Paola Huijding is born in São Paulo of European parents, she grew up in the Netherlands and Brazil, was raised in three languages, and began her professional life in 1990. Since then she has been working in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Brazil. She has built her career as designer, city planner, innovation developer and strategy manager. Having received two degrees in Architecture and Urban Planning, she has specialised in a combination of highly efficient, inclusive spatial solutions and creative functional conceptions, multicultural background communications and project management.
Driving by passion she has led big scale and complex projects at international level, providing a wide range of management, strategy and design services; meeting the needs for both the public and private sector for long-term urban strategies. In all cases interdisciplinary teams have tackled these projects; specialists, governmental bodies, private investors and users were always intensively involved. Thus, she understands the crucial role of knowledge and feeling for the potential of urbanisation, and enables a city to develop a coordinated, institutional framework to make the most of opportunities, giving residents a chance to have a voice in the future of the place where they live.
During her career she has collaborated with Michael Wilford (London/Stuttgart), Sjoerd Soeters (Amsterdam) and René Daniels (Maastricht). In the last years she led her own company Volpi Urbane in collaboration with the Collaborating Center on Sustainable Consumption and Production in Wuppertal which has been founded by the UNEP and the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy. Her work focused on an integral approach to research, design and master planning.
Since April 2017 she joined Platform31 and is responsible for the overall coordination of the sustainability programme focussing on climate change, energy transition and circular economy.
“A system’s reshuffle demands innovation and it takes place through a transition process, emerging gradually.” Paola defines innovation as a break from previous technologies, occurring when different manners of viewing the existing ones are framed, imagined, or combined in new ways. In her daily work, innovation is about changing realities for people and it succeeds when new pathways for solving entrenched social problems.