Speakers 09.12.2020

  Esko Aho is Chairman of the Board of Cinia Oy and on the Supervisory Board of Sberbank. He is a member of Europe, Middle East and Africa Advisory Council at JP Morgan. Mr. Aho was a Member of the Finnish Parliament 1983 – 2003 and Prime Minister 1991 - 1995. Under his leadership, Finland joined the European Union. After his political career, Mr. Aho was a President of the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra and thereafter Executive Vice President at Nokia Corporation. He was an Executive Chairman of the Board of East Office of Finnish Industries 2013 - 2019. At present he is Senior Advisor at East Office. Furthermore he served as a member of the Executive Board at the International Chamber of Commerce 2013 - 2019. He acted as Chairman of the Board at ICC Executive Board Policy and Commissions Committee for four years. He is an invited member of Club de Madrid, an independent organization of former heads of state and government dedicated to strengthening democracy. Througout his career, Esko Aho has been active in the world of academia.
Kerry Brown is Professor of Chinese Studies and Director of the Lau China Institute at King’s College, London. He is an Associate of the Asia Pacific Programme at Chatham House, London, an adjunct of the Australia New Zealand School of Government in Melbourne, and the co-editor of the Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, run from the German Institute for Global Affairs in Hamburg. He is President-Elect of the Kent Archaeological Society. Professor Brown directed the Europe China Research and Advice Network (ECRAN) giving policy advice to the European External Action Service between 2011 and 2014. He is the author of almost 20 books on modern Chinese politics, and has written for every major international news outlet, and been interviewed by every major news channel on issues relating to contemporary China.
Xiaoqian Chen is Associated Professor in Beijing Forestry University school of Economics and Management and a Senior Expert on China Europe Forest Bioeconomy at the European Forest Institute. She is the coordinator and one of the authors of the new EFI EU China Forest Bioeconomy: Overview and Assessment Report. Xiaoqian holds a bachelor's degree in statistic and PhD in Forestry Economics and management from Beijing Forestry University.  From 2017 to 2018, Xiaoqian spent one-year research time in Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies as the Fulbright visiting scholar.  In the past 20 years, Xiaoqian‘s research areas include forest bioeconomy, forest trade and investment and forest governance. Her works often targeted science based police interaction and included several policy support studies for National State Forestry and Grassland Administration and European Commission. She also had rich project implementation experiences. She worked for World Bank, ADB, FAO’s forest related program in China as the forestry expert, also implemented forest related project for TNC, WWF, IUCN China office.


Rach Colling is Head of Communications at the European Forest Institute. Rach joined EFI in 2011, and has been responsible for the development of EFI’s policy support communications, as well as managing and developing digital communications tools. She has over 20 years’ experience in science communication, and prior to joining EFI ran a successful communications business working with UK government agencies and universities. Before that, Rach worked for BBC News Online as a journalist, as well as in communications/marketing for various UK universities. She has a masters’ degree in international relations from Cambridge University and trained as a journalist in the UK. 


Zhao Kai is the Executive Vice President of China Association of Circular Economy (CACE). He has over 20 years’ experience in energy conservation and circular economy. He has master's degree in business administration from Peking University. Zhao Kai is the senior engineer and is also the member in different professional memberships, such as the Member of National Technical Committee on Environmental Protection (SAC/TC 275), Member of National Technical Committee on the Basis and Management of Product Recycling and Utilization (SAC/TC 415), Member of National Technical Committee on Energy System (SAC/TC 459) and Member of National Energy Conservation Center Expert Group.


Maarit Kallio is a professor of Forest Policy and Economics at Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), Norway. She is the lead author of the China-Europe Forest Bioeconomy: Assessment and Outlook study.  Before joining the NMBU she was working as a senior scientist in the Natural Resources Institute Finland. Kallio is also the coordinator of the Forest Sector Analysis unit at International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO).  Kallio holds a Ph.D. (Econ.) in management science from Aalto University, Finland. Thorough her career, she has done policy relevant economic research and consulting in the broad field of forest sector questions related, e.g., to competition analyses, trade, FLEGT, biodiversity conservation, wood-based energy, climate change mitigation, bioeconomy, and forest reference levels. She has developed several modelling tools for such analyses.
Christine Lang is an entrepreneur in biotechnology and a consultant on bioeconomy to the German government. She served as Co-Chair of the German Bioeconomy Council and is an initiator of the Global Bioeconomy Summits and she is co-chair of International Advisory Council on Global Bioeconomy (IACGB). She is also Associate Professor for Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at the Technical University Berlin and president of the German Association of General and Applied Microbiology (VAAM). In 2001, Lang founded Organobalance GmbH, which became part of Novozymes S.A. in 2016 and where she served as the CEO until June 2018. Christine Lang is also co-founder and CSO of BELANO Medical AG that focuses on research and marketing of microbiotic products for human health.  


Janez Potočnik is the current ThinkForest president. He is also Co-Chair of the International Resource Panel hosted by UNEP, Chairman of the Forum for the Future of Agriculture and RISE Foundation and a Member of the European Policy Centre's Advisory Council. After a successful career in Slovenia as a researcher at the Institute of Economic Research, Director of the Institute of Macroeconomic Analysis and Development, he was appointed Head of Negotiating Team for the Accession of Slovenia to the EU (1998). He was also Director of Government Office for European Affairs (2000), Minister Councillor at the Office of the Prime Minister (2001) and Minister responsible for European Affairs (2002). In 2004 he joined the European Commission, first as shadow Commissioner for Enlargement, then as Commissioner responsible for Science and Research, and from 2010-2014 as Commissioner for Environment.