Speakers in Plenary 2023
PLENARY SESSION 1
Mr. Baskut Tuncak, JD, is the executive director of the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI), an independent, state-level agency created in 1989 to prevent pollution and protect workers from hazardous substances. He is also a Research Professor in the Department of Public Health at the University of Massachusetts (Lowell). His research focuses on international environmental law and policy. From 2014-2020, Tuncak served as the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on human rights and toxics, appointed by the Human Rights Council to advise and promote the realization of environmental and occupational rights, in particular the right to a healthy environment and the right to safe work. He is credited with the transformation of an underutilized mandate of the United Nations into a more dynamic mechanism to work with States, businesses and affected communities on reducing the impacts of hazardous substances and wastes on human rights. Tuncak continues to advise various stakeholders on issues under national and international law, with a particular focus on pollution and chemicals management.
Dr Leo Trasande, MD, MPP is an internationally renowned leader in children’s environmental health. His research focuses on identifying the role of environmental exposures in childhood obesity and cardiovascular risks, and documenting the economic costs for policy makers of failing to prevent diseases of environmental origin in children proactively. He also holds appointments in the Wagner School of Public Service and NYU’s College of Global Public Health. He is perhaps best known for a series of studies published in Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology and the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism that document disease costs due to endocrine disrupting chemicals in the US and Europe of $340 billion and €163 billion annually, respectively. Dr. Trasande leads one of 35 centers across the country as part of the National Institute of Health’s Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes program.
After receiving his bachelor, medical and public policy degrees from Harvard, he completed the Boston Combined Residency in Pediatrics and a legislative fellowship in the Office of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Prior to coming to NYU, he completed fellowship training in environmental pediatrics.
Dr Sharon McGuinness was appointed by ECHA’s Management Board as Executive Director and she took up her role on 1 December 2022. Prior to joining ECHA, Dr McGuinness was the Chief Executive Officer of the Irish Health and Safety Authority from July 2018 to October 2022. She also served as Assistant Chief Executive for the Chemicals and Prevention Division in the Health and Safety Authority from 2006 to 2018. Dr McGuinness represented Ireland on the ECHA Management Board from 2014 to 2021 and served as Chair from October 2016 to October 2020. Prior to joining the Health and Safety Authority, she had worked in government and regulatory affairs for Hewlett-Packard and the European Chemicals Bureau in the European Commission. Dr McGuinness has also worked in academia as a lecturer and post-doctoral researcher. Dr McGuinness’ academic qualifications include a Ph.D. in Pharmacology as well as Diplomas in Legal Studies and Company Direction.
PLENARY SESSION 2: Towards a European Green deal 2.0
Anne-Sofie Bäckar has worked with chemical management for 22 years and for the past 17 years as the Executive Director of ChemSec. She was among the people that originally started ChemSec in 2002 in a small office. Under her tenure as Executive Director, ChemSec has grown into a well-respected player in the chemicals world and developed world-class chemicals management tools such as the SIN List and the Marketplace. Anne-Sofie holds a M.Sc. in chemistry from the University of Hamburg, Germany. Before joining ChemSec, she worked for the consumer organisations in the Nordic countries, where she monitored chemical issues from a consumer perspective. As a scientist, she started her career with biotechnology research on diseases. She has been a member of the Executive Committee of IPEN (2008 -2020), a board member of the Centre for Chemical Substitution (2018-2021) and a Member of the Supervisory Board at the Swedish Chemical Inspectorate (2020 ongoing).
Dr. Pete Myers is founder, Board Chair and Chief Scientist of Environmental Health Sciences, a not-for-profit organization that promotes public understanding of advances in scientific research on links between the environment and human health (www.EHSciences.org). Along with co-authors Dr. Theo Colborn and Dianne Dumanoski, Myers wrote “Our Stolen Future,” a book (1996) that explores the scientific basis of concern for how contamination threatens fetal development and life-long health through endocrine disruption, a term he invented at a 1991 scientific workshop. Dr. Myers received a doctorate in the biological sciences from the University of California, Berkeley. He is an Adjunct Professor of Chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University and a founder of the 2020 chemical start-up, Sudoc.com, which is commercializing unique chemistry that biomimics peroxidase enzymes to remove micropollutants, including many pharmaceuticals and endocrine disrupting chemicals from water.
PLENARY SESSION 3: Navigating the Triple Crises: Biodiversity, Chemicals and Climate
Dr. Sinaia Netanyahu, Programme Manager, Environment and Health Impact Assessment, WHO European Centre for Environment and Health, Bonn. The Programme covers urban health, environment and health inequality, impact assessment, nature, and One Health. Recently she led the WHO's report on A health perspective on the role of the environment in One Health. Previously, Sinaia served as the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Environmental Protection in Israel. She has over 25 years of experience as an economic and strategic consultant in the areas of natural resources, environment, climate change and agriculture. She served as a teaching fellow at Ben-Gurion University Negev teaching Climate Change, Health & Emergency Preparedness. Previously, she served as the Manager of Sustainable Financing and as a Senior Economist in TAHAL group. She dealt with international and national water and agricultural projects including environmental-health-social impact assessments. Before that, she was a faculty member at Ben-Gurion University as well as a fellow lecturer at the Hebrew University. In addition, she served as a member of various boards of directors and national advisory councils in Israel. Sinaia holds a PhD in Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics from the University of Maryland at College Park.
Maria Cristina Zucca works for the United Nations Environment Programme. She is the head of the Pollution and Health Unit in the Chemicals and Health Branch of the Industry and Economy Division. Cristina coordinates UNEP’s Pollution and Health programme, which brings together projects implemented by various parts of UNEP that address key issues at the interface of pollution, environment and health, including air pollution, chemicals management, the environmental dimensions of antimicrobial resistance, and source to sea pollution. The programme focuses on promoting a stronger science-policy interface, international action, stronger capacities and awareness, and aims at leveraging the health sector and the broader development community. Cristina actively contributes to One Health efforts of the organization. Cristina has focused for a large part of her career on environmental law and governance and prior to Joining UNEP in 2001 worked with the private sector in her home country, Italy.
Jytte Guteland is a Swedish Social Democrat and Member of the European Parliament since 2014. She was the S&D coordinator in the ENVI committee, substitute in the AFET committee and a member of the ANIT committee. She was the rapporteur and lead European Parliament negotiator for the European Climate Law and is now shadow rapporteur for the EU ETS revision. She is an economist by training and used to be the President of the Swedish Social Democratic Youth League.
PLENARY SESSION 4: Conclusions from workshops and take-home messages
Desmond Alugnoa is the Africa Climate and Zero Waste program manager for the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternative. Desmond is co-founder of the Green Africa Youth Organization (GAYO) and the former youth advisor to the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA).
He is currently managing a cluster of Zero Waste Cities projects across Africa while also supporting communities to develop and implement climate and circular economy models in Ghana including Water for Adaptation, Ghana’s Zero Waste Strategy and the Sustainable Community Project. Desmond Alugnoa is a strategic campaigner who has authored many publications on crucial topics like Period Poverty and Climate Adaptation, Representing the Voiceless and Zero Waste as a Climate Solution.
Robert Watt has previously been responsible for SEI’s global communications as Communications Director and is now overseeing SEI’s strategic policy engagement (climate, finance, 2030 Agenda, ocean and biodiversity, and EU) as Engagement Director. As Communications Director at SEI, he and his team of communications experts work in close collaboration with researchers and stakeholders to bridge science and policy. Over the last ten years, Rob has built the communications and engagement capacity of SEI from the ground up, developing effective science-policy communication methods that are focused on results and the needs of stakeholders. He is regularly in demand as a speaker and moderator on sustainability and science communication (e.g. Nationella Vindkraftskonferens, Region Gotland and Miljödepartementet). Before working at SEI, Rob was a UK diplomat based in Brussels and has also served as an advisor in the Cabinet Office (the UK Prime Minister’s department) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.