Geneva Solutions

International Geneva is known for its high level international discussions, led by the United Nations. Yet, it  also an integrated hub for the invention and the deployment of technologies, services, policies, and advocacy for the relief and the betterment of the world. Behind the scenes, people team up to tackle great global challenges. We want them to tell us how and why they work hard to achieve these global goals.


Wednesday, March 20, 2019 18h - 21h

Meet the speakers

Technology has the incredible power to improve lives!

We experience the benefits of new technologies in our everyday lives in many ways, ranging from contactless payments to virtual assistants. Technologies may as well empower people in poor or conflict affected countries. In such contexts, youths and less young people need to overcome problems with highly creative solutions, to source goods, to start up a business, or to build machines out of spare parts and rubbish. What would happen if those highly creative people would be given opportunities to master new technologies at home or on their migration routes, by learning and training together at digital fabrication labs (fablabs) ?






Ruta Nimkar is the Global FabLab Manager at Terre des Hommes. She was formerly the Regional Head of Programs Central and Southwest Asia and the Country Director Iran with DRC. She has humanitarian experience in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan and Kyrgyzstan, with Danish Refugee Council, Cesvi, ACTED and IOM. Ruta has an MA in International Relations from Yale University and a BA in Economics and Management from University of Oxford. Her field experience focuses on migration and displacement, and the needs and coping mechanisms of those on the move.


Shannon Dosemagen is Executive Director of Public Lab. With over fifteen years of experience in community organizing and education, Shannon has worked with environment and public health groups addressing declining freshwater resources, coastal land loss and building participatory monitoring programs with communities neighboring industrial facilities. Shannon is Chair of the [U.S. EPA] National Advisory Council on Environmental Policy and Technology, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Citizen Science Association, and a co-organizer for the Gathering for Open Science Hardware (GOSH).

Public Lab x GOSH !

The last decade has been host to an incredible moment of innovation where open source principles are applied to scientific hardware devices, enabling easier access to necessary environmental monitoring tools for the people who need them most. This talk will explore the practices and principles of putting open technology into action through the Community Science model that Public Lab has developed and used with communities across a nine year period.


Today, 9 in 10 people worldwide breath polluted air, and 2 in 10 live with a chronic respiratory disease. Breathing Games mutualizes resources to make respiratory health knowledge and technologies enjoyable, accessible and freely adaptable. Since 2014, a community of more than 250 people have prototyped 17 interactive games, as well as sensors to play and develop one’s respiratory capacity. Since 2018, Breathing Games is a participant of the Global Alliance against chronic Respiratory Diseases.


Fabio Balli co-founded and coordinates Breathing Games, a commons to encourage everyone to breathe freely. Through Breathing Games, Fabio proposes new ways of collaborating, where people with different origins and experiences join forces to sketch solutions to collective challenges such as air pollution and respiratory diseases. Fabio holds a Masters of Advanced Studies in Human Systems Engineering (HES-SO) and a Certificate in Global Health Delivery (Harvard). He chairs the Breathing Games Association (Geneva) and does research at Concordia University (Montreal).


Ines Knäpper is a mom, social entrepreneur, innovation enthusiast and hackathon activist. Currently working at CERN in the education group, she organises in her free time hackathons that bridge the gap between humanitarian organisations and state-of-the-art technology innovators. For that she co-founded THE Port association in 2014 – a Swiss not-for-profit association, encouraging innovation in the humanitarian sector. THE Port humanitarian hackathons foster new forms of collaboration in the heart of International Geneva.

Interdisciplinary co-creation for good

Hackathons became a useful tool to explore the potential of new ideas in a short timeframe. But can they be optimised to create sustainable impact in the humanitarian world? Can diverse and well-balanced teams become part of a structured innovation process? Does innovation have to be sexy and why should you think about dead bodies during a BBQ ?


Serge Michel, 49, is launching on a new media project in Geneva, Switzerland, called He was reporter at large for Le Monde and chief editor of Le Monde Afrique, the African version of the website Michel has worked as a journalist in Switzerland, Iran, the Balkans and Africa. In 2001, he won the Albert Londres Prize, France’s most prestigious journalistic award, for his work in Iran. He’s the founder of the Bondy Blog, a popular website and a stunning experience of “citizen journalism”, written from within the volatile French suburbs. Together with Paolo Woods and Michel Beuret, he has published China Safari – On the trail of Beijing’s expansion in Africa (Nation Books, 2009), charting China’s dramatic rise in Africa. The French title was: La Chinafrique (Grasset, 2008). Michel’s last book Marche sur mes yeux, portrait de l’Iran aujourd’hui (Grasset, 2010, with pictures of Paolo Woods) is a thrilling, controversial, in-depth look at the Iranian society and recent history. Michel has written for le Monde, le Temps, le Figaro, le Point, Géo, Sole 24 Ore, Internazionale, Aperture, Fortune, Foreign Policy and The Independent.

Nicholas Niggli is Deputy Secretary General, Republic and State of Geneva, Department of Economic Development. His mission is to strengthen Geneva’s ecosystem and to strategically position it to benefit from the opportunities of the digital age but also the emergence of sustainable development economics. Since 2012, Nicholas has also been lecturing on complex negotiation dynamics, leadership, intercultural communication and global governance at the Graduate Institute of International & Development Studies, Geneva.
From 2013 to 2017, Nicholas was Head, Economic, Finance, Science & Innovation Section at the Embassy of Switzerland in the UK. From 2002 to 2013, he was a senior swiss trade negotiator covering the WTO. From 2007 to 2012, Nicholas was Chairman of the WTO Government Procurement Agreement, leading negotiations to improve disciplines for this key world economy sector. Nicholas holds 1st Class Honours Masters Degrees in Economic History & International Relations.