Geoffrey Donoghue of Always Marbella property sales and rentals, reports on the latest news and events. For more information please visit Always Marbella’s website at www.alwaysmarbella.com
This month’s World Conference on Climate Change and Wine will discuss how the business community can help tackle environmental problems.
In just under two weeks’ time, former United Nations secretary general and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Kofi Annan, will address up to 1,000 delegates in Marbella on the issue of climate change. Annan is coming to the Costa del Sol as the keynote speaker at the World Conference on Climate Change and Wine, which is being held at the Palacio de Congresos on 13th and 14th April.
“We’re thrilled that Kofi Annan is coming”, says the event’s organiser, local business owner, Pancho Campo. “It’s a huge honour that someone of his stature is attending. It hit me again yesterday just how important he is when I was going through the logistics of his stay with the Ministry of the Interior! I’m sure his presence will produce some positive publicity for Marbella for a change too.
“Kofi Annan is respected around the world and is a leading global figure on the issue of climate change. When he speaks, everyone else listens – which is vital when tackling such a pressing matter”.
During his talk, the high-profile guest speaker will emphasise the importance of the business community in tackling climate change and how by adopting sustainability and growth measures, the corporate world can help to fight environmental problems.
In addition, Annan will argue that by not doing more to prevent climate change, human rights are being violated as, according to a report by the Global Humanitarian Forum, of which he is founder and president, an increasingly warm planet is directly responsible for more than 300,000 deaths each year.
“The recent natural disasters should serve as a wake-up call to the world”, says Pancho. “Two weeks ago NASA released the findings of its latest report, which confirms that both polar ice caps are melting at a 30 per cent faster rate than has ever been predicted.
“Now is the time to act. And in order to tackle climate change effectively, we need to engage businesses and ask them to act responsibly. This is the message Kofi Annan will share with the delegates”.
So, what does Pancho Campo believe to be the key ways to fight the problem facing the planet? “Firstly, we need to create awareness. We need to make everyone really acknowledge the issue. Secondly, we need to get people to understand about carbon dioxide emissions and the effect they have. And thirdly, governments must reduce dependence on fossil fuels.”
Has any progress been made over recent years? “A few years ago it seemed the world was getting the message. At our last conference in Barcelona in 2007, Al Gore, the former Vice-President of the United States, addressed the delegates as our guest speaker. It was at the same time he won the Nobel Peace Prize and when the Oscar-winning documentary about him, An Inconvenient Truth, was released, so there was a big buzz around the issue. Unfortunately, interest in, and coverage of, climate change seems to have waned since the economic crisis hit”, affirms Pancho, who has been personally coached by Gore as part of The Climate Project, a non-profit making organisation set-up to educate the public on environmental matters.
Pancho Campo’s interest in climate change was sparked whilst studying for his Masters of Wine qualification, when he wrote a thesis on how it could affect the wine industry. The qualification is generally regarded as the highest standard of professional knowledge in viticulture (a branch of horticulture concerning grapes and wine production), and Pancho is one of only two people who have it in Spain.
“My thesis revealed that the temperature in 28 wine-producing regions has increased by an average of 1.2 degrees and this will have a huge impact on the industry. Higher temperatures mean the wine becomes more alcoholic, less refined and has higher levels of acidity, and this affects longevity.
“Climate change will mean that we will lose the ability to grow certain types of grapes for wine and vineyards will need to be at higher altitudes, where it’s cooler. This is massive upheaval for the industry, which will need to implement new techniques and technologies to adapt successfully. Some companies are already thinking about climate; Spanish firm Torres, for example, has recently started a vineyard in the Pyrenees.
“At the conference in Marbella, some of our speakers will focus on ways wine producers can use environmentally-sound methods at their vineyards, such as hybrid vehicles instead of tractors, and using solar panels for their power”, adds Pancho. “World renowned French winemaker, Nicholas Joly, for instance, will give a speech saying that the secret to making great wine is to understand the laws of nature as well as listening to the planet.”
Despite the main focus of next month’s two day event being how climate change is impacting the wine industry, Pancho Campo tells SUR in English that there is a wider message.
“Although we will be mainly discussing the wine industry, the key themes are relevant for all businesses. Kofi Annan, in particular, will be speaking in general terms about how the heating-up of the planet affects us all and how the business community at large can, and really must, be part of the solution to the problem.”
Kofi Annan was born in 1938 in Kumasi, Ghana, in what was then still a British colony on Africa’s Gold Coast. In 1962 he started his working career as a budget officer for the World Health Organisation, an agency of the United Nations. He went on to hold three senior positions in the UN, before directing UN peacekeeping operations during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
He later served as the seventh secretary general of the United Nations from 1st January 1997 to 31st December 2006. In 2001, Annan and the UN were joint recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize for founding the Global AIDS and Health Fund to support developing countries struggling to care for their people.
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