Department of Economic and Social Affairs Public Institutions
Elliott Harris

Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development, Chief Economist, UN DESA


Mr. Harris brings over 25 years of international experience in the fields of international economics and development policy analysis, coupled with knowledge of the United Nations system, multilateral and inter–agency coordination processes. He has extensive experience in the design of macroeconomic policies and its application as a central instrument for the reduction of poverty and for resilient and sustained economic development. His work in the field of economics also focuses on the macroeconomic linkages with global social and environmental policies. Since 2015, Mr. Harris has served as Assistant Secretary-General and Head of the New York Office of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). He joined UNEP’s Senior Management Team in 2013 as Director of the New York Office and Secretary to the Environment Management Group. Prior to joining UNEP, Mr. Harris began his career in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1988, where he worked in the African Department and the Fiscal Affairs Department. In 2002 he became an Adviser in the Policy Development and Review Department, and was appointed in 2008 as Special Representative to the United Nations, in addition to serving as Assistant Director of the Strategy and Policy Review Department. Mr. Harris holds a Bachelor of Science degree in German and political science and an advanced degree in economics. He was awarded an Advanced Studies Certificate in international economics and policy research from the Institute of World Economics in Kiel, Germany.


Louis Meuleman

CEPA Member


Dr. Louis Meuleman is policy and governance advisor, manager and trainer on (sustainability) governance and metagovernance, public administration reform and sustainability transitions. He is Rapporteur (2019-20) and Member (2018-21) of the UN Committee of Experts on Public Administration (CEPA). He works at the European Commission, DG Environment, in Brussels, as coordinator Environmental Implementation Review and European Semester. Louis has an MsC in environmental biology and a Phd in public administration. His latest book is Metagovernance for sustainability: A framework for implementing the SDGs (Routledge, London, 2018). He is visiting professor at the Public Governance Institute of the University of Leuven (Belgium), senior fellow at the Center for Governance and Sustainability of the University of Massachusetts Boston (USA) and research associate at the Public Administration & Policy Group of Wageningen University & Research (Netherlands). His experience as public manager at subnational, national and European level covers 30 years. In addition, he publishes on topical governance challenges and has presented or moderated at UN conferences in many countries. Louis’ PhD thesis (2008) focused on metagovernance: how to create and manage situationally successful combinations of hierarchical, network and market styles of governance. He concludes that it is not one style, but the optimal governance mixture that works in practice, and that what works where depends among others on national/regional/local cultures and traditions.


Mr. Rajnish Hawabhay

Chief Technical Officer Ministry of Technology, Communication and Innovation, Mauritius


Mr. Rajnish Hawabhay, have some 25 years’ experience in the ICT sector. He earned Masters in Leadership Development in ICT and the Knowledge Society degree as well as an MBA (with specialisation in Finance) from the University of Mauritius. Mr. Hawabhay served as Acting Director of the Central Informatics Bureau from February 2008 to November 2014. His main responsibilities were to drive the Digital Government agenda. He assumed the position of Chief Technical Officer (CTO) at the Ministry of Information Technology, Communication and Innovation in November 2014. As CTO, he assists the Ministry in ICT policy formulation, and oversees the Digital Government and the Cybersecurity agendas.



Karen Kee

International and Community Development Lead Government Technology Agency, Singapore


Karen leads the international and community development group at GovTech. Through her mission with international relations, she represents Singapore globally at many overseas forums. She manages the community outreach to various community groups on behalf of Govtech to share on Govtech products and manages the developer relations. She is passionate about building developer communities to build great products for and with the government. Throughout her career, she has managed several government-wide projects. Prior to this role, Karen has spent many years in Accenture developing government-wide systems and a telco's billing system. She graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Science (Information Systems).




H.E. Nele Leosk

Ambassador-at-Large for Digital Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Estonia


Ms. Nele Leosk is an Ambassador-at-Large for Digital Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Estonia. She is devoted to digital transformation of governments, economies and societies at large. Previously, she acted as the Executive Director of IGL, a research and consulting company specializing in digital governance. She also served as the Programme Director at e-Governance Academy in Estonia, and at the Foresight Centre of the Parliament of Estonia, looking at how technological trends such as big data, AI, and IoT could adhere public governance and digital economy. She has experienced the life of international and inter-governmental organisations as well as academia. She holds a PhD in Political and Social Sciences from the European University Institute (EUI), Italy, and she is a former Fulbright-Schuman grantee at the National Centre for Digital Government at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and at the Governance Lab at New York University, USA.


Mr. Hebert Paguas

Executive Director, AGESIC


Mr Paguas is also currently the General Director of the Presidency of Uruguay. He’s responsable for coordinating and managing the different services provided by such office. During the last period , he was the Secretary of the Chambers of Senators at the Uruguayan Parliament . Coordination of the agenda of the Chamber sessions, preparation and distribution of documents, interacting with the different members of the Chamber, directing meetings, are some of the tasks involved in this position




Mr. Vincenzo Aquaro

Chief of Digital Government Branch in the Division for Public Institutions and Digital Government - Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations


Mr. Vincenzo Aquaro is the Chief of the Digital Government in the Division for Public Institutions and Digital Government - Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations, supporting the Secretariat in promoting digital government, and leading the UN flagship publication E-government Survey. In 2019 Aquaro was named in Apolitical's list of the World’s Top 100 most influential people in digital government. Aquaro has 30 years of experience in ICT in the public sector including extensive senior leadership. He has served as CEO of an Italian corporate specialized in project management and evaluation of strategic ICT projects, and as chairman of the Consortium for Automation and Risk Management in Agriculture, specialized in ICT bank solutions for SME in agriculture. With the University of Roma3 he also co-chaired two editions of the Master Degree in ICT Governance in Public Administration. Aquaro holds a Master Degree in Electronic Engineering from University of Bari, Italy.


Mr. Anir Chowdhoury

Policy Advisor, a2i – Innovate for All Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh


Anir Chowdhury is the Policy Advisor of the a2i Program of the ICT Division and the Cabinet Division of the Government of Bangladesh supported by the UNDP and Gates Foundation. In this capacity, he leads the formation of a whole-of-society innovation ecosystem in Bangladesh through massive technology deployment, extensive capacity development, integrated policy formulation, whole-of-government institutional reform, and an Innovation Fund. His work on innovation in public service has developed interesting and replicable models of service delivery decentralization, public-private partnerships, and transformation of a traditional bureaucracy into a forward-looking, citizen-centric service provider. He is a regular speaker in international conferences on public service innovation and reform, digital financial inclusion, civil registration and digital identity management, SDGs, youth and community empowerment, educational transformation, public-private partnerships, and South-South Cooperation. He is a member of the Prime Minister’s National Digital Task Force, Education Minister’s National ICT in Education Task Force, UNESCAP Regional Steering Group for Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS), Co-Founder and Board Member of South-South Network for Public Service Innovation (SSN4PSI) and Co-Founder of South-Asia Civil Registration Network (CR8). He co-founded several software and service companies and non-profit organizations in the US and Bangladesh. Anir graduated magna cum laude in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics from Brown University and did post-graduate work on management, marketing, and education reform in Harvard, Columbia, and Boston Universities.


Nazgul Bazhayeva

Director of Digital Transformation, Ministry of Digital Development, Innovations and Aerospace Industry(MDDIA), Kazakhstan


Nazgul contributed to a variety of important and impactful projects, including the development of e-government, the creation of the state corporation “Government for Citizens, as well as the implementation of the state program “Digital Kazakhstan”. In 2019, Nazgul was appointed as a first Digital Ambassador in San Francisco. In her role, she worked to attract investment to Kazakhstan. Nazgul was previously a member of the Board of Directors of Zerde National Infocommunication holding JSC. Nazgul graduated from Boston University, where she received master’s degree in computer information systems. Nazgul received several honors, including: a certificate of honor awarded as a badge from the First President recognizing me as the "best civil servant”; and also a certificate of honor from the Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan for organizing the international innovation forum "Digital Bridge".


Deniz Susar

Governance and Public Administration Officer UN DESA


Deniz Susar is a Governance and Public Administration Officer, Digital Government Branch, Division for Public Institutions and Digital Government is a Governance and Public Administration Officer at the Division for Public Institutions and Digital Government of UNDESA. Deniz’s main work areas include digital government and preparation of the biannual UNDESA flagship publication ‘United Nations E-Government Survey'. As part of his current role, he also supports the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). HIs main research areas include e-government, open government, citizen engagement, internet governance, artificial intelligence and other frontier technologies and open government data. Deniz holds a Master Degree on International Political Economy and Development from Fordham University, New York, United States and a Computer Engineering degree from the Bosphorus University of Istanbul, Turkey.


Arpine Korekyan

Governance and Public Administration Officer UN DESA


Arpine Korekyan is a Governance and Public Administration Officer at the Division for Public Institutions and Digital Government of UNDESA. Among many topics, her work during the last 6 years focused on blockchain, open government data, digital/electronic government, public participation, and public-sector innovation. She has more than 18 years of overall experience and prior to UNDESA her career progressed in socio-economic development filed in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and select countries is East Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East. She holds Master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School of Government (2009), Master of Science degree in Development Management from the London School of Economics and Political Affairs, (2003) and Master of Arts degree in International Relations and History from Yerevan State University (1996).


Mr. Dimitrios Sarantis

Senior Academic Fellow, United Nations University (UNU-EGOV), Portugal


Demetrios Sarantis is a Senior Academic Fellow at UNU-EGOV. Demetrios graduated in Electrical and Computer Engineering by the National Technical University of Athens, holds a MSc in Operational Research and Information Systems from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a PhD in e-Government from the National Technical University of Athens. He has been employed in software industry and in the Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT), deploying and managing information systems and services and supporting database information infrastructures. He has also worked as researcher in e-Government Unit in Decision Systems Laboratory of School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), participating in national and international research projects, in the areas of Government Transformation, Interoperability Frameworks, eParticipation, eGovernment, Process Modelling and Re-engineering in Public Sector. He has worked as researcher in Yale University (USA) in the area of Ontology Data Modelling in Biomedicine. His current research interests are Data Modelling-Ontologies, e-Governance. Public Administration, Information Systems Interoperability and Smart Cities.


Prof. Mixia Liu

Associate Professor, E-Government Research Center, China National Academy of Governance (CNAG)


Mixia Liu is an associate professor in E-government Research Center of China National Academy of Governance, who focuses on digital government strategy, design, implementation and assessment research. As deputy chief of E-government branch in the center, she is also in charge of training for senior public servants to improve their digital ability and consulting for the central and local government about informatization plan. She has presided over and finished several important projects, such as EU-China comparative study on e-government development strategy under EU-China Public Administration Project II, the main effects to economy society based on new technology from National Soft Project Plan, etc.. In the 14th China E-government Forum, she issued China Digital Government Development report, which put forward digital government framework and summed up local government digital development experience. Furthermore, Mixia Liu introduced China e-government development pattern and practices for public servants from Ethiopia, Mozambique, Mexico, Cuba, and Burma in last year’s international training. She produced 20s papers and published two books in the field of e-government in the past few years.


Mr. Dustin Haisler

Chief Information Officer, eRepublic's Center for Digital Government, USA


Dustin Haisler is the Chief Innovation Officer for e.Republic. As the finance director and later CIO for Manor, TX, a small city outside Austin, Haisler quickly built a track record and reputation as an early innovator in civic tech. A member of Code for America’s original steering committee, Haisler pioneered government use of commercial technologies not before used in the public sector – including Quick-Response (QR) barcodes, crowdsourcing and gamification. In 2010 Haisler launched Manor Labs, a website that let residents submit their own ideas and vote other peoples’ ideas up or down. The most popular suggestions went to city officials for review and possible implementation. Haisler looked to the private sector to help broaden the adoption of these and other civic innovations, joining California-based Spigit as director of government innovation. While at Spigit, a company that makes crowd-sourcing and innovation management software, Hailser helped design and deploy innovation programs for New York City; Bogota, Columbia; and even part of the space program (through NASA’s Langley Research Center). Notably, Haisler helped design and launch one of the first government open innovation programs in the United States in 2010, which received global recognition as a new model of citizen engagement and innovation. Among other first-in-nation innovations, Haisler architected a Crowdsourcing Master Land Use Plan (Harford County, MD) and patented a crowd-based business process (Crowd-as-a-Service). Named a Government Technology Top 25 Doer, Dreamer and Driver in 2009, his work has been featured in Wired, Fast Company, the Wall Street Journal, Inc. and the Today Show on NBC. An in-demand speaker, he has given two TEDx speeches – one on Disrupting Government (TEDxAustin) and the other on Disrupting Education (TEDxLivermore). As Chief Innovation Officer, Haisler has a strategic role to help shape the company’s products, services, and future direction. Primarily, he leads e.Republic Labs, a market connector created as an ecosystem to educate, accelerate and ultimately scale technology innovation within the public sector.


Dr. Alexandre Barbosa

Head of the Regional Center for Studies on the Development of Information Society,, Brazil


Alexandre Barbosa is the head of the Regional Center for Studies on the Development of Information Society (|, and is in charge of several nationwide ICT surveys and research projects on the socio-economic implications of ICTs, including research on Electronic Government. He was the chair of the Expert Group on ICT Household indicators from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) from 2012 to 2017. He holds a PhD in Business Administration from Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil), a Master’s in Business Administration from Bradford University (UK), an MSc in Computer Science from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (Brazil) and a BSc in Electrical Engineering from Catholic University (Brazil). He has also conducted postdoctoral research at HEC Montréal (Canada).




Mr. David Le Blanc

Chief, Institutions for Sustainable Development Goals Branch, Division for Public Institutions and Digital Government, UN DESA


David Le Blanc works in the Division for Public Institutions and Digital Government in the UN Secretariat, where he leads analytical work on public institutions and public administration in the era of the Sustainable Development Goals. From 2006 to 2017, he was in the Division for Sustainable Development in the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. While there, he worked in support of the Commission on Sustainable Development, the Rio+20 conference, and the high-level political forum on sustainable development. Before joining the UN, he worked at the World Bank as Senior Economist in the Urban and Housing Finance groups. Earlier in his career, he worked at the French National Statistical Institute (INSEE) as Head of the National Housing Survey and Head of Regional Studies in the Rhone-Alpes regional office of INSEE, and at CREST, Paris as a research fellow.


Ms. Sinead Bovell

Futurist, WAYE Founder


Sinead Bovell is a futurist and the founder of WAYE, an organization that prepares youth markets for a future with advanced technologies, with a focus on non-traditional and minority markets. To date, Sinead has educated over 10, 000 young entrepreneurs on the future of technology, and has spoken at world renowned institutions, including the US Chamber of Commerce, Cornell University, and Bloomberg, on the intersection of business, technology, and the future. Sinead has served as a tech contributor for publications such as Vogue, The Star, and The Globe and Mail, and was recently recognized by Wired Magazine for her work in bringing ‘new faces to the table in tech.’ To date, over 65% of WAYE’s community are women, and over 60% are visible minorities. Prior to founding WAYE, Sinead received her MBA from the University of Toronto and worked as a management consultant for A.T. Kearney.


Dr. Dawit Bekele

Regional Vice President (Africa), Internet Society


Dawit is the Regional Vice President - Africa. Prior to joining ISOC, Dawit worked at Addis Ababa University on teaching and research positions in computer science, since 1994. He also established and managed for more than 4 years a private company that provides Internet related services. Moreover, in the last ten years, Dawit has worked as a consultant for major international organizations such as United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Bank. His activities enabled him to travel around Africa with a large number of Information and Communication Technology professionals of the continent. Dawit is an Ethiopian citizen living in Addis Ababa. He received his undergraduate, Masters and Ph.D degrees from Université Paul Sabatier in France, all degrees in Computer Science. Dawit is based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


Ms. Paula Martins

Policy Advocacy Lead, Association for Progressive Communications


Paula Martins is Policy Advocacy Lead at the Association for Progressive Communications - APC. She follows digital and human rights policy issues at the global level, in spaces such as the UN Human Rights Council, UNGA, ITU and IGF, as well as trends at the regional and national levels. Before joining APC, she acted for many years on freedom of expression and information issues as a regional director with ARTICLE 19, after serving as a researcher with Human Rights Watch and as an human rights officer at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Paula has a LLM from New York University and a MPP from the University of Oxford.






Mr. John O'Toole

Inter-Regional Adviser, Division for Inclusive Social Development (DISD), UN DESA


John O'Toole is an Inter-Regional Adviser in the Division for Inclusive Social Development in the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. He previously worked in the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and several government departments in Ireland, as well as for the European Union. He studied at the École Nationale d'Administration in France, at Trinity College Dublin and at University College Dublin and holds a Ph. D from the University of Liverpool.



Mr. Wai Min Kwok

Senior Governance and Public Administration Officer, Division for Public Institutions and Digital Government, UN DESA


Wai Min Kwok joined the United Nations Secretariat in 2008. Before that, he spent over ten years in the energy and information technology sectors as an engineer and a technopreneur. In UN DESA, he has been entrusted with a portfolio of roles, including as one of the lead authors for selected editions of the UN E-Government Survey and the World Public Sector Report. His areas of expertise span a range in sustainable development, public policy, public administration and management, digital government, digital transformation and Internet governance. For three consecutive years in 2011-2013, he was the Secretary of the UN Committee of Experts on Public Administration (CEPA), a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council. Wai Min Kwok was formerly a Lee Ka-Shing graduate scholar and Mobil Oil scholar. He has a postgraduate master’s in public administration with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and an honours degree in electrical engineering at the National University of Singapore.


Mr. Emanuele Baldacci

Director of Digital Services, European Commission's Directorate-General for Informatics


Emanuele Baldacci is currently Director of Digital Services at the European Commission's Directorate-General for Informatics. From May 2015 to February 2018 he was the Director of Methodology, IT and Corporate Statistical Services at Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. From October 2011 to April 2015 he was the Head of the Integration, Quality and Research Department of the Italian Statistical Office. Before that, he was a deputy division chief at the International Monetary Fund, a senior economist at the World Bank and also served as chief economist at SACE, Italy's largest trade finance group. He has a PhD in Demography from the Universities of Rome, Florence and Padua; he is the author of several scientific publications on fiscal sustainability, macroeconomic risk in advanced and emerging economies, population ageing and social protection and official statistics modernisation.


Ms. Samia Melhem

Global Lead on Digital Capabilities, World Bank Group


Samia Melhem is the Global Lead on Digital Capabilities at the World Bank Group. Her responsibilities include investment operations in digital platforms & services as well as thought leadership on digital development. She currently leads several digital government transformational projects, leveraging disruptive technologies to improve delivery of public services, such as education, health, and social protection. In her previous assignments, Samia worked in several regions such as East and Central Europe, Middle East and Africa. She also led production of knowledge toolkits on Telecoms Policy and Regulation, Digital government, electronic procurement, cloud computing, Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Open data, Private Public Partnerships, and gender inclusion; in collaboration with a range of partners such as UN, ITU, OECD, WEF, and Academia. She holds degrees in Electrical Engineering (BS), Computer Sciences (MS), and Finance (MBA).


Dr. Siope Vakataki ‘Ofa

Economic Affairs Officer in the ICT and Development Section, ICT and Disaster Risk Reduction Division of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)


Dr. Siope Vakataki ‘Ofa is an Economic Affairs Officer in the ICT and Development Section, ICT and Disaster Risk Reduction Division of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). He is the author of the book, “Telecommunications Regulatory Reform in Small Island Developing States: The Impact of WTO's Telecommunications Commitment”, several book chapters and peer-reviewed journal articles on telecommunications policy and international trade respectively. Dr. ‘Ofa is currently working on promoting regional cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region on strengthening digital connectivity for building back better post COVID19 through the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway initiative.


Ms. Nibal Idlebi

Chief of Innovation, UN Economic Commission for Western Asia (UN ECWA)


Dr. Nibal Idlebi is a senior expert in Innovation, Knowledge Society and ICT for Development. She is supervising the preparation of studies and reports on technology for Development, and the organization of high level expert meetings and workshops related to innovation for building knowledge economy in the Arab region. She also provides advisory services in these areas, and she is a jury member in several innovation, entrepreneurship and digital content awards. Dr. Idlebi has long experience in the development of information society and knowledge society. She led regional initiatives in the Arab region on Cyber Legislation, Digital Arabic content and regional profiling of Information Society; and she is an active member in several UN working groups and Arab working groups. Prior to joining the UN, Dr. Idlebi was the Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Communications and Technology (MCT) in Syria, and she also worked in the Academia for more than 10 years.


Ms. Minerva Novero

Policy Specialist, Governance Bureau for Policy and Programme Support (BPPS), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)


Minerva Novero-Belec is a Policy Specialist in the Governance and Peacebuilding (GP) Cluster of UNDP’s Bureau for Policy and Programme Support (BPPS) in New York. She serves as UNDP’s co-focal point for urbanization, with a focus on “smart cities” and smart approaches to sustainable and inclusive urban governance and development. Prior to this post, she served as Policy Specialist for ICT for Development, e-Governance and Access to Information, managing a portfolio that included focal-point for UNDP’s membership in the Broadband Commission; UNDP’s role as permanent vice-chair of the UN Group on Information Society (UNGIS); UNDP’s co-organization of the annual WSIS Forum; UNDP’s engagement in various multilateral efforts related to ICTD and e-governance such as the Open Government Partnership (OGP; serving as focal point for the Working Group on Access to Information); and coordination of ICTD and e-governance policy advisory and programming support to UNDP country programmes. Ms. Novero-Belec’s career straddles policy, communications and journalism. She holds a Degree in Mass Communications (major in Journalism) from the University of the Philippines and a Master’s Degree in International Affairs with a concentration on economic and political development from Columbia University in New York.