President opens 2021 edition of the Malta Sustainability Forum

President opens 2021 edition of the Malta Sustainability Forum

Focused on the theme of ‘The Time is Now’, this national forum brings together local and international experts for a pertinent discussion on the urgency of sustainability.

The Malta Sustainability Forum, organized by APS Bank, launched yesterday morning with the first day of a five-day event hosting over 80 local and foreign experts in the field of sustainability.

Under the overarching theme ‘The Time is Now’, the forum aims to draw the attention of all stakeholders and the public at large to the fact that efforts to deliver on the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) must be amplified immediately.

Broadcast online in a TV studio format, the forum kicked off with a live one-hour interview with President George Vella. In his address, the president welcomed all participants and highlighted the importance of this second edition of the APS Malta Sustainability Forum.

President Vella’s commitment to sustainability, the environment, and climate change harks back to his days as Minister for the Environment. In his address, he recalled a ‘State of the Environment Report’ he introduced – a key document in assessing Malta’s progress in environmental issues. Today, sustainability remains an issue that is clearly close to his heart.

The president emphasized that ‘sustainable consumption’ is a key enabler to achieving the critical UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2050. He noted that the ‘Doughnut Economy’ model, which centers around the fair and sustainable use of resources, promises to be an interesting topic at this year’s forum.

During his opening address, the president also touched on a number of topics that will be tackled this week, including gender-equality goals and climate action. He also praised an upcoming module led by young people, which will present proposals for a better future.

“Today’s youth are more committed than ever to promoting environmental issues such as recycling, reusing, and the circular economy,” Vella commented.

Again, education and democratic representation are key. “The young generation must have a voice in decision-making.”

Looking ahead, the president said that progress towards the achievement of the 2050 SDGs needs to continue being addressed. Among his recommendations, a sustainable transportation strategy for Malta should be put in place to counter the excessive use of private cars, he stressed, while adding that “the prioritization of energy efficiency, the promotion of renewables, and the development of sustainable industry is urgent if the EU wants to achieve the ambitious target of zero GHG emissions by 2050 – a goal enshrined in the European Green Deal.”

Vella also noted with satisfaction that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is becoming entrenched in the way businesses operate, taking into consideration the interests of all stakeholders in society, with profit targets being balanced with environmental, social, and corporate governance targets.

In conclusion, he acknowledged the problems Malta and the international community face in the field of sustainability.

“Climate change might disproportionately affect a number of countries through rising sea levels and increasing temperatures,” he said. “Thus, it is in our best interests to become as active as possible on this front.”

On a positive note, he concluded that President Joe Biden’s decision for the US to rejoin the Paris Agreement is a welcome step in tackling these issues and others facing Malta and the world.