Allegrini 2018

Wine and sustainability: the “Sustainable Wine Roundtable” is born to define a global standard

The Italian Equalitas among the 46 founding members (large and small producers, distributors, retailers, environmental organizations and more)
The “Sustainable Wine Roundtable” is born (ph: Concha y Toro)

While Italy is still waiting for the definitive law on the single certification standard for the sustainability of wine (announced for weeks as imminent but still pending), the world is moving in a clear and unchanging direction. In a path that is still long, but along which the “Sustainable Wine Roundtable” was born, a unique coalition composed of large and small producers, distributors, retailers, environmental organizations and others from around the world, united by the desire to make the wine sector a leader in sustainability. And, among the founding members, there is also the Italian Equalitas, the company controlled by Federdoc and holder of the standard (which, in large part, will be the backbone of the new Italian national standard coming soon, ed). The main objective of the Swr coalition, explains a note, is to define a global standard for the wine sector. The “Sustainable Wine Roundtable”, in fact, “represents an international, independent, non-profit working table involving the main stakeholders of the sector, in order to support the community of producers in the creation of a market where high quality wine is produced, traded and consumed in ways that preserve and regenerate ecosystems, protect human rights, promote equality and inclusion and generate prosperity, pride and passion for excellence”.
For Riccardo Ricci Curbastro, President of Equalitas and Federdoc, this initiative is “necessary to avoid duplication in international certifications for wineries. This has been one of the objectives of Equalitas since the birth of the project and the partnership with Swr goes in the right direction. After our efforts on a national level, we want to offer our contribution to encourage greater harmonization of sustainability protocols on an international scale, simplifying the administrative burdens of our exporting companies”.
In addition to Equalitas, other founding members of the “Sustainable Wine Roundtable” are Ahold Delhaize, Alko, Alliance Wine, Amorim Cork, Blb Vignobles, British Glass, Bsi, Catena Institute of Wine, Château Léoube, Cloudy Bay, Concha y Toro, Diversity in Food & Beverage, Domaine Bousquet, Dr Loosen, Enotria & Coe, Equalitas, Famille Perrin, Fish Friendly Farming, Food Alliance, Grupo Avinea, Hochschule Geisenheim University, International Wineries for Climate Action, JancisRobinson.com, Journey’s & Vineyards, Napa Green, New York Wine & Grape Foundation, North South Vini, Preferiti dalla Natura, Ramón Bilbao, Gruppo Schenk, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Rete per l’agricoltura sostenibile, Sustainable Winegrowing Australia, Sustainable Winegrowing Columbia Britannica, Systembolaget, The Co-op Uk, The Fairtrade Foundation, The Porto Protocol, The Wine Society, Treasury Wine Estates, Vingruppen, Vintage Wine Estates, Waitrose & Partners , Whole Foods Market, Wines of South Africa and Wwf South Africa.
After all, the need for a change of pace in the direction of sustainability in all production chains, of which the wine industry is a driving force, is obvious, starting with the climate change aspect. This needs to be addressed immediately, because from droughts and floods to rising temperatures and fires and social pressures on workers’ rights and diversity, the wine industry, like other sectors, “has significant problems in ensuring resilience, keeping up with customer demands and contributing to the sustainable development goals set by the United Nations”.
And so, following the numerous sustainability standards for wine adopted by individual countries (such as Equalitas, which combines environmental, socio-economic and some fundamental ethical values, such as respect for gender equality and rejection of discrimination, into a single tool), the Sustainable Wine Roundtable will develop a global reference standard that will clarify the wine community's position on how sustainability is defined and how it can be implemented and measured. This will provide clear and credible guidance on how to set wineries on a path of increasing sustainability, as well as help producers and consumers navigate through the various eco-labels and declarations. The “Sustainable Wine Roundtable”, the new organization goes on to explain, “will bring together different working groups to develop best practices and operational tools that help achieve increasing sustainability in production, raise collective awareness, connect the players in the supply chain and support the wine community as a united force acting for the global good”.
This also includes the sustainability of work, as shown by the research by Equalitas and Luci sul Lavoro, presented a few days ago in Montepulciano, the land of Vino Nobile, during the second edition of the “Conference on the sustainable development of work in the wine industry”. A study from which emerged a picture with some shadows but, fortunately, many lights; the picture of a sector that is so attentive to the issue that it has adopted fundamental control and protection tools, first and foremost Equalitas certification.
“Being Equalitas certified is becoming increasingly important in many respects”, explained Michele Manelli, a producer with the Salcheto winery in Montepulciano, in the Renaissance pearl of Tuscany, one of the first to obtain the certification and one of the main authors of the study. “It means developing the company around the highest international schemes, such as the ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance) criteria, a perspective that we know stimulates companies to grow both organisationally and in terms of values. Following the Eqaulitas social indicators means, for example, pursuing the co-participation of workers in the company, or promoting the inclusion of women and young people in key roles, and even pursuing the same better protection of working conditions even in subcontracting and along the supply chain, a solid guarantee to tackle the sad phenomenon of “caporalato” (forced labour).
The survey presented, which involved more than 20% of companies in the sector and was carried out in the spring-summer 2021 period, also had the merit of illustrating the sentiment of companies in the sector in this delicate phase, marked by the pandemic emergency. The feeling highlighted is one of cautious but widespread optimism supported by figures which, in the face of sometimes double-digit losses in turnover, show a sector that has also protected seasonal employment, with only a 3% drop in employment, but which, above all, believes in recovery, with 70% of those interviewed expecting growth of around 20% by 2021. But it was also an opportunity to identify areas in which the sector will need greater support from all institutions, in order to bridge an apparent cultural and information gap, such as welfare policies and gender equality. This is a very important message in view of the forthcoming public funding campaigns within the CAP and the upcoming NRP, which was received with interest by the representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and INPS who attended the meeting. The social indicators that we have helped to put on the ground, in all senses, with Equalitas over the years”, said Riccardo Ricci Curbastro, “are now an international reference point, as recognized by buyers such as the big monopolies but also by bodies such as Oxfam or Amfori. The next step? Convincing companies to use this quid plus through targeted communication, a necessary tool to get to the heart of stakeholders and consumers”.

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