Bio-Environment: A New Renaissance in Business
in co-operation with the Italian Chamber of Commerce, Athens Holiday Inn, January 19, 2000
Environmental concerns are defining the way businesses deliver value to their stakeholders and are shaping competition for the years to come. Profit is gradually becoming synonymous with environmental protection, and initiatives which acknowledge this interdependence will have a lead in the global market. These were the main points stressed at the Biopolitics International business conference that convened on January 19, at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Athens, with the participation of experts in legislation, marine protection, clean energy sources, finance and management.
Alternative Energy Sources
The conference opened with a roundtable discussion on renewable energy sources, chaired by B.I.O. President, Dr. Agni Vlavianos-Arvanitis, and featuring the following keynote speakers: Professor Vassilios Papadias, National Technical University of Athens; Professor Nicholas Hatziargyriou, National Technical University of Athens; Professor Rigas Rigopoulos, University of Patras; and, Costis Stambolis, Editor, “Energy” Magazine. The speakers stressed the importance of renewable energy sources in creating new employment opportunities and in enacting incentives for a wider application of current technology.
Professor Papadias stressed that the preservation of the environment is a responsibility we all share. For pollution to be reduced and for a better quality of life to emerge, we have to acknowledge this responsibility in our everyday lives, as well as in industrial development,. There is a need for a new philosophical perspective, and the B.I.O. provides the basis for this new perspective.
Professor Hatziargyriou mentioned the need for a far-reaching energy policy for the reduction of CO2 emissions. A policy which includes alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind energy. He also discussed the need to expand the use of current technology and improve the networks.
Telecommunications and the Media in the 21st Century
The role of telecommunications and the media in environmental protection was considered by ANT1 TV Satellite-Pacific Commentator, Nancy Biska, Dr. Dionysia Hatzilakou of “Georama” Magazine, and the International President of the Union of European Journalists, Athanasios Papandropoulos.
Mrs. Biska appealed to all journalists to cover matters relating to environmental protection. Television has the right to and must contribute to the environmental education of children. By providing the right publicity incentives, the media can drive companies to invest in and to promote environmental protection.
According to Dr. Hatzilakou, the point at issue is not the conservation of life, but the creation of what the ancient Greeks called “good-sensible” life. A magazine presenting the harmony of nature based on scientific research opens a window to the world. The experience of nature and the environment can lead to environmentally-responsible citizens.
Mr. Papandropoulos analysed the new methods of processing information and concluded that current technological changes will bring new journalistic values.
The diachronic challenges of environmental protection were addressed by Dr. Stefanos Geroulanos, Professor of History of Medicine at the University of Ioannina. Professor Geroulanos discussed how Hippocrates was the first to write about the environment and to make succinct associations between disease and environmental parameters.
European Union Programmes
A roundtable on European Union policy addressed the ways in which the EU promotes human rights and the environment, and provides incentives for environmental protection. Speakers included Michalis Angelopoulos, Legal Advisor to the European Commission in Athens, Dr. Natassa Balaska, European Programmes Co-ordinator for Action Link/Action Synergy Ltd., and George Diamantis, Managing Director, Action Link/Action Synergy Ltd.
Mr. Angelopoulos discussed the rights of European citizens in general and in relation to the environment. Dr. Balaska showed how European Union programmes, such as Leonardo da Vinci, are associated with environmental concerns, while Mr. Diamantis analysed the ways in which the ISO 14001 standards can be implemented by enterprises.
Environmental Legislation and Quality of Life – Values for the Future
The conference concluded with a roundtable on environmental legislation and quality of life, with Michael Dekleris, hon. Vice-President of the Hellenic Council of State, Ioannis Sarmas, Member of the National Board of Audits, Ioannis Michail, Deputy Ombudsman for Greece, and Fotis Karayiannopoulos, Member of the Board of Appeals of the Community Plant Variety Office.
Mr. Dekleris gave an overview of the progress of environmental legislation and mentioned that the Maastricht and Amsterdam Treaties have created a strong legal basis for the protection of the environment. There is a co-evolution between economic development and the environment, however, globalisation which treats the market as an absolute sovereign is not compatible with sustainable development.
Mr. Sarmas emphasised that Biopolitics is inspired by a wider concept of justice – that of the protection of the environment and also of bios. He also emphasised that the protection of the environment must and will become a basic inherent human right in the future.
Mr. Michail discussed the work of the Ombudsman for Greece, in relation to environmental protection. To improve matters in environmental protection, we do not need more environmental legislation. We need to implement the existing one.
Mr. Karayiannopoulos discussed pollution and water resource management law, and analysed the problems arising from the management of international water resources. He also addressed the international practices adopted for the solution of such problems.
The closing remarks were delivered by B.I.O. President, Dr. Agni Vlavianos-Arvanitis. She referred to the need for new models and a new vision for society. Sustainable development, though operating as a first line of defence against environmental threats, has several constraints. Biopolitics seeks to overcome these constraints, by offering a “biocentric” framework for thinking and action in every human endeavour. She also referred to the recent establishment of the International Environmental Court as a mechanism for the resolution of global environmental disputes. Dr. Vlavianos-Arvanitis had actively participated in this initiative and had suggested that, rather than awarding penalties for environmental crimes, it should function as a court of arbitration.
Films – Musical Programme
The conference also included a film on “The Kogi of Colombia – A Tradition of Safeguarding the Environment,” and a musical programme for solo violin with Dr. Alexander Halapsis, Laureate of the International Music Competition and Director of the “Bios Camerata” chamber orchestra.
According to Professor Rigopoulos, Greece could become one of the leading countries in the production of wind energy, if there is an appropriate use of the windmill infrastructure already in existence.
Last but not least, Mr. Stambolis stressed that CO2 emissions could be reduced with the right energy saving policy, appropriate investment and, more importantly, tax incentives similar to those already effective in other European Union member-states.
Shipping and the Protection of the Seas
Marine pollution and the impact of the shipping sector were the issues discussed by HELMEPA Director, Dimitris Mitsatsos, and the Director of Spanos Maritime & Trading Ltd., George Spanos.
Mr. Mitsatsos noted the crucial role of shipowners and seafarers in the protection of the environment, and discussed the importance of international organisations for the protection of the sea, such as the IMO and HELMEPA.
Mr. Spanos focused on the attitude of the shipowners’ world in relation to marine protection. He congratulated HELMEPA and the Biopolitics International Organisation for the promotion of incentives for marine protection and emphasised the dangers involved in the pollution of the Aegean and the Black Sea.
Finance, Development and the 2004 Olympics
Economic development which respects the environment was the subject of the next roundtable, featuring Constantine Ploumitsakos of Environmental Protection Engineering S.A., Constantine Kanonis, President of the Hellenic-Russian Chamber of Commerce, and Dr. Evangelos Tziavos, President of the Hellenic-Slovenian Chamber of Commerce.
Mr. Ploumitsakos noted that there is an urgent need for the sound implementation of a public policy relating to toxic waste management. The use of cleaner technology, the promotion of investments and the enforcement of European Union programmes will certainly bring a decrease in toxic waste production.
Dr. Tziavos proclaimed that any financial activity loses its meaning if it endangers the environment. He urged the Presidents of all the Chambers of Commerce to recognise the need for protecting the environment.
According to Mr. Kanonis, only projects which do not harm the environment will be financially viable in the future. From now on, investments on projects will be scheduled only if those projects fulfil certain environmental criteria.