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About the APEC University Leaders' Forum
About the APEC CEO Summit

About the APEC University Leaders’ Forum

This high-level dialogue between CEOs, policy leaders, university presidents and top researchers aims to play an influential international role in Investing in Tomorrow’s Biodiversity.

The Forum is hosted by the University of California Davis and the University of California Santa Cruz with APRU on Monday, November 13, 2023 at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, California.  The Forum takes place on the sidelines of the APEC CEO Summit and offers an opportunity for leadership in implementing a global plan for biodiversity. It is aimed at producing new insights and identifying the partnerships needed for investing in conservation and restoration of our biodiversity.

The theme is dedicated to sustainability and climate resilience and includes discussions on:

  • sustaining the evolving biodiversity landscape
  • strengthening the resilience of coastal communities
  • protecting water and investing in economic opportunity
  • innovating food systems for the survival of the planet


APRU universities have the research and educational resources needed to play a major role in providing innovative solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change and sustain biodiversity.

This Forum will shape our future work together.

Attendance at this meeting is by invitation only. To request an invitation contact [email protected]



About the APEC CEO Summit

APEC CEO Summit USA 2023 Program

Delegates of the APEC University Leaders’ Forum have the opportunity to register for the APEC CEO Summit at a discounted rate. Registration for the Summit will grant access to APEC Summit Plenary Sessions and designated hotels. Once you indicate your interest on the APRU registration form, APEC organizers will be notified and you will receive an invitation.

The annual APEC CEO Summit 2023 comes to San Francisco, California on November 14th-16th at the Moscone Center West.

The Summit will bring CEOs, entrepreneurs, thought leaders and other stakeholders together with the most senior political leaders from the Asia-Pacific region for two days of robust dialogue on global opportunities and challenges that are shaping economic, environmental, and societal trends in the region.

The Summit program focus of ‘Creating Economic Opportunity’, will feature a lineup of dynamic and diverse speakers who will highlight the potential of collaboration and fresh thinking to build the future through a focus on sustainability, inclusion, resilience, and innovation. The accompanying Summit exhibition will showcase pioneering solutions and technologies that can help drive equitable growth.


Investing In Tomorrow’s Biodiversity

Monday, November 13, 2023

8:00 AM – 8:45 AM


8:45 AM– 9:00 AM

Welcome Remarks

9:00 AM – 9:45 AM

Opening Ceremony – Sustainability and Climate Resilience

Keynote Address 1

9:45 AM -10:45 AM

Panel Discussion I: Responding to Changing Biodiversity 

Biodiversity represents the variation of life on earth, from the level of genes to ecosystems. It underpins many of nature’s contributions to people but is under severe threat from climate change. This panel will discuss the most pressing challenges and promising solutions for restoring biodiversity in the face of a rapidly changing climate. It will cover recent advances in genomic technologies, biodiversity assessment tools, conservation approaches, policy advances, and funding mechanisms. It will grapple with issues of colonialism, traditional ecological knowledge, and environmental justice to move towards equitable approaches to restoring biodiversity for nature and people.

  • Rosie Alegado, Assistant Professor, Department of Oceanography, University of Hawaii at Mänoa
  • Ralph Chami, CEO and Co-Founder Blue Green Future, Co-Founder – ReBalance Earth
  • Lauren Ferstandig, Managing Director, NatureVest, The Nature Conservancy
  • Natalia Ocampo-Penuela, Assistant Professor, Environmental Studies Department, UC Santa Cruz

10:45 AM – 11:15 AM

Morning Break

11:15 AM -12:15 PM

Panel Discussion II: Mitigating Climate Change Impacts on Coastal Communities

Climate change is bringing ever-more extreme and variable conditions to coastal regions. Mega-storms, coastal flooding, extreme drought, and unprecedented wildfires are increasing, and with them the economic and social costs to coastal communities. This panel will discuss the most pressing threats and promising solutions to increase climate resilience in coastal regions. It will cover recent advances in our understanding of ecosystem resilience and approaches to harness nature-based solutions to mitigate climate impacts. Marginalized communities suffer disproportionately from coastal climate risks. This panel will include a focus on social justice as we seek to develop effective and equitable solutions to make coastal communities more resilient to the increasing impacts of climate change.

Moderator: Emma Johnston, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, The University of Sydney

  • Michael Beck, Director, Center for Coastal Climate Resilience, UC Santa Cruz
  • Karen Fisher, Associate Professor, Faculty of Science, Environment, The University of Auckland
  • Guillermo Franco, Managing Director, Guy Carpenter Co.
  • Nuin-Tara Key, Director, North America Public Sector Lead, Climate and Resilience Hub, Willis Towers Watson

12:15 PM – 12:30 PM

Group Photo

12:30 PM -1:30 PM


Keynote Address

1:30 PM – 2:30 PM

Panel Discussion III: Optimizing Water Resources for a Sustainable Planet

Water management is crucial for a sustainable future. The panel tackles challenges of scarcity, pollution, and inefficient usage, offering innovative solutions across sectors. Advanced technologies, policies, and community engagement enhance water conservation, quality, and efficiency in agriculture, industry, and homes. Holistic approaches integrate research, data-driven strategies, and partnerships to develop sustainable practices, balancing economic development, social equity, and environmental protection. Optimizing water resources mitigates scarcity risks, supports food security, fosters economic resilience, and enhances community well-being globally. Join us in shaping a sustainable world through effective water management.

Moderator: Helene Dillard, UC Davis

  • Benjamin Horton, Director of the Earth Observatory of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University
  • Charles Iceland, Director, Freshwater Initiatives, World Resources Institute
  • Jay Lund, Vice Director, Center for Watershed Sciences, UC Davis
  • Karla Nemeth, Director, California Department of Water Resources
  • Maria Angelica Sotomayor, Practice Manager, East Asia and the Pacific Water Global Practice, World Bank

2:30 PM – 2:45 PM

Afternoon Break

2:45 PM – 3:45 PM

Panel Discussion IV: Creating a Sustainable Future through Food Systems Innovation

With the global population projected to reach 9 to 10 billion in the next two to three decades, our food system faces immense pressure. Moreover, as more individuals enter the middle class and possess higher disposable incomes, there is a growing likelihood of increased consumption of environmentally impactful food. Balancing the need to expand food production while minimizing harm to the environment poses a significant challenge that humanity must confront. This panel serves as a platform to explore sustainable solutions and engage in discussions on how we can meet the escalating food demand without compromising the well-being of our planet.

Moderator: Tamar Haspel, Columnist, The Washington Post

  • Eduardo Blumwald, Distinguished Professor and Will W. Lester Endowed Chair, Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis
  • Jack Bobo, Director, Food Systems Institute, University of Nottingham
  • Rebecca Chesney, Director of Sustainability Innovation, ISS Gunkenheimer
  • Rebecca Shaw, Chief Scientist, World Wildlife Fund
3:45 PM – 4:00 PM Break

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Concluding Session 

5:15 PM – 8:00 PM

Reception Followed by Dinner



as of 27 September 2023

Keynote Speakers

Ambassador Ertharin Cousin

CEO and Managing Director
Food Systems for the Future

Ertharin Cousin currently serves as the CEO and Managing Director of Food Systems for the Future, a nutrition impact investment fund; a Distinguished Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs; a Bosch Academy, Robert Weizsäcker Fellow; and a Visiting Scholar at the Stanford University, Center on Food Security and Environment.

From 2012 until 2017, Cousin led the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). As Executive Director, Cousin guided the 14,000-member WFP team feeding more than 80 million people each year.

In 2009, Cousin was nominated and confirmed as the US Ambassador to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome. Prior to her global hunger work, Cousin helped lead the U.S. domestic fight to end hunger including service as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of America’s Second Harvest – now Feeding America.

Cousin is currently a member of the Bayer AG Supervisory Board, the Mondelez International Board of Directors, the Royal DSM Sustainability Board, and a Trustee of the African agriculture thinktank Academia2063.

Cousin is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago; the University of Georgia Law School and the University of Chicago Executive Management Program-Finance for Non-Financial Executives.


Dr. Scott D. Sampson

Executive Director and William R. and Gretchen B. Kimball Chair California Academy of Sciences

Dr. Scott D. Sampson is the Executive Director and William R. and Gretchen B. Kimball Chair of the California Academy of Sciences, where he leads the institution’s world-class museum as well as its programs of scientific research, sustainability, and education. A renowned paleontologist, passionate science communicator, and seasoned museum leader, Sampson joined the Academy in September 2019.

To some, namely preschoolers and their parents, Sampson may be best known as “Dr. Scott the Paleontologist,” the on-air host for the Emmy-nominated PBS KIDS television series Dinosaur Train. Outside of this enthusiastic audience, however, Sampson is better known for his many other contributions to scientific research and public engagement. Among his peers in the scientific community, Sampson is highly regarded for his expertise on Late Cretaceous dinosaurs, from theropods in Madagascar to horned dinosaurs in North America. And in the museum community, Sampson is celebrated as a skilled organizational leader, a passionate advocate for connecting people to nature, and a champion for the critical role that collections-based scientific institutions like the Academy play in global efforts to understand and sustain life on Earth.

Before joining the Academy, Sampson served as President and CEO of Science World British Columbia, one of Canada’s premier science centers. There, he launched a suite of bold new programs designed to dramatically scale STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art/design & Math) literacy across the province and facilitate a more sustainable future. He also focused on operating a sustainable, equitable institution, which included introducing a number of new initiatives aimed at increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion, including community access and engagement programs for underserved and Indigenous communities.

He was the science advisor and host of the four-part Discovery Channel series Dinosaur Planet and as the author of multiple books for general audiences, including: Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life (University of California Press, 2009); How to Raise a Wild Child, a book aimed at helping parents, teachers, and others foster a deep connection with nature in children (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015); and You Can Be A Paleontologist, a book for young enthusiasts of dinosaurs, science, and nature (National Geographic, 2017).

Sampson has won numerous awards and honors, including the Public Service Award from the Geological Society of America, the Lifetime Legacy Award from Environmental Learning for Kids, and Time Magazine Canada’s “Who Defines the new Frontiers of Science” list. He also served as the National Ambassador for Nature Rocks, a global initiative of The Nature Conservancy aimed at inspiring families to explore nature.


Host University Chancellors

Gary S. May

University of California Davis

Gary S. May is the seventh chancellor of UC Davis, one of the nation’s most academically and socially diverse universities. He is leading the university to new heights in academic excellence, enterprise research, public service and upward mobility for students of all backgrounds.

Chancellor May came to UC Davis in 2017 after serving as dean of Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering, the nation’s largest and most diverse school of its kind. May has won numerous awards for his research in computer-aided manufacturing of integrated circuits. In 2010, he was named “outstanding engineering alumnus” of UC Berkeley, where he earned his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering and computer science.

In 2015, President Obama honored him with the Presidential Award for Excellence in STEM Mentoring. In 2021, he received the prestigious Lifetime Mentor Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science for demonstrating extraordinary leadership to increase the participation of underrepresented groups in the fields of science and engineering. May was inducted to the National Academy of Engineering in September 2018 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in April 2020.

A prominent voice in higher education, May is also a member of the Boyer 2040 Commission, which was created by the Association for Undergraduate Education at Research Universities to design a blueprint for excellence and equity in undergraduate education at U.S. research universities. He serves as Vice Chair of the Universities Research Association’ Council of Presidents and is on the executive committee of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities Board of Directors. May is a board member for the American Council on Education, a member of the Task Force on Higher Education and Opportunity and a Commissioner of the national Council on Competitiveness. He also serves on the advisory board for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Cynthia K. Larive

University of California Santa Cruz
As the 11th chancellor of the University of California at Santa Cruz, Cynthia K. Larive heads an institution known worldwide for its interdisciplinary approach to research for the public good, for seeking solutions and giving voice to the challenges of our time, and for its commitment to social and environmental justice. Since its founding in 1965, UC Santa Cruz has been on an unprecedented trajectory, with its faculty advancing world-changing research and establishing its reputation as one of the most innovative, collaborative, impactful institutions in higher education. It is a place where ideas are converted into action, and action into real, transformative change.
UC Santa Cruz, which enrolls about 19,000 students, joined the Association of American  Universities in 2019 and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities in 2020, remarkable achievements that underscore the impact and quality of the campus’ research as well as the breadth and caliber of its graduate and undergraduate teaching. UC Santa Cruz also shares the distinction of being the youngest member of the esteemed 66-member AAU and one of only six members that is also a Hispanic-serving institution. The university in 2022 joined with  other leading universities to form the Alliance of Hispanic Serving Research Universities, which aims to increase opportunity for those historically underserved by higher education. Larive sits on the board’s executive committee.
A common thread throughout Larive’s career has been her commitment to student success, inclusion and equity. She has led programs for undergraduate research and curricular innovation and has written extensively on active and experiential learning and mentoring. She has personally mentored 30 doctoral and master’s students, and she has been active in encouraging the participation and success of women and other underrepresented groups in the STEM fields. The campus in 2022 was ranked No. 1 in the nation among top research universities for racial and gender diversity in leadership.


Panel Speakers

in alphabetical order by organization 

Ralph Chami

Co-Founder, Blue Green Future

Over 30 years of experience as a financial economist, with 22 years at the IMF and currently as Assistant Director at the Institute for Capacity Development.

Operational expertise working with fragile states worldwide and providing training and capacity development on macro-financial economic policy.

A broad range of research topics include remittances, fragile states, inclusive growth, banking regulation, and most recently, how to bring the valuation of natural capital to mitigate climate change and the biodiversity crisis.

Karla Nemeth

California Department of Water Resources

Karla Nemeth was appointed Director of the California Department of Water Resources by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. on January 10, 2018 and was reappointed by Governor Gavin Newsom on June 28, 2019.

Nemeth oversees the Department and its 4,000 employees whose mission it is to manage and protect California’s water resources. In cooperation with other agencies, DWR manages California’s water resources to benefit the state’s people, and to protect, restore, and enhance the natural and human environments. Nemeth focuses on preparing the Department and state to adapt to more extreme weather as a result of climate change – investing in aging and green infrastructure, better management of groundwater supplies, and various programs to improve local water resilience. Nemeth is committed to ensuring a workplace that reflects the values of diversity, equity and inclusion and one that provides programs and services that meet the needs of California’s diverse population.

Nemeth received a bachelor’s degree in political science and Latin American studies from the University of California at San Diego, and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Washington.

Nemeth grew up in San Diego, California where she learned to love baseball, the Pacific Ocean, and the eastern Sierra.

Guillermo Franco

Managing Director & Global Head of Catastrophe Risk Research
Guy Carpenter Co.

Guillermo leads Guy Carpenter’s parametric advisory offerings and supports GC Securities in the design and analysis of parametric cat bonds. He also coordinates research initiatives in the fields of catastrophe risk, parametric risk transfer and nature.​

Since 2012, Guillermo has supported GC’s operations from Boston, London, Dublin, and New York, leading GC’s research strategy and fostering a better understanding of catastrophe risk models through Guy Carpenter’s Model Suitability Analysis (MSA)® initiative. He is a frequent research collaborator at UC Santa Cruz and the Polytechnic University of Valencia.​

Guillermo holds a master’s degree and a doctorate in civil engineering and engineering mechanics from Columbia University in New York and a bachelor’s from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain. He is a member of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute in California (EERI) and a frequent collaborator of the Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation Team (EEFIT) in the UK. He has over 50 publications in academic journals and conference proceedings.​

Rebecca Chesney

Director of Sustainability Innovation
ISS Gunkenheimer

Rebecca Chesney is a globally recognized sustainability and innovation leader with over 13 years of experience building a better future. Trained in food anthropology, foresight, and design methods, Rebecca understands the nuances of the global food system and helps others navigate its complexity to drive change.

Rebecca is currently Director of Sustainability Innovation for food service company ISS Guckenheimer, where she helps clients meet climate goals by reimagining their dining programs. Her work includes food and plastics circularity, biodiverse and soil-centered menus, and supply chain partnerships that support a regenerative food system.

For the previous decade, Rebecca was a food industry consultant with global innovation firm IDEO and the nonprofit strategic foresight agency Institute for the Future. Her projects included writing ten-year scenarios for global food security, leading a solutions challenge that engaged people from 85 countries in the first-ever UN Food Systems Summit, and advising a land-grant university’s strategy. Her work has been featured by CNN, Wired, and The New York Times, and she is a seasoned speaker and facilitator for audiences around the world.

Rebecca holds an MA in the Anthropology of Food from SOAS University of London and degrees in accounting and finance from Texas A&M University, where she was selected for the Brown-Rudder Memorial Outstanding Student Award among 11,000 graduates. A native of Texas, she has lived on three continents and is currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Lauren Ferstandig

Managing Director, NatureVest
The Nature Conservancy

Lauren oversees NatureVest, The Nature Conservancy’s Sustainable Finance Team, whose mission it is to source, close and manage opportunities where impact investment and/or commercial solutions can support the execution of projects that generate financial, environmental and social returns that directly support TNC’s global conservation

Lauren is dedicated to developing a broad suite of market solutions. In addition to the existing Impact Investment and post-close Impact Management teams, Lauren oversees the recently launched Financial Advisory team, which includes dedicated Carbon Finance capacity. These three teams enable NatureVest to work across a broad suite of financial solutions to help address conservation challenges globally.

Lauren joined NatureVest in 2014, focused specifically on water and agricultural investments and went on to become the Managing Director of NatureVest’s Impact Investment Team, which focuses on identifying and structuring impact investment transactions across all TNC’s conservation priorities. Under her leadership the Impact Investment team has worked collaboratively with Conservancy colleagues to structure and close deals across Africa, Asia Pacific and the Americas.

Lauren has a BA from Middlebury College and an MA in International Relations from the London School of Economics where she focused on issues related to East African water resource management.

Karen Fisher

Associate Professor, Faculty of Environment
The University of Auckland

Emma Johnston AO 

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research
Professor of Marine Ecology & Ecotoxicology
School of Life and Environmental Sciences
The University of Sydney

A highly-awarded and world-leading authority in marine science and conservation, Professor Johnston’s current research focuses on global change including marine debris, biological invasions, extreme events, and Antarctica’s environmental future. She was previously Dean of Science and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Research at the University of New South Wales.

As the past President of Science & Technology Australia (STA), an elected position, she is a highly influential figure in the Australian higher education and research sector. Professor Johnston has led major research projects for industry, government, the Australian Research Council, and the Australian Antarctic Science Program and contributed to the development of international and national research strategies, priorities, and plans. She is a sustainability and diversity champion and a Chief Author of the Australian State of Environment Report 2021. She is a trusted advisor working across a range of government and industry bodies. Professor Johnston is a Director on the Board of the CSIRO, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), and a governor of the Ian Potter Foundation. 

Professor Johnston is an elected fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (AAS), the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) and the Royal Society of New South Wales (RSNSW) and was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours for ‘distinguished service to higher education, particularly to marine ecology and ecotoxicology, as an academic, researcher and administrator, and to scientific institutes’.

Tamar Haspel

Food Columnist
The Washington Post

Tamar Haspel writes the James Beard Award-winning Washington Post column Unearthed, which looks at how our diet affects us and our planet. She’s also written for Discover, Vox, Slate, Fortune, Eater, and Edible Cape Cod. Her book, TO BOLDLY GROW, is about the good things that happen when you roll up your sleeves, go outside, and get dirty in service of dinner, and if it doesn’t make you laugh out loud she will buy you a beer.

Eduardo Blumwald

Distinguished Professor and Will W. Lester Endowed Chair, Department of Plant Sciences
University of California Davis

Eduardo Blumwald earned a B.Sc. in Soil Sciences (1980), a M.Sc. in Physiology (1981) and a Ph.D. in Bioenergetics (1983) from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Following postdoctoral work at McGill University, Montreal, Canada (1984-87), he was a Professor of Biophysics at the University of Toronto, Canada (1987-2000). He is the Will W. Lester at the Dept. of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis (2000-present) and a Distinguished Professor of Cell Biology (2016-present) at UC DavisHe has published over 250 research articles and owns several patents spanning his fields of study. He is a Fellow of different professional societies (AAAS, ASPB, JSPS, etc.) and a member of several editorial boards of scientific journals. Blumwald’s research is multidisciplinary, combining physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, genomics, plant genetic transformation, etc. to identify genes and gene networks mediating the response(s) of crop plants to environmental stress. He was awarded the 2023 Innovator of the Year award by UC Davis for his work leading to the development of cereal crops able to fix atmospheric Nitrogen, significantly reducing the use of inorganic nitrogen fertilizers, decreasing their deleterious effects on the environment.  

Helene Dillard

Dean, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Dean’s Office Plant Pathology
University of California Davis

Helene R. Dillard was appointed dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis in January 2014. Dillard is the chief academic and administrative officer of the college and oversees fourteen departments, 29 centers and institutes, more than 7,400 undergraduate students, 380+ faculty, and 800+ staff. In addition to her responsibilities as dean, she has programmatic responsibilities for the college’s Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension. Dillard has national and international leadership experience, including invited consultations, presentations and scientific exchanges in China, Central America (Honduras, Nicaragua), South America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile), the European Union (the Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom) and Zimbabwe.

Jay Lund

Vice-Director, Center for Watershed Sciences
Distinguished Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of California Davis

Dr. Jay Lund is Vice Director of the Center for Watershed Sciences and a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California – Davis.  He has long enjoyed teaching, research, and engagement on many aspects of theory and practice for water management and policy, usually trying to integrating economics and operations research with traditional engineering.  He has become particularly engaged in working on the wide range of water problems in California with many collaborators, and remains enthusiastic about the potential of system analysis and optimization to provide understanding and insights for management and policy. 

In California he was on the Advisory Committee for the 1998 and 2005 California Water Plan Updates, and has served as Convenor of the California Water and Environment Modeling Forum and Chair of California’s Delta Independent Science Board.  He is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering. He has long been involved in applying economic and optimization ideas to provide insights on water and environmental problems, including the development and use of the CALVIN model of California’s water supply system.  He is a lead author of Comparing Futures for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (UC Press 2010) and Managing California’s Water: From Conflict to Reconciliation (PPIC 2011).

Dr. Lund has a B.A. in International Relations and Regional Planning from the University of Delaware (1979) and a BS in Civil Engineering, MA in Geography, and PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Washington (Seattle).  He has advised over 150 graduate students, including 15 who are faculty at research universities globally, and has over 400 publications and reports.

Jonna Mazet, DVM, MPVM, PhD

Vice Provost, Grand Challenges
University of California Davis

Jonna Mazet, DVM, MPVM, Ph.D., was named Vice Provost of Grand Challenges in 2021. She is Chancellor’s Leadership Professor of Epidemiology and Disease Ecology and founded the One Health Institute in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, where she focused on global health problem solving, especially for emerging infectious disease and conservation challenges.

Mazet is active in international One Health education, service and research programs, most notably in relation to disease transmission among wildlife, domestic animals and people and the ecological drivers of novel disease dynamics. Over the past decade, she was the Global Director of a greater than $200 million viral emergence early warning project, named PREDICT, that was developed with the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Emerging Pandemic Threats Program.

In 2013, Mazet was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in recognition of her successful and innovative approach to emerging environmental and global health threats and serves on the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine’s Forum on Microbial Threats and the Academies’ One Health Action Collaborative. She was appointed to the National Academies Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats, which was created to assist the federal government with critical science and policy issues related to the COVID-19 crisis and other emerging health threats.

Mike W. Beck

Director, Center for Coastal Climate Resilience & AXA Chair in Coastal Resilience, Institute of Marine Sciences, Coastal Science & Policy Program, Ocean Sciences Department
University of California Santa Cruz

Professor Michael W. Beck is the Director of the Center on Coastal Climate Resilience and AXA Chair in Coastal Resilience at the University of California Santa Cruz and Co-Lead of the NSF CoPeStrong Coastsproject. Mike aims to reduce risks to people, property, and nature in his work across science, policy, and practice. Mike served for 20 years as Lead Marine Scientist at The Nature Conservancy. He has advised government agencies in the US, Germany, UK, EU, Philippines, Indonesia, Jamaica, and Grenada, among others. He has collaborated with many global agencies and companies including AXA, Munich Re, Swiss Re, Lloyd’s of London, Risk Management Solutions, and the World Bank. Mike has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers and numerous Op-eds in major papers including the LA Times, NY Times, The Hill, and the Miami Herald. He has been a Fulbright Fellow and a Pew Marine Fellow. You can find more on his lab’s work at 

Natalia Ocampo-Penuela

Assistant Professor, Environmental Studies Department
University of California Santa Cruz

Natalia Ocampo-Peñuela is a Colombian conservation ecologist and assistant professor in the Environmental Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research combines spatial analyses, fieldwork, and computational approaches to improve how we set conservation priorities in the World’s tropical regions. She contributes to efforts to improve species distribution mapping, quantify anthropogenic impacts on biodiversity, develop conservation alternatives that benefit biodiversity and local communities, and bridge the research-practice gap. Natalia’s focus is on birds and the Neotropics.  

Rosie ‘Anolani Alegado

Associate Professor, Department of Oceanography
Director for the Center of Integrated Knowledge Systems, Sea Grant

University of Hawaii

We are a transdisciplinary laboratory for basic and applied research located in at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi.

The Alegado lab is part of the Daniel K. Inouye Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education housed within the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, which brings together microbial ecologists, biogeochemists and bioinformaticists to focus on understanding the role of microbes in coastal oceanographic processes. We are associated with the Coastal Sustainability Initiative in Sea Grant, the Pacific Biosciences Research Center and the Water Resources Research Center.

Jack Bobo

Director, Food Systems Institute
The University of Nottingham

Jack Bobo is the Director of the University of Nottingham’s Food Systems Institute. Prior to joining the Institute, Jack served as the Director of Global Food and Water Policy at The Nature Conservancy and as the CEO of Futurity, a food foresight company. Recognized by Scientific American as one of the 100 most influential people in biotechnology, he also served as the Chief Communications Officer and SVP for Global Policy at Intrexon Corporation and as a senior advisor for food policy at the U.S. Department of State. Jack is the author of the 2021 book ‘Why smart people make bad food choices’ and a global thought leader. He has delivered more than 500 keynote speeches in 50 countries on the future of food. Degrees include: J.D., M.S. in Environmental Science, B.S. in biology and B.A. in psychology and chemistry.

Charles Iceland

Director, Freshwater Initiatives
World Resources Institute

Charles Iceland is Director, Freshwater Initiatives with WRI’s Food, Land, and Water Program. In addition to overseeing the Global Water Team, Charles is implementing the Water, Peace, and Security Partnership with several European and American partner organizations. As part of this project, he and his team have developed a machine learning-based conflict prediction tool that leverages information on environmental, political, economic, social, and demographic conditions worldwide. The partnership was awarded the 2020 Luxembourg Peace Prize for Outstanding Environmental Peace.

Maria Angelica Sotomayor

Regional Water Practice Manager for East Asia & the Pacific
World Bank

Ms. Maria Angelica Sotomayor is currently Water Practice Manager for the Eastern and Southern Africa Region with the World Bank. She is transitioning as Water Practice Manager for the East Asia and Pacific region on July 1, 2022. Ms. Sotomayor joined the Bank in 1996 and since then she has had a number of managerial and leadership positions including Practice Manager for the Water Global Programs Unit overseeing the Global Water Security and Sanitation Partnership (GWSP); Lead Economist in the Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice for the Africa Urban and Disaster Risk Management Unit. In this role, she co-led the urban resilience agenda, and co-chaired the Integrated Urban Water Management knowledge initiative; she served as a Sector Leader for Sustainable Development in Haiti and the Caribbean Country Management Units and was a co-chair of the Rural Water and Sanitation Thematic Group. She has over 25 years of experience in development policy dialogue and in the design, appraisal, and implementation of investment projects in water and sanitation, water resources management and urban infrastructure in Africa, Latin America, Europe and Central Asia.

Rebecca Shaw

Chief Scientist and Senior Vice President, Global Science
World Wildlife Fund

Dr. Rebecca Shaw is Chief Scientist and Senior Vice President at WWF. She works with experts around the world to identify the emerging challenges to WWF’s mission and advance scientific inquiry to develop strategic solutions to those challenges. She leads WWF’s Global Science team whose research agenda informs WWF’s global conservation framework and identifies tools critical to achieving WWF’s goals. She has been published widely in leading peer-reviewed scientific journals such as Science and Nature and is the recipient of numerous awards for her academic and non-academic work. She was also a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report focused on impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability.

Dr. Shaw holds an M.A. in environmental policy and a Ph.D. in energy and resources from the University of California, Berkeley.



About the Commonwealth Club

The APEC University Leaders’ Forum will take place at the Commonwealth Club on Monday, November 13, 2023.

110 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94105


The Commonwealth Club is the leading national forum open to all for the impartial discussion of public issues. The Commonwealth Club of California is the nation’s oldest and largest public affairs forum. Each year, it brings nearly 500 events on topics ranging across politics, culture, society and the economy to our members and the public, both in-person and via extensive online and on-air listenership and viewership.

The Commonwealth Club provides unique and sophisticated conference spaces, both indoors and outdoors, that offer stunning views of San Francisco Bay and the Bay Bridge. This LEED Gold-certified building utilizes digitally controlled moveable windows and large ceiling fans to cool with outside air, while also incorporating additional HEPA filters indoors to scrub the air.

Situated on San Francisco’s historic waterfront, it is surrounded by many distinctive restaurants and conveniently located within walking distance from the Ferry Building and several hotels. The club is easily accessible through nearby BART, Muni, and ferry terminals.



Accommodation will be available for booking at APEC designated hotels once registration for the APEC CEO Summit is confirmed. Please indicate your interest to attend the APEC CEO Summit on the AULF Registration form. 

For those not attending the APEC Summit, APRU has a room block available at special rates at the Harbor Court Hotel. Rates are subject to availability, so please book early!


Harbor Court Hotel

AULF Hotel Information | Website | Map | Image Gallery | Hotel Fact Sheet 

165 Steuart Street, San Francisco, CA 94105
Approx. 2-minute walk from the Commonwealth Club


On the Embarcadero of San Francisco, the Harbor Court Hotel defines urban sophistication with a historical ambiance. It delivers a tech-savvy blend of convenience and vibrancy for a personal and unique guest experience. By day, the dynamic setting on the city’s iconic waterfront offers spectacular views of the San Francisco skyline.


Discounted Rates for APRU Delegates:

Stay between 11-Nov and 15-Nov and receive the following rates:

USD 299 per night + taxes until 12-Nov
USD 499 per night + taxes from 13-Nov onwards

When you book under the AULF room block, you may see a nightly rate of $399/night (as it will be averaged for the duration of stay).

Rate includes: in-room and public Wi-Fi, daily continental breakfast, daily morning coffee, daily evening wine hour from 5:00-6:00 pm, bike rentals, and gym access at Embarcadero YMCA.

Parking: USD 69 per night

Please click here to reserve your room. A credit card is required to secure your booking. Supply of discounted rates is limited. Please reserve your room as soon as possible.

Attendance at this event is by invitation only. To request an invitation please contact Jackie Wong at [email protected]

About UC Davis

Ranked as one of the top research universities in the nation, the University of California, Davis is recognized worldwide for how it transforms students’ lives, the impact of its research, the excellence of its academic programs, and its service to the public. With more than 40,000 students enrolled annually in undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs, UC Davis provides the highest quality of education from world-class faculty experts while offering the resources to ensure that students succeed in school and beyond.

A global leader in sustainability and environmental research—on campus, in the classroom, and abroad—UC Davis is a living laboratory dedicated to developing, testing and providing solutions to address the world’s most pressing issues, including in areas related to climate change, biodiversity protection and conservation efforts, human and animal health, sustainable food systems and much more. For the seventh year in a row, UC Davis was ranked first in North America for sustainability in the 2022 GreenMetric rankings.

About UC Santa Cruz

A global research university, UC Santa Cruz, is part of the world’s most celebrated system of public higher education, and stands among the most renowned institutions of higher learning.

Leading at the intersection of innovation and social justice, UC Santa Cruz faculty and students conduct transformative research and scholarship that serves society. Undergraduate students experience a small liberal arts college environment with the depth and rigor of a major research university through the pairing of high-impact research with 10 tight-knit residential colleges – a rare combination among U.S. public universities.

UC Santa Cruz shares the distinction of being the youngest member of the Association of American Universities and one of only eight members that is also a Hispanic-serving institution.

About APRU 

As a network of leading universities linking the Americas, Asia, and Australasia, APRU (the Association of Pacific Rim Universities) brings together thought leaders, researchers, and policy-makers to exchange ideas and collaborate on practical solutions to the challenges of the 21st century.

We leverage our members’ collective education and research capabilities into the international public policy process. In the post-pandemic era, our strategic priorities focus on:

  1. providing a neutral platform for high-level policy dialogue,
  2. taking action on climate change, and
  3. supporting diversity, inclusion, and minorities.

APRU’s primary activities support these strategic priorities, focusing on critical areas such as biodiversity, disaster risk reduction, women in leadership, indigenous knowledge, global health, sustainable cities, artificial intelligence, waste management, and more.

APRU collaborates with Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) on initiatives which aim to solve the challenges of the Asia Pacific. APRU has guest membership status with APEC working groups and participates in a number of high-level discussions to ensure that universities have a voice in shaping policy across the region.

About Elsevier

Elsevier provides information and analytics that help institutions and professionals progress science, advance healthcare and improve performance for the benefit of humanity. Elsevier also helps researchers make new discoveries, collaborate with their colleagues, and gives them the knowledge they need to find funding. It helps governments and universities evaluate and improve their research strategies. It helps doctors save lives, provide insight for physicians to find the right clinical answers, and support nurses and other healthcare professionals throughout their careers. Its goal is to expand the boundaries of knowledge for the benefit of humanity.


Media Partner

About Nikkei Asia

Nikkei Asia brings you news and insights on the region’s most influential companies, and comprehensive coverage of politics, economy, markets and trends – all from a uniquely Asian perspective.

Nikkei Asia is Published by Nikkei Inc. For more than 145 years, Nikkei has been providing unparalleled coverage of Japan’s economy, industries and markets. The group’s business portfolio includes publishing, broadcasting and the Nikkei 225 stock index. Its flagship media, The Nikkei, has a circulation of approximately 2.83 million. With 37 bases globally and 1500 journalists, Nikkei is ideally positioned to provide Asian news and analysis to a global audience.

The Financial Times(FT), the global business newspaper, joined the Nikkei Group in 2015. As content partners, the Nikkei Asia and the FT share select articles with their respective audiences and collaborate on joint editorial projects.



Jackie Wong

Director, Network Management

[email protected]