5th IPBN Sustainability conference: Innovation and sustainability going hand-in-hand

 In Conference, IPBN, News, Sustainability

The Irish-Portuguese Business Network (IPBN) held its 5th edition of its Annual St Patrick’s Day Sustainability Conference at the Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Portugal (CCIP) in Lisbon in March in presence of H.E. Alma Ní Choigligh, Ambassador of Ireland to Portugal, Geoffrey Graham, Chair of the IPBN Board, IPBN Board Members, Executive Partners and Enterprise Ireland.

Text: Chris Graeme Photos supplied

The IPBN’s Sustainability Conference this year focused on the development, innovation, and challenges faced in three different areas: Air, Sea, and Food with three panel discussions and several talks led by industry experts.

Welcoming the panelists and attendees with a few introductory remarks, IPBN Chair Geoffrey Graham said the Sustainability Conference had a “firm place in the diary of the IPBN network” and had been a cornerstone of the IPBN from its inception, stressing “innovation and sustainability go hand-in-hand”.

Opening the conference, the H.E. Alma Ní Choigligh, Ambassador of Ireland to Portugal stated that the Ireland-Portugal relationship was a “warm and positive one” reflected in the €3Bn of bi-lateral trade annually, the increasing number of Irish people living in Portugal and Portuguese people living and doing business in Ireland, and the over 650,00 annual arrivals from Ireland in Portugal for tourism, business or other purposes.

The ambassador emphasised that the links between business and climate issues were “intensifying” explaining that Ireland’s sustainability was framed by its commitment internationally to the UN Sustainable Development goals and Agenda 2030. “That commitment is one very much shared by Portugal and reflects the like mindedness shared by Portugal and Ireland on so many key EU and UN global issues”.


Turning to the three sectors covered by the conference – Aviation, Sea and Food – on aviation, for example, Ireland was deeply committed on domestic and International levels to decarbonising aviation.

Last year saw the revision of the Emissions Trading System (ETS) with 55 proposals, and Ireland’s aviation companies taking action to reduce aviation emissions in Europe. “Ireland has pushed for ambition on these issues by creating a Sustainable Aviation Taskforce and is developing a National Sustainable Aviation Fuel Policy Programme”, said the ambassador

The Aviation Panel, comprising Andreia Ramos, Environment and Sustainability Director at ANA – Aeroportos de Portugal, SA – VINCI Airports, José Francisco Gamboa, Sustainability Director, Grupo SATA, Maria João Calha, Sustainability Director, TAP Air Portugal, and moderated by Geoffrey Graham, Edge International Lawyers and Chair of the IPBN, reviewed the EU plenary agreement on ReFuelEU in the Aviation sector, which Brussels voted on last September in the European Parliament. This agreement marks the first-ever Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) mandate in the EU. The panel discussed its implications and what this meant for the future transformation of the Aviation Industry.

The panel agreed that aviation was not the worst industry polluter, being responsible for 1.9% of global emissions, far behind the fossil fuel energy sector (73%), agriculture (18.4%), Industry (5.2%) and Waste (3.2%).

Maria João Calha (TAP) pointed to the introduction of new NEO-class aircraft that were quieter and more efficient, TAP’s Sustainable Cabin Project with 10 sustainable products on board, providing more seats to reduce CO2 emissions per passenger carried, TAP’s 8.7% improvement in energy efficiency on 2019, the rolling out of flights with sustainable fuel (SAF) with 39% of fuel from sustainable origins allowing for a 35% reduction in CO2, among other initiatives. “We all know each other, work together on common projects and have an understanding on the challenges that aviation is facing and that is positive”, she said.

And added: “In the short to medium term we must ensure that our Airbus fleet is more modern and more fuel efficient than ever, that’s why 68% of the fleet comprises the new NEO generation aircraft with an average age of 3.1 years.”


José Francisco Gamboa (SATA), whose company operates two airlines from the Azores (Azores Airlines and SATA Air Açores) said that although the industry’s 1.8% carbon emissions were among the lowest of any industry, there was “a lot of pressure on the aviation sector”, which was why “we in the airlines sector and all the stakeholders are working hard to reduce carbon emissions because we know that the number of passengers flying worldwide will grow.” (4.3% from 2023-2042 and 3.6% from 2042-2052)

“I think aviation is setting a great example in decarbonisation and working towards net zero goals by 2050 thanks to a lot of initiatives employed by the airlines and IATA (International Airlines Transport Association), as well as other organisations that are doing an incredible job in this respect”, he said

Andreia Ramos, Environment and Sustainability Director at ANA – Aeroportos de Portugal, SA – VINCI Airports also confirmed that ANA worked together with the airlines in establishing an environmental strategy for all of its airports, focusing on energy and climate change and reducing carbon emissions by 50% by 2030,

Since 2008, ANA has been introducing environmental management systems in all its airports, certified by ISO 14001. Another guideline for approaching management of environmental issues is its Environment Policy, which reflects a commitment to continuous improvement in the processes, environmental preservation and protection, the reduction of the impact of activities, and the minimisation of its carbon footprint, always with the involvement of its stakeholders.

The environmental management systems at the airports underwent analysis and readjustment in 2021 and multidisciplinary teams were set up for this task. Work was done on the development of an action plan for the next three-year period in 2022. In general, the increase in airport activity (after the pandemic) resulted in an increase in absolute consumption of energy and water, as well as waste production. Nevertheless, ANA managed to increase efficiency levels both in energy and water consumption and in waste production per passenger.

Andreia Ramos revealed that it had launched a Stakeholders Forum with around 50 stakeholders involved. In 2033, for example, a meeting was held at Lisbon Airport involving Groundlink III Handling, Lda, Groundforce Portugal, HI FLY, Portway – Handling de Portugal S. A. and Galp.

At this meeting the stakeholders debated consumption monitoring, the electrification of the fleet and the use of alternative energies for vehicles and equipment, as well as discussing the supply of green hydrogen and the replacement of passenger busses and operation vehicles with vehicles using greener, cleaner fuel sources.


Another panel focused on achieving Carbon Zero, with speakers Neil Chadwick, Global Operations Director of Oxycarbon and Will Wynn, former mayor of Austin, Texas and CEO, Recharge Water, LP, assessing the solutions developed to drive sustainable economic value from healthy oceans with the participation of Blueinsight, a marine autonomous robotics start-up based at the Technology Park CEiiA in Matosinhos, and this year’s IPBN Business Success Award winner Enerview Solutions, a leading renewable energy solutions company doing business in Portugal and Ireland.

Neil Chadwick of Oxycarbon explained how the company can help other companies achieve their carbon zero objectives in view of the impact and challenges of the new Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) for businesses of all sizes to take effect in January 2025.

A wider panel conversation about solutions to drive sustainable economic value for healthy oceans brought in Paulo Vasconcelos Figueiredo, Business Development Manager and Technical Project Manager at CEiiA and Blueinsight that is developing a portfolio of solutions to drive sustainable economic value from healthy oceans in a single point access to data, information and services over the ocean.

Also participating was Gavin McBride, MD Enerview Solutions that specialises in the areas of onshore and offshore wind, solar and electric vehicle sectors. The panel was moderated by Susan Cabeceiras, IPBN Board Member and Founder & CEO of KONCEPTNESS Gestão de Projetos, Imobiliária, Arquitetura, Engenharia & Design.

The third panel with Manuela Pintado, Associate Professor at Universidade Católica Portugesa, School of Biotechnology, John Paul Prior, Chair of the IPBN Porto Farmony, and Nicola Sainty, Business Relationship, MGR, at Revive Active discussed Food and Nutrition and their interfaces with our health and well-being with the participation of the IPBN’s new academic partner the University Católica do Porto and its Higher School of Biotechnology, a reference institution in the domain.


In between these panel conversations, there were two discussions with IPBN members and another recent IPBN Business Success Award Winner, Silvia Correia, IPBN Business success Award Winner 2023, social entrepreneur and founder of re.store, and IPBN member Nessa Maguire, co-founder & CEO of Euda.Org.

With backgrounds in Psychology, Euda.org founders Nessa and Allison Kuschel’s paths converged while overseeing an educational consulting firm in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. A shared realisation struck them: the pervasive struggle of businesses to implement inclusive policies and practices. Fuelled by a desire to bridge this gap and foster diversity, equity, inclusion and sustainability in business, they set out on a mission. (DEI)

After hundreds of conversations with DEI professionals, Nessa and Alli, with the addition of Máire coming from a tech industry background, decided to leverage their collective skillset, experience, and passion for inclusion. The result? EudaOrg—an all-in-one software suite meticulously designed to embed and sustain DEI in all areas of business.

“We’re on a mission to revolutionise how companies perceive inclusion at work. We envision a world where everyone not only survives but thrives at work. We want to make the workplace fairer for everyone”, she said.


It is quite shocking to realise that 20% of all ocean pollution comes from the textile industry. Silvia Correia, Social Entrepreneur and founder of re.store criticised many clothing brands targeting young consumers sending out the message that it was ok to buy a T-shirt for €2-3 and then throw away.

Silvia Correia took part in a discussion about social and environmental innovation with pedagogical initiatives aimed at changing our current consumption habits.

The Portuguese entrepreneur, a winner of the IPBN Business Success Award, said that every second, somewhere around the world, usually South American or Africa, a truckload of clothes is being dumped.

“In Portugal we have a saying: “Longe de Coração” (What the eyes don’t see, the heart doesn’t feel) and discarded textiles in landfills in Africa and South America reflects this reality, even with people who go through their closets and donate to charity and feel good, bu that’s not the solution,” she said.

Silvía Correia founded re.store that makes sustainable and socially inclusive textiles made from waste and leftovers from the Portuguese textile industry and produced by social partners. The company promotes social inclusion and integration and has paid €58,0000 to social partners and has reused 6,800 kilos of used fabrics and accessories.

A passionate believer in recycling and up-cycling, she explained how the company promoted social inclusion and recognition “because all our products are made by unique people in their difference (social institutions, refugees, social associations, active ageing and others), duly paid for this work. We also contribute to the reduction of the textile industry ecological footprint because all our products are made with textile waste, leftovers, samples and accessories which we up-cycle”.