Marie-­Noëlle Neven

Smart - Eco Villages

Short CV:

Marie-­‐Noëlle Neven has more than 20 years professional experience as project manager. At the occasion of her participation in numerous different projects she has always make use of her communication skills. She started her career in a Minister’s office, where her educations in both Architecture and Communication have been put to contribution. With a background in urban planning and heritage, she integrated a project in the Telecom industry, firstly in Belgium and then in Switzerland. She has been recognized as specialized public relation consultant. Back to Belgium, after having managed a shop during 18 months, she integrated the European Commission with a three years contract. She discovered another professional environment in the European structure at the European Commission. Since, she is Project Manager for ONG’s in cultural and rural development fields. She holds a degree of Communication/Public relations and is French native speaker with an experience in multicultural projects.

    Gérard Peltre


    Short CV:

    Gérard Peltre has a large experience in rural development as mayor of a village during 37 years and as project developer. He is managing his own agency « InnovDev » as expert consultant and advising local and regional communities in strategic development.
    Since 1996, he is president of the international association Rurality-Environment-Devloppement and impulses a networking dynamics around the recognition of the rural territories. Inside the association, he is assuming various mandates at the European level (Consultative Group for Rural development, Steering group of Rural Development, European Leader sub-group, European Steering group RURBAN). Since 20 years, he is also president of the European Countryside Movement, platform grouping 17 European associations actives in the specific area of rural development. He is recognized as expert in many French associations and often invited as speaker at national and international conferences.

      Kirsten Birke Lund


      Short CV:

      Kirsten Birke Lund is a passionate and devoted LEADER believer. She represents the Danish LAGs (Local Action Groups) in ELARD (European LEADER Association for Rural Development) where she has previously been the vice-president, now a member of the Council. Kirsten sees it as important to combine rural development with agricultural development and to include all assets and opportunities in ensuring sustainable development of rural areas. Kirsten holds an MSC in cadastral surveying supplemented with an MSC in Rural Development.

        Karolina Jasinska

        DG Agriculture

        Short CV:

        Karolina Jasinska-Mühleck is in charge of coordination and policy development of LEADER in the Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development since 2014. She joined the Conception and Consistency of Rural Development Unit in 2011 after a couple of years spent in Luxembourg working for the European Commission as translator. Her previous professional experience include positions as Information Officer for the LEADER+ Contact Point in Brussels, assistant to Pre-accession advisor in inter-institutional PHARE projects in the field of Common Market Organisation and rural development, freelance translator and tourist guide. Karolina has a background in French philology and applied languages, post-diploma studies of European politics and policies at the College of Europe, and development studies.

          Roberto Rovelli


          Short CV:

          Roberto Rovelli works at the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences of the University of Milan in the field of landscape planning and design. He is graduated in Agricultural Sciences and, since 1999, he works on greenways and, in particular, on the re-use of disused railways such as pedestrian and cycling paths for the development of rural areas, a theme on which he has carried out researches and projects, he has obtained a research doctorate and is the author of books and articles. He is Vice-President of the Italian Greenways Association, manager of the Abandoned Railways project and promoter of the Green Binary initiative

            Tim Fairhurst

            ETOA - NET

            Short CV:

            Tim spent 18 years in the group travel industry in Europe, North America and India, in various roles from tour guiding to operations management and product development prior to joining ETOA in 2009. In-house, he currently manages the sales and market development team. External work includes EU regulatory review, industry partnerships, lobbying and campaigns.
            ETOA – the European tourism association – http://www.etoa.org – is a travel trade body working at EU, national and regional levels. Its 870+ members include all types of business in the European supply chain, rural and urban, European destination management organisations and buyers worldwide. It runs workshops, masterclasses, destination promotion events and seminars. Its policy activity at an EU level focuses on taxation, cross-border service provision, visa policy. More widely, it works to maintain Europe’s appeal as a destination for key long-haul markets through product innovation and development and intelligent adaptation to origin market. As well as intra-European trade, ETOA has strong representation in Europe’s key long-haul markets such as China, India, North America and Japan.

              Mercedes Bresso

              European Parliament

              Short CV:

              Mercedes Bresso is an Italian politician (Democratic Party) and Member of the European Parliament, Vice-president of the S&D Group. In 1969 she received her degree in Economics; since 1973 she is a University professor of economic institutions at Politecnico di Torino. (Faculty of Engineering). Between 1995 and 2004 she was President of the Turin Province. Between 2005 and 2010 she was President of the Piedmont region. Between 2005 and 2008 she was President of the Union of European Federalists (UEF). In February 2010, Bresso was elected the first female president of the European Committee of the Regions and became its Vice-president in 2012. Mercedes Bresso became a Member of the European Parliament following the 2014 European elections. She has been serving on the Committee on Regional Development and on the Committee on Constitutional Affairs. She is the Chair of the European Parliament Intergroup on Rural, Mountainous and Remote Areas (RUMRA). In 2016 she was the rapporteur for an EU Strategy for the Alpine region (EUSALP).

                Ivor Ambrose

                Managing Director - ENAT

                Short CV:

                Ivor Ambrose has a driving ambition to make tourism accessible for everyone, everywhere. He co-founded the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT), a non-profit organisation, registered in Brussels in 2008. As ENAT’s Managing Director he has helped to make it the premier membership association for organisations, business and individuals who support and want to learn more about this area of tourism development. Ivor provides consultancy, policy advice and project management support to national and regional Destination Management Organisations, tourism operators and public bodies in Europe and overseas. Born in England, Ivor has lived and worked in the UK, Denmark, Belgium and Greece. He holds a Masters degree in Environmental Psychology from the University of Surrey, UK and a Ph.D./University Lecturer qualification from the Danish Building Research Institute. He is an internationally recognised specialist in accessible tourism, accessibility of the built environment, inclusion of people with disabilities and older people, user experience, Universal Design and ICTs.

                Summary of Intervention:

                Accessible Tourism is not a special kind of tourism for special people. It is about finding ways to make all tourism experiences accessible to everyone. Our aim is to involve the whole tourism value chain, by adding accessibility as a quality factor in every part of the offer. We are not talking about developing a market niche. The statistics show that one in five clients have an access need when travelling. So catering to this market is not just the right thing to do – it makes business sense. It is also about making your destination and your business socially sustainable, catering for clients of all abilities, across the lifespan. We’ll discuss tourism standards and share examples of good practices in accessibility, to learn from them and show how rural destinations and businesses can build competence and become accessible for all.

                  Peadar Casey

                  Rural Entrepreneurship

                  Short CV:

                  Peadar is the Enterprise Development Manager at Institute of Technology Carlow, managing the entrepreneurship development programs, incubation hub and innovation support services. Institute of Technology Carlow is in the centre of a rural economy, the college primarily covers a rural hinterland with a population of 1 million. Peadar joined Institute of Technology Carlow in July 2016, having worked as an independent business developer and innovation agent since 2005. Prior to working as an independent consultant Peadar worked for almost two decades in an international agrifood organisation, in finance, business development and innovation management roles. Peadar has a particular interest in entrepreneurship development, innovation management, open innovation and ecosystem development, within rural economies. Peadar has taken part in a number of European Union innovation camps focused on societal innovation and agriculture/rural innovation systems.
                  Peadar has completed a BBS Degree and Masters in International Entrepreneurs Management at University of Limerick.

                  Summary of Intervention:

                  Rural Destinations are assuming a new relevance in a digital age; technology is enabling remote working, lifestyle choices and an opportunity to establish new rural economies. The dynamics of work, travel and recreation are changing; the changing environment is creating blurred lines, individuals are taking advantage to have a more balanced life while living and/or visiting rural destinations. Rural Hubs are capturing and exercising individuals’ ambition in a lifestyle friendly manner. The seeds of ambition, entrepreneurship and innovation are connecting rural destinations with global audiences and a connected customer base.

                    Silvio Bonifiglio

                    AGE Platform - Ancescao

                    Short CV:

                    Silvio Bonfiglio is consultant at ANCeSCAO, an Italian non-profit Association promoting the wellbeing of senior citizens. He represents ANCeSCAO at AGE Platform of Europe and is a member of the AGE’s Healthy Ageing Task Force. In 1971 he received his degree in Electronic Engineering and since 1973 he worked in various managerial roles at Philips and Barco. In his role of Manager for New Business Opportunities he was involved in new technologies applied to the medical domain. He participated to various research projects co-funded by the European Commission in the e-health and e-inclusion areas; in some of them he acted as Coordinator. Silvio Bonfiglio is author of various papers published in scientific journals and is co-editor of the book “Systems Design for Remote Healthcare” published by Springer.

                    Summary of Intervention:

                    Europe is becoming older but we need to reconsider the image of the seniors, to avoid stereotypes and analyze how the profile of the “senior tourist” is changed. Recent studies and surveys indicate the preference of older people for a new form of tourism which is relational, participative, experiential and lets older people to discover the local landscape and culture. This represents a great opportunity for rural tourism. In addition sustainable rural tourism fits perfectly into concrete actions for age-friendly environments and active and healthy ageing as clearly indicated by the WHO and by the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP-AHA). The challenge is to understand the specificity of the senior tourists and build a rich and differentiated offer; the biggest mistake we could make is to consider the seniors as a homogeneous demographic group and propose them standardized tourist packages.

                      Patrick Worms

                      AG Forward

                      Short CV:

                      Patrick Worms trained as a molecular geneticist and is the Senior Science Policy Advisor of the World Agroforestry Centre, the world’s premier research institution studying the roles of trees in agricultural landcapes. As a young European official, he pioneered a new way of using communications to deal with the environmental legacy of communism across the former Soviet Union before leaving for the private sector and engaging with the disastrous environmental legacy of China’s Great Leap forward, an effort which became the first large-scale private-sector investment in watershed remediation in that country. After seven years in one of the world’s largest advertising and public relations companies, Patrick founded his own company with two friends and grew it into a prominent lobbying shop with offices in Brussels, London and Paris. After selling his shares, he joined the World Agroforestry Centre in 2012. Patrick’s work sits at the nexus of land restoration and human security; the evidence is mounting that the clever marrying of traditional and advanced knowledge is the most promising pathway to a resilient rural prosperity, a giant help to mitigate our impact on biodiversity and the atmosphere and, tantalizingly, peace in a warming world. He is the President of the European Agroforestry Federation, a member of the steering committee of Initiatives for Land, Lives and Peace, a Fellow of the Evergreening Global Alliance, and serves on a number of advisory boards.

                        Alberto Palacios


                        Short CV:

                        Entrepreneur licensed in Politics and Sociology by UCM, Master in HR by UNED and Master in Marketing by ESIC, has developed his career in internet and telecom multinationals. Founder of 4One, Spanish leading online digital agency, for more than 12 years sold to start Farmidable up. Part of several social project “Arte y Cera SL” and “Asociación para el Desarrollo de la Pedagogía Curativa y Socioterapia de Rudolf Steiner”. Foodie, creator of several consumer groups and obsessed with farmers markets.

                          Federica Luoni

                          BirdLife Italia

                          Short CV:

                          Federica is a naturalist, she obtained a PhD in Conservation of Nature in 2008, worked as an ornithologist and ringer in some project, and from 2009 she worked for Lipu on conservation projects on a regional and national scale, in particular LIFE Project. Federica is now working on the integrated life project GESTIRE2020 and she deals, also, with the association’s agriculture sector and sustainable tourism projects.

                          Summary of Intervention:

                          The Natura 2000 Network is often little known by those who live there or have an activity there. In reality, the most beautiful and appreciated locations in Italy and in Europe are located in a Natura 2000 Site. It is therefore necessary to spread information on the opportunities offered by the Network and to encourage sustainable activities.

                            Klaus Ehrlich

                            General Secretary - Eurogites

                            Short CV:

                            Klaus Ehrlich studied Economics – Business Administration at the University of Siegen (DE) from 1976-1983, with one year at the University of Sevilla (81/82). Co-founder and manager of several entrepreneur associations related with rural tourism (RAAR, AHRA) since 1991. From 2002 until 2010, he was President of EuroGites – European Federation of Rural Tourism, since then Secretary General. Involved in several working groups and consultative bodies at the European Commission related with tourism and rural development.

                              Gianpaolo Cirone


                              Short CV:

                              Gianpaolo Cirone graduated in Agro-Environmental Sciences at the University of Milan in 2018. The thesis work aimed to develop a methodology able to express the multifunctional value of the agricultural and natural areas, in order to contrast the land take. During the university studies, he has deepened his knowledge in the fields of land planning, specializing in Geographical Information Systems (GIS). Actually, he is collaborating with the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences on the Greenways Heritage project.

                              Summary of Intervention:

                              The European Greenways Association (EGWA) was created in the 1998 with the aim of promoting the creation and the diffusion of greenways in the Europe. Greenways are communication routes reserved exclusively for non-motorised journeys, that are both user-friendly and low-risk for users of all abilities.
                              Many greenways have outstanding UNESCO heritage sites nearby, although there is no joint promotion effort from which the two cultural resources can benefit. The Greenways Heritage Project, coordinated by EGWA, aims to fill this gap by developing a new tourism product combining the two resources. In order to promote this new brand and inform tourists and stakeholders, the project provides the development of a multi-platform web application, containing all the data (natural and cultural resources, tourist services and accessibility points) on territories characterized by the presence of UNESCO sites connected by greenways.