Pau Roca, elected last November as the tenth director general of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV), has a deep-rooted attachment and pride in the heritage and traditions of the vine and wine industry. This has been built up over a lifetime’s service to the sector. His experience also gives him a clearly defined understanding of the twenty first century challenges that the industry now faces.
Roca believes that sustainability is a “dominant theme” and that the strategies developed to adapt to the “environmental, economic and social impacts of climate change” will dictate the future wellbeing of the sector. His work as the vice-president of the ‘Sustainable Development and Climate Change’ expert group makes him well placed to contribute to plotting the best course going forward.
Grape producers, Roca maintains, have never been in denial because they have been on the frontline of the consequences of climate change for years. “The way that they have been vinifying has been changing for some years as a consequence, they have felt it at the moment of vintage and they have felt it in their cellars”. The sector in reality has already been adjusting to changing temperatures for some time.
We are, he thinks, entering a new era where a new economic model needs to be deployed with less emphasis on growth and more on managing the natural equilibrium. This requires producers to innovate to respond to “what nature gives you” and to understand the huge potential of the vine to accustom itself to an evolving climate. “The soil is the same, the human input is unchanged, the only variable is the climate”. That will continue to shape Viticultural practices in the future.
We are entering a new era where a new economic model needs to be deployed with less emphasis on growth and more on managing the natural equilibrium.
The sector can also play its part in dealing with the underlying cause of climate change – CO2 emissions – through embracing new greener packaging solutions and making logistical changes. There is an expectation from the consumer to act, and in the digital age, all industries are now accountable. The consumer has been empowered by a digital environment that has given them access to an abundance of information, quite literally at their fingertips.
Roca considers that the second major issue for the sector to come to terms with is how to communicate in this new digital era. What the modern consumer might want to know about their product can no longer just be captured on the label on an individual bottle. It is up to governments, OIV and other intergovernmental organisations to work together to establish global industry standards for how, where and what information is presented.
The two core aspirations of the public are for their grapes and wines to be naturally produced and traceable. Viticulturalists work with nature to ensure their product is authentically natural while new technologies have enabled an exceptional degree of transparency and traceability to be achieved. Roca says that the vine and wine business can deliver over and above the expectations of their audience; the issue that needs to be addressed is not meeting their consumer’s aspirations but using the new modes of communication to transmit how successful they are at achieving them.
It is up to governments, OIV and other intergovernmental organisations to work together to establish global industry standards for how, where and what information is presented.
Digitalisation is not just changing the way that information is collated, stored and distributed, it is also accelerating the process of decision making and ultimately the time that actions happen. In this context, Roca feels that it must be priority of the OIV to put in place the mechanisms to ensure the organisation is able to act and respond more quickly to a fast-changing landscape. With its 750-1000 active members, extensive community of experts and general secretariat, he compares the organisation to a huge cargo vessel where any change of direction is a long drawn out process. While recognising the importance of building consensus in a member driven organisation, he advocates reforms that will make decision making in OIV a more agile and flexible process.
We will gain more insight into how Pau Roca’s plans to confront the challenges when his five-year strategic plan is unveiled shortly. Roca hopes that when his five-year tenure is completed, the plan will have helped to justify the faith shown in him by the members he serves.
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