Information is power: how tech is transforming public sector sustainability

Tree photo created by wirestock via Freepik
May 6, 2021

Download slides

Environmental sustainability is one of the greatest challenges facing governments everywhere, as public servants are called upon to not only decarbonise their own operations, but also reduce emissions, pollution, and environmental degradation across every field of policy. During this webinar, experts explained how public servants around the world are leveraging technology to create greener governments and societies.

Experts profiled some of the techniques and systems that could help you realise your sustainability goals. For example, artificial intelligence can be deployed to help tackle climate change, as you’ll learn from Dr. Amy Luers, a former Obama White House adviser now serving as Microsoft’s Global Lead for Sustainability Science. And Dr. Gianluca Di Pasquale, EY’s Global Advisory Leader for Future Cities, shared lessons and insights from his research on the sustainability and digital maturity in global governments.

During the webinar, Dr. Julia Glidden, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President for Worldwide Public Sector, launched Microsoft’s Public Sector Center of Expertise, a global forum for research and case studies on digital transformation in the public sector. The Center will connect policymakers and leaders around the globe on areas including environmental sustainability, digital identity, and cloud adoption in the developing world, building an international community of public sector technology professionals to share insights and solve problems.


Webinar chair: Antonio De Palmas, Vice President Global Market Development, Worldwide Public Sector, Microsoft

Antonio De Palmas was appointed Vice President of Worldwide Public Sector Market Development for Microsoft in August 2020. In this role, Antonio is leading the new Global Market Development operations to shape Cloud and Procurement requirements and drive global transformational changes across the Public Sector.

Prior to joining Microsoft, De Palmas was President of Boeing for the Southern Europe region, responsible for leading the company operations, expanding in-country business activities and pursuing development opportunities for the entire Boeing enterprise.

De Palmas joined Boeing in 2003 and led the company’s European and NATO Relations, working with all European institutions and representing Boeing interests in the European Union (EU) and at NATO. From 2000 to 2003, De Palmas was director of Business Development for Cisco Systems in Milan. In that position, he launched and managed strategic initiatives for the company and was responsible for developing the public sector market for the company.

Before joining Cisco Systems, De Palmas developed his career in Brussels in the EU policy areas for eight years. During this period, he set up and managed the EU and Government Affairs function for Oracle Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and was also responsible for EU affairs for various business interests. De Palmas has been extensively involved in the liberalization of the telecom sector; the convergence of the audiovisual, information technology and telecom sectors; and the development of electronic commerce. An Italian native, De Palmas has a degree in law and is fluent in four languages: Italian, Spanish, English and French.

Dr Karen Rice, Associate Professor and Department Chair and DSW Program Coordinator, Millersville University, USA

Karen Rice serves as the Chair of the School of Social Work and DSW Director at Millersville University of PA. Utilizing a human rights framework, her research centers on ways to enhance individuals’ (youth, students, adults) levels of compassion, advocacy, and dialogue across and within various social groups. Trained in the Intergroup Dialogue approach, Dr. Rice conducts trainings and co-facilitates dialogues to raise awareness, foster understanding and appreciation, build alliances, and develop individual and collective efforts to promote positive social change, specifically related to creating diverse, equitable, and inclusive policies, practices, and programs, and institutions and communities. Her training and research resulted in the development of initiatives and programs that address the United Nation’s Global Goals, specifically hunger, poverty, gender equality, quality education, mental wellbeing, and just institutions. Dr. Karen Rice obtained her MSW from Temple University and her PhD in social work from the University of Maryland Baltimore. She currently serves on the International Consortium for Social Development board, Housing Development Corporation MidAtlantic Resource Development Committee, and co-chairs PA Governor Wolf’s Poverty Reduction Action Team.

Robert Opp, Chief Digital Officer, United Nations Development Programme

Robert Opp is currently the Chief Digital Officer of UNDP, the United Nations’ global sustainable development organization working across 170 countries globally with more than 17,000 staff. He leads the agency’s digital transformation, an organization-wide effort, to harness the power of new technology to improve the lives of those furthest behind.

Prior to this role, Robert served as Director of the Innovation and Change Management Division within the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) where he established an in-house ‘Zero Hunger’ innovation accelerator and created an award-winning crowdfunding smartphone app, ShareTheMeal.

Previously, Robert was a management consultant with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) based in Singapore where he served a wide range of private sector companies throughout Asia and the Middle East. He has also served in various other capacities in WFP, including Manager of emergency food aid assistance programmes in Angola within a $260 million operation that reached over 1 million internally displaced persons affected by civil war. Robert began his career at Canada’s International Development Research Centre managing projects focused on peacebuilding in post-conflict countries.

Dr Gianluca Di Pasquale, Global Green Economies & Infrastructure Leader, Government and Infrastructure, Future Cities Co-Leader, EY

EY Global Green Economies & Infrastructure Leader and Future Cities Co-Leader, Gianluca is a seasoned professional with international exposure to the intersection of business and technology.

With 20 years of industry experience, he helps companies mitigate climate change through sustainable energy production and consumption, and has harnessed deep knowledge in smart mobility, the sharing economy, internet of things and big data, public procurement and project financing.

Gianluca also focuses on the strategic management of innovation and seeks to inspire leading cities and companies in various industries to establish new business models enabled by the internet economy.

Holder of several international patents, some of which have re-established the principles of operation and the economic models of modern communication networks, he earned his master’s degrees in Water Management Engineering as well as in Telecommunication Engineering from the Polytechnic University of Milan.

Dr Vik Pant, Chief Scientist and Chief Science Advisor, Natural Resources Canada

Vik is responsible for providing strategic direction to build capacity within NRCan’s scientific community, promoting a departmental vision for S&T and assessment of future needs. This involves leadership in developing and advancing S&T priorities, providing strategic policy advice on horizontal science issues and opportunities to ensure strong linkages between science and policy communities, and promoting effective engagement of S&T activities. Vik is responsible for accelerating the creative application of innovative digital technologies including Artificial Intelligence, to enhance NRCan’s ability to conduct research and analysis, as well as provide evidence-based policy advice that is supported by advanced analytical techniques. Vik works with counterparts from other science-based organizations to ensure that the management of federal policy and research activities support and align with Government of Canada priorities.

Vik earned a doctorate from the Faculty of Information (iSchool) in the University of Toronto, a master’s degree in business administration with distinction from the University of London, and a master’s degree in information technology from Harvard University, where he received the Dean’s List Academic Achievement Award. His research, featured in numerous peer-reviewed journals and refereed international conferences, focuses on the conceptual modelling of strategic coopetition in complex multi-agent systems.

Vik joined NRCan from the MaRS Discovery District, a technology start-up accelerator in Toronto, where he was a Senior Technical Advisor of Applied Artificial Intelligence. Prior to that, he held progressively strategic positions in leading software enterprises including Oracle, SAP and Open Text.

Dr Amy Luers, Global Lead, Sustainability Science, Microsoft

Amy Luers is the Global Lead for Sustainability Science at Microsoft. Previously, she has served as executive director of Future Earth, assistant director for climate resilience and information in the Obama White House, director of climate at the Skoll Global Threats Fund, and senior environment manager at Google. She spent the first decade of her career working in Latin America, where she co-founded Agua Para La Vida, a non-profit organization that works with rural communities to enhance access to potable water. She currently serves on the Foresight Committee of the Veolia Institute, and on the boards of several organizations including the Carnegie Climate Governance Initiative and the National Council for Science and the Environment. Dr. Luers is a member of the United States Council on Foreign Relations and has served on committees of the United States Global Change Research Program and the National Academies of Sciences. She has a PhD in environmental science and MA in international policy studies, both from Stanford University.

Dr Julia Glidden, Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector, Microsoft

Dr Julia Glidden is Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector, for Microsoft Corporation, where she is helping to deliver on Microsoft’s mission to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. An internationally recognized expert on Digital Government, Dr. Glidden specializes in identifying and piloting emerging technologies such as AI, Cloud and Blockchain in the GovTech space. Julia pioneered the concept of Cognitive Government and has delivered many of Europe’s leading innovation projects. She is currently serving as an expert advisor to the United Nations, the World Economic Forum and the European Commission. In addition to being named in Apolitical’s inaugural list of the Top 100 most influential people in digital government, Julia was recognized as one of the Top 40 GovTech Influencers in the 2019 e-Governance Global Industry Landscape Overview.