Ernesto Ottone R

Assistant Director-General for Culture

Mr Ernesto Ottone R. is the Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO. Prior to this position, Mr Ottone R. served as Chile’s first Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage from 2015 to 2018. As Minister of Culture, he created a Department of First Peoples, a Migrants Unit and strengthened copyright laws and heritage protections. During this time, he also chaired the Regional Centre for the Promotion of Books in Latin America and the Caribbean (2016 – 2017).
From 2011 to 2015, Mr Ottone R. served as Director-General of the Artistic and Cultural Extension Center of the University of Chile, which manages the National Symphony Orchestra of Chile, the Chilean National Ballet (BANCH), the Chile Symphony Choir and the Vocal Camerata. From 2001 to 2010, he held the position of Executive Director at the Matucana 100 Cultural Center in Santiago.
Mr Ottone R. holds a Master’s degree in Management of Cultural Institutions and Policies from the University of Paris IX Dauphine (1998) and a Bachelor of Arts in theatre from the University of Chile (1995).

André Sobczak

Secretary-General of Eurocities

André Sobczak works to empower cities in EU decision making through Eurocities. He spent 20 years as a manager and impact-oriented academic, as well as serving two terms as Vice-President of the Nantes Metropolitan Area for European Affairs, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Employment. His positions in Audencia Business School have included Positive Impact Chair and Chief Executive for Corporate Social Responsibility, experience which he is harnessing to strengthen training activities and create strong ties with academia through a new Eurocities Academy. In local politics, he worked to coordinate the metropolitan area’s 24 mayors, as well as representing Nantes in Eurocities’ Executive Committee and as Chair of the network’s Economic Development Forum.
He has worked tirelessly to reinforce and communicate a virtuous circle between economic development and social and environmental goals. On the one hand, he has coached companies to improve their business plans and management to this end; On the other, he has spearheaded initiatives like #NegoTrainig, which gives women free training in wage negotiation, and ‘Fairwork,’ a monitor for working conditions in the platform economy. He leads with an approach of multi-level cooperation between the public sector, businesses and civil society for tangible positive impact.

The title for his keynote speech is: Better cities start with culture and creativity!
And he is not planning to show any slides.

Blair Stevenson

Professor, fundraiser and Team leader at the Research, development and innovation unit on digital businesses at the Oulu University of Applied Sciences

Blair Stevenson (PhD) is an educator, researcher and manager with a broad range of experience in education, culture and technology. With experience as a long-time teacher trainer and strategic advisor, he is currently the founding lead of the Centre for Arts Innovation at the Oulu University of Applied Sciences in Finland. Blair’s academic focus areas include work in creative industries entrepreneurship and innovation methodologies relating to arts and culture professional practice. He has previously held an adjunct professorship at the University of Toronto Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, as well as an adjunct position in the School of Creative Industries at Toronto Metropolitan University in Canada.

Carolina Lapa

Communication director of the municipal company Teatro Circo de Braga EM

Carolina Lapa is the communication director of the municipal company Teatro Circo de Braga EM, S.A., after coordinating the communication of Braga’s bid for the European Capital of Culture 2027 and Braga 25. She was also responsible for the communication of Braga Media Arts, UNESCO Creative City for Media Arts, from 2019 to 2021. Before this, Carolina ran the communication of the artistic project Comédias do Minho. She holds a degree in Communication Sciences from the University of Minho and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Communication, Art, and Culture at the same institution.

Denise Bax

Secretary of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network

Denise Bax, is the Secretary of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN), within the Culture Sector of UNESCO, where she heads the coordination of the UCCN and the UNESCO Cities Platform (UCP).
Over 20 years of experience at UNESCO, she has been involved in the promotion of culture and creativity through strengthening the international visibility of various cultural and creative programmes including the UCCN. Furthermore, her engagement and comprehensive outreach with various stakeholders of the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, and beyond, has supported the development and expansion of the Convention.
Ms Bax has developed and implemented several international cultural cooperation and development programmes and has managed a series of culture-driven initiatives in both the public and private sectors, notably towards the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and now the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals across the local, national and international levels. For many years, she headed the Crafts and Design Programme at UNESCO, during which she contributed to the development of related international cultural policies and frameworks, as well as a multitude of projects including various publications, workshops and international forums.

Hortense Assaga


Curious and passionate journalist. Hortense Assaga carries out her profession with rigor and seriousness, without forgetting a touch of good humor. It’s her signature. Indeed, interviewing, presenting, hosting, writing articles, speaking out, all these professions have no longer held any secrets for her for many years. It is out of her passion for information and above all for highlighting those who take action that she choose the path of journalism. After studying Law, Sociology and Communication in Paris, she worked for several medias: newspapers, radio and television. To her professional credit: 44 African countries visited – Numerous events (festivals, literary fairs, fashion shows, trade fairs) covered. Also in Europe and in America. Today, she also reports on current events as an author. Her book “Made in Africa – Inside my luggage” highlights African artcraft and artisanal know-how. She works for Africa24 – Canal+-Tropiques FM – Blacknews – and numerous magazines as freelance.

Joana Meneses Fernandes

Executive Administrator of the Municipal Company Teatro Circo of Braga

Joana Meneses Fernandes is the Executive Administrator the Municipal Company Teatro Circo of Braga, where she previously coordinated Braga’s bid for European Capital of Culture 2027. As a consultant specializing in the cultural and creative sector (2006-2017), she collaborated on Braga’s bid for UNESCO Creative City (2017). She co-authored the Macroeconomic Study of Creative Industries in the Northern Region (2007) and the Management Plan for Porto’s Historic Center World Heritage Site (2008). She holds a Master’s degree in Cultural Heritage Management (2009), with a dissertation on “Cultural Tourism in Porto’s Historic Center.”

Jordi Pascual

Coordinator of the Committee on Culture of the World Organisation of United Cities and Local Governments

Jordi Pascual is the Coordinator of the Committee on Culture of the World Organisation of United Cities and Local Governments. The work of the Committee is based on Culture 21 Actions, a complete cultural rights-based toolkit on culture in sustainable cities. Jordi is involved in the global campaign #culture2030goal that advocates for a Culture Goal in the SDGs. Jordi Pascual holds a PhD on cultural rights in sustainable development (University of Girona) and teaches cultural rights and globalization (Open University of Catalonia).

Justine Simons

OBE Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries and Founder and Chair of the World Cities Culture Forum

The architect for London’s cultural strategy, Justine Simons has driven cultural transformation for two decades. She has grown the creative economy and established major firsts – Creative Enterprise Zones, London Borough of Culture and the Fourth Plinth Commission. She led the capital’s biggest festival for the 2012 Olympic Games and oversees its legacy, East Bank, a £1.1 billion cultural district. An influential voice on the global stage, she founded the World Cities Culture Forum – the principal leadership network on culture and the future of cities.

Kazumi Ogawa

Principal Coordinator Officer for Europe at the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)

Kazumi Ogawa is the Principal Coordinator Officer for Europe at the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat). With 30 years of diverse United Nations experience, Ogawa has served the Organization in Europe, Central and Eastern Africa, and the United States. A career UN official, Ogawa has worked in the areas of development, peacekeeping, human rights, public information, and human resources. She was previously the Director of Human Resources of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and before that, served as Chief of Staff of UN-Habitat. Kazumi Ogawa holds a Master of Arts degree in East Asian Studies from the University of Hawaii (USA) as an East-West Center Scholar. She has a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication and Public Relations from Boston University (USA).

Lindsey Ricker

Strategic Programming Lead in the Strategy and Business Engagement Pillar, Center for Nature and Climate

At the World Economic Forum, Lindsey drives strategic programming and communications within the Centre for Nature and Climate. Before joining the Forum, Lindsey worked a policy analyst at the OECD, assessing the education, employment and skills outcomes of Indigenous People. Lindsey also worked at the Greek Delegation to UNESCO in Paris and the South African Human Rights Commission in Cape Town. Lindsey holds a MA in Human Rights and Humanitarian Action from Sciences Po and she obtained her BBA in Entrepreneurship at Belmont University.

Maria Alexandra Cunha

Researcher and Professor, School of Business Administration of São Paulo and Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná

Maria Alexandra Cunha is a professor at Fundação Getulio Vargas – FGV in São Paulo, Brazil. She leads the Technology and Government area at the Center for Public Administration and Government, implementing projects especially linked to innovation and technology in local governments: information technology for the public sector, digital inclusion, digital democracy, and innovative and smart cities. She is currently leading the application of the LOSI methodology (UNDESA) in Brazilian cities.

Maria Inês Afonso

Current Impact Officer at the Porto Hub of the Global Shapers. Law graduate from FDUP and newly admitted to the master’s program at the European Law School of Maastricht University. Passionately devoted to human rights, gender equality, and associationism. Works at a law firm in Porto, regularly handling cases related to labor law, commercial law, and family law. Throughout her academic journey, she led associations such as AEFDUP and ELSA U. Porto, where she had the opportunity to manage projects and teams, organize legal training events, and promote volunteer actions. Endlessly involved in social projects, she collaborates with non-profit organizations like REFOOD, Cuidadores, e Para Onde?, striving to combat food waste and social isolation while aiming to promote cooperation, dialogue, social transformation, and tolerance, respectively. Fascinated by the intricacies of European legal frameworks, she always seeks to better understand the process of policy formulation, implementation, and evaluation that promotes economic growth, social cohesion, and sustainable development. She has participated in various podcasts on student causes, a movement she has always been an avid advocate for. Fluent in multiple languages besides Portuguese, such as English and Spanish, she aspires to be a representative for youth in the construction of peaceful, sustainable, and just cities, where culture and creativity play a central role.

Ricardo Rio

Mayor of Braga

Ricardo Rio was born in November, 1972, he is married and father of three daughters. He was born in Braga and studied in Dublin College (elementary school), in the “Andre Soares” Middle School and in “Carlos Amarante” and “Alberto Sampaio” High Schools. He graduated in Economics at the Faculty of Economics of Porto, where he also completed the coursework of the MSc in Economics. He also completed the Advanced Course in Political Studies of the Institute of Political Studies at the Catholic University of Lisbon.
He was the General Secretary of the Portuguese Association of Financial Analysts and Director of the Capital Markets Institute of Euronext Lisbon. At the same time, he worked for several years as a public and business consultant, including in multiple Programmes of Porto Business School.
Throughout his career, he collaborated with various entities such as the following: North Regional Coordination and Development Committee (CCDRN); Portuguese Business Association (AEP); Training Institute for Trade, Tourism and Services (IFCTS); “Pamésa”; “Astrolábio”; “Fernando Pessoa” University; Institute for Management of Social Security Capitalisation Funds; Foundation for Science and Development of the Municipality of Porto; Euronext Lisbon; “QI – Quociente de Imagem”; “ComunicAction”; and diverse Municipalities (directly or working together with Sigma – Team Consulting). He has also provided advisory services to the Board of Directors of Porto’s House of Music and to the City of Guimarães Foudation.
Ricardo Rio was also a University Professor, having lectured at the following institutions: “Fernando Pessoa” University, Higher Institute of Administration and Management (ISAG) in Porto, “Lusíada” University and Higher Institute of Financial and Fiscal Studies (IESF).
At a public level, Ricardo Rio has been an alderman at the Braga City Council since 2005. He was a member of the Braga Municipal Assembly, from 2001 to 2005. He is the Mayor of Braga since 2013. He is currently Vice-President of the Board of the cross-border association of municipalities “Eixo Atlântico do Noroeste Peninsular”, President of the Executive Council of the Intermunicipal Community of Cávado and chairs the Boards of Directors of Municipal Companies Theatro Circo and InvestBraga. He is a member of the Committee of the Regions of the EUROCITIES network and a member of the board of ATP (Porto Tourism Association). He is also, since 2016, one of the OECD’s champions of inclusive growth. In 2022, he was awarded the “World Mayor Sustainability”, given by The City Mayors Foundation. In 2023 he was elected as the new president of the Executive Committee of the Global Parliament of Mayors, a network that brings together mayors from all over the world.

Richa Gupta

UN 2022 Cohort of Young Leader for the SDG

Richa Gupta is a teacher-turned entrepreneur and the co-founder and CEO of Labhya, an India-based education non-profit that impacts 2.4 million vulnerable children.
Richa is a DRK Entrepreneur, a Mulago Fellow, and was featured in the Forbes Asia 30U30 list. Richa served on the board of YuWaah, UNICEF India. She is one of the 17 United Nations Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Richa has a Master’s in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she also served as an Equity & Inclusion Fellow, Harvard Ministerial Leadership Fellow and Education Entrepreneurship fellow.

Sandra Carvão

Director of Market Intelligence, Policies and Competitiveness Department, World Tourism Organization (UN Tourism)

Sandra Carvão has been the Director of Market Intelligence, Policies, and Competitiveness at the World Tourism Organization (UN Tourism) since 2018. Before that, she was the Director of Communications and Publications for eight years, where she was responsible for UN Tourism’s strategic positioning.
Sandra Carvão was Deputy Director of UN Tourism’s Market Trends, Competitiveness and Trade in Tourism between 2007 and 2010. During this period, Sandra coordinated UN Tourism’s Tourism Resilience Committee in the context of the economic crisis 2008-2009. Prior to joining UN Tourism in 2003, Sandra was a Market Manager at the Portuguese National Tourist Office in Lisbon. Sandra has a degree in International Relations, Economics Branch, by the Instituto de Ciências Sociais e Políticas/Universidade Técnica de Lisboa and a postgraduate degree in Marketing by the Universidad Complutense de Madrid.

Sérgio Raimundo

Sérgio Raimundo, writer, teacher, journalist, literary consultant, and columnist

Sérgio Raimundo was born in Maputo. He holds a degree in Philosophy from Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique, and a Master’s degree in Educational Sciences from the University of Algarve, Portugal. He is a writer, teacher, freelance journalist, literary consultant, and columnist, contributing to various media outlets in Mozambique and Portugal.

He currently lives in Portugal. He has published “Síntese e fragmentos da emoção” (Synthesis and Fragments of Emotion), poetry (2012); “Avental de um Poeta Doméstico” (Apron of a Domestic Poet) (2016), poetry; “A ilha dos mulatos” (The Island of the Mulattos), novel (2020); “As ancas do camarada chefe” (The Hips of Comrade Chief) (2023), chronicles; and “Peça desculpas, sua excelência” (Apologize, Your Excellency) (2024), chronicles. In 2023, with the controversial book “As ancas do camarada chefe,” he achieved the highest sales across the country and established himself as one of the most important voices using literature to question the political construction of the country and the role of youth. Unfortunately, this book earned him death threats and press censorship in Mozambique.

He won the National Slam Poetry Award (2011) – Mozambique; the Fim do Caminho literary contest (short story – 2016) – Mozambique; honorable mention in the novella and poetry categories at the 10 de Novembro Literary Award (2017 and 2018) – Mozambique; the Merck Foundation African Print Media Award (2018) – Kenya; and the INCM/Eugénio Lisboa Literary Award (2019), Portugal – Mozambique. In 2023, he was named one of the hundred most influential personalities in Lusophony by Bantumen, an online platform dedicated to promoting black culture.

Tatiana Ferreira

Cociologist and a guest professor at the School of Education - Polytechnic Institute of Santarém

Tatiana Ferreira is a sociologist and a guest professor at the School of Education – Polytechnic Institute of Santarém. She is the vice president and a full member of EURYO-European Rural Youth Observatory. Between 2015 and 2023, she was a coordination advisor at the Permanent Youth Observatory, at ICS-ULisboa, where she participated in various research projects on public youth policies in Portugal, at both national and local levels, as well as in Europe. She has experience in the diagnosis, mapping, evaluation, and monitoring of public youth policies regarding their implementation and territorial governance.

Thobile Chittenden

CEO of Makers Valley Partnership and Network co-lead at the Wellbeing Economy Alliance

Thobile Chittenden, Network Co-Lead at the Wellbeing Economy Alliance, is a dedicated Community Builder, Speaker and she’s a Non-Profit Leader and a graduate of the Gordon Institute of Business Science’s Social Entrepreneurship Programme. Thobile’s leadership extends to Makers Valley Partnership, focused on nurturing a Wellbeing Economy in Johannesburg’s Eastern Inner City. With 15 years in Marketing and Advertising, she advocates for a co-created tomorrow where no one is left behind.