Following the announcement in December 2020 on the occasion of the release of the 2020 Europe Sustainable Development Report, SDSN has launched SDSN Europe to mobilize and coordinate the knowledge and science across SDSN networks in support of a sustainable and resilient European Recovery.

In addition to the European Green Deal, which had already put the EU in a strong leadership position on sustainable development, the EU has recently approved the Recovery and Resilience Fund. Together, these initiatives create a window of opportunity to push forward the implementation of the SDGs and the achievement of carbon neutrality by 2050.

In order to take advantage of these EU initiatives and enhance SDSN’s contribution to the work on sustainable development across the continent, SDSN has invited three leaders from the region to help coordinate SDSN’s work in Europe. Adolf Kloke-Lesch (SDSN Germany), Angelo Riccaboni (SDSN Mediterranean) and Phoebe Koundouri (SDSN Greece) have graciously accepted to play this coordination role as European SDSN Chairs. Under their leadership, SDSN Europe will act as a coordination instrument for our networks and members to catalyze actions on issues related to European policy. The group will help streamline our research and policy advice efforts and will facilitate our dialogue with the EU institutions.

With 18 national and regional networks of universities and knowledge institutions in the EU, and over 540 member organizations across the entire continent, SDSN is ideally placed to provide evidence-based policy development in Europe. Building on SDSN’s work on the Six Transformations, ESDR, Business of Food and FABLE, SDSN Europe will place emphasis on the European Green Deal, national Recovery and Resilience Plans of the Member States, Sustainable Food Systems, as well as other thematic areas that will be co-designed with the European Networks.

SDSN Europe’s leadership and secretariat will be constituted from our existing networks, working collaboratively and in close coordination with the SDSN Paris office.


Adolf Kloke-Lesch
Co-Chair of SDSN Europe
Associate Fellow and Senior Advisor at German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS)

Adolf Kloke-Lesch has been an Associate Fellow and Senior Advisor with the German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS; formerly German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (D.I.E.)) since August 2012. Since 2020 he is Co-Chair of SDSN Europe. From November 2014 until April 2021 he was Executive Director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network Germany (SDSN Germany) which is hosted by IDOS as the National SDSN Centre in Germany.

Prior to his engagement with SDSN Europe, he served as Executive Director at SDSN Germany, Managing Director at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ; 2011/2012) and Director General (Global Policies; Multilateral Development Policy; Africa, Middle East) at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ; 2007-2010). After joining BMZ in 1978 he held several senior positions in the ministry inter alia in the fields of research and technology, policy planning and strategy, budget, peace and security, and United Nations.

Adolf Kloke-Lesch is a graduate of Berlin Technical University (Urban and Regional Planning) and attended a post-graduate course at the IDOS in Berlin and Malaysia.

Please find out more here: https://www.die-gdi.de/adolf-kloke-lesch/

Phoebe Koundouri
Co-Chair of SDSN Europe
Co-Chair of SDSN Greece

Prof. Phoebe Koundouri is a world-renowned environmental economics professor and global leader in sustainable development. She is widely recognized as a pioneer in innovative, human-centric, interdisciplinary systems for the sustainable interaction between nature, society, and the economy. Prof. Koundouri is listed in the most-cited women economists in the world, with 15 published books and more than 300 published peer reviewed scientific papers.

Prof. Koundouri is University Professor (the university’s highest academic rank) at the School of Economics, Athens University of Economics and Business, an elected fellow of the  World Academy of Art & Science and the President-elect of the European Association of Environmental and Natural Resource Economists for the period 2019-2025 (EAERE)  with more than 1200 scientific member institutions, from more than 75 different countries).

Prof. Koundouri is the Founder and Scientific Director of the Research Laboratory on Socio-Economic and Environmental Sustainability (ReSEES) at Athens University of Economics and Business, focusing on interdisciplinary research on socio-economic and environmental systems. She is also Affiliated Professor at the ATHENA Research and Innovation Center, where she founded and scientifically directs the Sustainable Development Unit and the EIT Climate-KIC Hub Greece of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology , the latter focusing on accelerating technological and social innovations for use in the transition to a climate neutral economy.

Prof. Koundouri is also the co-Chair of United Nations Sustainable Development Network (UN SDSN) –Europe. The leadership of UN SDSN-Europe is constituted from existing National SDSN European networks and its mission is to serve as a science driven interface with European Commission policymaking.  Prof. Koundouri is also the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Centre for Research on the Environment and the Economy (ICRE8)  and Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the European Forest Institute.

Prof. Koundouri is one of the Commissioners of the prestigious Lancet Commission on COVID-19 for which she co-chairs the “Jobs-based Green Recovery” Task Force. She leads the UN SDSN Senior Working Group on “Transformation Pathways for the implementation of EGD and the SDGs”, co-leads the UN SDSN Sustainable Shipping and Ports and Shipping Initiative, and the UN SDSN 4-seas (Mediterranean, Black, Caspian and Aral Seas) Blue Growth Initiative. She is a member of the CEPR (Center for Economic Policy Research) Network (RPN) on Climate Change, member of the Priministerial Committee for the Recovery and 10-year Development Plan of Greece, the National Climate Change Committee of the Greece, as well as chair or member of numerous European and International Scientific, Research and Policy Boards and Committees.

Prof. Koundouri acts as a scientific advisor to the European Commission, World Bank, European Investment Bank, the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, OECD, UN, NATO, and WHO, etc. numerous national and international foundations and organizations, as well as national governments across the world. Also, Prof. Koundouri is editorial board member of more than 20 prestigious scientific journals

Since 1997, she has coordinated more than 100 interdisciplinary research projects, in all five continents, focused on combinations of Sustainable Development, Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, Behavioural Economics and Econometrics, Economics of Wellbeing and Happiness, Natural Resource-Food-Energy Nexus, Smart Water Systems, Ecosystem Services Valuation, Blue Growth, Circular Economy, Systems Innovation, Innovation Acceleration and Commercialization, and has attracted significant competitive research funding. Prof. Koundouri and her large interdisciplinary team (more than 200 researchers) have produced research and policy results that have contributed to accelerating research and innovation for the enablement of Sustainable Development and has contributed to shaping European and National policies.

Over the last two decades, Professor Koundouri has given keynote and public lecturers, at high level forums all over the world, and received various prizes for academic excellence, including best paper awards, highest policy impact paper, European Research project award, etc. as well as the prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Synergy Grant (2020-2027), which  focuses on design of the next generation of urban water systems, via the combination of water science, systems and control theory, economics, decision-science and machine learning. This is the biggest research project in the world at the moment working on urban water systems.

Prior to joining the Athens University of Economics and Business, Professor Koundouri has held academic positions at the University of Cambridge, University College London, University of Reading and London School of Economics. Prof. Koundouri holds a PhD and MPhil in Economics and Econometrics from the University of Cambridge (UK). For her studies she received a full scholarship from the University of Cambridge and the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust.

Prof. Koundouri was born and raised in Cyprus. During the period 1991-2006, she studied and worked in the UK (Leicester, Cambridge, Reading, London). Since 2006 she leaves in Greece (Athens) with her husband, Prof. Nikitas Pittis, and their three daughters: Chrysilia, Billie and Athena.

Angelo Riccaboni
Co-Chair of SDSN Europe
Chair of SDSN Mediterranean

Angelo Riccaboni is Chairman of PRIMA Foundation, created by 29 Countries and the EC to fund agrifood innovation, located in Barcelona. He also chairs the Santa Chiara Lab, an innovation center at the University of Siena. Former Rector of the University of Siena from (2010-2016), he is a member of the Leadership Council of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Chair of the Regional Centre of the SDSN for the Mediterranean, Co-Chair of the SDSN Europe. A full Professor in Business Administration at the University of Siena, his main research interests relate to businesses’ governance and management systems for sustainability and to innovation in agrifood systems. He was Chair of the Association of Italian Rectors Foundation. He is also a Member of the EC sub-group on Mission Area Soil Health and Food of the ‘shadow’ strategic configuration of the Horizon Europe Programme Committee.

María Cortés Puch
Vice-President of SDSN Networks Programme

María Cortés Puch is the Vice President of Networks of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, which operates under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General to support the implementation of the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement. She leads the SDSN efforts to build a global network of universities, research centers and civil society organizations that pursue sustainable development innovation locally through research, public education, executive training, demonstration projects, convening of social stakeholders and incubation of solutions. Prior to joining the SDSN, María worked for UNESCO at the Science Policy and Sustainable Development Division for two years. Previously, she coordinated the European energy and transport programs at the Polytechnic University in Madrid, and worked for two years as a Scientific Officer at the Spanish Office for Science and Technology in Brussels, analyzing EU policies for international cooperation, transport and energy. She began her professional career with the National Institute of Aerospace Technology in Madrid as a Technology Transfer Officer. Maria holds a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from Columbia University (Fulbright scholar) and BSc. and MSc. degrees in Physics from the Complutense University in Madrid (with one year at Paris VII as an Erasmus scholar). She currently lives in Madrid with her family. 

Simone Cresti
Manager SDSN Mediterranean

Simone Cresti is a staff member of the Santa Chiara Lab of the University of Siena. With a background in political sciences and sustainable management systems he is involved in research and education projects in the fields of sustainability.
He contributed to the development of the Massive Open Online Course “Sustainable Food Systems: a Mediterranean Perspective” offered through the ASD Academy-EdX platform and to the organization of the Siena Advanced School on Sustainable Development.
He is engaged in the research project “Fixing the Business of Food” developed by the Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition, The Center of Sustainable Investments of Columbia University and SDSN.
He is part of the teaching Staff of the Jean Monnet Module “Delivering Eu Studies on Agenda 2030” and serves as Network Manager of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the Mediterraenan region.

Barbara di Paola
SDSN Europe Communication Specialist

Barbara is in charge of the communication of the Italian Secretariat of PRIMA (Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area), the most ambitious innovation and scientific diplomacy programme ever launched in the Mediterranean by the European Union and by 19 countries on both shores. She supports the diffusion and promotion of the PRIMA programme in Italy and innovative solutions on thematic areas such as the sustainable management of water resources, sustainable agriculture and agrifood value chains.

She is based in Siena where she supports the communication of Santa Chiara Lab – University of Siena. She works, in particular, to the dissemination of projects, best practices and activities for the development of more innovative and sustainable agrifood systems.

She is passionate for environment and sustainability, new challenges and emerging trends in particular in the agrifood sector and its central role for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  She is also interested in how the companies and the organizations communicate and promote sustainability with a cross channel approach.

She graduated in Communication Sciences at the University of Siena and she took a postgraduate in Media Science and Technology at the University of Pavia.

Maria Lentoudi
SDSN Europe Communications Manager

Maria Lentoudi is the Communications Manager of the Cluster on Sustainability Transition,  UN SDSN GreeceEIT Climate-KIC Hub Greece and ReSEES Research Laboratory and Communications Manager of SDSN Europe.Previously, she worked for two and a half years as a communications specialist at the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs and she has also worked as a digital marketing coordinator & communications specialist in the private sector. She is a Ph.D. candidate in marketing in the Department of Communication, Media and Culture at Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences. She received her M.Sc. in Services Management at Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB), and her BSc in Sociology at Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences.

SDSN Networks Program Associate

Zofia Kunysz
SDSN Networks Program Associate

Zofia Kunysz is a Program Associate in the Networks team. She supports the SDSN Europe initiative and several innovative European projects. Before joining the SDSN, she worked as an intern at the OECD, where she focused on the technical issues in climate negotiations with the Climate Change Expert Group (CCXG). Among others, she performed background research and drafting for the CCXG’s analytical papers on the global stocktake and countries’ net zero emissions targets. Prior to her internship at the OECD, she worked for a sustainability ratings company where she analysed sustainability performance of Spanish and Latin American companies. She also completed an internship with the Polish Ministry of Climate and Environment, where she supported the works of the Department of International Cooperation as well as the Minister’s campaign for the position of OECD Secretary-General. 

Zofia holds a master’s degree in Environmental Policy from Sciences Po Paris and a bachelor’s degree in Global Business, Finance and Governance from the Warsaw School of Economics. She speaks Polish, English, Spanish and French. 

Elena Crete
Manager Senior Working Group on the European Green Deal

Elena Crete is a Manager for the SDSN, where she focuses on special initiatives for the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) and other climate and energy projects for SDSN. Elena serves as the central SDSN lead for the annual Low-Emissions Solutions Conference (LESC), launched at COP22 in Morocco. Part of Elena’s core portfolio is to help bring low-emission solutions to decision makers across networks and sectors to help implement the Paris Agreement. Elena also serves as the Secretariat point person for the Andean Network, Hong Kong Network, Japan Network, Indonesian Network, South Korea Network, and the Southeast Asia Network. Previously, Elena worked as the Operations Manager for SDSN leading the finance and administrative work for the SDSN New York Office. Prior to that she worked in a similar operations capacity for the Center on Globalization and Sustainable Development (CGSD) at Columbia University. Other experience included two years as the Special Assistant to the Executive Director at Connect To Learn, a secondary education initiative created in partnership with the Earth Institute, Ericsson and Millennium Promise. During that time, Elena ran a scholarship program for 732 high schools girls across 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa within the Millennium Villages Project, working closely with colleagues from Ericsson to install computers and broadband connectivity in the rural schools where the scholarships students were enrolled. Prior to these professional experiences, Elena completed a Masters of Arts in Climatology and a Masters of Science in Sustainability Management from Columbia University, and earned an Earth Science Bachelors Degree from the University of New Hampshire.

Andrija Erac
SDSN Networks Manager

Andrija is a Manager within the National and Regional Networks Program of the SDSN. He coordinates SDSN Europe, an initiative that seeks to mobilize and coordinate the knowledge and science across networks for a sustainable and resilient European Recovery. He also oversees the work of national and regional SDSNs in Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Czech Republic, Western Balkans and Bangladesh. He supports the work of SDSN thematic network on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems and contributes to the work of the Lancet Pathfinder Commission. Previously, Andrija worked as a Deputy Manager at the ICC (International Chamber of Commerce), managing high-value commercial and investment negotiations and disputes. In this role, Andrija worked with a variety of sectors (construction, energy, transports etc.) and actors (multinational companies, state owned enterprises, state entities, IGOs) in over 30 countries. He facilitated and helped unblock 80+ cross-border financial, legal & technical projects. Andrija also worked with the OECD on anti-corruption and business integrity in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Theodoros Zachariadis
SDSN Europe Manager

Theodoros Zachariadis is a tenured Associate Professor at the Energy, Environment and Water Research Centre of the Cyprus Institute. In 2009-2020 he served as an Assistant and then Associate Professor of environmental policy and energy resource management at the Cyprus University of Technology. In 2015-2020 he was the Dean of the University’s Faculty of Geotechnical Sciences and Environmental Management. He holds a Diploma and a Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. His postdoctoral work focused on the economic analysis of energy and environmental issues. He has worked as a researcher at the National Technical University of Athens and as a European Marie Curie Fellow at the Economics Research Centre of the University of Cyprus. He is a member of the Scientific Committee of the European Environment Agency, a Visiting Professor at Aarhus University, Denmark, a Manager at SDSN Europe, and an associate editor of the international Journal “Energy Economics”. He is also a member of the Leadership Council of SDSN Cyprus and served as a Board member of Green Budget Europe, a Brussels-based expert platform promoting environmental fiscal reforms. He is the recipient of the 2009 Research Prize of the Republic of Cyprus and the 2019 Environmental Prize awarded by the President of the Republic of Cyprus. His research interests are on the techno-economic analysis of energy, environmental and transport policies, with a special interest in environmental taxation.

SDSN Networks Program Associate

Gaëlle Descloitres SDSN Networks Program Associate

Gaëlle Descloitres is a Program Associate in the Networks team. She supports SDSN Europe and several SDSN Networks to develop their structure and implement work programs, as well as some innovative European prjects. She recently graduated from a Master in Sustainable Development Economics at Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University, and she holds a double bachelor’s degree in Economics and Languages from Université Grenoble Alpes. Prior to joining the SDSN, she worked at the OECD in the Center for Tax Policy; and was a research assistant for the London Business School.