Speaker biographies

The Commonwealth People’s Forum 2015 will be headed by a keynote speech by Dr Vandana Shiva, and will feature sessions hosted by a variety of international speakers on the theme of resilience for sustainable development.

Find out more about the sessions each speaker will attend by clicking on the button at the foot of their biography.

Vandana Shiva, a world-renowned environmental thinker, activist, physicist, feminist, philosopher of science, writer and science policy advocate, is the Director of The Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy. She serves as an ecology advisor to several organisations including the Third World Network and the Asia Pacific People’s Environment Network.

Keynote speech

Shahidul Alam Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Shahidul Alam is a world renowned photographer, teacher and activist based in Bangladesh. He set up Majority World and the Drik Agency, Pathshala, the South Asian Institute of Photography and the Chobi Mela international photography festival. He is a jury member in numerous international contests, including World Press Photo, an Honorary Fellow of the Bangladesh Photographic Society and the Royal Photographic Society. His life’s mission has been to use photography as a tool to combat social injustice and to promote the work of talented photographers from the majority world.

Kalpana’s Warriors photography exhibitionMigration and Resilience

Kunle Adeyemi Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Kunlé Adeyemi is an architect, urbanist and designer. His recent work includes ‘Makoko Floating School‘, an innovative, prototype, floating structure located on the lagoon heart of Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos. This acclaimed project is part of an extensive research project – ‘African Water Cities’ – being developed by NLÉ, an architecture, design, and urbanism practice founded by Adeyemi in 2010 with a focus on developing cities and communities. NLÉ is currently developing a number of urban, research and architectural projects in Africa; one of which is Chicoco Radio Media Center; an amphibious building in Delta city of Port Harcourt in Nigeria.

Planning for Resilient Urbanisation

Doo Aphane Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Doo Mary Joyce Aphane, holds an LL.M in Law and Development from University of Warwick in the United Kingdom. She is the founder and Director of Women for Women Development. She served as Regional Coordinator, for Women’s Legal Rights Initiative Project responsible for six Southern African Countries:- Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland. Doo is the founding National Coordinator of Women and Law in Southern Africa Trust (Swaziland) where she conducted and supervised action research in different family law areas, leading to several co-authored publications. She is a founding officer of the Legal Aid Clinic of the Council of Swaziland Churches which is now the Justice and Peace Department.

Women, agency and responsive governance

Marlene Attzs Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Dr. Marlene Attzs is an Economics Lecturer at the University of West Indies (UWI).

Does resilience avoid substantive transformation?Climate resilience in small states

Professor Lino Briguglio Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Professor Lino Briguglio is the director of the Islands and Small States Institute at the University of Malta and the former head of the Economics Department at the same University. Professor Briguglio has published a large number of papers on islands and small states, one of which is a seminal article on the economic vulnerabilities of small island states in World Development (September 1995).

Does resilience avoid substantive transformation?

Kenneth Bush Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Kenneth Bush is the Executive Director, and Al-Tajir Lecturer in Post-war Recovery Studies, in the Post-war Reconstruction and Development Unit of the University of York. He received his PhD in International Relations and Comparative Politics from Cornell University.

Throughout his career, Dr. Bush has worked within and between the worlds of research, policy and practice, inside and outside conflict zones. His work seeks to bridge the gap between Peace & Conflict Studies and Evaluation – in particular, through his work on Peace and Conflict Impact Assessment (PCIA), and on the ethical, political, logistical, and methodological challenges confronting evaluators in conflict zones. Dr. Bush was a founding professor of the Conflict Studies Programme at St. Paul University in Ottawa, Canada. He has published, and taught courses, on: Evaluation, Methodology for Peace and Conflict Studies, Social Justice, Ethnicized Conflict; Peacebuilding; Post-Cold War Security; International Relations Theory; Conflict Management; Forced Displacement; Cultural Arts and Peacebuilding. Dr. Bush has worked with a broad spectrum of policy, development and humanitarian organizations in the Global North and South. His most recent book (with Colleen Duggan) is an edited volume entitled Evaluation in the Extreme – The Politics and Impact of Research in Violently Divided Societies (SAGE 2015).

Cultural responses to conflict

Dyan Currie Commonwealth People's Forum speaker

Dyan Currie is the President of the Commonweatlh Association of Planners, representing approximately 40 000 planners around the Commonwealth and also the Director of Planning and Environment at the City of Gold Coast (Australia’s second largest local authority.

She has extensive experience in leadership and management in strategic planning, business process improvements and development assessment. She has a strong track record of delivering major projects across a diverse range of planning programs and enjoys a strong professional network across all levels of government, the development industry and the planning profession. Dy is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Southern Queensland and a member of UN Habitat’s Policy Unit Experts preparing for Habitat III.


Planning for Resilient Urbanisation


Dr Helena Dalli is the Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties of Malta. She was elected to the Maltese Parliament for the first time in 1996 and served as Parliamentary Secretary for gender equality in the Office of the Prime Minister. Dr Dalli was re-elected to Parliament in all subsequent national elections. Between 1998 and 2013 she served as shadow minister for public administration, public investment and gender equality. Following a change in government in March 2013, Dr Dalli was appointed Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties. She championed equality legislation, including a Civil Unions Act and a Gender Identity Act.  She is currently in the process of introducing a Cohabitation Bill and the setting up of a Human Rights Commission in line with the Paris Principles.

Dr Dalli is a sociologist by profession and lectures in the areas of sociology of law, economic sociology and public policy.

LGBTI Policy Dialogue

Jose Deles Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Jose Deles is currently a freelance consultant in the Philippines in participatory methods for anti-poverty programs. He is currently engaged as Consultant of Task Force Mapalad, a Philippine-based NGO promoting land rights.

Mr Deles assists TFM develop strategies for constructive engagement with the Philippine Government in the pursuit of agrarian reform and ancestral domain rights. This includes developing farm systems and enterprises to transform former landless workers to new landowners and farm managers.

Colourful Economies

JD Farrugia Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

JD Farrugia is the director of fish4tomorrow, a Maltese NGO working on promoting sustainable fishing and seafood consumption. He is also project coordinator of the TerraFirma Collective, a newly established platform for NGOs working on environmental issues. JD has been involved in environmental activism for the past 5 years and holds an M.Sc in Environmental Management and Planning where he studied environmental behaviour and how people perceive and react to environmental campaigns. Besides his roles with fish4tomorrow and TerraFirma, JD is also the chairperson of Friends of the Earth Malta and is an Environmental Coordinator with Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar.

Colourful Economies

Ruth Farrugia Commonwealth People's Forum speaker

Ruth Farrugia is the Vice Chair of The President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society in Malta. She is a senior lecturer in Civil Law at the University of Malta.

Resilience in health systems

Dr Marvin Formosa Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Dr. Formosa received a Ph.D. in gerontology from the University of Bristol, and is currently Senior Lecturer and Coordinator of the Gerontology Unit, University of Malta. His key interests include critical gerontology, social class dynamics, and educational gerontology, on which Dr. Formosa published 7 books and various chapters in edited volumes and peer-reviewed journals. Recent co-authored works include Lifelong learning in later life: A handbook on older adult learning (2011), Learning across generations: Contemporary issues in older adult education (2014), Social class in later life: Power, identity and lifestyle (2015), and Population ageing in Malta: Multidisciplinary perspectives (2015). In 2015, Dr. Formosa published his sole authored work Ageing and later life in Malta: Issues, policies, and future trends. Dr. Formosa holds the post of Chairperson of the National Commission for Active Ageing (Malta) and Director of the International Institute on Ageing, United Nations – Malta (INIA). In recent months, he headed in-situ training missions in the People’s Republic of China and the Philippines. Forthcoming training missions are scheduled to take place in India and Turkey.

Resilience in health systems

Myn Garcia Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

As the Deputy Director of the Commonwealth Foundation, Myn Garcia has responsibility for Programmes and Grants. She led the Foundation in developing its Strategic Framework for 2012-16 and in integrating results-based management across the organisation.

Deconstructing resilience

Peppi Gauchi Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Peppi grew up with a strong affinity and connection with the natural environment. He spend his young days observing traditional farmers cultivating landscapes.

His interest in living closer to the Earth took him on various travels experiencing ethnic people and their traditions. Peppi has worked on a number of permaculture ecological farms and designed a few projects himself. Perhaps the most challenging and rewarding project has been ‘Bahrija Oasis’. A thirteen year old permaculture farm which has thrived despite the limiting factors of arid, dry and windy conditions. This project has attracted international interest from documentary makers, writers, agronomists, academics and interested individuals.

Peppi has also designed award winning food cultivation systems which potentially cover a number of modern global challenges. When he is not busy on his farm he sometimes gives workshops and hands on training to interested groups.

Responses to Food Challenges


Feryal Ali Gauhar read Political Economy at McGill University, Montreal, trained as a television broadcaster in London, at the World Service in the Netherlands and as a Population Communications Fellow at the University of Southern California. She was also a Bill and Melinda Gates fellow at the Gates Institute, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University. She served as the United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for the Population Fund from 1999 till 2003 when she resigned from the honorary post in protest against the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan by NATO forces.

Feryal has taught Film history, theory and technology at the National College of Arts, and has run short courses for film journalists at the South Asian Film and Media Association’s school. She lectures at apex institutions (National Defence University, Administrative Staff College, Civil Services Academy, National Institute of Management) around the country on women and economic development, gender-based violence, the environment-poverty nexus, and cultural heritage management. Feryal has worked with the World Monuments Fund, New York, as coordinator for the Chilas Cultural Landscape Documentation project for the area in Gilgit Baltistan where the Diamer Basha Dam is to be built by the Government of Pakistan. She has served as Project Consultant for the Pak-German Archaeological Mission as well as for the Italian Archaeological Mission in Pakistan. Feryal has led the team which wrote the cultural heritage management plan for Diamer Basha Dam and is currently engaged in upgrading and finalizing the plan for the US government.

Cultural responses to conflict

Commonwealth People's Forum speakers logo

Mr Tom Wilson Hubertson is a lawyer and migrants rights advocate from India. He is a member of the Migrant Forum in Asia and the Lawyers Beyond Borders. As migrants rights lawyer, he has provided assistance to numerous Indian migrants in distress. Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) is a network of grassroots organizations, trade unions, faith-based groups, migrants and their families and individual advocates in Asia working together for social justice for migrant workers and members of their families. The MFA is currently the Secretariat of the Lawyers Beyond Borders network, a network of lawyers providing assistance to migrant workers and members of their families.

Mr Hubertson also previously worked as the Assistant Field Coordinator for Migrant Forum India. This involves a wide area of advocacy for migrants, linking legal and labour issues with several areas of government at the district, state and national levels, including but not limited to the Prime Minister’s Office and the President’s Secretariat. This has also involved working with CSOs, trade unions and government officials for case management, concealing and legal aid among other things and has also involved lobbying for better protection through legislation of migrants’ rights.

Migration and Resilience


Shaun Grech (Phd) is Director of The Critical Institute and co-coordinator of the Centre for Global Disability Research. He is also a Fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University, editor-in-chief of the international journal Disability and the Global South and co-editor of the book series, Palgrave Studies in Disability and International Development. 

His critical and interdisciplinary research covers a range of areas including disability, poverty and international development, race and coloniality and migration. Grech has published extensively in academic journals, is author of the book Disability and Poverty in the Global South: Renegotiating Development in Guatemala (Palgrave Macmillan), and co-editor of Inclusive Communities: A Critical Reader (Sense Publishers), Disability in the Global South: The Critical Handbook (Springer) and Disability and Colonialism: (Dis)encounters and Anxious Intersectionalities (Routledge). He also serves on the editorial board of numerous established international journalsShaun is also an activist and practitioner combining field level action research experience with disability practice projects in contexts of extreme rural poverty in Latin America.

Equity and Resilience


Elise Huffer is the Culture Adviser in the Human Development Programme of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) based in Noumea, New Caledonia. In this position she is responsible for the promotion of culture in the Pacific Islands region. This entails implementation of model laws for the protection of traditional knowledge, the promotion of measures to assist the development of the arts and crafts sector (including the protection and promotion of natural resources the arts and crafts sectors depend on) and the promotion of cultural epistemology. The SPC covers 22 Pacific Islands Countries and Territories and works closely with member countries, the civil society sector and other governmental and non-governmental regional and international agencies.

From 1997-2007 she held positions as Associate Professor and Acting Director, Institute of Pacific Studies Publications/Pacific Studies Program, Pacific Institute of Advanced Studies in Development and Governance (PIAS-DG), at the University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji. She was also in charge of IPS Publications, a publishing house specialised in the Pacific region which focused on presenting Pacific views and fostering Pacific writers and researchers.

Huffer’s educational achievements include 1991 Ph.D. in Political Science, International Relations (July 1991), Highest honours with commendation of the jury, Universite d’Aix-Marseille III; 1988-1990 Research scholar, Institut de Recherche Scientifique pour Ie Developpement en Cooperation (ORSTOM), Noumea ; 1986 M.A. in Political Science with Honors. Universite de Toulouse; 1983 B.A. in Political Science, International Relations, Magna Cum Laude, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

What to measure? Alternatives to GDP

Shireen Huq Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Shireen Pervin Huq is a women’s rights activist working on gender, human rights and development. She is a founder member of Naripokkho, a leading women’s rights organisation in Bangladesh where she has worked on a voluntary basis
since its founding in 1983. Currently, she is the Honorary Coordinator of the Bangladesh component of a multi-country project on Women’s Health Rights Advocacy Partnership project focusing on women’s SRHR and maternal morbidity and mortality reduction in the south-western coastal districts of Bangladesh through claiming accountability of service providers in public hospitals.

Does resilience avoid substantive transformation?

Jibrin Ibrahim Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Jibrin Ibrahim is currently a Visiting Professor of Political Science at Babcock University, Ilishan and a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Abuja where he was Director until November 2013.

Professor Ibrahim received degrees in Political Science from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria and a doctorate in Politics from the University of Bordeaux in France. He taught political science in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria for twenty years and retired as an Associate Professor in Political Science at the Ahmadu Bello University and Research Professor at the Institute of Federalism in Fribourg, Switzerland among several other academic accomplishments, Dr. Ibrahim has lectured, published and consulted extensively on democratisation and governance in Africa.


Does resilience avoid substantive transformation?

Jill Iliffe Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Jill Iliffe is the Executive Secreatry of the Commonwealth Nurses and Midwives Federation, a position she has held since 2008. In this role Jill is involved in:

  • International health policy development, particularly through Commonwealth Health Ministers’ meetings and as an Executive Member of the Commonwealth Health Professions Alliance;
  • Providing technical advice on legislation, regulation and standards for nursing and midwifery to governments, regional bodies, and national associations and as a Faculty Member of the African Regulatory Collaborative;
  • Providing education and training for national nursing and midwifery associations in Commonwealth countries, particularly in the areas of maternal and child health, patient safety, communicable and non-communicable disease, mental health, and leadership;
  • Managing specific projects to improve nursing, midwifery and health care. Current projects include working with the governments of Seychelles and Botswana to review their mental health legislation against the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and providing education and training programs in maternal and child health to Lesotho, Malawi and Tanzania.

Jill has published widely and is publisher of the CNMF monthly e-News and the CNMF bi-annual professional journal.

Jill is also the current Independent Chair of COTA Australia (Council on the Ageing).

Prior to taking up her appointment with the Commonwealth Nurses and Midwives Federation, Jill was National Secretary of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) for nine years. The ANMF is the national professional and industrial body for nurses in Australia with eight state and territory branches, a federal office, and 180,000 nurse and midwife members.

Equity and resilienceResilience in health systems

Solaiman Juman Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Dr Solaiman Juman FRCS is the President of the Commonwealth Medical Association (CMA). He is a citizen of Trinidad & Tobago and did Undergraduate studies in Medicine at the University of the West Indies.

He subsequently did his Postgraduate training in Otolaryngology in the UK. He is the President of the Trinidad & Tobago Society of Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery (TTSOHNS) and Past-President of the Trinidad & Tobago Medical Association (T&TMA). He is presently the Vice-Chairperson of the Commonwealth Health Professionals Alliance (CHPA). He is also the Director of the Postgraduate DM Programme in Otolaryngology at the Trinidad Campus of the University of the West Indies.

Resilience in health systems


Fe’iloakitau Kaho Tevi, of Tongan and Fijian descent, is a strategic policy advisor for Pacific Island governments.

Mr. Tevi has Masters Degrees from the University of Paris and the International Institute for Public Administration in Paris, France in political science, international relations, strategic economic development and diplomacy. He has worked with a regional civil society movement for self-determination and independence and has also worked in the ecumenical movement of the region taking on leadership roles here in the region as well as at the global level. He was the coordinator for the leadership, green growth and sustainability initiative that focused on building coalitions of high level leaders around the issue of Green Growth aiming to create innovative linkages between political will, conservation and development.

He has been vocal on issues of the resettlement of populations as a result of climate change, political and economic self-determination for the peoples of Oceania and HIV/AIDS. He is committed to ensuring that Pacific peoples’ issues are heard at the regional and international level. He is a polyglot and is married with 5 children.

Climate Resilience in Small States

Vijay Krishnarayan Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Vijay Krishnarayan is the Director of the Commonwealth Foundation. He has supported civil society organisations in the United Kingdom, Caribbean and the wider Commonwealth over the last 25 years.

A land-use planner by training, he has a special interest in the relationship between development and the environment. Before joining the Commonwealth Foundation in 2006, he spent over a decade in the Caribbean, most notably as Managing Partner for the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI), one of the region’s sustainable development think tanks.

Planning for Resilient Urbanisation


Nelson Maldonado-Torres earned his BA at the University of Puerto Rico (1994) and his PhD at Brown University (2000). He teaches in the Department of Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies (LHCS) and is member of the core faculty of the Comparative Literature Program at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.  He is also Research Fellow in the Department of Political Sciences at the University of South Africa and member of the international board of the Frantz Fanon Foundation in Paris, France. He has been president of the Caribbean Philosophical Association (2008-2013), Director of the Center for Latino Policy Research at UC Berkeley (2009-2010), and Chair of LHCS at Rutgers (2012-2015).  His publications include Against War: Views from the Underside of Modernity (Duke UP, 2008), and the collection of essays La descolonización y el giro decolonial, compiled by the Universidad de la Tierra in 2011. He is also the co-editor of Latin@s in the World-System: Decolonization Struggles in the 21st Century US Empire. His main research interests include decolonial thinking, ethical and political theory, theory of religion, Caribbean philosophy, Africana thought, and comparative ethnic studies.

He is currently finishing a book manuscript entitled Fanonian Meditations where he elaborates on the ethico-political and epistemological components of Fanon’s work.

Deconstructing resilience

Les Malezer Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Les Malezer is from the Butchulla/Gubbi Gubbi peoples in southeast Queensland and Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. He has decades of extensive experience in campaigning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights and has represented community interests at local, state, national and international levels.

In 2008 he won the Australian Human Rights Award, and his contribution to coordinating Indigenous Peoples’ advocacy for the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the UN General Assembly is well known and respected.

Indigenous knowledge as a driver of resilience

Anare Matakiviti Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Anare Matakiviti (Fiji) is the Energy Programme Coordinator at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Oceania, which helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges.

Renewable resilienceColourful economies


Sarah McIntosh is an Associate and former Executive Director (2004-2010) of the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI). She is is most actively involved in CANARI’s Civil Society and Governance and Green Economy Programmes, contributing both her entrepreneurship and marketing skills and the experience gained under CANARI projects that focus on participatory, community-oriented development based on the sustainable use of natural resources. Sarah is the author of several CANARI publications, including the Green Economy Discussion Paper Catalysing and supporting sustainable small, medium and micro enterprise development in the Caribbean.

Sarah’s current work, both with CANARI and as an independent consultant, includes policy research, capacity building, communications and advocacy for sustainable development in the Caribbean. Capacity building initiatives include training, coaching and mentoring, with an emphasis on empowering communities through organisational strengthening and improved governance of both civil society organisations and small businesses. Sarah is also a social entrepreneur, involved in developing a unique community-oriented, eco-agrotourism initiative in north-east Trinidad.

Sarah has over 35 years experience as a senior manager in both the civil society and private sectors, and has worked in the United Kingdom, Europe, United States and the Caribbean. She has an MSc. in Applied European Studies from London South Bank University and an ACCA Post-Graduate Diploma in Financial Management.

Colourful Economies

Magdalena Moreno Mujica Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Magdalena Moreno Mujica is the Deputy Director of the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA), based in Sydney, Australia. Prior to IFACCA, she was Head of International Affairs at the National Council for Culture and the Arts (CNCA) and ministerial advisor for culture, for the Government of Chile from 2012 to 2014. During this period, she served as the Programme Director of IFACCA’s 6th World Summit on Arts and Culture, staged in Santiago in January 2014, responsible for the delivery of the Chilean Pavilions at the Venice Biennale for visual arts and architecture, and developing Chile’s international cultural policy.

Prior to her appointment in Chile, Ms Moreno resided in Melbourne, Australia. She was the CEO for Kultour, Australia’s national peak body supporting cultural diversity in the arts and was a member of the National Cultural Policy Taskforce for Creative Australia 2020. In addition, she was the Director of The South Project: an international cross-cultural project creating platforms for south-south dialogue and collaborations across the southern hemisphere. She is an advocate for diversity and international cooperation, and passionate about the pivotal role of culture in society.

Deconstructing resilience

Elizabeth Mpofu Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Elizabeth Mpofu is an organic farmer and activist based at Shashe in Masvingo, Zimbabwe. She dedicated her life to work tirelessly for the betterment of smallholder farmers and the rights of women in general. Elizabeth has held various leadership positions since the 1990’s.

Currently, she is a member of the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) and the General Coordinator of La Via Campesina, an international peasants’ movement with a membership over 200 million farmers from about 164 local and national organizations in 73 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. She assumed this position after the La Via Campesina 6th Conference held in Jarkata, Indonesia in June 2013.

She is a founder member of two important small farmer organizations, one at national level and the other at regional. At national level, she helped establish the Zimbabwe Smallholder Organic Farmers Forum (ZIMSOFF), which promotes organic farming. At regional, she founded with others the Eastern Southern Smallholder Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF) which promotes sustainable farming practices.

Currently, she chairs the ZIMSOFF and the Association of Zimbabwe Traditional and Environmental Conservationists (AZTREC) Boards and is a Steering Committee member of the Alliance Food Sovereign Africa (AFSA). She presided as a Chairperson of ESAFF from 2004 to 2011, later became vice-Chairperson (2012-2013) and is now a Board member.

Despite the little education she received during childhood, Elizabeth, over the years received short course training and also managed to enroll in 2012 and complete a course in Organisational leadership in 2013 with Southern Africa Trust (SAT). Short course training attended include: training on organizational capacity assessment; first encounter for La Via Campesina training of trainers on agroecology; training for transformation; and leadership skills training.
She has attended and participated in numerous regional and international dialogues, the recent climate meeting in the US.

Women, choices and responsive governance

Namhla Mniki Mangaliso Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Namhla Mniki-Mangaliso is the Director of African Monitor  (AM), a continental body set up to act as a catalyst to monitor development resource commitments, delivery and impact on the grassroots, and to bring strong additional African voices to the development agenda.

AM’s current strategic focus is to advocate for improved economic opportunities for Africa’s grassroots communities so that they can independently generate their own livelihoods. Ms. Mniki-Mangaliso also served as Head of the Secretariat for the Africa CSO Working on Post-2015, a network of over 100 African CSO that have been collaborating to develop a framework reflecting the consensus position emerging out of CSO consultations in Africa, in a way that is inclusive, transparent and open. The African CSO Working Group has been an important part of the UN HLP outreach process, ensuring that the voices, aspirations and perspectives of Africans are incorporated into the new development agenda.

Does resilience avoid substantive transformation?

Khamati Mugalla Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Born in 1981 the second last born in a family of 11, Khamati has Bsc Biology and Chemistry (Minor) and MBA in Human Resource Management. Khamati joined the trade union movement a decade ago and has risen through ranks in a male dominated career to be the first and only woman currently heading a sub-regional trade union in Africa, the East Africa Trade Union Confederation.

She is currently a member of the Commonwealth Civil Society Advisory Committee representing Eastern Africa, and also a member of the Trade Union Development Cooperation Network. Passionate about equity and reigniting emancipation of Africa to achieve sustainable development through advocacy and lobby of social agenda. With a vast experience her greatest expertise revolves around influencing development of labour and employment policy for regional integration. Her wish is to see East Africa lead in decent work against the jobless economic growth. Writing is a therapy she likes to indulge in through her blog, In My daughters Eyes.

Equity and Resilience

Shantal Munro Knight Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Shantal Munro-Knight is the Executive Coordinator of the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC).

Specialising in the area of trade policy, advocacy and civil society mobilisation, she has over ten years’ experience in the development and execution of research and educational programs. Over a period of five years she has overseen the research agenda on trade liberalisation as Lead Research Coordinator, and has also undertaken specialised research into a number of areas including the development of gender indicators for trade negotiations, and the development of a corporate code of conduct for international investors in the Caribbean.

Shantal has organised the intervention and positions of NGOs in the Caribbean region on the Economic Partnership Agreement since 2004, and is also a member of the Barbados Government Committee on Governance. She has been editor of the Caribbean Beacon for three years, and has lectured at the University of the West Indies in Political Science for over five years. Shantal holds a Masters in International Trade Policy, and is currently pursing doctoral studies in Public Policy and Administration. She has served on the Foundation’s Civil Society Advisory Committee since 2010 and is one of five committee representatives on the Foundation’s Board of Governors.

Climate Resilience in Small StatesGoing Glocal

Marceline Naudi Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Dr Marceline Naudi is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Malta and is Head of the new Department of Gender Studies within the Faculty for Social Wellbeing. Dr Naudi also contributes to teaching and supervision of student research within several other University departments and Faculties on gender issues, violence against women and other anti-oppressive issues (sexual orientation, race, disabilities) at Diploma, Bachelor and Master level. She received her first degree from University of Malta (1980), her Master’s Degree in Women’s Studies from University of Bradford (U.K.) (1990) and her Doctorate from Manchester University (U.K.) (2004).

A social worker by profession, her years of practice (in England, Ireland and Malta) included work with children and young people in care and their families, ex-offenders, homeless people, persons with mental health support needs and survivors of domestic violence.

She continues to be active in the issues of gender equality and violence against women, as well as wider human rights issues, and has convened, chaired and presented at many conferences, seminars and meetings, both in Malta and elsewhere in Europe. She represented Malta at the Council of Europe ad Hoc Committee on Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (CAHVIO) which drafted the Istanbul Convention, and has recently been elected onto its Group of Experts monitoring body, the GREVIO. In a voluntary capacity she has supported and acted as consultant to various agencies in the field of violence against women, gender, LGBTIQ, racism and ethnicity and sits on the board of management of one of the local shelters. She also served as the Chairperson of the Commission on Domestic Violence (Malta) from 2006 to 2010 and as a member and Chairperson of the Gender Issues Committee of the University of Malta for many years. She currently sits on the Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE) Network Board, and the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) Observatory on Violence against Women Steering Group. She is a management committee member of the EU COST Action on Femicide across Europe, a member of its Core group and co-chairs a working group.

Women, agency and responsive governance

Augustine Njamnshi Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Augustine B Njamnshi is a lawyer with 21 years of environmental policy and governance advocacy in Cameroon and the Central African sub-region. He has long experience in legislative and policy drafting in the areas of Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing, Biosafety, Biosecurity, Access to Environmental Information and Public Participation in decision making. Augustine has also held and continues to hold several elected positions representing African Civil Society of the environment sector at the international level. He has been the pioneer Chair of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance 2008-2012 and UNEP Major Groups Representative for Africa 2010-2012. Currently he holds the positions Executive Secretary at the Bioresources Development and Conservation Cameroon, The Francophone African Coordinator of The Access Initiative, The Chair of Political and Technical Affairs of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance and has been re-elected as the African Civil Society Representative on the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility as well as the Carbon Fund.

Watch Augustine on campaigning for climate change justice in Africa.

Renewable resilience
Climate Resilience in Small States

Ruth-Ojiambo-Ochieng Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Ruth Ojiambo Ochieng is the Executive Director of the Isis-Women International Cross-Cultural Exchange (Isis-Wicce), a women‘s transnational, vibrant well-established feminist organisation that values justice, fairness and mutual respect for humanity, and is based in Uganda.

Isis-WICCE derives her name from Isis the Egyptian goddess of wisdom, knowledge and creativity. Ruth is one of the key women leaders on the continent of Africa, and beyond, advancing the rights of women and advocating for peace and human security. With 20 years’ experience in development communications, and 15 years in her position of leadership as the Executive Director, she has initiated programs that have promoted women’s leadership in peace and human security. She has researched and documented women’s experiences of armed conflict in Uganda, Liberia, Nepal and South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Kashmir, and has coordinated the production of a ray of documentaries on Women, Conflict, and Human Security, which have been used by different development partners in training, advocacy and influencing policy.

Cultural responses to conflict

Paul Okumu Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Paul Heads the Secretariat of the Africa Platform (ACP), a Pan African Platform working with societies, governments and businesses across Africa to rebuild the Social contract and re-establish society as the source of state legitimacy and the final authority to whom all development actors-businesses, development partners-are accountable. In this capacity he is responsible for brokering relations between the governing and the governed, the development actors and the beneficiaries, and society and businesses, to strengthen state legitimacy and accountable development.The Africa Platform works primarily with Civil Society and societies in post conflict countries across Africa.

He has engaged actively on establishing the cenrality of state society relations through various platforms and at various levels, including with the Global International Coalition to Ban Land Mines, The World Economic Forum, The International Dialogue on Statebuilding and Peacebuilding, the Africa Union and NEPAD agency, East Africa CSOs Forum and East Africa Parliament; and currently as one of the core civil society team supporting African governments on development and implementation of Global Policy processes and the Africa Union Vision 2063.

He has engaged at senior level and written extensively on State Society Relations, Peacebuilding and Statebuilding and an Africa-driven development agenda. He has written widely on Social contract, State Society Relations and on the politicization and donor capture of Civil Society.

Paul sits on the Global UNDP Civil Society Advisory Committee, the UNDP Regional Program Advisory Board for Africa, the Global Executive Committee of the Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuiding (CSPPS) as well as on the Jury of the Civil Society of the Year Awards. He is also a former Member of the Board of the International Society for Third Sector Research-Africa as well as the Steering Group of the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding.

Going Glocal

Annie Quick Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Annie joined NEF’s Centre for Wellbeing as a Researcher in February 2014. Annie is particularly interested in how new measures of progress can be used to transform the way in which individuals and governments achieve positive change. She is also interested in economic and social interventions to reduce inequalities in wellbeing. Before joining NEF, Annie worked as a civil servant in the health inequalities unit at Public Health England, after completing an MSc in Health Services Research focusing on health inequalities. Annie also has a background in public participation and democracy, working at the think tank Involve, among other organisations.

What to measure? Alternatives to GDP

Pamela Palmater Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Dr Pamela Palmater is a Mi’kmaw lawyer, author, social justice activist, and Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University from Eel River Bar First Nation in New Brunswick. She has university degrees, including a BA from St. Thomas in Native Studies; an LLB from UNB, and her Masters and Doctorate in Law from Dalhousie University specialising in Indigenous law.

Pam has been volunteering and working in First Nation issues for over 25 years on a wide range of issues like poverty, housing, education, Aboriginal and treaty rights, and legislation impacting First Nations. She came in second in the Assembly of First Nations election for National Chief in 2012 and was one of the spokespeople and public educators for the Idle No More movement in 2012-13.

Women, agency and responsive governanceIndigenous knowledge as a driver of resilience


Dr Maria Pisani is a Maltese academic, practitioner and activist. She is the co-founder and director of Integra Foundation, Malta. Maria holds a BA and MA in Youth & Community Studies, and a PhD in Adult Education from the University of Malta. She is a lecturer with the department of Youth and Community Studies, University of Malta. Maria also coordinates the Centre for Critical Migration Studies with The Critical Institute. She is an Editorial Board Member on the international journal Disability and the Global South and the Journal of International Humanitarian Action. 

Maria’s ongoing involvement in the field provides an opportunity to keep the dialectic relationship between theory and practice alive, providing the space for critical knowledge production towards social transformation. Maria has published extensively in international journals and contributed to edited texts. Her research interests include forced migration with a special focus on gender, ‘race’ and colonialism, youth, intersectionality, national identity and citizenship. She combines this work with her interest in critical pedagogy and engaging praxis as a project of social transformation towards social justice.

Migration and Resilience

Karuna Rana Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Karuna is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of SIDS Youth AIMS Hub (SYAH), a regional youth-led organization aimed at advancing sustainable development across African and Asian Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Her extensive experience in the environmental and youth development area spans across grassroots actions, policy tracking, advocacy, and reducing the ecological footprint of organizations – within non-profits, corporations and inter-governmental organizations alike. Through roles such as UNEP Tunza Youth Advisor for Africa and Organising Partner for SIDS for the UN Major Group for Children and Youth, Karuna has lobbied Governments and coordinated the participation of young people at the UNFCCC, Rio+20 Summit, the African Union, and most recently the 3rd International Conference on SIDS. Karuna holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical and Environmental Engineering and has co-authored UNEP’s publication entitled ‘Global Environment Outlook-5 for Youth’. She also received the Queen’s Young Leader Award this year – an Award which recognises the exceptional work done by young people of the Commonwealth.

Climate Resilience in Small States

K R Ravindran Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

K.R. Ravindran is CEO and founder of Printcare PLC, a publicly listed printing, packaging, and digital media solutions company. He currently serves as the President of Rotary International, a volunteer service organization with clubs in over 170 countries globally including Commonwealth member states.

Ravindran also serves on the board of several other companies in Sri Lanka and India and charitable trusts, including the MJF (Dilmah) Charitable Foundation. He is the founding president of the Rotary-sponsored Sri Lanka Anti Narcotics Association, the largest such agency in Sri Lanka. During the country’s civil war, Ravindran was involved in the business community efforts to find peaceful solutions to the conflict and was a featured speaker at the United Nations-sponsored peace conference in New York for the Sri Lankan diaspora in 2002.

Resilience in health systems

Renwick Rose Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Renwick Rose of St Vincent and the Grenadines has been a long-time social and political activist in the Caribbean. He has a background in teaching and journalism and today is still a weekly columnist for one of his country’s leading newspaper, SEARCHLIGHT, and also sits on its Board of Directors.

Mr Rose is perhaps best known for his efforts in helping to build the Windward Islands Farmers’ Association (WINFA) and for his advocacy on behalf of Caribbean banana farmers in the face of the so-called “banana wars” of the nineties and early 21st century, defending their rights to fair treatment in trade arrangements. He also pioneered access to the Fir Trade label for banana farmers in the islands.

A committed regionalist, Mr Rose was one of the founders of the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC), the umbrella organisation of Caribbean civil society groups and currently is Chairman of its Board of Directors. He is also Chairman of the EU/Caribbean Joint Consultative Committee on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and Cariforum states.

Mr Rose was, in addition, one of the founders of the ACP Civil Society Forum and has wide experience participating in international fora on trade, economic and social issues.

Does resilience avoid substantive transformation?Responses to Food Challenges

Amjad Saleem Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Amjad Saleem is a political analyst on South Asian issues (focusing mainly but not exclusively on Sri Lanka), with expertise in Humanitarian and Development Issues, Peacebuilding and Interfaith Dialogue. He is currently the Country Director of International Alert in Sri Lanka. He also currently sits as a thematic advisor looking at ‘Meeting the needs of People in Conflict’ for the UN initiated process, the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS). Amjad has sat as the UK representative of CSAC for the Commonwealth Foundation (2012-2014).

Cultural responses to conflict

David Sanders Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

David Sanders, Emeritus Professor and founding Director of the School of Public Health at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa, is a paediatrician qualified in Public Health. He has over 30 years’ experience of university teaching and health policy development in Zimbabwe and South Africa, having advised governments, NGOs and several UN agencies on primary health care, child health and nutrition, and health human resources.

He has published three books on the political economy of health, and over 150 scientific articles in these areas. In 2004/5 he was Heath Clark lecturer at the LSHTM, is Visiting Professor at the Centre for International Health at the University of Bergen, Norway, and Honorary Professor in the School of Medicine, Flinders University of South Australia and in the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Cape Town. In 2012 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Cape Town in recognition of his contribution to the development of the global policy of Primary Health Care, and in 2014 received the Public Health Innovation and Lifetime Achievement (PHILA) Award of the Public Health Association of South Africa.

He was on the Steering Committee of the United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition for several years. He is a founder and on the Global Steering Council of the Peoples Health Movement and has been a contributor and editor of Global Health Watch.

Resilience in health systems

Ranja Sengupta Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Ranja Sengupta works as Senior Researcher with the Third World Network (TWN) in New Delhi. Her earlier work spans agricultural policies, globalisation, poverty and inequality. Her current work is on global trade and investment policies and their impact on development priorities in the South. She has tracked and analysed the negotiations on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as the Financing for Development process. She is the Co-Chair and the NGO representative in the Asia Pacific Regional Civil Society Engagement Mechanism (RCEM), a civil society initiative to strengthen voices from the regional civil society and grass roots in engagement with the UN on sustainable development.

Equity and resilienceGoing Glocal


Thamotharampillai Shaanathanan is a visual artist living and working in Jaffna, Sri Lanka. His work in painting and installation explores notions of identity within situations of conflict.

T. Shanaathanan’s work has been shown widely in Sri Lanka and abroad, includingat the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver; Queensland Art Gallery, Australia; the Museum of Ethnology in Vienna, the October Gallery in London,and Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi. His work may also be seen in the artists’ book projects The One Year Drawing Project and The Incomplete Thombu, as well as the forthcoming ‘A-Z of Conflict’. (Raking Leaves).

Shanaathanan holds degrees in painting from the University of Delhi and a PhD from Jawarhalal Nehru University. He has published several scholarly papers on Sri Lankan art and practice and is currently Senior Lecturer in Art History in the Department of Fine Arts of Jaffna University. He is one of the founders of the Sri Lanka Archive of Contemporary Art, Architecture and Design and is an advisor on Sri Lanka’s national curriculum for teaching art in schools.

Cultural responses to conflict


Tahere Si’isi’ialafia’s Baha’i of Samoa is a board member of the Pacific Youth Council and has represented the UN Major Group for Children and Youth at several high-level international meetings, including the 58th Commission on the Status of Women.

Tahere graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Sociology and Psychology from the University of the South Pacific in Fiji and a Masters in Social Work at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica. She has been involved in community development especially with children and youth all her life through her Faith-based activities and has worked as a caseworker and coordinator for a youth-led social work NGO called Really Make A Difference (serving socially deprived young people in squatter settlements) for two and a half years in Fiji.

Going Glocal


Lucy Slack is the Deputy-Secretary General of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum. She has particular responsibility for policy and for the development and management of CLGF’s capacity building projects and relationships across the Commonwealth. She coordinates the work of CLGF’s programme offices in Fiji, South Africa, Ghana, India and Sri Lanka.

Before working for the CLGF, Lucy Slack worked for the Local Government International Bureau, and was responsible for the day to day management of a UK government funded programme of support to local authorities in Central and Eastern Europe. She also worked for a number of years in the planning and economic development department of a local authority, and as a teacher of English in a school in Hungary.

She has a BA in German and Politics from the University of Bradford.

Planning for Resilient Urbanisation


Chandraguptha Thenuwara (BFA/MFA/MPhil) was born in 1960, Sri Lanka. He is a senior lecturer and head of the department of History and Art Theory at the University of the Visual and Performing Arts Colombo. In 1993, He founded the Vibhavi Academy of Fine Arts (VAFA), an artist-run alternative art school. He studied painting at the Institute of Aesthetic Studies, University of Kelaniya (1978-1981) and Surikov State Art Institute, Moscow, Russia (1985-1992); MPhil at the Post Graduate Institute of Archeology (PGIAR), Kelaniya University(2006). Since 1978 he has exhibited widely in Sri Lanka and Abroad. His works are also included in the collections of the Queensland Art Gallery Australia, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum Japan, John Moore’s University Art Collection Liverpool and Fine Arts Museum of Udmurtia, Izhevsk, Russia. His public monuments include the Seeduwa monument to the Disappeared and Monument to Neelan Thiruchelvam at Kinsey Terrace Colombo.

Chandraguptha Thenuwara is a leading Sri Lankan Artist whose work focuses on issues surrounding the impact of war in Sri Lanka. In response to overwhelming crisis Thenuwara has devised his own stylistic formulation, which he has called “Barrelism”. Among his recent works there were drawing and painting series such as ‘This is not a White Van’, ‘This is not a White Flag’ and ‘Thorns’. His solo exhibitions Neo-Barrelism (2007), ‘Wall’ (2011), ‘Beautification’ (2013) and Monotony (2014), changed gallery space completely. His recent exhibition was ‘Electric Chair for Sale’ (2015).He was a President of the Federation of University Teachers Association (FUTA) from 2014 January to January 2015. He is an active member of ‘Purawesi Balaya’ (Citizens’ Power) organization. He lives and works in Colombo.

Cultural responses to conflict

Clayton-Thomas-Muller Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Clayton Thomas-Muller is a member of the Treaty #6 based Mathias Colomb Cree Nation also known as Pukatawagan located in Northern Manitoba, Canada. Based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada Clayton is a campaigner with 350.org as well as a founder and organizer with Defenders of the Land. Clayton is involved in many initiatives to support the building of an inclusive movement globally for energy and climate justice. He serves on the boards of the Global Justice Ecology Project and the Bioneers and is a steering committee member of the Tar Sands Solutions Network and development committee member of Idle No More.

Clayton has been recognized by Utne Magazine as one of the top 30 under 30 activists in the United States and as a “Climate Hero 2009” by Yes Magazine. For the last twelve years he has campaigned across Canada, Alaska and the lower 48 states organizing in hundreds of First Nations, Alaska Native and Native American communities in support of grassroots Indigenous Peoples to defend against the encroachment of the fossil fuel industry. This has included a special focus on the sprawling infrastructure of pipelines, refineries and extraction associated with the Canadian tar sands. Clayton is an organizer, facilitator, public speaker and writer on environmental and economic justice.


Deconstructing resilience


Baroness Verma was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for International Development on 13 May 2015. She is a Conservative member of the House of Lords.

Baroness Verma attended local schools and university in Leicester.

Political career
In 2006 she was raised to the peerage as Baroness Verma of Leicester in the County of Leicestershire. She was Opposition Whip from 2006 to 2010 and then Government Whip following the 2010 general election.

Prior to becoming Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for DFID, Baroness Verma was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for DECC, Spokesperson for Cabinet Office, International Development, Women and Equalities and Business Innovation and Skills.

Career outside politics
Baroness Verma started her first business at the age of 19 in high fashion. In 2000 she changed her business to the service sector.

Personal life
Baroness Verma was born in Punjab, India, and moved to the UK with her parents when she was 1 year old. She lives in Leicester with her husband and has a daughter and a son.

Gisele Yasmeen Commonwealth People's Forum speaker

Gisele Yasmeen, currently Senior Fellow at the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Institute of Asian Research, has worked in research and higher education for more than 20 years. She has undertaken and managed research and related activities across sectors, and has published widely in scholarly and other types of publications and provides regular media commentary. Her work has taken her all over Canada and around the world.

Before joining the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) in 2007 as Vice-President of Partnerships and, as of 2010, Vice-President, Research, Gisèle worked in a number of research-related executive and managerial positions in the academic, public, private and not-for-profit sectors. She left SSHRC in January 2014 to begin a new life back on the west coast with her family. In addition to her affiliation with UBC, Gisèle has recently done consulting work for Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), Genome British Columbia, Genome Prairie and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research. She is also a member of the International Scientific Advisory Board for the Continuous Access to Cultural Heritage (CATCH) program funded by the Netherlands Orgnanization for Scientific Research. Gisèle has a PhD from the University of British Columbia, an MA from McGill University and a BA Honours from the University of Ottawa.

Equity and resilienceResponses to Food Challenges

Uchita de Zoysa Commonwealth People's Forum 2015 speaker

Uchita de Zoysa is an internationally acclaimed thinker, writer and speaker who is a frontline leader and strategist for shaping policy for the global sustainability movement. He is the author of several books including “It has to be CLIMATE SUSTAINABILITY”. He has authored several international and national reports including the ‘Asian Review on Sustainable Consumption’, contributed to many books on the environment and sustainability, and has played a leading role in the formulation of global independent sector collective agreements such as the ‘The NGO Alternative Treaties’, the “Oslo Declaration on Sustainable Consumption” and the “Peoples Sustainability Manifesto”.

Deconstructing resilience