The former UN Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Kofi Annan exhorted the global wine industry to focus on protecting the planet where biodiversity is at risk from the effects of climate change and of its impact on the world economy, stressing that the greening of the global economy can be as important in the transformation as the industrial revolution in the past.
Kofi Annan was addressing the 3rd World Congress on Climate Change and Wine held in Marbella, Spain on 13-14 April 2011 and attended by wine industry and research experts, entrepreneurs, and representatives of the food industry, including an overwhelming number of young people.
Annan´s speech focused on protecting the planet where biodiversity is at risk from the effects of climate change and of its impact on the world economy, human life, and the overall environment. He did recognize that the wine sector is not only aware of the problem but are also concerned for the possible effects on food crops, the production, and its costs.
He predicted the effects of global warming in our daily live, saying that the change is a threat to our health because in a warmer climate infectious diseases spread faster and in more regions. It is a threat to the food supply because the rising temperatures and prolonged drought incapacitates fertile areas for grazing and cultivation and finally, a threat to peace and security due to changes in rainfall patterns which can increase the competition for resources and initiate potentially destabilizing tensions and migrations, especially in fragile and volatile areas.
He however admitted that ‘we have not yet fully understood the consequences of the footprint we’ve created neither do we know how we will cope with the problems that will arise in the future.’
Annan appealed to skeptics by reminding them of the old Roman proverb ´in Vino Veritas´ which means ´in wine lives truth´. Quoting Winston Churchill he said, ‘I could not live without Champagne- in victory I deserve it and in defeat I need it.’ He also added his interpretation, ‘I could not live without drinking wine.’
“As population grows,” said Annan, “it aggravates our global footprint due to increased demand on natural resources, food and energy. The effect of climate change affects not only the environment but is a comprehensive global threat to our security, our health, food supply and social stability,” he said.
“We cannot forget,” Annan said, “that this tragedy has a human face and therefore we must help empower the poor and vulnerable with the tools necessary and make sure that this problem occupies a predominant position on the agenda and global policy.”
“In the fight against climate change we must have climate justice.” This means that rich countries that emit more per capita emissions have to pay as you pollute “and not just have the poor and most vulnerable of this world pay.”
Speaking against those who complain about the costs associated with climate change, Annan recalled that “preparedness and prevention costs are much lower than costs occasioned by natural disaster, loss of food, and environmental degradation” and is confident about the possibility that “in the future we have the ability to create a framework to help us generate more clean energy and are able to implement a green or clean production.”
Annan argued that the fight for these issues should be placed solely on governments and international organizations. “I’m not saying that the solution lies only in international cooperation, the private sector must also follow the steps and deal with this change and its implications.” In his view, “the changes in the behaviour of enterprises and private investment formulas will have to be equally important to winning the battle against climate change. Direct action taken by governments are great opportunities to advance development so that our societies have a more sustainable future.”
Reducing emissions, Annan says, “is not necessarily accompanied by low growth, or drown the growth aspirations of developing countries.” On the contrary, “the greening of the global economy can be as important in the transformation as was the industrial revolution in the past.” In his view this phenomenon, “offers great opportunities for the company to act boldly,” because those corporations which adapt are the winners of tomorrow.
He called on companies to include in their policy measures to reduce greenhouse gases or make productive investments in new green technologies “that can be shared by developing countries.” It is crucial that the private sector changes their approach and manages these issues; they should understand that this is not just a development issue but a great opportunity to create and open new markets”
According to Annan, “the private sector can and should take a long-term view of new sources of energy and tackling climate change.”
“Pollution has a cost and must be assumed by those who produce as it affects people around the world,” says the Nobel Peace Prize winner. He encouraged the audience to become greener and look how they use water resources, consume energy, transport goods, and package their products for sale.