Approaches to sustainability, climate change and COVID crisis from the cork sector.
The Catalan Cork Institute Foundation is a non-profit, scientific organisation founded in 1991 and engaged in the study and promotion of the cork sector, according to the paradigm of the bioeconomy, the decarbonisation of human activity and within the framework of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The cork sector is a clear example of a regenerative economic model, since it brings added value to society and the environment through activities that promote CO2 capture and combat climate change, as well as looking after and maintaining forest habitats and economic revitalisation in rural areas.
In this regard, the cork sector has been a pioneer in measuring the ecological footprint of cork stopper production, providing wineries with verified and certified information on sustainability. In 2010, the first scientific studies on the carbon footprint of the Catalan cork sector appeared, and supported the positive contribution of cork stoppers.
The cork oak, like vine cultivation, is affected by climate change, but we are fortunate that the cork oak is a tree adapted to forest fires and resistant to droughts. However, the worsening of the climate of course ends up affecting the trees’ productivity. Several studies have therefore already been conducted and specific models of forest management have been applied to help cork oak forests to adapt to climate change, and which take into account measures such as density reduction, favouring natural regeneration, restoration of areas degraded by fires, promotion of mixed stands, shape pruning, etc.
In addition, as a Foundation and as a sector, I would like to share with you the way we are confronting the COVID crisis which, along with the climate emergency, is another serious problem. I believe that as the Catalan Cork Institute Foundation in particular, and the cork sector in general, we can contribute to mitigating the impacts of these two great global challenges by stimulating the transformation towards a more inclusive and sustainable economy.
For example, we ourselves have launched a process of measuring the social value we bring to our environment and assessing our activities’ contribution to the common good. We must make social and environmental concerns the hub of our business model, and prioritise social and environmental impact over maximising profits. We believe that we are in a very good position to demonstrate that maximising financial benefit at any price is unsustainable in the medium term, and that consumers will finally assess the cork sector’s contribution to the common good, based on its positive environmental and social impact.
Catalan Cork Institute Foundation