Monday, 29 October 2018 16:33

John Barker still waiting for final vote

Written by 
Dr John Barker. Dr John Barker.

We interviewed Dr John Barker, in the running for Director General of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine. 

Once again the decision on who will lead the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) has been delayed.

As NZ Winegrower went to print, the second tranche of voting was once again a stalemate. (The first vote was taken back in May, the second on September 19.) So now Dr John Barker of New Zealand is having to wait until November to find out if he will become the new Director General of the international organisation.

There has been plenty of lobbying on behalf of Dr Barker. Even New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Adern helped out, with a video sent to all voting members back in August.

Why is this so important to New Zealand that a local take on the role of DG? Well the OIV is an intergovernmental organization which deals with technical and scientific aspects of viticulture and winemaking. The field of OIV includes grape production for all purposes, i.e. not just wine, but also table grapes and raisin production. Based in Paris, it has 46 international members.

Since its inception in 2001, the role of Director General has always been held by a European member, with Dr Barker being the very first New Zealander to be nominated for the role. The fact he has made it to one of two finalists, is a very big deal.

In terms of how Dr Barker views the role, below is the transcript of an interview which was sent to all voting members earlier this year.

What are your priorities for the role of Director General?

For me, the overarching priority is to ensure that the OIV continues to stand as the trusted global reference point for the vine and wine sector. We need to make sure that our organisation is well positioned to help the sector face the challenges and seize the opportunities of a rapidly changing world. 

I have set out a programme to do exactly that based on two strategic directions. First, we need to make sure that internally our decision-making processes are as efficient and inclusive as possible, without sacrificing our scientific rigour. Second, we need make sure that externally the OIV enhances its global credibility and authority by increasing its membership and by building strong and cooperative relationships with other countries and organisations. 

What qualifies you to take on an international role of this nature? 

Expertise, experience and enthusiasm. I have a deep understanding of the vine and wine sector based on both my doctoral research and more than 20 years as a legal expert and advisor in the sector.

My career has been spent at the forefront of one of the world’s most dynamic wine producing countries, as well as advising both public and private entities throughout the sector globally.

My long-standing experience in the OIV, including as President of the Law and Economy Commission, means that I have a good grasp of the organisation. My leadership role in New Zealand’s sectoral organisation - with two thousand members and a multi-million euro budget - as well as establishing my own successful business, have qualified me well for the administrative aspects of the OIV Director General position.

There has never been a candidate from New Zealand for this role. How has that shaped your candidacy?  

I feel it has been very positive. While New Zealand is a smaller producer, we have worked hard to establish a position in the global vine and wine sector. New Zealand is now the world’s 7th largest wine exporter by value so we are very outwardly focused.

We have come a long way in a comparatively short time because we have been open and willing to learn, focused on the quality and integrity of our products and willing to work together. These are the values that I bring to my candidacy.

For me it is not a disadvantage to come from the so-called “new world”. 

Having worked and studied in many parts of the world, I have a very broad understanding of the global sector – particularly in my specialist areas of regulation, institutions and trade.

Additionally, coming from the Asia Pacific region positions me to take that understanding into the emerging sites of production and consumption.

You have personally visited more than half of the OIV member countries during this campaign.

What have you learned?

The world of wine and the vine is very diverse in terms of our histories, our growing environments and our social and economic situations. But everywhere I go I find a great pride in the vine and wine sector and the way that it expresses each country’s identity, culture and environment.

People see the potential for vine and wine production to contribute to regional economic development by the improving quality and reputation of their products. And they have many similar concerns – climate change being one of the most frequently encountered. These areas of shared interest are where we need to focus our efforts.

I have also seen across many countries a tremendous goodwill towards the OIV, as well as a desire to have a stronger engagement with the organisation. 

For those countries and regions that are developing or re-emerging, there is a great interest in making better use of the knowledge and networks of the OIV to assist the growth of their vine and wine sector. 

More like this

OIV Chief

The OIV's 100th year is an opportunity to celebrate a century of achievements, raise the OIV's profile, and "look forward to the next 100 years and beyond," said Dr John Barker, in his first official act as the organisation's new Director General.

Dr John Barker

The newly elected Director General of the Organisation of Vine and Wine takes up his role on 1 January 2024, 100 years after the organisation began. We ask Dr John Barker about a career that has married his love of law and of wine, and about the significance of having a New Zealander at the helm of the OIV.

» Latest Print Issues Online

Popular Reads

Ten years of Méthode Marlborough

New Zealand wine enthusiasts have a deepening understanding and growing appreciation of sparkling wine, says Mel Skinner, Chair of Méthode Marlborough…

Sustainability Success

Taking two sustainability awards at two events on a single evening felt like "true recognition" of the work Lawson's Dry…