Speakers 27.10.2020


Göran Berndes is professor in Biomass and Land Use at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden. His research integrates land use, industrial, transport and energy systems at scales ranging from local case studies to the global context. Recent years, much of the research has concerned climate and environmental effects of bioenergy and other biobased systems. Berndes has contributed as author in several IPCC reports and is also engaged in the implementing agreement for bioenergy within the International Energy Agency (IEA Bioenergy) where he currently leads Task 45 - Climate and sustainability effects of bioenergy within the broader bioeconomy. At Chalmers, he leads the profile Energy in a Circular Economy within Chalmers Energy Area of Advance.


Virpi Haavisto is coach of high-performing creative professionals, leaders, and teams. She is an experienced solution-focused professional coach, facilitator, trainer, speaker, host and lecturer in private and public organisations, NGOs and academia. Her international work experience is from expert organisations in France (Impremerie Nationale), Switzerland (CERN), the UK (Salford University) and the US (New York University Stern School of Business). By her education, Virpi is M.Sc. (Tech) in Forest Products Technology from Helsinki University of Technology. Virpi is the founder and leader of Creative Leaders Forum and the founder and CEO of Avantage, a coaching company specialized in helping high-performing professionals and teams to find their clarity and focus. Outside of work she loves long walks in the forest.


Tom Heap is a journalist with 20 years experience of science and environment reporting. He presents the BBC Radio environment series 'Costing the Earth' and the current affairs element of the popular TV programme Countryfile. OUtside of work he likes biking, hiking, watching movies and splitting logs. 


Lauri Hetemäki is the Assistant Director at the European Forest Institute (EFI), and is responsible for managing the institute’s science-policy work. He is also Adjunct Professor at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Helsinki. He has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Helsinki. He is the author of 200 scientific and popular publications. Previously Hetemäki worked as a part-time Professor in Forest Sector Foresight at the University of Eastern Finland; Head of Programme at EFI, and as a Senior Researcher at the Finnish Forest Research Institute. He is a Fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry.
Terhi Lehtonen joined the Ministry of the Environment as State Secretary 4 July 2019 from European Commission Directorate General for Climate Action. Before DG CLIMA she advised the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament on environmental and climate policy for 14 years. From 2001-2003 she worked as the head of office for MEP Heidi Hautala in Brussels and Strasbourg. Ms Lehtonen set up the European Office of City of Turku – Southwest Finland in Brussels in 1998 and represented the region towards the EU institutions until 2001. She also worked for the Finnish Embassy in Brussels as a trainee in 1997 and as an attachée during the 1999 EU Presidency.
Kai Lintunen is Head of International Communication with the Finnish Forest Association. He is also team leader of the UNECE-FAO Forest Communicators’ Network (FCN), as well as the European representative in the FAO global forest communications coordination group. He has more than 20 years of experience in international communication on natural resources. Previously he has held several positions in industries, environmental communication and consultancy institutions, specializing in international issues. Kai holds a Master of Science in Agriculture and Forestry, M.Sc.(Agr.&For.) degree from the University of Helsinki, specializing in environmental/land use economics and communication. 


Silvia Melegari was appointed Joint Secretary for the European Confederation of the Woodworking Industries (CEI-Bois) and of the European Organisation of the Sawmill Industry (EOS) on September 14 2020. Since 2015 Mrs Melegari has been working for EOS and advocating for the interest of the European mechanical wood industries. Having concluded her studies at the Law University in Modena with a final specialisation in political relations between States and Catholic Church, Mrs Melegari went on to obtain also an University Master’s Degree in Advanced European Studies at the European College of Parma. Previously, Mrs Melegari worked for the European Panel Federation (EPF), where she was holding the position of Environment & Research Adviser. Overall, she has an extensive experience in the promotion of wood as environmental and sustainable material and in European affairs & correlated advocacy actions.


Maria Patek is Director General for Forestry and Sustainability in the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism. She started her career in 1983 at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management and was Head of the Austrian Service for Torrent and Avalanche Control for 14 years before being appointed as Director General for Water Management in 2016. Since 2018, Maria Patek is Director General for Forestry and Sustainability with a brief interruption when serving as Federal Minister of Sustainability and Tourism in Austria’s interim government from June 2019 to January 2020. She holds a degree of Forestry & Wood Management as well as a Master’s Degree in Business Administration.


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.
Lea Ranacher is a senior researcher for Market Analysis and Innovation Research at Wood K plus in Austria. She has a background in Natural Resources Management and focuses on the public perception of the forest-based sector as well as consumer studies on wood and wood-based products. She received her PhD in Social and Economic Sciences from the University of Natural Resources Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU) Austria, where she also teaches at the Institute of Marketing and Innovation.


Christopher Raymond is a Professor in Sustainability Science, Sustainability Transformations and Ecosystem Services, at the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS), University of Helsinki.  He is also the Coordinating Lead Author of the IPBES Values Assessment (Chapter 2, Concepts) and Coordinator of ENVISION and VIVA-PLAN projects seeking to develop new ways of engaging society in integrated landscape management. In recent years, his research has focused on the socio-cultural values of nature, evaluating the co-benefits of nature-based solutions and co-creating knowledge for sustainability. At HELSUS, Christopher leads the Urban Sustainability theme and the Human-Nature Transformations Research Group.  Prior to his appointment as Professor at the University of Helsinki in 2018, Christopher held research roles at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, the University of Copenhagen, the University of Tasmania and the University of South Australia.  Concurrently, he was Director of an environmental consulting company named Enviroconnect.


Linde Zuidema is a senior advisor of the forest & climate programme at Fern, a non-governmental organisation that works on EU policies that affect forests. At Fern, she has focused on the design of the 2030 Climate and Energy Package from the perspective of forests and bioenergy use. In 2019-2020, Linde was a Policy Leader Fellow at the European University Institute, where she conducted a research on state aid in the area of bioenergy. She regularly contributes to public events and in media on climate change, the state of European forests, and bioeconomy- and bioenergy sustainability. Before joining Fern in 2013, Linde worked as a programme leader at the European Policy Centre and as policy advisor and researcher for ClientEarth, the European Parliament and the Council of Europe. Linde has started her career as a consultant in the private sector. She has an academic background in law and political sciences.



MP photo by BMLRT/Paul Gruber .