Prof. Siri Hettige

[ Keynote speaker ]

Emeritus Professor of Sociology
University of Colombo
Sri Lanka

Siri Hettige is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka . He is also an Adjunct Professor at the RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. Professor Hettige was recently appointed as the Chairman, National Police Commission, Sri Lanka. He is also the Honorary President of the Association of Sri Lankan Sociologists and Chairman, the Working Committee on Social Sciences, National Science Foundation, Sri Lanka. He has published widely on such themes as youth, education, social and political conflict, social policy and governance and development. He has also served as a Visiting Professor/ Researcher at a number of overseas universities such as University of Zurich, Switzerland, University of Kuopio, Finland, Melbourne University, and University of Adelaide, Australia. His most recent publications include: Globalization, Employment and Education, co-authored with Angela Little, Rutledge, London (2013), Governance, Conflict and Development in South Asia, co-edited with Eva Geherz, Sage publications, Delhi, (2014), Towards a Sane Society, Sarasavi, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka (2015).

Marie-Claire Graf

Marie-Claire Graf

[ Keynote speaker ]

EYouth Advocate and Change Maker for Sustainable Development and Climate Solutions

Speech Title:  ” The Power of education for sustainable development & youth empowerment in times of multiple crises “

Marie-Claire Graf is a youth advocate and change maker for just sustainable development and ambitious climate action through her diverse engagement around all dimensions of sustainability on a local, national and international level. “Children, youth and future generations are the receiver of today’s decisions, successes and failures. Today we make up half of the world’s population, therefore, it’s my aspiration to inspire and empower youth to take meaningful, impactful and positive actions to create a momentum for change to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in time – we have the obligation to be involved and the right to be heard.” She sees and feels the urgency of stepping up and acting for bold changes because she loves exploring nature as well as skiing and hiking in the mountains, a world which is drastically changing and declining.

She is 23 years old, lives in Gelterkinden, Switzerland and is studying political and computer sciences at the University of Zurich after she studied environmental sciences at ETH Zurich.

Locally at ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich she is active in the Student Sustainability Commissions with a focus on project management, sustainable university policy and external relations. Both commissions are part of the Sustainability Week Zurich, the annual sustainability event series, which is organized by around 100 students, with the aim to transform the higher education sector and establish a sustainability culture. The week consists of a variety of events to raise awareness, demands to drive change and a network to establish meaningful collaborations and connections. Marie-Claire organized several events and was co-responsible for media communication and university politics.

On a national level, she is the president of the umbrella organization Swiss Associations of Student Organizations for Sustainability (VSN-FDD-FSS), which supports students and sustainability at all Swiss higher education institutions. She is representing students in different national and international bodies and committees and speaking frequently at high level events (e.g. Agenda 2030 Switzerland, Sustainable University Day Switzerland, UNESCO conference on the implementation of SDG in higher education). She is co-founder & core team member of the Sustainably Week Switzerland, the successful biggest student sustainability project in Switzerland, which is spreading the concept of the Sustainability Week Zurich on a national level. At Swiss Youth for Climate, which committed itself to pragmatic and responsible climate policies both at national and international level Marie-Claire is vice president and responsible for international external relations. From the very beginning she is part of the climate strikes in Switzerland and is engaged in the collaboration with national politics e.g. the government of Switzerland, parties and politicians to implement the demands. Marie-Claire is a Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum, where she is involved in projects around climate change and raising awareness and she is a member of foraus, a thinktank on Swiss foreign policy where she is in the environment, energy and mobility group.

Internationally since UNFCCC COP23 she is in the Bottomlining Team of YOUNGO, the official youth constituency to the UNFCCC, especially active in the field of Action for Climate Empowerment, capacity-building, gender program and technology transfer and policy. At UNFCCC COP25 she was elected as Focal Point of YOUNGO to the UNFCCC and boarder UN. Furthermore, is she Global Focal Point of the UN Major Group on Children and Youth on SDG13 and is engaged in a lot of cross cutting fields like gender and climate change, education for sustainable development, low carbon technology and youth empowerment. Regularly she is attending UNFCCC conferences and meetings and is advocating for meaningful youth empowerment and bold climate action (e.g. COP23, UNFCCC ACE Youth Forum, SB48, COP24, SB 50). She is representing the voice of youth at various international events (e.g. 71. World Health Assembly by WHO, Sustainability in education by UNESCO, Global Climate Action Summit, Global Sustainable Technology and Innovation Summit for low-carbon technology transfer by CTCN, ECOSOC Youth Forum, GA High Level Meeting on Sustainable Development, UN Climate Action Summit). She was part of the federal Swiss delegation to the UNFCCC COP25 in Madrid as youngest delegate and negotiator and expert on Action for Climate Empowerment and climate education and sensibilization. She is active in the international Friday’s for Future movement and was leading the All in for Climate Action campaign to hold governments around the world accountable.

For a European project organized by AEGEE the European Student’s Forum called “Europe on Track” she was traveling six weeks around Eastern Europe to raise awareness about sustainability and climate change and inspire local youth to become drivers of change. Today she is working on improving sustainability within AEGEE in the Sustainability Committee and using the force of youth to shift European politics.

She co-founded the Sustainability Week International, with the aim to make the successful concept available for all youth around the world and create an international momentum for change. She is co-president and responsible for external relations.

Additionally, she is co-founder of an awarded (by ETH, Zurich & MIT, Boston) crowdsourcing platform startup for aggregated science-based and citizen-science rating data with the aim to empower citizens in urban planning and decision-making trough organized and structured big data for sustainable cities called C’Square. Furthermore, she is a Climate Reality Leader, trained by Al Gore, a changemaker at Global Changemakers, a youth ambassador at Real Food Systems, Global Peace Chain and the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary and was/is involved in different initiatives and associations around empowering youth (e.g. Rock Your Life! Zurich, Youth Council of Baselland, Umbrella Organization of Youth Organizations in Switzerland DSJ-FSPJ-FSPG, easyvote, student organization at high school, Young Caritas and Amnesty Youth Switzerland, Center for Women Zurich).

Marie-Claire won several awards (Female Citizen of Zurich, UN Youth Climate Champion for Switzerland, Who is Who Basel 2020) as well as some of her projects (e.g. Clinton Global Initiative University, Green Gown Award, ISCN, UNEP Champion of the Earth).

The various activities for a more sustainable world give her the needed purpose and energy in life & she is striving for taking meaningful, impactful and positive actions at all levels.

Martina Ptackova, Eight World Champion in Martial Arts

Martina Ptáčková

[ Inspirational Speaker ]

Eight World Champion in Martial Arts
The Czech Republic

Speech Title: ” It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves “

Martina Ptáčková is eight times world champion and world champion in hand to hand combat (which trains special forces and armed forces. She is the first Czech and European to ever win.)

Last year she was honored among the 24 the most successful personalities of the year, became an Athlete of the Year. She has been awarded the Forbes magazine and ranked among the extraordinary women of the year.

She is the only European women, who competed and won a black belt in hand to hand combat (armed and special forces sport)

September 2019 she was appointed by Mr Minister Petříček to be a Good Will ambassador for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. While in this post, she will be working with women and children, she keep on fighting against domestic violence and bullying of children by organizing different projects and supporting minorities around the world.


The Czech star conquers the world. She led the Birds’ Bullying at School to combat sports

Double Star of the Diary Martina Ptáčková is a princess, but also a warrior

Martina Ptáčková (22): She started kickboxing because of bullying

Rocky in Skirts: Czech Warrior Wins Top Street Award


Ashan Perera

Ashan Perera

[ Plenary Speaker ]

UN SDG Action Award Winner 2018
Social Entrepreneur
Founder of The Road to Rights Youth-Led Organization,
Sri Lanka

Speech Title: “Migration, Employment and Youth”

Dr. Kalharie Pitigala

Dr. Kalharie Pitigala

[ Plenary Speaker ]

Child Adolescent and Counseling Psychologist
Asiri Medical Hospitals,
Sri Lanka

Dr. Kalharie Pitigala is a senior lecturer and a consultant psychologist. She has helped many people in overcoming their psychological issues, stress, phobias, anxieties, OCDs, learning disorders, etc. She also conducts psychology related workshops and training programs in Sri Lanka and Maldives. Currently she is attached to the Asiri Group of Hospitals as a Consultant Child, Adolescent and Counseling psychologist. Her main research interests are in the areas of developmental disorders, pregnancy, stress, abortion, sexual health, breast cancer, prison studies, domestic violence and gender identity.