Social Sustainability in the Wine Industry
Everyone is talking about ‘sustainability’ but how do we avoid empty buzzwords and give real substance to this call to action? The direct economic resonance of climate change to the wine industry, has in part contributed to an urgent focus on ecological sustainability. Organic, biodynamic and sustainable wines have gained global traction among producers and consumers alike, and frequently dominate discussions around ‘sustainability’ at wine industry forums. But ‘sustainability’ should not be synonymous with its ecological aspects alone, it is about much more than just this!
The multifaceted nature of sustainability is acknowledged by the OIV, which adopted the ‘OIV General Principles of Sustainable Vitiviniculture – Environmental – Social – Economic and Cultural Aspects’. However, the social aspects are defined as ‘safety and food hygiene’ and are thus not as comprehensive as they could be. At wine2wine this year, we would like to encourage visionary leadership within the wine community to truly embrace a more comprehensive definition of sustainability, which puts social aspects at its center. This is about wine professionals taking action together to make the industry and our wine community more inclusive, diverse, democratic, equitable and connected.
Importantly, principles of social sustainability should not be seen as contrary to economic viability but rather as complimentary and mutually reinforcing. Moreover, social sustainability need not be solely relegated to mitigating social risks or avoiding doing harm through our business practices. Rather, let’s think about what role the wine community can play in promoting inclusivity and wellbeing. In doing so, we will be better placed to conserve the rich cultural heritage of wine and to share it with a more diverse global community.