Last week’s column about the Porto conference on Climate Change and Wine struck an optimistic note. Powered in part by the Porto Protocol the big international gathering showed that the wine industry is moving the needle on climate change, both in terms of mitigating the impacts and addressing causes.
Sue and I learned a lot from the experts who spoke on the science and technology aspects of climate change and wine, but of course it was the business side we were most interested in. If you have a little time, for example, I recommend watching the video of the session on “Consumer Expectations and Sensible Marketing” featuring Marks & Spencer’s Paul Willgoss, Antonio Amorim of Amorim Cork, and moderator Richard Halstead.
“Economy & Efficiency: Call to Action” was the title of the final session on the second day, which featured Stephen Rannekleiv of Rabobank, Robert Swaak of PriceWaterhouseCooers, and me as speaker/moderator. I led off the discussion, focusing on the need to rethink the relationship between economics and the environment and issuing a call to action.
Stephen was next up, showing how Rabobank has gone beyond its traditional role as an agricultural lender to creating platforms where innovative solutions can be tested and developoed. He followed up with a program on this subject on the popular Rabobank beverage industry podcast Liquid Assets.
Robert’s powerful talk covered several important points, but was especially effective in developing the notion that climate change introduces or magnifies a number of risks, which wine businesses need explicitly to take into account and act upon.
As I wrote in the run up to the conference, Sue and I were interested in the trade show that took place along side the sessions. We were hoping to see a showing of the products and services that vendors provide to firms that are committed to climate change action. What we found was different from our expectations. The trade show mainly gave conference sponsors (see graphic below) an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to the cause.
We were a little disappointed, but I think we harbored unrealistic expectations. Vendors are more likely to put their efforts into meetings that attract thousands, not hundreds, of wine industry actors. The Unified Symposium in the U.S., for example. Or SIMEI in Milan. We will look closely when we are at these and similar events to see to what extent climate change is being integrated into the daily business of wine.