Frequently Asked Questions - VIVA "Sustainable Wine"

1. Which companies can join VIVA "Sustainability and Culture"?

The VIVA project is open to all Italian wineries that want to measure and improve their sustainability performance.

2. Is there a VIVA certification specific for organic and biodynamic companies?

No, the VIVA Protocol is applicable to all companies (conventional farming, integrated farming, organic farming, biodynamic farming). The sustainability aspects crossing all technologies used in the company are evaluated as a whole.

3. Are there conflicts between VIVA and other national sustainability programs?

No, the purpose of VIVA and the Italian Ministry of Ecological Transition is to assess the sustainability performances and to objectively communicate them to the citizens. For this reason, the project harmonizes the environmental indicators widely used at national and international level, providing in this way the guidelines for their application on the national territory.

4. How to join VIVA?

The wineries interested in joining the VIVA “Sustainable Wine” project, have to sign a voluntary agreement with the Italian Ministry of Ecological Transition. Please click here to consult the procedures

5. Do you have to pay to become a VIVA member?

There are no membership fees, the signature of the voluntary agreement is for free.

Following the agreement signature, the company will be required:

  • to carry out the assessment of VIVA indicators independently, (if you have the necessary skills within the company) or hiring external consultants;

  • to validate the results through an independent third-party certification body in order to publish them.

To summarize: the only costs are related to the assessment and to the certification procedure.

6. Are there accredited consultants to work on VIVA?

There is not a procedure for the validation of the consultants, but the Italian Ministry of Ecological Transition suggests to contact the consultants that have taken the training course "VIVA Sustainable Wine - the procedures for the application, verification and communication" and the following updates. The Ministry clarifies that it has not any preferential relation with any consultant/company, neither it gives specific mandate.

7. Do indicators refer to international standards?

Yes, AIR indicator refers to:

  • UNI EN ISO/TS 14067: Principles, requirements and guidelines for the quantification and communication of the carbon footprint of a product;

  • UNI EN ISO 14064.1: Specification with guidance at the organization level for quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and removals.

WATER indicator refers to Water Footprint Network

VINEYARD indicator refers to the Directive 2009/128/EC about the sustainable use of pesticides and the OIV guidelines defined by the CST 2008 guide.

TERRITORY indicator refers to the GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines G 3.1.

8. What are the skills needed for appling the indicators?

AIR requires skills related to the assessment of Greenhouse Gases Inventory and Carbon Footprint Analysis of the product.

WATER requires agricultural skills related to the evaluation of evapotranspiration.

VINEYARD requires agronomic expertise.

TERRITORY requires expertise in the company activities.

9. Is there a list of Certificate Authorities for VIVA?

Yes, you can find the updated list here: Validators.

10. Is a company obliged to carry out the certification?

No, but if the procedure for the certification is not carried out, the company will be not allowed to communicate to the public its results, neither to apply the label on the product. The company will be allowed to communicate only its participation to the program.

11. Which kind of label is released by the Italian Ministry of Ecological Transition after the certification of the results made by an independent third-party certification body?

In the case of a “product analysis”:

  • the Ministry for the Environment releases a VIVA "product label", which can be applied directly on the product.

In the case of a “company analysis”:

  • the Ministry for the Environment releases a VIVA "company label", which can be used on the company website or on company information materials. This kind of label cannot be applied directly to individual products.

12. Is there a communication tool that can be used on the product?

Yes, only after the product analysis and certification have been carried out.

13. Does VIVA project brand products?

Yes it does. After a thorough analysis and ensuing certification of the product, endorsed by the Italian Ministry of Ecological Transition, it will be allowed to stick VIVA label on the bottle. It is possible to download VIVA label from VIVA online software (click on “RECORDS”, “CERTIFICATION”, scroll until you reach “PRODUCT CERTIFICATION” and click on “LABEL – MATERIAL” to download the label and the QR code). The employment of VIVA label is ruled by the Label Specification (Addendum B - VIVA Technical Specifications).

14. If the firm does an organizational analysis (certification of organization), is it possible to report it on the product?

No, it isn’t. The firm, after the analysis has been concluded, will receive VIVA label, it can be used in the firm’s website, or can feature in the informational material. This label cannot be stuck on products, but, as reported in Label Specification (Addendum B – VIVA Technical Specifications) it will be possible to write the following caption on products reserved to the national market:

“(Firm’s name) è certificata VIVA-La Sostenibilità nella Vitivinicoltura in Italia-programma promosso dal Ministero della Transizione Ecologica”. The caption for products reserved to the international market is instead: “(Firm’s name) is certified VIVA-Sustainability and Culture-the Sustainable Viticulture Program promoted by the Italian Ministry of Ecological Transition”.

15. Has the label an expiry date?

Yes, the label can be used by the company for two years starting from the date of certification. Then it will be necessary to renew the evaluation and certification.

16. Is it possible to communicate results to the public?

Yes, the company, after the certification, can decide to use the VIVA label on the product analyzed. The VIVA label has a QR code through which is possible to connect to a dedicated website (www.viticolturasostenibile.org) which explains the project and its objectives, and gives the possibility to verify the sustainability parameters of the chosen wine.

17. Is it possible to compare the results achieved by different companies?

No, a comparison between the results of different companies or products is not possible. The only comparison that can be done is on the product or company performance over time.

18. How can VIVA guarantee the scientific validity of the methodological approach applied?

A review of the tools and processes used to increase efficiency and international credibility is conducted, periodically, by a Scientific Committee.

19. Other international and national sustainability protocols can use the indicators developed by the VIVA project?

Yes, if companies that use them have joined VIVA.

20. Is it possible to find VIVA label for the international market?

Yes, it is. VIVA label for the international market, as the label addressed to the national market, is automatically generated by VIVA online software, once the Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea has confirmed the certification. The name of the project “VIVA Sustainability and Culture” (in English) is written on the label which can be accompanied by a QR code as well. The use of VIVA label for the international market is forbidden in Italy, but a firm is allowed to employ VIVA label for the national market abroad, in accordance with the laws of the country in which the product is exported.

21. Is VIVA certification operative abroad? Are there any internationalization interventions?

Wine market constitutes monopoly, especially in some countries. It is the reason why we have contacts with SAQ project managers, Canada-Québec state monopoly and with Systembolaget, the monopoly for the sale of wines and spirits in Sweden (they came and visited several firms joining VIVA program in August 2017). In order to recognize the validity of VIVA certification abroad, a letter of intent has been signed together with Foreign Trade Association (FTA), Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI)-Sustainable Wine Program, supplier of the most important North-European chains of distribution and monopoly: Tuko, Logistics, Kesko, Systembolaget, Dansk Supermarkt, El Corte Inglés, Aldi Nord, ALKO, Vinmonopolet, REWE and METRO. Our target is to let VIVA Program become a rewarding criterion as regards the choice of suppliers.

22. How does VIVA interface with European and international standards development?

VIVA sustainability indicators are constantly updated, in accordance with the development of European and international standards (e.g. PEF - Product Environmental Footprint and the latest updating of ISO 14046 standard on Water Footprint calculation method). It is important to remember that these methods don’t examine social and economic impacts, as VIVA program does, that are essential elements of our program.

23. As regards environmental impacts assessment, does VIVA certification deliberate on aspects related to biodiversity?

Yes, it does through the study and assessment of good practices for the protection and enhancement of indigenous species and it is both an evaluative and educational method. This kind of analysis includes the assessment of natural habitats, of green and wooded areas and it allows to promote and safeguard biodiversity on the whole, avoiding the screening of single species that would not be exhaustive because of the great heterogeneity of flora and fauna of different areas.

24. Does VIVA include a benchmark?

VIVA AIR, VINEYARD and WATER don’t provide for benchmarks at national level. Because of the varied features of Italian territory, benchmarks are employed at regional level, where specific territorial programs utilize VIVA as an environmental performance measurement system, recognized by a scientific committee. This is the case of SOStain, project which includes VIVA among the minimum sustainability criteria, along with restrictions on permitted treatments, sulphites limits in wines, vineyards mandatory grassing over (during winter), employment of energy saving technologies, bottle weight limits, use of local resources, quantitative analysis of biodiversity, employment of eco-compatible materials, clear communication, use of VIVA calculation models.

TERRITORY indicator is itself a benchmark: a firm has to meet all the requirements of the indicator to receive VIVA certification.

25. Does VIVA certification cover social responsibility?

Yes it does, thanks to the VIVA indicators, Water (ACQUA), Vineyard (VIGNETO) and Air (ARIA), with the certification of organization it is possible to monitor the company's environmental impacts. Meanwhile Territory (TERRITORIO), an indicator born from a work of synthesis of the ISO 26000 on Corporate Social Responsibility and Global Reporting Index (which in fact, guides the report on sustainability), represents a practical tool for analyzing the company’s environmental impact on a qualitative level and social and economic impacts on the territory in which it is located. The Territory report can also be used as a basis for the preparation of the sustainability report, together with the data obtained by the calculation of the other indicators.

26. Is the VIVA certification in line with the objectives of Agenda 2030?

Yes, the 2030 Agenda sets specific sustainable development goals, to which the VIVA indicators are aligned. Among the objectives of Agenda 2030, those that refer the most to the social and economic sustainability aspects investigated by VIVA with the indicator of Territory are the objectives 4 - Quality education, 5 - Gender equality, 6 - Access to water, 8 - Labor and economic growth, 12 - Sustainable consumption and 15 - Protection of biodiversity; objectives 6 and 14 - Protection of the sea, for Water; and the objective 13 - Stop climate change for the Air indicator. The VIVA certification therefore allows to become aware of and account for the topics highlighted by Agenda 2030.

27. Is Made green in Italy, which adopts the European Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) methodology, in contrast with VIVA?

The Regulation for the implementation of the voluntary national scheme for the assessment and communication of the environmental footprint of products, called Made Green in Italy, as per Art. 21, paragraph 1 of the Law 221/2015 expects the use of the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) methodology for the determination of the environmental footprint of products which was defined in the Recommendation 2013/179 / EU of the European Commission of 9 April 2013 and created to counteract the proliferation of methods for assessing the environmental impact of products.

The PEF methodology and the one used in the national program VIVA -Sustainability in Italian Viticulture, are not at all in contrast and in the future, if deemed appropriate, they could be easily integrated. The Ministry of the Environment, promoter of both the Made Green in Italy scheme and the VIVA Program, has already conducted, with the collaboration of ENEA, a preliminary study to compare the two methodologies.

Going a little more in detail, PEF is based on the principles of Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), which allows to evaluate the sustainability of a product, throughout its life cycle, with reference to 16 environmental impact categories, meanwhile it considers other aspects related to sustainability (social, economic and cultural) as additional requirements.

The VIVA program already adopts the LCA method for the calculation of the indicator Air which is based on the impact category "climate change" and the program includes three other indicators: Water, Vineyard and Territory. The water footprint, calculated in VIVA with the indicator Water, similar to the "Water Scarcity" indicator of the PEF, and the innovative indicators Vineyard and Territory already considered as examples on European scale, analyze aspects that the PEF only considers as additional requirements such as: quality of landscape, environmental quality of products, social sustainability. The latter aspects are of the highest value with regard to Italian productions, synonymous with excellence, quality and safety of products.

Concluding, with regard to the environmental impacts, the alignment between the VIVA methodology and the PEF one will not require companies to undertake additional efforts in terms of data collection and costs, while referring to additional requirements and aspects of communication of sustainability, where for PEF there are still ongoing trials, VIVA is already ahead and has as a matter of fact been taken several times as an example in the European tables.

28. Can a company already certified by SQNPI be certified as VIVA?

Yes, VIVA member companies that have an ACA certificate of conformity or SQNPI certifications (with compliance covering at least 50% of the vineyards of the organization/product under analysis) apply the indicators Vineyard easy and Territory easy. These indicators are simplified, as the company already fulfills the ACA or SQNPI certified aspects by default. As far as the Vigneto easy indicator is concerned, it lacks the Defense and Fertilizer sub-indicators; on the other hand, the Territory easy indicator does not contain requirements that overlap with the provisions of SNQPI shown by the SQNPI conformity certificate and / or the SQNPI certification (RB5, RB14, RS28, RE36 are excluded only for companies with SQNPI certification and not for those with ACA compliance, while RB1, RB4 are considered already satisfied only under certain circumstances).

29. What are the advantages for the company with the integration of the VIVA and SQNPI public standards?

The advantages of applying both standards are multiple: from a production point of view they go from a reduction in production costs to a greater knowledge of the impacts, from which a rationalization of the production system arises. The integration of the two standards, from the application perspective, allows the company to evaluate with VIVA the environmental, social and economic impacts, while SQNPI guides the good practices both in the field and cellar. The contents of SQNPI can be implemented by companies that apply VIVA as good practices or mitigation measures, programmed through the preparation of the improvement plans specific for each of the indicators. On the other hand, the VIVA indicators represent a system for measuring sustainability performance for wineries and they are also an excellent tool for self-monitoring and monitoring the improvements over time.

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