Partnerships in Labor Force Resilience: The Imperative of Education and Upskilling in Digital and Sustainability Skills

Date and Time: 08:00 AM ET, July 17, 2024

Location: Virtual

Hosted by: BuildSkills and SDSN

This event delves into emerging trends and resilient solutions in education for sustainable development among youth and professionals moving towards gainful employment, professional development, and vocational training. Upskilling is imperative in lifelong learning, equipping the youth and professionals with the knowledge, competencies, and values to respond to sustainable development challenges in all growing industries. 

Discussions will spotlight policies and practices aimed at promoting informed educational decision-making and exploring the pivotal role of vocational education and professional training in facilitating transitions to employment. The implementation of such pathways require diverse partnerships and expertise to work alongside policymakers for more effective and localized outcomes. 

A cross-sectoral panel will provide a comprehensive examination of interconnected issues related to education, employment, stressing the importance of policy measures, intersectoral partnerships, and strategic investments. Additionally, the panel envisions collaborative efforts among educators and practitioners across governmental, corporate, and civil society sectors, equipping them with relevant educational content and training to actively contribute to sustainable development through workforce participation.


Elena Proden, Senior Specialist, Strategic Implementation of the 2030 Agenda Unit, UNITAR

Elena Proden is a development economist with more than 15 years of experience working for the UN at country, global and regional levels on capacity building and applied research. She currently works as a Senior Specialist and Team Leader of the Strategic Implementation of the Agenda 2030 Unit at United Nations Institute for Training Research supporting countries on national planning and economic transformations, statistical production and dissemination, M&E, as well as higher education, TVET and academia engagement. She is also coordinating UNSDG:Learn partnership on UNITAR’s behalf to promote better learning opportunities for different stakeholders from policy-makers, statisticians, evaluators to businesses and CSOs.

Maria Nakova, Project Manager, BuildSkills Academy; Manager of Strategic Development, Cleantech Bulgaria 

Mrs. Maria Nakova is Manager Strategic Development in Cleantech Bulgaria and also Head of the European digital innovation hub in construction sector. Maria is Project coordinator of the BuildSkills Academy Centre of vocational excellence. She has more than 20 years of professional experience in international project management in both public and private sector. She is also policy expert to the Confederation of employers and industrialists in Bulgaria that is the biggest employers‘ organisation in Bulgaria and companies producing three quarters of the total GDP of the country. Ms. Nakova occupied the position of National Communication Office of Bulgaria under Regulation 1303/2014. Ms. Nakova in member of the Horizon Europe Strategic Policy Committee. For the last two years Mrs. Nakova is National contact point for Legal and Financial matters under Horizon Europe.

Remo Steinmetz, Head Executive Education, Director, Swiss Re Institute 

Remo Steinmetz leads the Swiss Re Institute for Executive Education, developing advanced training programs in insurance and risk management.  His team delivers tailored solutions for clients and governments.  Previously, as head of Client & Functional Training at Swiss Re Academy, he managed comprehensive programs in Property and Casualty, Life and Health, and Finance and Project Management.

From 2004 to 2007, Remo was Vice-Consul and Senior Advisor for Education and Academic Affairs at swissnex Boston, fostering ties between U.S. and Swiss educational and scientific communities.  He also directed the postgraduate program in spatial and urban planning at ETH Zurich, achieving significant success.

From 1992 to 1998, he contributed to transportation and urban planning projects at EBP in Zurich and Germany. Remo holds an MSc in Geography from the University of Zurich, reflecting his dedication to academic and professional excellence.

Karen Chand, Director, Education Studies; Co-Network Manager, SDSN Malaysia 

Karen is the Director of Education Studies at the SDSN’s Asia Headquarters. She is spearheading efforts under the Mission 4.7 initiative to transform K-12 education in the Asia Pacific by making sustainable development a key feature of national curriculums. Karen was previously the Director of Strategy and Operations at the Jeffrey Sachs Center on Sustainable Development at Sunway University, Malaysia.

Prior to joining Sunway, Karen was with the Razak School of Government, Malaysia, where she led the development and delivery of senior level public sector executive education programs; and research projects on public sector improvement. She began her career as a strategy consultant at PwC.

Karen holds a Master in Sustainable Development Management from Sunway University; a Master in ASEAN Studies from the University of Malaya; and a BSc in Finance and Accounting from the University of London.

Tremeur Denigot, Education for Climate, Joint Research Centre, European Commission 

Teacher by training and heart in different countries and schooling systems for almost 20 years, turned into a policy officer for the last 10 years, currently working as an education expert at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in the Education for Climate Coalition team, to help bring sustainability into teaching and learning and adapt the education systems to the green transition.

Niki Rodousakis,  Capacity Development and Policy Advice Unit, UNIDO

Mrs. Niki Rodousakis is a communications and programme management professional at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and has spearheaded the development of UNIDO’s forthcoming Training Academy, a platform that consolidates all of UNIDO’s SDG 9 learning products and services. As the Communication Focal Point for the Division of Industrial Policy Advice and Capacity Development (IPC) as well as for UNIDO’s Multilateral Industrial Development Forum (MIPF), an annual forum that serves to stimulate policy discussions, knowledge sharing and mutual learning on industrial policy-related issues. Prior to joining UNIDO, she was a Research Fellow at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Comparative Research in the Social Sciences(ICCR) and was involved in social science research projects and policy analyses under the European Commissions Framework Programme (now Horizon Europe). She has co-authored several articles and book chapters. She recently joined the Capabilities 4 the Future Hub team as the UNIDO representative. 

Chair: Patrick Paul Walsh, Vice President  of Education, UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)

Patrick Paul Walsh is the Vice President of Education and Director of the SDG Academy at the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). He is is on secondment from University College Dublin where he remains a Full Professor of International Development Studies, Director of the UCD M.Sc. in Sustainable Development in partnership with the SDG Academy and President of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society (SSISI) of Ireland. He received a Ph.D. in Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is a Government of Ireland Fellow, Marie Curie (Brussels) Fellow, IZA (Bonn) Fellow, RSA (London) Fellow, EIIR (Brussels) Fellow and REPOA (Tanzania) fellow. He has held academic positions in Trinity College Dublin, K.U. Leuven, Harvard University and Columbia University. He has also held positions in the United Nations, European Commission, IMF and World Bank. His current focus is on Sustainable Development Education than is informed by Science, Practice and Policy.