With the effects of climate change already present, the Rioja Qualified Designation of Origin has presented a diagnostic project, launched by the Designation’s Committee of Experts in Sustainability.
The project is carried out by Isemaren, a consultancy firm specialising in global solutions for the ecological transition, and was presented at the headquarters of the Rioja Control Board. Specifically, it is a detailed analysis of the current state of sustainability in the DOCa Rioja in the face of climate change, the aim of which is to assess the real situation of the Designation in the key aspects of this issue: environmental, socioeconomic and governance.
The project presents differential aspects in its methodology, development and subsequent results, such as the large sample size and its randomness, the holistic approach to sustainability, that is, including all aspects, or the fact that the exploration exercise based on various interviews will take place in situ for verification in the field, which represents an extra effort compared to other diagnoses.
After several months of project gestation and preliminary work, focused mainly on the definition and identification of measurable variables and indicators (around 200 in total), the next phase now begins with the fieldwork, which requires the collaboration and direct participation of the wineries and winegrowers in the appellation.
Thus, once the methodology has been defined, a random sample of 300 professionals from the sector will be contacted by the Isemaren consultancy firm to carry out the interviews, to be held at the wineries’ facilities and in the vineyards (in the case of the winegrowers), with the firm aim of gathering as much information and certainty as possible to make the state of sustainability in the Designation tangible.
In this sense, aspects such as the use of water and energy, soil and waste management, the degree of contribution to the SDGs, the preservation of the landscape and the cultural heritage, the settlement of the rural population, or the level of preparation of the appellation for the major international challenges, such as the fight against climate change, will be covered, analysed and included in the diagnosis.
The aim is to gather as much information and certainty as possible in order to make the state of sustainability in the Designation tangible.
The launch of the project, led by Estíbaliz Torrealba, coordinator of the DOCa Rioja Committee of Experts in Sustainability, and Helena Fernández, partner and director of Sustainability and Climate Change at Isemaren, was attended by representatives of wineries, winegrowers and other stakeholders in the DOCa Rioja sector.
Helena Fernández, partner and director of Sustainability and Climate Change at Isemaren, stressed that “one of the particularities that highlights the potential of the study and its differential character is the exhaustive field work that will be carried out. This project represents the largest sustainability analysis and diagnosis exercise carried out in Spain in an AOC covering all areas (environmental, social, economic and governance) and, due to the way in which it has been conceived, it will imply greater credibility and representativeness of the results”.
Estíbaliz Torrealba, coordinator of the DOCa Rioja Committee of Experts in Sustainability, said: “Being a benchmark in sustainability is an ambitious goal that also entails great responsibility. Both because of the scope of the project -we should not overlook the fact that no less than 300 DOCa professionals will actively participate in the diagnosis- and because of the way it is carried out, with a random and representative sample, on a large scale, etc. Rioja aims to obtain the most real and accurate X-ray possible so that, once the results have been analysed, the most appropriate lines of work can be defined and work immediately in the most efficient way”.
The results of the study will be published at the end of this year, when the exhaustive diagnosis will be available with the collaboration of all the agents involved, as well as the Committee of Experts in Sustainability and the Isemaren consultancy firm. Based on the diagnosis, the Designation will draw up the relevant strategic lines to achieve the sustainability objectives established in the short, medium and long term.
This project represents a significant step forward in achieving one of the key objectives of the DOCa Rioja’s 2021-2025 Strategic Plan: to position Rioja as a benchmark in Sustainability, understood holistically, combining all its aspects, not just the environmental one. To this end, in addition to the Committee of Experts, set up at the beginning of last year, the area of Sustainability in Rioja is complemented by the work of the Operational Group for the Protection of the Landscape and Vineyards, which works proactively to preserve the natural heritage of the Designation.