Mayors debate

Mayors debate moderated by Nick Conrad. Among those taking part are: Eberhard van der Laan, mayor of Amsterdam; Matteo Lepore, deputy mayor of Bologna; Margret Mergen, deputy mayor of Karlsruhe; Sten Nordin, mayor of Stockholm; and Anna-Kaisa Ikonen, mayor of Tampere. They will present experiences from their cities of collaboration with smart citizens.


Sten Nordin has been the mayor of Stockholm since March 2008 and is also the leader of the Moderate Party and the President of the City Executive Board. Before assuming his current position, he was a member of the Swedish Parliament and was previously vice Mayor for Traffic and Real estate. He studied Economics and Sociology at Uppsala University, and has held a number of public functions since the early 1980s.


Ahmed Aboutaleb is the Mayor of Rotterdam. Originally from Morocco, Aboutaleb began his career working in Dutch television and radio after graduating with a telecommunications degree in 1987.

He joined the Ministry of Welfare, Health and Cultural Affairs as a press officer in 1991, and went on to hold senior roles at the Social and Economic Council, Statistics Netherlands and the FORUM institute for multicultural development. His local government career began in 2004 when he became Amsterdam’s alderman for work and income, education, youth, diversity and urban policy.

Under the fourth Balkenende government, Aboutaleb was appointed State Secretary for Social Affairs and Employment in 2007 before taking up his current position as Mayor of Rotterdam in 2009. Alongside his official roles, Aboutaleb has served on the supervisory board of the Mondriaan Education Group, the Education Council and helped to set up the Dutch Coalition for Peace in the Middle East.


Anna-Kaisa Ikonen was appointed mayor of Tampere in January 2013. Prior to this, she worked as state secretary of the minister of public administration and local government. Her previous positions include project manager and head of business area at public administration consulting agency Net Effect Oy (2001-2003/4) and development manager at the Pirkanmaa TE Centre (now ELY Centre/Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment) (2003-2009). She also served as deputy mayor of Tampere between 2009 and 2011.

Anna-Kaisa Ikonen holds a doctorate in social sciences.



Margret Mergen became deputy mayor of Karlsruhe in February 2007. She began her career in local government as a trainee in the city of Karlsruhe in 1987. She also attended the Baden-Wuerttemberg Leadership Academy, which included a four-month assignment in the US. She was subsequently responsible for the financial coordination of a number of large urban development projects. Margret Mergen served as mayor of Heilbronn, a city of 120,000, from May 2000 until February 2007. She has been vice president of the KPV municipal political association of Baden-Wuerttemberg since 1999 and is also a member of the federal executive of the CPV Germany.  Margret Mergen has a degree in geography from the University of Munster.


Carla Rey was born on 10 October 1969 in Venice. She holds a degree in economics. She had a career in business administration from 1996 to 2010, before being appointed deputy mayor of Venice for commerce in 2010. Since 2013 she has also been responsible for productive activities, urban quality, and consumer protection. She holds a mandate for relationships with the European associations of local authorities. Over her professional career she has held many important posts: from 1999 to 2010 she was vice chair of the AEPE (association of retail and catering businesses holders); from 2007 to 2010 she was the national chair of the Young Entrepreneurs of the FIPE (Italian Federation of retail and catering businesses holders); and since 2011 she has been vice president of the CEMR Italian section and CEMR delegate at the CIME (Italian Council of the European Movement).


Date: Thursday 28 November
Hours: 11.30 – 12.30
Location: De Bijloke, Godshuizenlaan 2