Kofi Annan encourages the wine industry to engage in fighting Climate Change
"Pollution is a cost and must be assumed by those who cause."
"The 'greening' of the global economy can be as important in the transformation as was the industrial revolution in the past."
"The private sector can and should take a long-term view with new sources of energy and tackle climate change"
"IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE CLIMATE JUSTICE MUST WIN."
Addressing the 3rd World Congress on Climate Change and Wine in Marbella Spain former United Nations Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Kofi Annan, paraphrased Winston Churchill: "I could not live without Champagne; in victory I deserve it and defeat I need it," to which he added the slight modification: "I could not live without drinking wine." The event was held 13-14 April 2011 with the participation of wine industry and research experts, entrepreneurs, and representatives of the foodservice channel.
Characterizing the overwhelmingly young audience that gathered at Marbella's Congress Palace as "leaders of tomorrow", 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 environment overall.
Annan appealed to skeptics by reminding them of the old Roman proverb 'in vino veritas' which is to say that 'in wine lives truth', an assertion that the wine-oriented public welcomed.
He acknowledged that wine is a culture "especially sensitive to climate change but offering a highly interesting platform to open a broader discussion." In this he recognized 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."
"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. He also admitted that as we "haven't 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."
The former diplomat stopped to analyze the threats climate change brings and how global warming will hit home in daily lives. Annan predicted 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."
"We can not 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 must have climate justice." This means that rich countries that emit more per capita emissions have to pay as you pollute "and not just pay the poor and most vulnerable of this world," Annan defends, which warns of the need to create an egalitarian system that detrimental to countries with fewer resources.
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 behavior of enterprises and private investment formulas will have to be equally as important to winning the battle against climate change and the 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 "change their approach and manage these issues,"and 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."
"I'm sure there are opportunities to create new markets, encourage long-term growth, and make sustainable income less subject to uncertainty from the negative externalities that often accompanies the pursuit of profit in the short term."
He said that this phenomenon has gained the political attention it deserves but there are still, "effective actions to face this big problem that to appeal to the private sector as mitigation and adaptation require investment and innovation; both elements can provide to the private sector at the necessary levels. "
"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.
Finally, Annan made a plea for a 'global compact' to join forces and that "globalization does not only bring negative effects but positive effects for all" while urging members of the wine industry to "invest in innovation and develop new crops that adapt to changing times and the threat of climate change. "Each of us can do something, all make little effort for great results. I urge and ask you to take these words into account," he concluded.
Q & A conference Kofi Annan
What can young people do to reduce climate change?
You're never too young to improve the world as children we all kind of things, sometimes we have to understand that less is more. And as young people learn that there is so green and there is not so green. As young people can choose which products are environmentally friendly and how they are used, they must also encourage their friends to use green products and all parents to follow suit.
Many people believe that in future there will be war over water, here in Almeria we are using water unsustainably. Do you think that governments should create the means to build salination plants and pumping stations to ensure these needs?
Have already achieved great success with this, especially in the Middle East, we are confident that these projects can be carried out. But above all we can start today using water responsibly. It is also important for better management of water by individuals and especially farmers to make every drop of water produce more crops.
After the nuclear disaster in Japan, what do you think about the future of nuclear energy as possible can prevent disasters like this?
This disaster has opened the debate in all countries on the sustainability of nuclear energy. Many countries argue that they are in earthquake zones but do not forget the Chernobyl disaster did not suffer a tsunami or an earthquake. In Germany and other European and non-European governments are addressing these issues and obviously it is they who must implement measures and increase investment in infrastructure to create new technologies to ensure the existing nuclear plants are safe, but it is governments who make that decision.
What is your estimate of the impact of wars and pollution they produce?
Wars cause not only pollution but reverse the order of a country. I have been witness to the migrations that have suffered some countries in which those citizens who migrated to green areas in a matter of months these areas were devastated and destroyed. The impact is terrible. But above all we make any war takes place. In war there are no winners, including the earnings lost by what he has to live with the consequences of actions taken.
We have seen many companies that sell green products yet these products may not really be green?
There are many companies which appear as green, but the first thing to do is check if they meet standards, that children are not working in their businesses, and they're truly meeting the standards for green companies.
Do you support genetically modified crops to combat climate change and whether is it a viable possibility?
We have reached six billion in population, in forty years will grow to nine billion, and in future years the population will increase even more. I personally am very involved in agriculture in a program called 'Partnership for African Green Production' where the idea is to help small farms increase their agricultural production to ensure supply to the regions in which they exist. We are convinced that Africans can secure their own food security and can also play an important role as an exporter of food to other countries. And this question always comes up. Today, most African governments do not accept the cultivation of genetically engineered products, so I want to elaborate on this question.
About seven years ago there was a reduction in agricultural production in most of African countries. I was then the UN secretary=general and worked in the food production program. We wanted to bring food to these regions, but these foods are genetically engineered and countries that refused to accept food aid, although we had at the time the certificates of the WHO declaring that these foods did not pose any health hazard. Later I met with President Bush and President of Canada. President Bush could not believe it and the president of Canada told me that he was 70 years and eaten these foods all my life and I'm perfectly healthy. So I told them that this was the decision that their governments had taken and had to be respected. These are issues that need to be addressed and resolve the long-term governments, but governments need to offer new solutions, because we must be capable of producing agricultural land and not destroy new forest areas or create new agricultural areas by destroying the environment. And this will be an important topic for governments and for people in general.
What is your opinion about the impact of climate change in tourist areas like the Costa del Sol?
Let say that last year involved in tourism development, but before developing a tourism plan is to ensure that tourism development is sustainable in terms of infrastructure, services offered to tourists but on all of services offered to the native population of that region. One should avoid the temptation to over-exploit the tourist regions.
What is the relationship between climate change and wine?
I believe that wine producers have to adapt and nationalize their crops and as I said earlier we can not live without the wine as it serves both to celebrate the defeats and victories.
If we change the quantities of meat consumption Could this have an effect on global emissions?
Obviously if the cows are one of the culprits in terms of environmental damage and whether reductions were achieved in this regard could be very helpful. But it seems that the trend is completely the opposite. When societies become more comfortable, such as a growing middle class in China, we see that the demand increases but the trend is the opposite.
Do you think that economic development can become sustainable development, especially in the central African states?
The central African states are experiencing very serious difficulties, especially issues related to poverty and civil war. But such situations need not last forever. Once you resolve these conflicts and begin to focus on the theme of social and economic development. Those receiving good advice should bet on green technologies avoiding the mistakes of other countries and is also important to encourage countries to begin to develop green technologies.
Can you give me three tips to use at home to help curb climate change?
You may not like some of the suggestions I'm not going to give. First is to watch less TV. Turn off lights when leaving the room. Of course rationalize the use of appliances, for example expect that the washer is full before turning it on.
I want to improve the world, how I can differentiate myself from others? Mr. Kofi Annan can you be my mentor?
It is important not to distance themselves from the others as the leader who should not depart. Look around and see what you can do to change the situation in which things are not right and things not to do. We also think that you can do in your community at your school or at home. Check that you do not distance themselves from others and not stray too far from other people. It is important to be part of all. And how can I reject your request I be your mentor if you asked me so kindly.
To the United Nations and other organizations are you going to keep paying business class travel for their executives and spending millions of dollars?
Glad to see that there are people in the room that make good economic sense. I think these organizations have rules to regulate these trips by their employees. No offense to anyone, these employees often have to travel ten to twelve hours, then they have established a series of limits, for example up to five hours must be in economy class, but if it's a longer trip may go business class, mostly because it's important to get to their destination in good condition. I myself have found these people working in very difficult places in different parts of the world, even in places where governments do not want to send their armies. We are talking about men and women who have volunteered to help others. Obviously we have to be thrifty but we must take into account the contribution of these people when they reach their destination
The 3rd World Congress on Climate Change and Wine, which featured former United Nations Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan, was held 13-14 April in Marbella, taking over from Barcelona which hosted the previous two editions of the event. (www.cambioclimaticoyvino.com). The conference was organized by The Wine Academy of Spain with the collaboration of the Municipality of Marbella, Marbella Conference & Exhibition Center, The Economist, Essential Magazine, Diario Sur, Onda Cero, Talk Radio , Canal Sur, Hotel Los Monteros Hotel Guadalmina, IRep Vector, Roc Cuve, Bodegas Verum and Gerard Bertrand.