President of the board

Born in 1964, of dual Lebanese and Swiss nationality, Sami Kanaan is multilingual (French, Swiss-German, German, English, Arabic); his life course is divided between Lebanon, Greece and Switzerland (Thun, Bern, Zurich then Geneva). He obtained a physicist diploma (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich) then a license and a diploma in political science (University of Geneva).

Strongly interested in public affairs from a young age, Sami Kanaan has a very rich political experience. During the 80s and 90s, he was strongly involved in the Swiss and European student movement, including as president of the Liaison Office of Western European Student Unions (WESIB, now ESIB then ESU) in 1986-87 and president of the National Union of Students of Switzerland (UNES) in 1989-90, at a time when Europe was undergoing profound changes. He was also very involved in the local association movement: Management Committee of the Maison de quartier des Eaux-Vives, ATE Geneva, AIDS Group Geneva, as well as administrator of BCGE after the crisis and administrator of TPG. He was elected to the Parliament of the City of Geneva (Municipal Council) in 1997 then to that of the Canton of Geneva (Grand Council) in 2001, before his election to the Executive of the City of Geneva (Administrative Council) in spring 2011 Reelected twice in 2015 and 2020, he is currently in charge of the Department of Culture and Digital Transition, after having been in charge of the Department of Culture and Sport.

His professional career is also focused on the promotion and evolution of the public service, first in the field of Swiss and European academic cooperation, then as an independent consultant for the evaluation of public policies, and finally as a senior executive in the service. social cohesion and sport.

During more than twenty years of career, Sami Kanaan has initiated and supported numerous reforms and initiatives, particularly in culture and sports, for equality and the protection of vulnerable groups, social cohesion and ecological transition as well as, since more recently, the digital transition. Mayor of Geneva on three occasions, he put at the center of his years as town hall, the dynamic of borders which can operate as ditches or on the contrary as bridges, the cultural and creative economy, support for the media, the digital transition. and the resilience of cities in times of crisis.

He is vice-president of the Union of Swiss Cities and of the Union of Geneva Cities, of which he will take over the presidency in 2020. He also chairs the newly created Geneva Cities Hub, a bridge created jointly with the Canton and the Confederation for better to connect the world of cities and that of international Geneva. Since 2016, he has also chaired the Federal Commission for Children and Youth (CFEJ) on a mandate from the Federal Council.


Board member

Olivier Coutau has been the Delegate to International Geneva since 2008. He worked previously as an ICRC delegate for 15 years in the field (Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa and Middle East), and at headquarters (operations in Latin America and diplomatic adviser) before coming to work for the government of Geneva in 2005.

Olivier Coutau holds a Diploma of Advanced European Studies from the College of Europe in Bruges as well as a Diploma in Art Market Studies from the University of Zurich. 


Board Member

Ms. Beatrice Ferrari is the Director of International Affairs for the Canton of Geneva. She holds a doctorate in science from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, where she specialized in urban development issues related to innovation and globalization. She has developed extensive experience in international relations, acquired in particular at the State Secretariat for Training, Research and Innovation where she was head of bilateral relations.


Board Member


Partner Invited to the Board

As a lawyer, human rights and peace-related issues expert, Andrea has worked at different moments of her career for law firms, Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bern and Geneva and cooperated with various academic institutions, upon mandates.

She is currently Counselor on Peace and Security at the Swiss Mission to the United Nations in Geneva.