Speakers in Plenary

PLENARY SESSION 1: Food systems for health

Francesco Branca, MD, PhD, Director of the Department of Nutrition and Food Safety in the World Health Organization, Geneva (since February 2020). In 2008-2019 I have been the Director of the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development. In this period WHO has developed a WHO Nutrition strategy, established a new nutrition guideline development process and developed a Comprehensive Implementation Plan on Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition with six global targets. I have been leading the preparation of the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition and the Secretariat of the Decade of Action on Nutrition. In 2005-2008 I have been the Regional Advisor for Nutrition at the WHO Regional Office for Europe. In 1988-2005 I have been a Scientist at the Italian Food and Nutrition Research Institute where I was leading studies on the effects of food and nutrients on human health at the different stages of the life cycle and on the impact of public health nutrition programmes. I have been President of the Federation of the European Nutrition Societies in 2003-2007. In 1985-1986 I have been a medical staff of a Primary Health Care project in the South of Somalia run by the Italian NGO CISP. I graduated in Medicine and Surgery and specialized in Diabetology and Metabolic Diseases at the Universita' Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Roma and obtained a Msc in Nutrition and then a PhD at Aberdeen University.

Dr. Namukolo Covic is Regional Director, East and Southern Africa (ESA), CGIAR, and ILRI Director General’s Representative to Ethiopia, and CGIAR Country Convenor for Ethiopia. From 2015 to 2021 she served as Senior Research Coordinator at IFPRI, for the CGIAR Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) and worked on projects in several countries, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia. She has a multidisciplinary academic background that spans crop science and extension (BSC), animal and poultry science (PGD) and nutrition (MSc & PhD) has made her uniquely positioned to addresses dynamics of food systems transformation from different fronts. She has worked extensively with the government of Ethiopia and other stakeholders including the Ethiopian Public Health Institute, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Agriculture, and development agencies on different fronts of food systems and nutrition. In addition, she leads the Governance Working Group of an Independent Expert Group that emerged from the UNFSS that has developed a Monitoring Framework on Food Systems Transformation to guide progress on the SDG countdown to 2030. 

Patrizia Fracassi is Senior Nutrition and Food Systems Officer at FAO, leading the work on governance, policies, programmes and investments. Previously, she was the Senior Nutrition Analyst and Strategy Adviser at the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement Secretariat focusing on Government-led multi-sectoral approaches for planning, costing, managing implementation, tracking investments and mobilizing resources. Patrizia has worked in Ethiopia with UNICEF on Nutrition Information System strengthening and for the World Bank on Linkages between the Productive Safety Net Program and the National Nutrition Program. She also worked for UNICEF Uganda as a Nutrition Specialist and for CESVI and Oxfam Italia in Vietnam as Country Director, specializing in ccommunity-basednutrition, primary health care and livelihoods. Patrizia holds a Doctorate in Health Research, a M.Sc. in Development Management and an M.A. in Human Sciences. She is interested in the political economy of nutrition.

PLENARY SESSION 2: Transforming the Food System - What does it mean and how does change happen?

Dr Cass R. Sunstein is the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard. He is the founder and director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy at Harvard Law School. In 2018, he received the Holberg Prize from the government of Norway. In 2020, the World Health Organization appointed him as Chair of its technical advisory group on Behavioral Insights and Sciences for Health. From 2009 to 2012, he was the Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and after that, he served on the President’s Review Board on Intelligence and Communications Technologies and on the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Board. Dr Sunstein serves as an advisor to the Behavioral Insights Team in the United Kingdom and has advised officials at the United Nations, the European Commission, the World Bank, and many nations on issues of law and public policy. He is by far the most cited law professor in the United States and has written dozens of books, including Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness (2008), and Sludge: What Stops Us from Getting Things Done and What to Do About It (2021).

Marie Chantal Messier is Assistant Vice-President and Global Head of Food and Industry Affairs at Nestlé where she works since 2013.  She provides leadership on corporate food and nutrition agenda and policy work relating to regenerative food systems, responsible marketing, industry benchmarking and ESG Engagement. She is passionate about driving positive change toward sustainable diets by leveraging the strengths of both the private and public sectors. Previously, Marie Chantal worked as a nutrition professional for several regions at the World Bank, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) in Switzerland, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Haiti, Country Director for Helen Keller International (HKI) in Guinea and Sierra Leone, the Centre Canadien d’Étude de Coopération Internationale (CECI) in Mali and the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) in her home country, Canada.  Marie Chantal holds an MBA from Université Laval, a B.Sc. in nutritional sciences from McGill University, and a Registered Dietitian.

Dr. Tara Garnett is the Director of TABLE, a new global platform for knowledge synthesis for reflective, critical thinking, and for inclusive stakeholder dialogue on priority concerns and contestations around the future of food.  TABLE seeks to facilitate informed discussions about how the food system can become sustainable, resilient, just, and ultimately “good”. Tara’s work centers on the interactions among food, climate, health, and broader sustainability issues; she has a particular interest in livestock as a sector where many of these converge. She is also interested in how knowledge is communicated to and interpreted by policymakers, civil society organizations, and industry, and in the values that these different stakeholders bring to food problems and possible solutions. Tara is based at the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford.

PLENARY SESSION 3: Policy tools, Behaviour change and Ethics

Professor Corinna Hawkes is Director, Centre for Food Policy, City, University of London, UK, a centre dedicated to improving food policy to shape a more effective food system.  She is a Co-Chair of the T20 Task Force on Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture, Distinguished Fellow at the George Institute for Global Health and Chair of the Board of Bite Back 2030, a movement of young people fighting for better food systems established by Jamie Oliver. Corinna has worked for over 20 years with UN agencies, governments, universities and NGOs at the city, national and international level to support the design of more effective action throughout the food system to improve diets and nutrition. Her over 150 publications explore the food system causes and solutions to unhealthy diets. She is co-founder of the Next Gen(D)eration Leadership Collective, a leadership initiative led by women working in nutrition and food systems. She blogs at www.thebetterfoodjourney.com.

Anna T. Höglund is Professor of Care Ethics and Gender Studies. She has worked extensively on the question of ethical competence for health care practitioners. Related research areas are moral distress in clinical settings and prioritization in health care.  She has also published substantially on the topic of gender and ethics. She holds an undergraduate degree in Arts (1997) and a doctoral degree in Theology (2001) from Uppsala University. She became Associate Professor of Ethics in 2006.

Antje Becker-Benton is an international social and behavior change (SBC) specialist and program manager with 20+ years of experience in the design and implementation of SBC programming focused on health. She currently works as Managing Director, Behavior Change and Community Health for Save the Children US with a team she has grown from two to 15 staff. Across various positions based in Southern Africa, Uganda, and Ethiopia for JHU/CCP, she has developed interventions with mothers, young people, couples, sex workers, armed forces, and community organizations. For FHI360, she led the development of SBC concepts as Deputy Director for the USAID-funded, global C-Change Project. She also led the strategic design and implementation of several branded SBC campaigns in East Africa, some tailored for nomadic populations. Linking structural and individual-level perspectives from her master’s degrees in Political Science (FU-Berlin) and Behavioral Science and Health Promotion (JHU, Baltimore) is one of her strengths when developing integrated SBC strategies for food security and community health. Ms. Becker-Benton is fluent in English, German, Dutch and (less) in French.

PLENARY SESSION 4: Conclusions from workshops and take-home messages

Dr Anders Nordström is the Swedish Ambassador for Global Health at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Stockholm. Medical doctor from the Karolinska Institute. He worked for WHO as the Assistant Director General for General Management, Health Systems and Services and as Acting Director-General 2003-2008 and as the Head of the WHO Country Office in Sierra Leone 2015-17. He has served as Director-General for the Swedish International Agency for Development Cooperation (Sida). As the Interim Executive Director, he established the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria as a legal entity 2002.  Recently he headed the secretariat for the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response. He has served as board member of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, GAVI, UNAIDS and PMNCH. He is currently a member of the Alliance for Health Systems Research’s board, the Chatham House Commission for Universal Health, the International Vaccine Institute Global Advisory Group of Expert and the Virchow Foundation for Global Health Council.

Stefan SwartlingStefan Swartling Peterson is a Public Health Physician and Professor of Global Transformations for Health at Karolinska Institutet, and has appointments as visiting Professor with Makerere University School of Public health in Uganda and Uppsala University. A past of Global Chief of Health for UNICEF, he is now a Health Specialist at UNICEF Sweden. Dr Swartling’s formative work has been in East Africa over the last 20 years working on health systems and implementation science in the fields of child survival, perinatal quality of care and capacity development. Stefan worked for WHO in the Uganda Ministry of Health 1998-2000 and at the School of Public Health 2004-2007. As a health systems researcher and medical doctor with a background in Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI), he has done extensive field work in Tanzania and Uganda, and implemented projects supported by Sida, the Gates Foundation, and the European Union. He was also a co-founder of Medecins Sans Frontieres Sweden.

Loay Radwan is an environmental engineer and activist from Egypt. Over the years Loay had worked on several projects tackling the environmental issues in his community. For that, he was recognized by UN Youth Envoy as one of the 17 SDGs Young Leaders for his demonstrated achievements and impact on sustainable development. Currently, Loay is co-founding a startup that aims to help farmers adapt to the aftermath of climate change and save water. His main motive is to provide people with a better quality of life and help make a change toward a prospering Earth. Loay aspires to become a renowned entrepreneur and dedicate his career towards solving environmental challenges. 

Dr Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti is the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa. She is the first woman to be elected to this position and is now in her second term. Over the past six years, Dr Moeti has led a Transformation Agenda that is widely acknowledged to have improved WHO’s performance on emergencies, enhancing accountability, and driving progress towards Universal Health Coverage. She leads WHO’s support to the COVID19 pandemic response in Africa. Dr Moeti is a medical doctor and public health expert, with more than 41 years of experience. Under her leadership, tremendous progress has been made. Wild poliovirus was kicked out of Africa in 2020 – this is the second disease to be eradicated from the Region after smallpox 40 years ago. Investments in areas such as surveillance, training, innovation, community engagement and partnerships, have improved country capacities to prepare for and respond to health emergencies, and outbreaks of diseases like COVID-19 and Ebola. More broadly, recognition of the need for strong and resilient health systems to manage external shocks, like health emergencies, is building. Most African countries are pursuing reforms to achieve Universal Health Coverage – to expand access to services with attention to equity and reaching the most vulnerable people. Since 1999 she has held several senior positions with WHO in the African Region. Dr Moeti successfully led WHO’s “3 by 5” Initiative to expand access to antiretroviral therapy in African countries. Prior to joining WHO, Dr. Moeti worked with UNAIDS, UNICEF, and Botswana’s Ministry of Health. In recognition of her excellent service to humanity, Dr. Moeti has received many accolades and honorary fellowships from renowned academic intuitions. She is a great champion for women in leadership in global health.


Photo: Marie Sparreus/Azote

Louise Hård of Segerstad is a resilience expert and communication strategist with 20 years experience of working as a bridge between research and practitioners in the sustainability field. She is the co-director of Albaeco, an independent, non-profit organization, with the principal partner Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University and their extensive international network of transdisciplinary researchers. Albaeco works with co-learning processes with many actors: companies, municipalities, regions, and authorities around planetary boundaries, sustainability, and resilience.

Last modified: 2022-11-18