Johannes Cornelis “Co” Verdaas

Co Verdaas is a Dutch politician of the Labour Party. He served as State Secretary for the Ministry of Economic Affairs, dealing with agriculture, nature, food quality, tourism and postal affairs in the Cabinet Rutte II.

Johannes Cornelis "Co" Verdaas  was appointed government commissioner for the National Delta Programme in December 2023. As an independent government commissioner, he monitors the progress of the National Delta Programme in which government authorities and knowledge institutes work with stakeholder organisations and business to protect the Netherlands in the long term from flooding and weather extremes, and to maintain adequate supplies of fresh water.

Co Verdaas has worked at the interface of spatial development, science and governance for more than 25 years. His employers have included the University of Wageningen, the municipal authority of Zwolle and the SWZ housing corporation.

He is also part-time Professor of Area Development at Delft University of Technology.

Verdaas studied planology at Radboud University in Nijmegen, where he completed his doctorate "Plans won’t be planned", a study of the functioning of the planning system in the Netherlands.He developed the so-called Ladder of Verdaas, a system for solving traffic problems.

Besides, he is singer and guitarist in the rock band John-Boy & The Waltons.

Thomas Kraubitz

Thomas is a global leader in green cities, carbon consulting, energy transition and sustainability and guides cities, municipalities and districts into a sustainable future. With nearly 20 years of international experience on integrated and innovative masterplans and architecture, Thomas has developed a holistic approach towards the future of urbanisation and city planning.

As Director and Head of Sustainability and Climate in Europe, Thomas co-leads Buro Happold’s Cities Europe team, with a strong focus on resilient urban environments in Germany, Europe and beyond. He is a passionate consultant and advisor to public and private clients with a deep understanding of the importance of multidisciplinary collaboration in driving best practice solutions. Thomas leads the region’s engagement with international development work with clients such as UNIDO, World Bank, KfW and GIZ. He also advises many city municipalities, as well as real estate developers on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), taxonomy and portfolio strategies. He recently served as an independent consultant to the European Commission on Sustainable Development along the Belt and Road Initiative.

Based in Berlin, Thomas is a chartered urban and regional planner as well as a qualified architect. In 2022 he has been nominated a member of the Association of German Architects (BDA). He is a DGNB Senior Auditor and Trainer, ÖGNI EU-Taxonomy Advisor, BREEAM DE Auditor, LEED GA, WELL Advisory Council Member, WELL PT Agent, ECARF Advisor and WiredScore AP. He is responsible for some of the first and highest rated certifications in Germany.

Thomas was a co-initiator of the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) and is a member of its board of directors as well as technical committee. With the World Green Building Council (WGBC) in Europe he is a #BuildingLife ambassador and also an active member of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) in the Future Cities – Smart City Council.

Thomas holds a master’s degree in urban design with distinction from Harvard University, where he also received the Outstanding Leadership and Academic Excellence Award. He studied architecture in Coburg, Germany, as well as urban planning at the Tongji University in Shanghai and at MIT in Boston.

Thomas frequently speaks at universities and conferences on the future of cities and sustainability. He has previously held teaching positions at the Stuttgart Technology University of Applied Sciences and at the TU Berlin Campus in El Gouna, Egypt. Currently, Thomas is lecturing on life cycle planning and sustainability at Coburg University.

He is on the Advisory Board of the LEAF Architecture Forum and frequently serves as a jury member and resilience expert on architecture and urban design competitions. Thomas’s work has been widely published in international journals, books and podcasts.