Ms. Meral Guzel

Meral Guzel is the Partnership Manager of Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator, a multi-partner initiative designed to improve women entrepreneurship around the world in collaboration with five United Nations agencies.

She has previously worked as the Women’s Empowerment Principle Specialist to establish WEPs Secretariat within UN Women. She founded and launched the Women’s Banking department of BNP Paribas TEB and also designed and managed several multi-country entrepreneurship programmes at the World Bank.

Meral has a wealth of experience in global development with 15 years of experience in programme and policy work on gender equality in collaboration with the private sector, financial institutions, governments, CSOs and institutional partners. Meral’s expertise includes women empowerment at the workplace, banking on women, financial inclusion (MSME development, remittances, access to finance) and women’s entrepreneurship.

Meral is an economist and holds Master’s degrees in High European Studies, International Finance and International Franchise and SME Development. She speaks Turkish, English, French and Spanish. She is the proud mother of three sons.

Dr. Nicholas Dercas

Professor Dercas is an Agricultural Engineer (AUA), Hydraulic Engineer (S.Sp. Institute National Polytechnique de Toulouse, France), and Civil Engineer (National Technical University of Athens). He holds a Master of Science/DEA (University of Montpellier II) and a PhD in Hydraulic Engineering (University of Montpellier II / France).

His research interests cover the area of applied agricultural hydraulics, irrigation systems and management, water resources management, crop water requirements, biomass and energy crops. He has participated in several international and national research projects.

His research work is published in peer review journals and international conferences. He is a reviewer of international scientific journals and research proposals.

Mr. Spilios Livanos

Spilios Livanos is born in Athens in 1967.

He graduated from Athens College. He studied Economics and Political Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA and International Relations and Comparative Political Analysis at the University of Reading, UK.

He was employed at the European Commission’s Social Fund in Bruxelles, then moved back in Greece as an executive on corporate development of private enterprises. In 2002, he founded a construction and real estate management company operating in Greece and Belgium.

In 2007 he was elected for the first time Member of the Greek Parliament. In 2009 he was appointed Deputy Secretary of Political Planning of New Democracy and in 2013 Secretary General of Political and Strategic Planning of New Democracy.

In 2016 he was appointed Special Counselor for Entrepreneurship to the leader of New Democracy, PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis. In 2019 he served as Parliamentary Representative for New Democracy in the Greek Parliament.

He was a member of the Standing Parliamentary Committee on Cultural and Educational Affairs, the Standing Parliamentary Committee on Economic Affairs, the Special Standing Parliamentary Committee on the Financial Statement and the General Balance Sheet and the implementation of the State Budget.

On the 4th of January 2021 he was appointed Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Food.

He speaks English and French. He is married to Domna Kyrzopoulou, lawyer with whom shares three children, Dionysis, Danae and Alice.

Dr. Nikolaos Thomaidis

Nikolaos S. Thomaidis is Professor of Analytical Chemistry in the Chemistry Department of National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. He leads a dedicated scientific group (TrAMS group), with constant research activity over the last 25 years. Prof. Thomaidis’ research interests focus on the development of cutting-edge HRMS methodologies for the thorough characterization of foods, but also of environmental and clinical samples, by applying both targeted and untargeted screening workflows.

Sophisticated chemometric tools have been developed, supporting data process and reliable evaluation of the results. Prof. Thomaidis lab has also established an accredited service laboratory according to ISO 17025, performing food analysis in line with European and International standards. His overall research activity is summed up to >250 articles, >8000 citations and a 50-h-index (Scopus ID: 6701846377). As principal investigator he has participated in several research projects, highly contributing to developing new methods and protocols in challenging authenticity and safety issues.

Dr. Phoebe Koundouri

She is a world-renowned environmental economics professor and global leader in sustainable development. She is widely recognized as a pioneer in innovative, human-centric, interdisciplinary systems for the sustainable interaction between nature, society, and the economy.

She is listed in the most-cited women economists in the world, with 15 published books and more than 450 published peer reviewed scientific papers, book chapters and reports. She is elected member of the World Academy of Art & Science, President-elect of the European Association of Environmental and Natural Resource Economists and she has received numerous international awards for academic excellence, including the prestigious European Research Council Synergy Grant (2020). With 100 European/Global research projects/initiatives and a team of 150 researchers, her work defines global policies and supports human well-being across the globe.

She holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge and has taught at Cambridge, UCL, LSE, Reading University. Since 2006 she is professor at the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB), founder/director of the ReSEES Research Laboratory (AUEB), the Sustainable Development Unit (ATHENA Informatics Research and Innovation Center) and the Climate-KIC HUB Greece of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology .

She chairs the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network – Europe, the International Center for Research ICRE8 and the SAB of European Forest Institute. She is a commissioner of the global COVID-19 Lancet Commission, member of the Pissaridis Commission (10 year Greek Development Plan) and of the National Climate Change Committee of Greece, and an advisor to the EU, the World Bank, the UN, NATO, the WHO and other international organizations and governments worldwide.

Ms. Alia El-Yassir

Ms. Alia El-Yassir (Canada) has been working with UN Women since 2011.  Prior to assuming her role as Regional Director, she worked with UN Women as Deputy Regional Director and as Representative at country level. In these roles, she has supported normative processes and UN coordination efforts, as well as complex programmes and projects for tackling gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Before taking on these roles within UN Women, she worked with UNIFEM and UNDP. She also has experience in the science education field. Alia is a strong believer in volunteerism and has supported a number of women and human rights NGOs in a volunteer capacity.  She holds a BSc degree in Biology from McGill University and an MSc degree in Desert Studies from Ben Gurion University of the Negev.

Ms. Alexandra Nikolakopoulou

Alexandra Nikolakopoulou received her law degree from the University of Athens after which she was called to the Athens Bar. She completed her DEA in European law at the University of Toulouse. After three years working for the legal Unit of the European Commission’s Consumer Protection Directorate General she joined EuroCommerce, the European Association of retail and wholesale companies, where she worked as a food law advisor.

She joined DG SANTE in 2003 (ex DG SANCO) where she serves today as Head of Unit in the Unit ‘Farm to Fork Strategy’ in the Food Safety Directorate. She has been leading and coordinating the work for the adoption the EU Farm to Fork Strategy and she is in charge of some of the main initiatives of the strategy such as on the general framework for sustainable food systems, front of pack labelling and nutrient profiles, origin labelling, sustainable labelling, food waste.

Throughout her career in DG SANTE she has been dealing with issues relating to food labelling and general food law. More specifically she was responsible for the preparation, negotiation and adoption of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of Food Information to Consumers and of the recent Transparency Regulation.

Mr. Tassos Haniotis

Tassos Haniotis is Director for “Strategy, Simplification and Policy Analysis” in the DG for Agriculture and Rural development of the European Commission. The mission of the Directorate is to contribute to the overall strategic orientation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) by (i) providing policy perspectives and analysis on topics related to the agriculture and rural economy in the European Union, including in the development of the EU’s annual outlook baseline, (ii) coordinating the DG’s impact assessment of major policy initiatives by providing evidence-based analysis to support legislative proposals, and to support the adaptation of the CAP through the evaluation of its effectiveness, efficiency and impact based on its common monitoring and evaluation framework.

He has also held posts as Acting Director for Direct Payments, as Head of Unit in the Units for Agricultural Policy Analysis and Perspectives, and for Agricultural Trade Policy Analysis in DG AGRI, as Deputy Head of Cabinet of former European Commissioner for Agriculture Franz Fischler, and as Agricultural Counsellor in the European Commission’s Delegation in the US.

Tassos holds Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Agricultural Economics from the University of Georgia in the U.S., and a B.A. in Economics from the Athens University of Economics and Business in his native Greece, and was a visiting Fellow at the Centre for European Agricultural Studies, Wye College, University of London, focusing on EU-US agricultural trade relations in the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations before joining the European Commission.

A member of the Executive of the International Agricultural Trade Research Consortium during 2012-14, Tassos currently represents the European Commission in the G20’s Rapid Response Forum and GEOGLAM Advisory Committee.

Mr. Harry Theocharis

Harry Theocharis is the Greek minsiter of Tourism. He was first elected as a member of the Hellenic Parliament in January 2015.

Mr. Theocharis has served as a secretary general for information systems and as a secretary general for public revenues, when he reorganized the agency and succeeded in meeting budget revenues and producing a fiscal surplus.

He earned his Master’s with honors in software engineering from Imperial College.