Universidade Católica Portuguesa (UCP) in Porto hosted, on September 21st, a conference organised as part of the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the newspaper Expresso.
"Sustainable Future" was the theme that was at the centre of the event's agenda and which made it possible to reinforce the relevance of the involvement of the whole of society – academia, organisations, companies and the media – towards a world capable of meeting the needs of the present, without compromising those of future generations.
"I congratulate Expresso on its 50 years of well-lived civic life," began Isabel Capeloa Gil, president of Universidade Católica Portuguesa, during the opening speech. It is a newspaper that "represents the great tradition of free and quality journalism", he added. Isabel Capeloa Gil compared the mission of journalism with that of the University - "The University, like journalism, is not a space of comfort" - and highlighted that talking about Sustainability is a "risky topic", which should be understood "as an urgency and a gesture of responsibility towards future generations".
João Vieira Pereira, director of Expresso, shared several initiatives and projects that the newspaper carries out in the field of Sustainability, showing how "important" this area is and how essential it is to produce quality content. "Free and quality journalism is only possible when we have the trust of our readers", he stated.
Pedro Sousa Carvalho, a journalist at Expresso, moderated the two panels that made up the conference: "Innovation and the Circular Economy" and "Law, Sustainability and Education". Two round tables that, through various testimonies, challenged society to transform. The event celebrating Expresso's 50th anniversary occurred at the Carvalho Guerra Auditorium on the UCP Porto campus.
Inovação e Economia Circular
"Innovation and the Circular Economy" were the motto of the first round table, which featured the participation of four speakers from very different areas, although all with a common direction and desire: the construction of a more sustainable world.
João Pinto, professor at Católica Porto Business School and co-leader of Insure Hub, said that Sustainability and Social Responsibility "have always been part of the Catholic University's mission and strategy". He reinforced: "It is core to the Catholic Church". As co-leader of Insure Hub, João Pinto shared the mission of this initiative as "an example of how the University can join forces with the business community towards a more sustainable world." João Pinto highlighted the various areas of activity of Insure Hub, namely the "work with organizations to support the construction of strategies", the "promotion of innovation and its transfer" to society, the focus on "sustainability literacy" and the training and education, through the "launch of courses and programs".
Ana Carvalho, CEO of Banco de Fomento and alumna of Católica Porto Business School, was challenged with the question, "How does sustainability intersect with a bank?" The speaker explained Banco Fomento's mission - "we are a bank that fills market failures" - and shared that Banco de Fomento exists with the "specific mission of being a green bank", capable of "helping companies in the transition". "We were born married with the focus of supporting sustainability", he concludes.
For Catarina Lemos, member of the board of Real Companhia Velha, the "connection to academia is very important for sustainability", giving the example of partnerships that the company established with Universities, including the Catholic University, and which allowed it to increase knowledge and ability to act. Catarina Lemos explains that sustainability is at the genesis of Real Companhia Velha, as "the Marquês de Pombal created it to guarantee the sustainability of the Douro." "A company can't move towards sustainability, digital transition and the circular economy if it does not expand its field of work", he concludes.
João Pedro Azevedo, CEO of Amorim Cork Composites, also participated in this round table, having the opportunity to share that "Corticeira Amorim's business model is completely vertically based on the circular economy". The speaker also mentioned that, back in 1963, an important decision was taken: "to found a company exclusively to develop applications with cork waste from the cork stopper industry". "Today we don't waste a gram of cork" and "we are committed to achieving 100% waste recovery by 2030". Innovation is also "central" to Corticeira Amorim's mission, therefore, an "innovation factory": "The starting point is always the properties of cork. We explore value niches worldwide where cork can be applied."
Law, Sustainability and Education
The conference's second panel brought together four more speakers, this time around the theme "Law, Sustainability and Education", and provided another opportunity to reflect and share experiences.
Manuel Fontaine, director of the Faculty of Law – Escola do Porto da Católica, addressed issues such as "environmental dumping" and "green clauses", including the British Prime Minister's announcement of slowing down the goals for the energy transition. Manuel Fontaine highlighted the critical "role of education and the university." The director made known the "cross-cutting disciplines at Católica dedicated to the Sustainable Development Goals", which bring together students and teachers from different faculties and areas of knowledge: "It is an interdisciplinary dynamic that aims at sustainability".
The director of Católica Porto Business School (CPBS), Rui Soucasaux Sousa, reinforced the role of Universities in "education and research": "Católica has a real commitment to sustainability, promoting the transfer of associated values and practices to society. This topic cannot just be contained within a classroom." Rui Soucasaux Sousa announced a recent CPBS initiative entitled "Global Education Certificate": "It is a supplement to the undergraduate diploma which certifies a number of extracurricular activities that allow students to acquire a global mindset, including multicultural, ethics and sustainability dimensions." It is an incentive for students to get involved in meaningful activities and projects, in the certainty that they will help them "not only to enter the job market successfully but also to be better citizens."
Ivone Rocha, partner at Telles de Abreu Advogados, stated that "the directives help to build this sustainable world", that companies must "see each requirement as an opportunity", and that "taxation is only green if it targets environmental benefits ." "At Telles de Abreu Advogados, we have a team dedicated exclusively to these issues and works on the punitive and preventive or reactive components. Continuous learning is necessary", he explains. The speaker warns: "We have to learn to internalize the future in the present. Today, we have the fate of who will live next."
Luís Magalhães, partner and head of Tax at KPMG, shares that "we have a team of dozens of people working on these matters. We help companies understand their state and their exposure to risks and map the processes that need to be carried out." The speaker also shared that "companies can enjoy a set of benefits and incentives in relation to these adjustments. Tax Law can be used to induce behaviour." "The role of Law and regulation following the Paris Agreements was decisive. Normally, the Law follows social reality; in this case, the Law is ahead", he added.
The Universidade Católica Portuguesa joined Expresso to celebrate its 50th anniversary, having hosted the celebrations conference on its campus in Porto.
From this event, the desire for a "Sustainable Future" prevails and the conviction that, as the UCP rector stated, "they will not forgive us for our lack of courage to reverse course and do things differently."