Keynote speakers and special guests

Each day, AMS Institute directors took to the stage to set the scene for the day, joined by special guests. Day one kicked off with opening remarks from Eveline van Leeuwen, AMS Institute Scientific Director, and Ger Baron, Director of Digital and Innovation at the City of Amsterdam. On day two, Eveline was joined by Gerda Feunekes, Managing Director of the Agrotechnology & Food Sciences Group at Wageningen University and Research. Day three saw opening remarks by AMS Institute Managing Director Kenneth Heijns and Thea de Vries, City Director at the Municipality of Amsterdam.

Ger Baron and Eveline van Leeuwen

Following the opening remarks, a range of keynote speakers from across the world - Ghana, England, Kenya, the US, and more - presented and took questions from the audience. On day one (The good, the bad, and the ugly) we hosted:

  • Paul Behrens of Leiden University set the record straight on where we stand regarding climate change, how we underestimate the power of our climate solutions around energy and food, and practical steps cities and citizens alike can take.
  • Elin Andersdotter Fabre of UN-Habitat made a compelling case for how women and girls must be included in urban design decisions. When women design cities, they're inclusive and designed for everyone.

Paul Behrens

On Day two (Amazing discoveries):

  • Sacha Stolp, Director of Innovation for the Future Proof Assets Program at the City of Amsterdam, shared insights on "The Acceleration of Urban Innovation" with a few laughs along the way. She shared her lessons for innovation and stressed that we must act quickly if we want to be on time to adapt to our changing world: it's time for urgency!
  • Prof. Carlo Ratti, Director of MIT Senseable City Lab, talked about Cities as Living Labs and designing future cities through new technologies using examples from across the world.

Sasha Stolp

On day three (We are the City):

  • Victor Neequaye Kotey, Deputy Director of the Waste Management Department of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, presented the distinct urban challenges of Accra: landfill emissions, massive climate-induced migration, and more. He sketched the City's ambitious sustainability plans and emphasized the need for broad stakeholder engagement.
  • Paul Chatterton, Professor of Urban Futures at the University of Leeds, emphasized the transformative power of the Living Lab approach and a post-growth approach to reinventing the City. He urged us all to envision 2030, what changed for the better and to consider: what was my role?

Victor Neequaye Kotey

Panels debating and discussing the City

After a coffee and cake break, the keynotes returned to the stage, where experts from a range of disciplines joined them. On day one, the panel tackled the question: How can we get the best out of our cities? We heard from Sigrid Wertheim-Heck of Wageningen University & Research, Hannah Prins, climate activist, and Jasper van Dijk of the Public Economic Think Thank.

On day two, the panel discussed 'amazing discoveries' and dived into the intersection of technology, innovation, and urban sustainability. We heard from Erik Versnel of Rabobank, Carola Hein of TU Delft, and Corinne Vigreux or TomTom and FLT.

Finally, on day three, the panel debated belonging in the City and how we are all in it together, underpinning the need for collaboration and citizen engagement. We heard from Ria Braaf-Fränkel of WomenMakeTheCity, prof. Aleid Brouwer of the University of Groningen and Jonas Torrens of Utrecht University.

Ria Braaf-Fränkel, prof. Aleid Brouwer, and Jonas Torrens

Sessions and workshops across a range of themes

The afternoons were filled with sessions across various themes and formats, from interactive workshops to research presentations. Attendees dove into diverse topics such as urban walkability, wastewater reuse, Positive Energy Districts, mobility justice, biodiversity training, and digital twinning. These sessions offered valuable opportunities for knowledge exchange and collaboration among experts, engaged citizens, and practitioners in their respective fields!

MIT Senseable Lab workshop

Keep an eye on our posts to see detailed insights into a selection of these sessions in participation with Open Research Amsterdam.

An evening of networking and music

Our conference summary would not be complete without mentioning the beautiful dinner at the Koepelkerk on day one, featuring live music from AMS Institute colleagues and a speech by Godelieve Spaas, Professor of Economy in Common; the perfect setting to reflect on the day's discussions and gear up for the days ahead.

A heartfelt thank you goes out to all our speakers, participants, and attendees. Finally, we'd like to thank our partners: Gemeente Amsterdam, TU Delft, Wageningen University & Research, and MIT. Until next time!