New York, NY, 14. December 2020. – Portugal’s Wine Alentejo (WASP) program has been awarded the Drinks Business Green Awards 2020 as the winner of this year’s annual Amorim Sustainability Award. The Amorim Award for Sustainable Development recognizes the performance of an organization in its efforts to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of sustainable practices. Judges are looking for evidence of improvements over the past three years and especially over the past 12 months. For the eleventh consecutive year, the Drinks Business Green Award is the world’s largest environmental awareness programme for the international beverage industry.
The latter recognition follows the European Commission’s European Rural Innovation Awards in 2019, when WASP, one of 15 winners from more than 200 entries, appointed the EU Ambassador for Rural Innovation in 2020.
WASP was set up in 2014 by the Alentejo Regional Wine Commission (CVRA) to improve social, environmental and economic well-being throughout the region. This is the first programme of its kind in Portugal. The participation of wineries and producers is voluntary. To date, WASP represents about 50% of the wine plantations in the Alentejo.
In July 2020, WASP introduced sustainable production certification for its members, available through Bureau Veritas, SGS, Certis and Sativa. Since then, the two wineries in Alentejo have been the first in the country to receive the certificate for sustainable production. Joao Barroso, WASP’s coordinator for sustainable development, expects many more to be certified in 2021.
According to Barroso, the certification increases the turnover because of the added value. From the beginning, we have been able to show that even small producers can adopt sustainable practices and save money. Sustainability is not a marketing trick. It is a necessity and a new paradigm for corporate responsibility in the 21st century.
Other new initiatives are planned for 2021, starting with the introduction of an online performance calculator that allows participants to measure their individual carbon and water footprint.
WASP and Barroso work with leading academic institutions to guide their members towards clearly defined, evidence-based objectives in eighteen areas, including water, energy and waste management, pest control, human resources, air quality, materials and societal engagement. The practical, hands-on approach yielded quick results: In the first year WASP got 93 new members. Since then, this number has increased every year. Results by category include many successes in disseminating best practice, such as water management – 30% in 2015, up to 54% in 2019; maintenance of irrigation systems – 27% in 2015, up to 62% in 2019; monitoring energy consumption in vineyards – 4% in 2015 and 30% in 2019; and installation of nesting boxes and perches for birds of prey – from 5% in 2015 to 27% in 2019 (2019 is the last year for which data are currently available).
Alentejo Regional Viticulture Commission (Vivinicola Alentezhan/KVRA Regional Commission) : It was founded in 1989 as a private organisation dedicated to the certification, control and protection of the Alentejo wine industry and culture. The CVRA is also responsible for the promotion of Alentejo wines on the national market and some international markets. It is financed by the sale of certification seals, which are affixed to the back label of bottles from the Alentejo in order to guarantee the origin and authenticity of the wine.
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