Pr. Joachim Breuer

President of the International Social Security Association

Professor Joachim Breuer was elected as the 16th President of the ISSA at the World Social Security Forum in 2016. He is internationally recognized as an expert on social security and social insurance.

Professor Breuer began his career at the German Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. In 1990 he joined the management of the Federation of German Accident Insurance Institutions (HVBG).

In 1995 Professor Breuer was appointed Director General of the accident insurance and prevention institution for the German mining industry. In 2002 he was elected Director General of the German federation of institutions for statutory accident insurance and prevention (now the DGUV – German Social Accident Insurance) and stepped back from this position at the end of June 2019. Since then he is working for DGUV as Ambassador for International Relations.

Professor Breuer has advised a number of governments on the establishment of social insurance systems, particularly insurance schemes for occupational diseases and accidents as well as structures aimed at prevention, rehabilitation and occupational re-integration, including Brazil, China and the Russian Federation.

Before being elected ISSA President, he was an active member of the ISSA Bureau and Chairperson of the ISSA Technical Commission on Insurance against Employment Accidents and Occupational Diseases. Professor Breuer is Co-Chairman of the International Disability Management Standards Council and Honourary President of the German Wheelchair Sports Association.

Born in Germany, Professor Joachim Breuer studied law at universities in Bonn and Berlin, and completed his doctorate in canon and civil law in 1985. Since 2018, he holds a professorship for Insurance Medicine at the University in Lübeck, Germany.

Foto Maitta Spronken.jpg

Mrs. Maitta Spronken
Assistant Professor in Work and Organizational Psychology
Open University of the Netherlands

Maitta Spronken is an Assistant Professor in Work and Organizational Psychology at the Open University of the Netherlands.


Before, she was a researcher at the Academic Collaborative Center Work and Health of Tranzo, the scientific center for care and wellbeing of Tilburg University. She obtained her PhD in positive psychology at the Behavioural Science Institute of the Radboud University (2018). During her PhD, she spent half a year at the Department of Economics and Business of Pompeu Fabra University (Barcelona). Her research focuses on return to work among employees with mental health problems, work adaptations to promote mental health at work, and burn-out prevention. In her research, she adopts a mixed-methods approach, using both quantitative and qualitative studies.


Among others, she worked with big data from the largest Dutch occupational health service. Her articles have been published in international, peer-reviewed journals.

Wolfgang at Opening of PCU-WHS Sept 2011

Mr. Wolfgang Zimmerman

President of the National Institute for Disability Management & Research (CAN)

Wolfgang Zimmermann, OBC, is President of the Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health Sciences, a statutory, not-for-profit, degree granting education institution focused in the areas of workplace safety, health promotion, return to work and disability management, and rehabilitation.

Wolfgang is also Executive Director of the National Institute of Disability Management and Research, an internationally recognized not-for-profit organization committed to reducing the human, social and economic costs of disability through implementation of workplace-based reintegration programs, which international research has proven is the most effective way of restoring and maintaining workers' abilities while reducing the cost of disability for workers, employers, government and insurance.

Following an industrial accident in 1977, Wolfgang retrained and continued working for his pre-disability employer. He became involved in the Disability Management field in the late 1980's and has held a wide range of private and public sector appointments such as Chair of the Premier’s Council for Persons with Disabilities, Vice-Chair of the Employment Equity Board, Panel of Administrators for the BC Workers Compensation Board, Minister’s Council for Employment for Persons with Disabilities, National Advisory Board for Veterans Affairs, and has appeared before Parliamentary and Senate Committees as expert witness.

Wolfgang has received many awards and commendations for his work on disability prevention and rehabilitation including the Order of British Columbia, Federal Certificate of Merit, Employee of the Decade, U.S. National Employee of the Year Award, Governor General's Appreciation Award, Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal, Lieutenant Governor's BC Community Achievement Award, to name just a few.


Mr. Stephan Bevan
Head of HR Research Development
Institute for employment studies (UK)

Stephen Bevan is Head of HR Research Development at IES with responsibility for developing innovative new projects and programmes with IES partners and other collaborators. Stephen returned to IES in April 2016 after spending 15 years as Director of Research and Managing Director at The Work Foundation. He has a special interest in workforce health and wellbeing, having led a number of national and international projects focusing on workforce health and the impact of chronic illness on productivity and social inclusion. Between 2007 and 2015 Stephen ran a 37-country study looking at the impact of musculoskeletal disorders on labour market participation.

He is currently the Project Director of a major impact evaluation project for the UK government’s Work and Health Joint Unit which is tracking the progress of a large-scale RCT using IPS interventions for people with mental health and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

Stephen is an adviser to a number of UK government departments and has advised employers and policymakers in Europe, Asia-Pacific, Australasia and North America. He has received a special award from GAMIAN-Europe for his contribution to the field of mental health and employment and is a reviewer for several academic journals, including The Lancet. Stephen is a judge at the Global Healthy Workplace Awards and an adviser to UK the government’s Thriving at Work Review of mental health at work. Stephen is a member of the Britain’s Healthiest Company expert advisory group and has carried out a number of projects for the European Occupational safety and Health Agency (EU-OSHA).


Mrs. Clara Arbesu

Director General – Disability benefits department

National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance


Clara Arbesu works as Director General for the Disability benefits department of the National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance (NIHDI) in Belgium. This institution is a key player in social security system with two main missions. NIHDI ensures that everyone insured by the social security system has access to the necessary health care (accessibility) and is reimbursed for it.  It also ensures that people covered by the social security system, whether unemployed, employed and self-employed, receive an adequate replacement income in case of work incapacity and that they are offered real possibilities of  reintegration during/after work incapacity.


Clara Arbesu works on the development of measures related to the socio-professional reintegration of people recognized as unable to work and who have sufficient remaining capacities or which can be developed. She also works on the sensibilization of work incapacity prevention policies and advocates for a better integration of the biopsychosocial approach in the "disability" issue.