Panel discussion at Corfu Literary Festival 2021

"Our Irreplaceable World"

As part of the Corfu Literary Festival on September 15, 2021, Costas Kaloudis, executive director of the IEF, took part in a lively discussion with with Julian Hoffman, author and naturalist, coordinated by Sarah Churchwell, professor in American Literature and Chair of Public Understanding of the Humanities at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. The panel discussion took place in front of the entry ot he Museum of Asian Art in Corfu. The theme was “Our irreplaceable world”, inspired by the title of Julian Hoffman’s newly published book.

The focus of the discussion was on the change on our planet due to human activities and the associated climate crisis, as well as the expected effects on the future generations of humans. While Julian Hoffman presented anecdotes/examples from different parts of the world, Costas Kaloudis was able to give an insight into Corfu/Ionian Island using the Erimitis forest, which show how much nature suffers from human expansion, violence, and thoughtless economic expansion.

A key question that was also discussed with the audience was ‘What we can do for both the biodiversity crisis and the climate crisis as individuals and communities‘?

One of the key points of Julian Hoffman was that people and modern societies that care about the future should be extremely careful not to let the narrative of the “inevitable destruction” be normalised. He emphasised that nature as we have come to know it is way too valuable and essential for humans to simply let go, due to disappointment, political conflicts and other obstacles, no matter how big they are.

In agreement to that Costas Kaloudis responded that unfortunately this is partly happening for  along time already, but that it is essential to make a great effort to reverse this trend and to simply make nature loss and degradation with all the associated impacts unacceptable. After all, we simply do not have that much anymore. The same applies for most of the Ionian Islands and Sea. Costas gave examples of animal species that have suffered from human activities and even been pushed to exctinction locally or are on the brink of it.

Therefore, Costas emphasised, it is very important to speak up about these issues, no matter the resistance, the rigidity of the current socio-economic systems and the power of the vested interests that exploit nature, because change comes when it is demanded. Therefore it is very important for people who care to be present from the community level to the international negotiations, to protest, to lobby their politicians, to press companies to take environmental concerns seriously and in general “to do whatever it takes, in order to protect and even restore nature”. Costas also emphasised that individual contributions are also important (not just symbolic as is sometimes heard) and named the top tips for the most impactful changes we can all make to reduce our impact on the planet.

The speakers closed on a positive note, arguing that in fact a lot of positive developments are already happening and that we should take courage energy from those. After all, we are privilleged to live at times when we can network even internationally to work on and fight for the issues we care about. “We should remain positive and make use of all possibilities”!