The CEMS News Review: Sustainability in Portugal’s Main Economic Driver

The CEMS News Review, launched by CEMS Club Vienna, is an international initiative to share students' opinion pieces. This weeks article is from Gabriella Blonk of CEMS Club Lisbon.
Gabriella Blonk, CEMS Club Lisbon

The CEMS community encourages us to be responsible citizens who are aware of, and care about our environmental impact and global footprint. In this article, being at the heart of various wine regions, and representing CEMS Club Lisbon, what better topic to dive in than the sustainability of Portugal's main economic drivers: Wine.

The Call for Action

Today, sustainability is an extremely important issue that is reflected in every aspect of our daily lives, from reducing plastic use and waste, to minimizing water and energy consumption. In order to combat climate change and its impacts, in line with Goal 13 of the SDGs, industries are becoming increasingly committed to sustainable actions and are implementing their corporate social responsibility with the aim of having an impact on the environment through sustainable production and waste reduction. And wine of course, is an industry that is not left behind.

In order to certify the sustainable actions of companies, B Lab, an international nonprofit, has been analyzing environmental and social performance of businesses across the globe, with only 2,950 corporations meeting their standards to receive the B Corp Certification. The Symington Family, owner of famous port wine brands such as Graham’s and Dow’s is the first and only winery in Portugal to obtain this B. Corp Certification, which only a handful of wineries globally have achieved.

Naturally Sustainable

Portugal, which is the ninth largest wine producer in the world, is also embracing sustainability in the field of wines. The industry has been developing sustainable viticulture for years in order to adapt production to its regional structure and reduce the environmental impact caused by automation of the production process.

Counting a wide array of wine regions, the country implements tailored solutions for each region. Geographical challenges also push winemakers to implement a more sustainable approach. In the North, the Douro Valley, for example, one of the most iconic wine regions of Portugal, has a particular terroir, represented by terraces on different levels which make it impossible for machines to operate. For this reason, the production process includes harvesting grapes by hand and eliminating the use of herbicides, making the wine more natural and sustainable. Further South of Portugal, in the drier and more arid region of Alentejo, the aim is to reduce wasting water and encourage water reutilization through more efficient irrigation methods.

Over the years, Portugal has been a hotspot for wine sector sustainability innovation, holding a leadership position in tackling climate change. With a history of tradition and quality, the wine industry in Portugal presents an outlook of sustainable development that will continue to grow in the future.

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