“We aim to have the largest and most ambitious environmental conference ever for wine, unifying the entire trade around the most pressing issue that our society and our sector are facing.” That’s the ambition and goal that Pancho Campo has set for next year’s Green Wine Future event that will take place in different continents over a four day period in May. The opportunity for each part of the world to take a serious look at the local challenges they face and what they are going to do to tackle it.. Here he explains how Green Future is going to work and what you can do to get involved.
Green Wine Future will run from May 23-26 in 2022 and feature a combination of live and online events. You can access the full programme here with conferences taking place in Chile, California (May 23), Portugal and South Africa (May 24), Spain and France (May 25) and New Zealand and Australia (May 26).
Can you tell us about ambitious Green Wine Future event next year?
Green Wine Future will be the continuation of what we started back in 2006. We were pioneers being the first conference that applied the science about climate change that was available at the time to a specific industry like the wine sector. This time we are aiming to have the largest and most ambitious environmental conference ever for wine, unifying the entire trade around the most pressing issue that our society and our sector are facing. People need to work together, drop their differences, share their knowledge and experience, and, as the saying goes, they need to put their money with their mouth is! It’s time to act and we cannot wait any longer.
Why have you decided to host it across different counties and time zones?
At our past in-person events, we found that it was not easy to attract people coming from far away regions of the planet and when it comes to virtual events it was difficult for members of the trade that were not in the same time zones to attend the event live. For example, in our last Wine Future, held between 4 and 8 PM CET, that timing was difficult for delegates in Oceania and the West Coast of the US to attend in real time.
With this new format we encourage the participation of people from all continents in their own time zone. But most importantly, wine is an industry that relies almost entirely on trade shows, tastings, exhibition and on inviting journalists to wine regions. The wine trade must realise that it needs to reduce its carbon industry, so less long-haul traveling will help considerably.
How is it going to work in terms of how the sessions are delivered and presented?
For this new edition, instead of having our speakers just addressing the audience, we have asked them to provide us with video footage, recorded specifically for the event, showing the audience the subject of the presentation. We will also include live broadcast from vineyards and wineries because GWF must be totally visual, interactive, innovative and with a practical approach. We have partnered with Hopin, one of the most advanced companies providing virtual technology for events. Between them and Chrand (my own events business) we’re going to offer a new and innovative way to attend a conference and for speakers to show their studies and project. The technology that Hopin provides also allows for a virtual trade show and virtual networking facilities.
This event follows on from the climate change events you held in Spain and Portugal over the last 10 years or so – can you explain your own personal commitment to addressing the climate change issue?
I have been interested in climate change since 2000, especially after the tremendous heat wave we suffered in Europe in the summer of 2003. My interest in this issue has taken me to the Arctic Circle, to Lapland to learn how it is affecting the Sami tribe and to witness the melting of glaciers in Iceland and other parts of the planet. As a diver I have been to many diving sites to try to understand the effect of a changing climate on corals, sharks, and marine environments. I also had the chance to witness in Africa the tremendous consequences of drought specially on the population of third world nations. Organising climate change events and conducting speeches at schools and colleges has become my personal crusade and it’s my legacy to my son and daughter.
Any key highlights of who is taking part and what they are taking about?
We expect more than 100 speakers from all over the world from the wine trade plus experts from other industries, world leaders and some celebrities that have a relation to wine or the environment. We have been able to feature world leaders in pass editions such as President Obama, Vice President Al Gore, Secretary General Kofi Annan and and numerous others. For this next edition we have already confirmed more than 60 speakers from the wine trade plus celebrities such as Francis Ford Coppola and Trudie Styler. But we are still negotiating with numerous experts and dignitaries. Some very important names that we will announce as soon as they are signed.
What are the key themes you are going to address?
Compared to all the other editions, where the main topic was climate change, in 2022 we are tackling every single aspect regarding the environment. We will be analysing and offering the latest information on issues such as renewable energy, carbon sequestration, regenerative viticulture, sustainable wine tourism, water and hydric resources, agrochemicals, transportation and packing, oenology, winemaking and, very important, the role of the consumer. In this edition we will also be denouncing malpractices, green washing, and other areas which we have not tackled before.
Will people register to watch all four days of the event, or can you select bits of the schedule?
We hope that people register for the entire four-day event, but we are giving the opportunity to delegates to sign-up for individual days. However, all participants can decide what they want to watch live and later on-demand since the recordings of each session and keynotes will be available just seconds after each session finishes, and available for 32 months.
What are the biggest steps do you think the wine industry has done since you held your first climate change event in the late 2000?
I believe the biggest step taken by the industry was to acknowledge, at a very early stage, the impact the climate crisis was having on the entire industry. Numerous conferences are now available, research projects, associations that are tackling the issue and initiatives such as the Porto Protocol or International Wineries for Climate Action. However, the small producers, distributors, importers, etc. must realise they need to take responsibility too because they also have a very important role to play. It’s not just up to the large multinationals and authorities. Retailers, and sommeliers must also understand that they need to contribute to the solution.
What do you see are the quickest wins for wine companies to take now to make the biggest and most effective changes?
The first and easiest step for a company to be on the right path is to acknowledge a few things: First, that we do have a problem and it’s a clear and present danger; Second, your effort, big or small, can help tremendously to make a difference; Third, we must accept that we are all inter-connected, so whatever happens in one part of the world will affect others; Fourth, we must all try to act together combining our knowledge and efforts; Finally, attending an event like Green Wine Future will definitely help you understand the problem better, learn what’s going on around the world and contribute to unifying the industry.
What steps that wine companies have taken to tackle climate change do you think we can all learn the most from – take inspiration to follow?
Miguel Torres once said that my Barcelona conference in 2008 and Al Gore’s speech then motivated him to get involved in climate change. However, I personally believe that Miguel has been a motivation for the wine trade around the world. He has invested vast resources of his company but also, he has become a beacon in the fight against the climate crisis and he has always made himself available to participate in our events.
I wish more people around the world would take example, especially the younger generations. For those who always claim that only large companies have the resources to make a difference…stop and think again, each of us, big or small have the capacity and the responsibility to act within our means.
What do you say to wine companies who are not prepared to take the necessary steps?
I don’t care if you believe or not in climate change because unfortunately this discussion has been politicised. What I do believe is that protecting the environment and being respectful with mother nature is not a choice but an obligation of every citizen, entrepreneur, organisation, and government. If we don’t make a drastic change in the way we behave as citizens and how we run our businesses, and we continue exploiting the planet’s resources and polluting, the consequences will be soon irreversible. We have reached a point that requires a drastic change. Whatever efforts and investments we make now will save us from lots of trouble in a near future and will be much more cost effective.
What do you hope Green Wine Future can achieve – what are your key goals?
My partners – David Furer, Mike Wangbikler from Balzac Communications and I – have very clear goals and beliefs, which have been the driving force behind the event since I started 15 years ago. GWF wants to unify the international wine trade around the most urgent and worrying issue that is affecting our society and the industry. Secondly, we want to be a strong call to action and finally a platform to share solutions.
Are you still looking for people to take part, share their stories and offer case studies? If so how do they contact you?
Absolutely. GWF features more than 24 panels and 15 keynote speeches. There is plenty of room for anyone that wants to show an interesting research project, a successful case study or a viable and innovative idea.
Finally at all our events over the last 15 years we have tried to raise funds and help several NGOs. GWF will help Wine Unify, The Porto Protocol and water.org – three NGOs that have a common interest in their causes with some of the topics of our event.