Thursday 25 February 2021
Thursday 25 February 2021

Press Release: SEV hosts an event on ''Sustainable Development and Climate Change'' at the Athens Concert Hall – keynote speaker: economist and academic Sir Nicholas Stern, November 26, 2008

26 November 2008
SEV President Mr. Dimitris Daskalopoulos calls for the creation of a strong Development and Environment Ministry in his speech

SEV hosted a very successful event on “Sustainable Development and Climate Change” on November 26th 2008, at the Athens Concert Hall, with keynote speaker the British economist and academic Sir Nicholas Stern, the well-known author of the Stern Review, a 700-page report published two years ago on the impact of climate change on the global economy. The event was organized in collaboration with Megaron Plus, was sponsored by the Lambrakis Foundation and was attended by representatives of the state, the business sector, the academic community and civil society.

Opening the event, SEV President Mr. Dimitris Daskalopoulos called for the creation of a strong Development and Environment Ministry, stressing that if Greece wants to be counted among advanced and modern countries, it will have to radically change its outlook and institute broad structural changes. The linking of development and environmental competencies is consistent with the notion of sustainable development; that is, with the modern global perception of balanced developments with equal priority given to the goals of economic prosperity, environmental protection and social cohesion.

Introducing Sir Nicholas Stern, Mr. Daskalopoulos underscored that the Stern Review makes clear the global community’s need to adopt the goal of sustainable development in which development, the environment and social cohesion coexist as equal pillars of orientation and action. At this point, Mr. Daskalopoulos stressed that “organized and modern enterprises around the world have already undertaken action in this direction, because they recognize that this is the only viable path for the global economy and community. They have the organization, know-how, people and material resources to contribute decisively in this joint effort. Modern enterprises – and this has been documented and seen in practice – are those that undertake initiatives and show better performance in these sectors. Modern enterprises are the enterprises that have already realized that it is in their own interest to be in harmony with social demands” stressed Dimitris Daskalopoulos most emphatically.

SEV is already leading the initiative for the adoption by enterprises – by the dynamic and pioneering private sector – of the philosophy and goals of sustainable development. And it will contribute via every means at its disposal to similar initiatives taken by the government, the political parties and civil society so that Greece can participate in the fight against the threats of climate change and environmental degradation, while at the same time sustaining the development dynamic of the economy.

It is our aspiration, Mr. Daskalopoulos continued, that SEV contribute to the strengthening of public dialogue amongst the authorities, enterprises and society. Our vision is for this dialogue to lead from ignorance and indifference to understanding of the need for balanced development and, in the end, the mobilization and commitment of all society towards comprehensive and collective action. Sustainable development means a sustainable future for all of us, the President of SEV concluded.

The floor was then taken by Sir Nicholas Stern, who spoke on the subject of “A Global Deal on Climate Change and the Role of Business”. Lord Stern stressed at the beginning of his speech that we now know that the costs of inaction or delayed action on climate change far exceed the costs of action. He also noted that we understand the scale of action required and that we have the necessary technologies and the economic instruments to confront the problem. “It is time for action,” he stressed, pointing out that a global deal in Copenhagen in December 2009 is crucial for economic, energy and climate security. The rich countries must take a lead in the joint effort, Lord Stern underscored, but all countries must be involved and have an obligation to participate in solving the problem, while Europe has a special role to play. The keynote speaker also acknowledged the vital role of modern enterprises, which he called upon to carefully analyze both risks and opportunities, and to take a lead in informing and shaping policy. We have much to gain from businesses looking ahead and taking direct action, Lord Stern observed, adding that a low carbon economy is the basis for future development. In closing, and in connection with the global financial crisis, Lord Stern stressed that we can and should deal with the financial crisis and the environmental crisis at the same time.

A particularly fruitful discussion of the strategic guidelines we must adopt, based on the environmental challenges being shaped by climate change, took place following Lord Stern’s speech, within the framework of a discussion led by a panel that included Lord Stern himself, as well as Efthymios O. Vidalis, Chairman of the SEV Council for Sustainable Development and CEO of S&B Industrial Minerals S.A.; Christos Zerefos, Academic, Professor at the University of Athens, President of the National Observatory of Athens; Dimitris Karavellas, Director, WWF Hellas; and Dimitris Papalexopoulos, CEO, Titan Cement S.A.

The panel discussion opened with a short statement from the Chairman of SEV’s Council for Sustainable Development, Mr. Efthymios O. Vidalis, who quoted Democritus: “The fool’s teacher is not reason, but disaster.” Thus, he continued, Lord Stern is warning us to listen to reason in order to mitigate approaching dangers and avert disaster.

Lord Stern’s report designates three necessary elements in the implementation of policy for confronting greenhouse emissions:

a) instituting charges for greenhouse emissions (taxation, emissions trading, regulations),
b)development of environmentally friendly technology, and
c) change in behaviour

All of the above also affect enterprises, Mr. E. Vidalis stressed. The most difficult part is changing behaviour and habits. In SEV’s Council for Sustainable Development, our goal is to launch a dialogue that is based on increasing awareness, on presenting arguments and on good faith; a dialogue with all of society, with the state, NGOs, social partners and the academic community. Our goal is to shape effective policies, to build a common platform for dialogue – unhindered by suspicion – so that all the economically vital decisions can be taken with the lowest possible cost for society and maximum benefits for the environment, Mr. Vidalis concluded.

The panel discussion was coordinated by Charidimos K. Tsoukas, Ph.D., George D. Mavros Research Professor of Organization and Management at the ALBA Graduate Business School.

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