Speaker Details

Erion Veliaj

Municipality of Tirana, Albania

Erion Veliaj was elected as the 42nd Mayor of Tirana in June 2015. Veliaj aims to transform Tirana into a sustainable city built for long-term success and backed by child-friendly citywide policies.

As part of his vision of giving the city back to its citizens, Veliaj’s administration worked on the complete renovation of the city’s central square, the Skanderbeg Square, which was awarded the 2018 European Prize for Urban Public Space.

During his term in office, another major project that has been undertaken by Mayor Veliaj’s team is the Orbital Forest: a two-million tree belt that will serve as a pivotal element in addressing the environmental concerns of the city by 2030.

Veliaj served as minister of social welfare and youth from September 2013 through April 2015. During his tenure, he introduced sweeping reforms in pensions, welfare payments, employment opportunities and professional education.

In the parliamentary elections of June 2013 Veliaj, was elected member of Parliament for the district of Gjirokastra. His main focus during the electoral campaign was the organization of the voting process for the Albanian immigrants, which resulted in more than 70,000 immigrants voting in elections.

In 2011 Veliaj joined the ranks of the Socialist Party of Albania as secretary for youth and immigration. For the first time, he structured the Socialist Party’s branches in countries where the Albanian Diaspora resides, particularly in Greece and Italy.

In 2003, Veliaj founded the movement MJAFT (“Enough”), a civic organization which unified activists to raise awareness and inspire peaceful protest for social, educational and political issues in Albania. MJAFT gained huge popularity as a youth movement, and in 2004, it was granted the United Nations Award for Civil Society by the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for its novel methods of peaceful protest. Veliaj became well-known for his innovative leadership focused on teamwork and the delegation of tasks.