Design at Chalmers University, Sweden. He has been the President of RMIT University Europe and Vice President of RMIT University. Other current roles include Senior Adviser to the EU Climate KIC; Global advisor for the UN Global Compact: Cities Programme and for UN Habitat and as the King Carl Gustav XVI , Royal Professor of Environmental Science, Sweden. He has worked in universities in Europe and Australia and in government in the UK, Sweden, Australia and the European Commission.

Amongst his many other roles, he chaired the EU Urban Environment Expert Group, was the Founding Director of the WHO collaborative research centre on Healthy Cities and Urban Policy, and was a Commissioner for the UK Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, CABE. On research he has contributed on public policy formulation and implementation; the future of cities; sustainable development; public health; and urban design. He has also led major building, urban design and city transformation projects in London, Melbourne, Bath, and Bristol.

Chrisna du Plessis

Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Architecture, and Chair of the School for the Built Environment, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Chrisna du Plessis is Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Architecture, and Chair of the School for the Built Environment, University of Pretoria, South Africa. She holds graduate and post-graduate degrees in architecture and sustainable development from the University of Pretoria, a PhD from the University of Salford and an honorary doctorate from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. Prof du Plessis is Board Member, Chair of the Programme Committee and Leader of the Priority Theme Sustainable Construction of the International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction (CIB) and member of the International Standards Organisation working group on the resilience of buildings and civil engineering works. She has further served as a juror for the LafargeHolcim Foundation Sustainable Building Competition (MEA region, June 2011 & 2017) and European Solar Decathlon (2011 and 2014). With more than 20 years’ experience in sustainable human settlement development, both as practitioner and as researcher she has applied her focus on developing the principles and guiding frameworks for the practices of sustainable construction and human settlement development in a body of work that spanned the fields of housing, construction industry performance, urban/human settlement development and infrastructure design. Her current research concentrates on resilience and regenerative development and she recently published Designing for Hope: Pathways to regenerative sustainability outlining some of this thinking.

Ralph Horne

Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor, Research and Innovation for the College of Design and Social Context at RMIT University

Prof Ralph Horne is Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor, Research and Innovation for the College of Design and Social Context at RMIT University. He combines research leadership and participation in research projects concerning production and consumption in the urban environment. He is a geographer interested in urban sustainability, in particular, low carbon transitions in housing and households. The spatial, material and contingent social and governance structures at play are the main focus of his work. He has extensive experience of environmental techniques and sustainability appraisal and has a specific research interest in urban transitions, including socio-technical relations in the context of climate change and resource scarcity. He has led over 100 urban research projects, collaborating with researchers, cities, governments, and commercial organisations across all continents and including specifically studies of housing and development in Europe, Australasia, SE Asia and Latin America.

Ralph is immediate past Director of the Cities Programme, the urban arm of the United Nations Global Compact, which is the United Nations’ flagship corporate sustainability programme, with some 100 city signatories worldwide, committed to progressing the Sustainable Development Goals and the principles of the Global Compact. He has also held the positions of Director, Green Building Council of Australia and Council Member, Built Environment Industry Innovation Council, for the Commonwealth Government of Australia.

Esteban Leon

Chief, Risk Reduction Unit and Head – City Resilience Profiling Programme of UN-Habitat

Esteban Leon is the Chief, Risk Reduction Unit and Head – City Resilience Profiling Programme of UN-Habitat. He has a background in economics, finance, shelter/housing and settlements program design and management, capacity building, as well as building construction and reconstruction projects in post-crisis situations. He has worked in private sector (banking, microcredit and microfinance in Argentina and Bolivia), NGOs (slum upgrading, building constructions and reconstruction programmes in Bolivia and Kenya) and has been working for UN-Habitat Globally but based in Nairobi, Geneva, Panama and Barcelona.

Esteban was the UN-Habitat rep for the Humanitarian Inter-Agency Standing Committee IASC (WG, Global Shelter Cluster, Cluster Working Group on Early Recovery), former Chair of the IASC Reference Group on Meeting Humanitarian Challenges in Urban Areas (MHCUA), Chair of the Resilience Medellin Collaboration (Rockefeller Foundation, RC100, C40, World Bank, UN-ISDR), Agency focal point for the the Int. Recovery Platform. He’s also the UN-Habitat global Focal point for the UN-International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction. He’s developed, fundraised, initiated and managed projects on Disaster Management and Post conflict shelter/housing and settlements recovery in Angola, Mozambique, Kenya, Pakistan, Lebanon, Peru, Colombia, Georgia, Gaza, Haiti, El Salvador, Fiji &Samoa and lately Lebanon, Syria, Philippines and Ecuador while supporting UN-HABITAT in Somalia, Myanmar and Bangladesh operations. He is the Global Programme Manager of the “Making cities sustainable and resilient: Implementing the Sendai Framework for DRR 2015-2030 at the local level” joint programme EC DG DEVCO/UN-ISDR & UN-Habitat implementing the City Resilience Programme in Asuncion (Paraguay), Barcelona (Spain), Dakar (Senegal), Maputo (Mozambique), Port Vila (Vanuatu) and Yakutsk (Russia). Esteban is also de Chair of the UN-ISDR “Making Cities Resilient” Global Campaign Steering Committee.

Ron Wakefield

Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor International and Dean of the School of Property, Construction and Project Management at RMIT, Australia

Professor Wakefield is currently Professor of Construction, Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor International and Dean of the School of Property, Construction and Project Management at RMIT, Australia. Ron researches and teaches at RMIT in the areas of process simulation and modelling, residential and commercial construction and uses of information technology in construction management. He has degrees in Civil Engineering, including a PhD and BE (Hon 1) from the University of New South Wales and an MSE from Princeton University.

Prior to joining RMIT, Professor Wakefield was the William E. Jamerson Professor of Building Construction in the Department of Building Construction and the Associate Director for Building Technology Research at the Center for Housing Research, Virginia Tech. Ron has over 25 years’ experience as an international researcher, consultant and engineer in building construction. He is a Director of Launch Housing and JJR Consulting and a co-opted member of the Victorian Building Practitioners Board.

Yunus Arikan

Director of Global Advocacy, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability

Yunus leads ICLEI´s global advocacy towards United Nations and multilateral environmental agreements. He also led establishment of the Bonn Center for Local Climate Action and Reporting – carbonn Center–and served as the Director of the Secretariat for the World Mayors Council on Climate Change. Since 2009, he serves as the Focal Point of Local Governments and Municipal Authorities Constituency (LGMA) to the UNFCCC on behalf of ICLEI. He was graduated from TED Ankara College in 1990 and Middle East Technical University in 1994. Prior to joining ICLEI, as an environmental engineer, he was primarily been involved in waste management and cleaner production. He also took an active role in promotion of progressive climate change policies in Turkey and Central and Eastern Europe, specifically in Turkey´s involvement in the international climate process and access to the Kyoto Protocol in 2009.


Gino Van Begin

Gino Van Begin, Secretary General , ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability

Gino Van Begin is since 2013 Secretary General of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, the leading global network of more than 1,750 local and regional governments committed to building a sustainable future. Gino joined ICLEI in 2000, became the Regional Director for Europe in 2002 and Deputy Secretary General in 2007. Over his 19 years at ICLEI, he has consistently worked towards ensuring ICLEI’s quality as a not-for-profit, responsible and forward-looking local government organization, empowering its members around the world to implement sustainable solutions to the increasing amount of challenges which they are facing.
Gino Van Begin was born in Belgium and graduated from the University of Brussels as a lawyer. Before joining ICLEI, Gino worked in Russia for seven years as an advisor and as Team Leader at the EU-funded Environmental Centers for Administration and Technology in Kaliningrad and St. Petersburg. Prior to that, he worked in Brussels for five years at the European Commission, DG Environment.