Confirmed plenary speakers include


Philip Alston, USA, John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law at New York University

Philip Alston is John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law at New York University.  He previously taught at the Australian National University, the European University Institute in Florence, Harvard Law School, and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.  He has been UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights since 2014. From 1987 to 1990 he was the first Rapporteur of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and he subsequently chaired the Committee for eight years (1991-98).  Other appointments include: member of the Security Council established commission of inquiry on the Central African Republic (2014-15); Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions (2004-10); Special Advisor to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Millennium Development Goals (2004-07); and UNICEF’s Legal Adviser during the drafting of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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Rutger Bregman, the Netherlands

Rutger Bregman is a Dutch historian and journalist who writes for the innovative crowd-funded Dutch online platform for journalism De Correspondent. His book Utopia for Realists — on universal basic income and other radical ideas — has been translated in 30 languages. Rutger Bregman has twice been nominated for the prestigious European Press Prize for his journalism work at De Correspondent. His work has been featured in The Washington Post, the Guardian and on the BBC.


Jamie Cooke, Scotland, Head of RSA Scotland

Jamie Cooke is a basic income advocate based in Scotland, who has been working closely on the development of pilot projects across the country. Key aspects of his work have included convening the critical stakeholders (Scottish Government, Local Authorities, UK bodies), public speaking (including TEDx Glasgow and international conferences) and leading projects in Glasgow and Edinburgh. He also sits on the board of CBINS (Citizens’ Basic Income Network Scotland), Scotland’s representative within BIEN.

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Sarath Davala, India, Coordinator of the India Network for Basic Income (INBI)

Sarath Davala is a sociologist with a doctorate from Delhi University. Previously, he was an Associate Professor at the Indian Institute of Management (Bangalore), and or the past 20 years has worked with various rural organizations as a researcher and an organisation development consultant. He was the Research Director of the Basic Income Pilot Project that was initiated by SEWA and UNICEF during 2010-2014 and co-author of Basic Income: A Transformative Policy for India? (Bloomsbury 2015). In 2015, he co-founded the India Network for Basic Income (INBI) and is currently its coordinator.

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Evelyn Forget, Canada, Professor in Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba

Evelyn L. Forget is Professor in Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba and Adjunct Professor of Economics at McMaster University and the University of Manitoba. She is Director of the Manitoba Research Data Centre and Adjunct Scientist at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy. Her most recent work examines the relationships between poverty, inequality, health and social outcomes. She evaluated the health and social impact of the Mincome Basic Income Experiment conducted in Canada in the mid-1970s, and has consulted with federal, provincial and First Nations governments, as well as national and international NGOs.

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Loek Groot, Netherlands, Associate Professor Economics of the Public Sector at the Utrecht University School of Economics (USE)

Loek Groot is economist (University of Amsterdam) and philosopher (University of Leuven) and currently Associate professor Economics of the public sector at Utrecht University School of Economics (USE). His research focuses on the economics of the welfare state and the interaction with the labour market, with special attention to the proposal of a basic income. His PhD Basic Income and Unemployment (1999) was awarded cum laude. Other research interests are environmental economics and sport economics. Currently he is involved in launching a social assistance field experiment in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

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Louise Haagh, United Kingdom, Reader in Politics at the University of York

Louise researches and has written numerous articles and books on democratisation, economic development and social justice. Louise’s most recent book The Case for Basic Income, with Polity (Cambridge) is out in November 2018. Louise has been co-chair and then chair of BIEN since 2014. She has worked with voluntary and workers’ organisations in several countries, as well as with several regional and international organisations, including the Council of Europe, the World Bank, the Organisation of American States and the World Health Organisation. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a trustee of the Citizens’ Income Trust in the UK. Louise’s work has featured in the BBC World Service, the New Scientist, Nature, Social Europe, Royal Society of Arts, Compass, and in public platforms, including the WHO Gastein Forum, Web-summit and Cambridge Union.

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Tarja Halonen, Finland, President of the Republic of Finland 2000-2012

Tarja Halonen is the 11th president and the first female head of state of Finland. President Halonen was first elected in 2000 and re-elected in 2006. Halonen graduated as Master of Laws in the University of Helsinki in 1968 and served as a layer of the Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK). Tarja Halonen joined the Social Democratic party in 1971 and her political career began in 1974. Halonen has served in three cabinets with ministerial appointments as Minister at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in 1987-1990, Minister of Justice in 1990-1991, and Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1995-2000. Halonen has played an active role at the Council of Europe and, during her presidency, Halonen served as Co-Chair of the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization appointed by ILO in 2002-2004. In 2009-2014, she served as the Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders. In August 2010, Halonen was appointed Co-Chair of the UN Secretary General’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability. She co-chaired the High-level Task Force for ICPD in 2012-16. Throughout her political career, president Halonen has paid closed attention to issues concerning human rights and democracy, civil society, social justice and promotion of equality.


Olli Kangas, Finland, Professor of Practice, University of Turku

Olli Kangas is Professor of Practice at the University of Turku and Program Director of the Equal Society Program/Strategic Research at the Academy of Finland. Previously he was Research Director and Director of Governmental relations at Kela – the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, Olof Palme Professor at Uppsala University, H.C. Andersen Professor at the University of Southern Denmark, Professor at the Danish Social Research Institute and at the Department of Social Policy, University of Turku. His research interests include comparative welfare studies, income distribution and poverty, legitimacy and collective action.

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Lena Lavinas, Brazil, Professor of Welfare Economics at the Institute of Economics at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

Lena Lavinas is Professor of Welfare Economics at the Institute of Economics at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and Senior Researcher (Level 1) at the Brazilian National Research Council (CNPQ). She holds a PhD from the University of Paris. Most of her research focuses on Brazil economic development; redistribution issues, social policies and institutional arrangements; basic income; and comparative analysis of welfare regimes in Latin America. Among her recent publications: The Takeover of Social Policy by Financialization: The Brazilian paradox (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) and A Moment of Equality for Latin America? Challenges for Redistribution, along with Barbara Fritz (Ashgate 2015).

View the recording of the session here.