Opening Remarks

Maimunah Mohd Sharif

Maimunah Mohd Sharif

Executive Director, UN-Habitat

Speaker of the Opening Ceremony

Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif (Malaysia) is the Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), appointed at the level of Under-Secretary-General by the Secretary-General, following an election by the General Assembly on 22 December 2017. On 22 January 2018, Ms. Sharif assumed her post at UN-Habitat’s Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. She succeeds Dr. Joan Clos of Spain.

Prior to this appointment, Ms. Sharif was the Mayor of the City Council of Penang Island, Malaysia. In 2011, she became the first woman to be appointed President of the Municipal Council of Seberang Perai. As mayor, she led the Municipal Council of Seberang Perai to achieve its vision of a “cleaner, greener, safer and healthier place to work, live, invest and play.” She is a champion of Gender-Responsive Participatory Budgeting and Planning, integrating gender perspectives into the governance process. During her tenure, the Municipal Council of Seberang Perai was the first Local Authority to implement and achieve six quality-based management ISO certifications.

Ms. Sharif began her career as a town planner at the Municipal Council of Penang Island in 1985. In 2003, she was promoted to Director of Planning and Development, a position she held until November 2009. As Director, she was responsible for the preparation of structure and local plans and was directly involved in the development management of Penang City’s projects and landscape. She also led a team which planned and implemented urban renewal projects in George Town. In November 2009, as its General Manager, Ms. Sharif established George Town World Heritage Incorporated and managed the George Town World Heritage Site, which was inscribed by UNESCO in July 2008.

Born in Kuala Pilah, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia, on 26 August 1961, Ms. Sharif holds a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Town Planning Studies from the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology, UK and a Master of Science in Planning Studies from the Malaysia Science University. She has received several awards, including, “Planner of The Year 2014” by the Malaysian Institute of Planners, the 2016 Global Human Settlements Outstanding Contribution Award during Habitat III in Quito, for her contribution in sustainable planning in Seberang Perai and from the Penang State Government. On 11 January 2018, she received an award from the Malaysia Book of Records recognizing her for being the first Asian woman to be appointed as Executive Director of UN-Habitat. She is married to Mr. Adli Lai and has two daughters.

Yuen Pau Woo

Hon. Yuen Pau Woo

Senator, Canada

Speaker of the Opening Ceremony

Appointed to the Senate of Canada in November 2016, the Honourable Yuen Pau Woo sits as an independent representing British Columbia.  He has been the Facilitator of the Independent Senators Group since 2017, and was re-elected for a second two–year term in December 2019.

Senator Woo has worked on public policy issues related to Canada’s relations with Asian countries for more than 30 years.  From 2005-2014, he was President and CEO of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, where he continues to serve as Distinguished East Asia Fellow. He is also Senior Fellow at Simon Fraser University’s Graduate School of Business, and at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia.  He is a member of the Trilateral Commission and on the board of the Vancouver Academy of Music. He also serves on the Advisory Boards of the Mosaic Institute, the Canadian Ditchley Foundation, and the York Centre for Asian Research.

Senator Woo has been a member of the following Senate Standing Committees: Foreign Affairs and International Trade; National Finance; Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources; Selection; and Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament.

Claver Gatete

Hon. Claver Gatete

Minister of infrastructure of Rwanda

Speaker of the Opening Ceremony

Amb. Claver GATETE was appointed as the Minister of Infrastructure on 6 April 2018.

Prior to this appointment, he served as Minister of Finance and Economic Planning since February 2013. He had previously served as the Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda (2011 to 2013), having previously served as its Deputy Governor. Amb. Gatete also served as Rwanda’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Iceland from November 2005 to December 2009. He is also currently a member of the Presidential Advisory Council.

Prior to that, Amb. Claver Gatete had served successively as the Secretary General and Secretary to the Treasury in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Personal Representative of the President on NEPAD Steering Committee in the Office of the President, Coordinator of the National African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), member of the APR National Commission; and Member of the NEPAD’s African Partnership Forum (APF) and the Director General for Social and Economic Affairs. He also worked with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – Kigali-Rwanda, as a National Economist.

Amb. Claver Gatete has held various positions on Key Boards of Directors including: Chairman of Rwanda Revenue Authority and School of Finance and Banking as Chairman; member of the Board of the National Bank of Rwanda; Chairman of National Privatization Technical Committee; and Vice-Chairman of Community Development Fund.

He also held positions in other key taskforce committees serving as Chairman of the National Treasury Management Committee and Co-Chair of Development Partners Coordination Group.

Amb. Gatete holds a Masters in Agricultural Economics from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C., Canada (1993) and an undergraduate degree from the same University (1991). Upon completion of his undergraduate and postgraduate studies, Amb. Gatete worked in Canada as an Economist; Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, Statistics Canada, University of British Columbia and Algonquin College.

Amb. Claver Gatete’s publications include among others:

-Canadian Agri-food Medium Term Policy Baseline (with Merritt Cluff, Hsin Huang, Rebecca Ewing and Mitch Wensley). Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, December, 1997;

-Pacific Food Outlook (with Brad Gilmour and Lars Brink). Pacific Economic Cooperation Council, Nov. 1997, pp.22;

-Econometric Analysis of the Coffee Supply in Rwanda. U.B.C., Department of Agricultural Economics Working Paper, (1996).

- Analysis of Kenyan Coffee Supply Response (with Mary Bohman and James Vercammen). Paper presented to WAEC-CAEFMS conference, Edmonton, July, 1993. Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics 40 (1993) No.4, PP. 506;

-Economic Analysis of Coffee Supply in Kenya. Msc. Thesis, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C., 1993;

-Optimal Hedging under Alternative Capital Structures and Risk Aversion: Comment (with Victor Gaspar and James Vercammen). Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics 40 (1992) PP.499;

Suzanne Fortier

Suzanne Fortier

Principal and Vice-Chancellor, McGill University, Canada

Speaker of the Opening Ceremony

Suzanne Fortier has served as Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University since September 2013. Prior to her appointment as Principal, Professor Fortier was President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) from 2006 to 2013, and held the position of Vice-Principal (Academic) from 2000 to 2005 and Vice-Principal (Research) from 1995 to 2000 at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, where she was a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and in the School of Computing (1982-2006).

A native of St-Timothée, Québec, Professor Fortier graduated from McGill with a BSc (1972) and a PhD in Crystallography (1976). Her research work has focused in the development of mathematical and artificial intelligence methodologies for protein structure determination. She has also made contributions to the development of novel techniques in crystallographic data mining to gain new insights from the large structural databases.

Professor Fortier was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2018. She is also an officer of France’s National Order of Merit, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and was named a Specially Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (2015). She holds honorary doctorates from Thompson Rivers University, Carleton University, and the University of Glasgow.

Professor Fortier currently serves as Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global University Leaders Forum (GULF), as a member of the HEC Paris International Advisory Board, on the Boards of the McCall MacBain Scholarships at McGill and the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), and is an Academic Member of the Board of Governors of the Technion Israel Institute of Technology. She also serves on the Canadian Business-Higher Education Roundtable, the Catalyst Canada Advisory Board, as well as the Boards of Directors of Montreal International, and the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.

She has previously served as a member of several boards and councils, including the federal government's Council of Science and Technology Advisors (CSTA), the Board of Directors of the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Steering Committee of the Networks of Centres of Excellence, the Ontario Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress, Universities Canada, the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, the Canadian Federal Minister of Finance’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth, the Conference Board of Canada, and served as a member and Vice-Chair of the Science, Technology and Innovation Council (STIC).


Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi

Secretary General of United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa), Morocco

Speaker of the Opening Ceremony

Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi is the Secretary General of United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa) since 2007. He has been the Chairperson of the Cities Alliance Interim Management Board till April 2016. He is also Co-Chair of World Cities Scientific Development Alliance-WCSDA, and Deputy Secretary General of the China-Africa forum of local governments. Mr. Elong Mbassi is the man behind the Africities Summit, the largest event of cities, regions and local communities in Africa, where he oversees the organization since the first edition in 1998.

Mr. Elong Mbassi has a rich experience of nearly 40 years in the field of urban development and planning, urban services, local economic development, local governance, housing and of slum upgrading. From 1996 to 1999 he was the first Secretary General of the World Association of Cities and Local Authorities Coordination-WACLAC at the same time he held the position of Secretary General of the Municipal Development Partnership, MDP from 1992 to 2006. Previously, from 1981 to 1991, Mr. Elong Mbassi was the director of the first urban project financed by the World Bank in Cameroon and which focused on the restructuring and development of a slums area of 300,000 inhabitants in the city Douala. Mr. Elong Mbassi began his career in Paris, France where he was responsible for research and project manager at the Agency of Cooperation and Planning ('Agence Coopération et Aménagement ) from 1973 to 1980.

Peter Guo-hua Fu

Peter Guo-hua Fu

President of KFS Architects Inc. Canada/China

Professor at Peter Guo-hua Fu School of Architecture, McGill University, Canada

Speaker of the Opening Ceremony

Peter Guo-hua Fu was born in Shanghai, China, he studied architecture and urban planning, starting from 1980 at College of Architecture and Urban Planning Tongji University and McGill University School of Architecture, Canada, received Ph.D of architecture, master of urban planning.For the first decade of his career, he started as architect at Pertroff Partnership Architects (Canada, Toronto) and then moved to Zeidler Roberts Partnership Architects (Canada, Toronto); after that, Peter joined B+H Architects, Toronto as senior architect, vice president. Today, he is president and chief architect at KFS Architects Inc. Canada; director of KFS Dance & Musical; professor of practice at Peter Guo-hua Fu School of Architecture, McGill University; professor at School of Design, Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

For 20 years, Mr. Peter Guo-hua Fu has led many urban design projects, including one of the seven design proposals of 2010 Shanghai Expo, Shanghai “North American Style Town” Planning, Shanghai Qingpu Central Area Planning and Implementation, Russia St. Petersburg Baltic Pearl, Hainan Sanya 1# Yalong Bay Planning. Design projects led by him including public buildings, residential buildings, interior design located in many major cities in China like Shanghai. He has many extraordinary design works, acquired many noble awards: one of “Top 20 Most Influential Architects in China” by CIHAF, 2004; top one of “Most Welcomed Architects in Shanghai” by newspaper publisher in 2004.

Since 2017, the famous McGill University, Canada, which has a history of over 200 years, named its school of architecture with 120 years history, as Peter Guo-hua Fu School of Architecture, permanently, and invited him as professor of practice. In 2014, Mr. Peter Guo-hua Fu participated in performing field, committed himself in combining architecture and drama, “drama” and “stage”. Three years after he designed the Music Box by KFS using recycled containers and acquired national patent, he wrote and directed three musicals themed with architects, performed at the Music Box by KFS in Shanghai Culture Square, “Memories of the Valley”, “My Albert”, “Exchange Students”. The performances obtained Shanghai Cultural Innovation Fund, as well as consequent top 3 to 5 box office China Small Theatre.

In 2020, he cooperated with Shanghai Ballet as one of the chief directors, created one-act ballet “Cyan, Blue, Purple”, with inspiration from “Memories of the Valley”, “My Albert” and “Exchange Students”.

Matti Siemiatycki

Matti Siemiatycki

Director of School of Cities, University of Toronto, Canada

Canada Research Chair, Department of Geography & Planning, University of Toronto, Canada

Speaker of the Opening Ceremony

Professor Matti Siemiatycki is Associate Professor in the Department of Geography & Planning, and Canada Research Chair in Infrastructure Planning and Finance. His research focuses on delivering large-scale infrastructure projects, public-private partnerships, and the effective integration of infrastructure into the fabric of cities. Professor Siemiatycki was a faculty leader of StudentMoveTO, a joint initiative between the University of Toronto, York, Ryerson and OCADU that successfully developed a model for inter-university research collaboration and mobilization on city-building issues. Professor Siemiatycki is a highly engaged public scholar with a deep commitment to informing public discourse about city building. He regularly provides advice to governments, civic institutions and industry, and is a frequent commentator in the media and public realm on urban issues, with a honed ability to communicate with various audiences.

Huhua Cao

Huhua Cao

Co-president of ICCCASU

Full Professor, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada

Speaker of the Opening Ceremony

Dr. Huhua Cao is a cross-appointed Full Professor within the Department of Geography Environment and Geomatics and the School of International Development and Global Studies at the University of Ottawa in Canada. He has been developing his specialization in urban studies, particularly on topics related to city, population, mobility, and environment from an international perspective throughout the near 25 years of his university career in Canada. Professor Cao directed various national and international transdisciplinary research and training projects that have received significant funding from Canada, the European Union, China, and Cameroon. He has also written the near 100 of articles, chapters, books, and reports while collaborating with academics, professionals, and politicians all over the world. His research interests have been gradually shifted from academic studies to applying the research results to the policy-making process, and then became keen on dialogues between scholars, practitioners, representatives of civil society, politicians, and policymakers. Since 2015, as the founding co-president, Professor Cao has led a joint initiative with The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat): The International Conference on Canadian, Chinese and African Sustainable Urbanization (ICCCASU). ICCCASU is an international think-tank for promoting sustainable and inclusive urban development in a forum based on the diverse but complementary experiences in the rapidly urbanizing areas of the world, with a particular focus on Canada, China and Africa. Over the past six years, ICCCASU has proved to be a reliable and authoritative voice, developing networks among urban researchers and practitioners worldwide.