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Speaker Bios

Henk Ovink, Special Envoy for International Water Affairs, Kingdom of The Netherlands
Henk Ovink was appointed in 2015 by the Dutch Cabinet as the first Special Envoy for International Water Affairs. As the Ambassador for Water, he is responsible for advocating water awareness around the world, building institutional capacity and coalitions amongst governments, multilateral organizations, private sector and NGO’s and initiating innovative approaches to address the world's stressing needs on water. “Worldwide, water is the number one global risk, the connecting challenge across the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and our best opportunity for inclusive and comprehensive action!” 

Henk Ovink served on President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force where he led the long term innovation, resilience and rebuilding efforts. He developed and led the ‘Rebuild by Design’ competition and initiated the National Disaster Resilience Competition. Before joining the Task Force Ovink was both Acting Director General of Spatial Planning and Water Affairs and Director National Spatial Planning for the Netherlands. Henk teaches at Harvard GSD, the London School of Economics and the University of Groningen. Henk is also Sherpa to the UN / World Bank High Level Panel on Water. 

His book, written together with Jelte Boeijenga, Too Big. Rebuild by Design: A Transformative Approach to Climate Change explores his climate and water work for the Obama Administration. In January 2018, Henk Ovink was awarded for his ‘transformative global water work’ an honorary membership from the Royal Instítute of Engineers of the Netherlands.

Laura Ferrarello, Senior Tutor in School of Design and MRes RCA Design Pathway Leader
As researcher Laura develops design-led strategies able to stimulate inclusive and ethical innovation through the transformation of existing human and technological conditions. This is applied to different areas which all are challenged by the human both as positive and negative factor. Laura is course leader of the RCA Executive Education online course supported by the Global University System, “Designing Services and Products with AI” which looks at AI innovation from a human lens. In the School of Design she supervises PhDs and works on a wide range of research projects with partners including Lloyd’s Register Foundation and RNLI – on safety and risk prevention – BBC – on ethics and AI – British Airways – on developing future strategies through design – Design Museum – on interdisciplinarity, public engagement and resilience in education – Fujitsu – on human-human-AI interactions – the Barbican, The Institute of Future of Work and Worktech – on Future of Work. Laura’s practice and research have been nationally and internationally recognised and published. She exhibited at the Venice Biennale (Italy), Sao Paolo Biennale (Brazil), Pacific Design Center (Los Angeles), WHO Gallery (Los Angeles) amongst others.

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Executive Education