The first-ever Malta Sustainability Forum came to a successful close last week, following a day of talks and panel discussions by thought-leaders and change-makers within the sustainability sphere. It culminated in the signing of a manifesto for change, with participants pledging to reduce their meat intake, reduce their plastic use, and reduce their reliance on private car usage.
Organised by APS Bank in partnership with Cool, GasanMamo, GO and PwC, the forum featured numerous leading local and international speakers on the topic of sustainability.
Targeting both consumers and corporations, the forum’s main objectives was to raise awareness on the topic of sustainability and to empower the ‘Thinking Citizen’ to make conscious decisions towards a sustainable life.
In his welcome address, Marcel Cassar, CEO of APS Bank, said that: “Business is key to social and economic development. However, our environment and well-being shouldn’t suffer as a result. What’s the purpose of education, research, truth, and wisdom, if we are unable to address the most important question there is: what way of life are we leaving for future generations?”
Environment Minister José Herrera followed with a keynote speech. He began by commenting on the importance of events such as the forum for engaging local citizens in discussions about sustainability. However, he acknowledged: “That the path towards a more inclusive and sustainable future that satisfies our needs without jeopardising the prospects of future generations is far from easy.”
He also spoke about the need to establish well-informed and integrated policies in order to ensure effective and efficient implementation.
Need to establish well-informed and integrated policies
The forum’s opening speech was delivered by the President of Malta George Vella. In his speech, he focused on the buzzword sustainability. “By ‘sustain’, we mean strengthening, giving support and providing comfort,” he said. “By ‘ability’ we recognise that as active agents for change we are capable of bringing about conscious and greener changes. When we speak about sustainability, we are in effect speaking about important universal values of empathy and nourishment that are fundamental to our humanity.”
The forum’s programme kicked off with a presentation titled: ‘Reawakening Citizens’ Hearts and Minds: Living a Sustainable Lifestyle’. This was followed by three panels, each of which triggered robust discussion and debate.
The first, titled ‘Implementing Community Change’, was moderated by Alexandra Mifsud, a lecturer at the Centre for Environmental Education and Research at the University of Malta. Gayle Murphy, CEO of Global Green Events, moderated the second panel with the title ‘Sustainable Business Models – Essential for our Economic Future’. The final panel, ‘Changing Minds – Not the Climate’, was moderated by Abigail Cutajar, sustainability management consultant with QPML.
Carl Pratt, FuturePlanet founder, delivered the final talk, a sobering reminder of the challenges we face in limiting climate change damage within the next 11 years.
In bringing the forum to a close, Pratt invited the forum’s participants to sign up to a manifesto, pledging to take a number of actions that can contribute towards sustainable living – indeed become Thinking Citizens.
These pledges included going vegan or vegetarian at least twice a week, borrowing and sharing rather than buying new, and living the value of inclusion and equality in daily life.
To follow this, a special edition of the popular APS Talks series was held, featuring an introduction by APS Bank chairman Frederick Mifsud Bonnici, and a dynamic keynote speech by Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the London Business School, Ioannis Ioannou.
To sign up to the manifesto and make a pledge towards a more sustainable existence, or to find out more about future events related to the Malta Sustainability Forum, visit https://maltasustainabilityforum.com/manifesto/