Uniting a World in Crisis: The Role of the UN in Its 75th Year
December 4, 2020 | 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EST
Amidst one of the greatest challenges faced by today’s globalized world, the United Nations is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Though backlash continues to mount against multilateral institutions, the UN is forging ahead on cooperative solutions to international problems. What are the challenges that the UN will address in the future, and how can the UN mitigate these conflicts in a climate of nationalism and global disunity? Join us for a discussion of these questions and more on December 4th from 12 PM to 1 PM ET, as Network 20/20 Board Member Lisa Rhoads leads a conversation with Sofia Borges, Senior Vice President and Head of the New York Office of the United Nations Foundation, Gerton van den Akker, Head of the Health and Social Affairs Section at the EU Delegation to the United Nations, and Richard Gowan, UN Director at the International Crisis Group.
Sofia Borges is the UN Foundation’s Senior Vice President and Head of the New York Office. In this role, Sofia serves as chief liaison with UN leadership and the diplomatic community, working to identify new opportunities for building and
deepening partnerships with a range of stakeholders, as well as overseeing initiatives with the private sector and managing engagement with other organizations. As a member of UNF’s leadership team, she also provides overall guidance and participates in the development of long-term strategy for the Foundation. Prior to joining UNF, Sofia held the position of Deputy Chef de Cabinet to the President of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly and served in the Cabinet of the President of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly as Special Adviser on Strategic Engagement and Transparency.
From 2002-2016, Sofia held various positions at the Permanent Mission of Timor-Leste to the UN, including six years as Ambassador and Permanent Representative. She represented Timor-Leste through a critical peacekeeping to peacebuilding period, including its removal from the agenda of the UN Security Council. During this time, she also served as Chair of the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee) for the 69th session of the UN General Assembly and as a Vice President of the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly. She was the Chief Negotiator for Timor-Leste during the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals (2013-2014) and Chief Negotiator for TimorLeste on the Post-2015 Inter-Governmental Negotiations on the SDGs (2014-2015). She was also Chair of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (2014-2016) and Chair of the g7+ (2010-2014), a role which was critical in the negotiations on the 2030 Agenda. Additionally, Sofia has served as a member of the Advisory Board for the UN Democracy Fund (2012-2013) and as a Member of the Executive Board of UN Women (2012-2013). Prior to joining the Foreign Ministry, Sofia worked both as an anthropologist at the Central Land Council in Australia, engaging with indigenous land owners in Central Australia on lands rights claims, and at the Asian Development Bank on issues surrounding post-conflict reconstruction in Timor-Leste.
Sofia holds degrees in Anthropology, Political Science, and Law from the Australian National University, Canberra, and Northern Territory University, Darwin. She speaks Tetum, English, and Portuguese.
Gerton van den Akker
Gerton van den Akker is the EU Delegation to the United Nations, Geneva. After finishing his studies in political sciences and public administration & management in The Netherlands (Radboud University Nijmegen) and having been an Erasmus-exchange student in Portugal (Economic Faculty Coimbra), senior career diplomat Gerton van den Akker joined the United Nations in 1994 and worked in Mozambique for UNHCR and at FAO HQ in Rome. In 1998 he joined the Dutch diplomatic corps and, after an intensive training period at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael in The Hague, he worked at the financial; budgetary department and the UN & International Financial Institutions’ department of the Ministry.
In 2002 Gerton was seconded to the United Nations Development Group Office (UNDGO) of UNDP in New York to work on UN reform and the Millennium Development Goals, and he also reinforced the Dutch Mission to the UN in New York during the rotating EU Presidency of his country, working on economic and development issues.
In 2005 he was reassigned to the Netherlands Representation to NATO in Brussels, working as the private secretary to the Dutch Ambassador and as senior spokesperson. The Ministry called him back to The Hague in 2009 to advise the Minister on human resources & management Issues. It was in 2011, after the creation of the EU’s External Action Service (EEAS), that he joined the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations in New York, first as counsellor on financial, management and budgetary matters and from 2014 to 2019 as Chief of Staff and Head of the Coordination, Press & Information Section, working very
closely with the EU leadership in Brussels, New York City-based Ambassadors and ConsulsGeneral and with the current Head of the EU Delegation, Ambassador João Vale de Almeida.
At the moment, Gerton is playing a key role for the EU in Geneva leading on global health issues & social affairs, including COVID-19, and coordinating the EU27 on these matters.
Richard Gowan is UN Director at the International Crisis Group where he oversees Crisis Group’s advocacy work at the United Nations, liaising with diplomats and UN officials in New York.
Richard was previously a Consulting Analyst with ICG in 2016 and 2017. He has worked with the European Council on Foreign Relations, New York University Center on International Cooperation and the Foreign Policy Centre (London). He has taught at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and Stanford in New York. He has also worked as a consultant for the organisations including UN Department of Political Affairs, the UN Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on International Migration, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Rasmussen Global, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Global Affairs Canada. From 2013 to 2019, he wrote a weekly column (“Diplomatic Fallout”) for World Politics Review.
Lisa Rhoads is the Founder and Managing Partner of a Private Equity Healthcare Company. In this role, she drives the firm’s healthcare private equity investment strategy as well as helps provides capital advisory to healthcare business across the capital structure.
Previously, Lisa was a Managing Director with the Easton Capital Group, a venture capital firm focused on the healthcare sector. She led sourcing, due diligence, and the structuring of investments, while participating in fundraising activities for the firm. She also served on the Board of numerous portfolio companies, assisting with strategy, product development, and mergers & acquisitions, and played an instrumental role in delivering a 5X increase in the valuation of key investments.
Lisa is known throughout the industry for her understanding of the emerging markets. She has structured innovative technology licensing agreements with pharmaceutical and private equity partners in both China and Brazil. These deals are projected to generate $15M in incremental revenues for the portfolio firms of Easton Capital over the course of next 3 to 5 years.
Prior to joining Easton Capital, Lisa served as Chief Administrative Officer and Senior Vice President of Intellectual Property at Celtic Pharma Management, a venture capital firm focused on the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. She was a founding member of the firm, opening the Bermuda office, leasing the New York City office space, and establishing the intellectual property function. She also served on the Boards of numerous portfolio companies.
Lisa’s previous experience includes serving as Director of Consumer Marketing for the U.S. Pharmaceutical business of Bristol-Myers Squibb, and as Consumer Strategist at Zeneca Pharmaceuticals.
She holds a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and a Bachelor of Music from the Curtis Institute of Music. She currently teaches entrepreneurship and serves on the boards the Turtle Bay Music School in addition to Network 20/20.
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