After years of inaction, the world has woken up to the harshest of realities – a dying planet – and is now rushing to put its house in order before the damage inflicted in the past two centuries of progress become well and truly irreversible.

This reality will undoubtedly have significant repercussions on how we go about our lives as the world collectively pushes towards an economy that is environmentally sustainable, cutting dependence on fossil fuels and other natural resources and, in the process, reducing our carbon footprint and doing away with elements which harm us today and in the future.

Yet, this challenge provides entrepreneurs with big opportunities as new technologies, processes and business models become key fundamentals for business growth and success.

For the best part of the first 20 years of the third millennium, adding some green elements to a business offering was often delegated to marketing or corporate social responsibility efforts. This has changed drastically in the past couple of years, with recent Eurobarometer surveys showing how climate change has become one of the most signifi­cant concerns for Maltese and European customers.

In such a context, businesses acting sustainably or ensuring greener processes in producing or delivering their services will be able to take advantage of changing consumer demand.

In parallel, small businesses will have to demonstrate their green credentials to access higher-value contracts with large suppliers who themselves will be ever more conscious of protecting their green reputation, particularly if, in turn, they are seeking an investor nod.

While all this seems a lot to ask, European Union membership will once again prove crucial for Malta. It is indeed positive that the bloc has shown a clear will to lead global change towards a more sustainable world through the European Green Deal. From what we’ve seen so far, with a wave of new policy and an unprecedented financial commitment, there is a true determination to make it happen.

At its core, the European Green Deal is about protecting jobs and the planet- Joanne Bondin

Over the coming years, the European Commission will be revising some of its major policies to ensure they respect sustainability fundamentals.

From transport to taxation, farming to construction, the Green Deal aims to embrace clean energy while sustaining growth.

At its core, the European Green Deal is about protecting jobs and the planet. For decades, we thought these two objectives were antagonists. Today, we acknowledge that we do not need to sacrifice our planet for progress.

Another crucial element of the European Green Deal is to transform the EU into climate-neutral bloc by 2050, an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Industries that generate most waste, such as construction, food, transport and plastic, will need to significantly transform not just the way they operate but, possibly, even how they conceive their business.

It is highly encouraging that the Maltese government has taken the Commission’s cue and dedicated more than half of the budget granted to our country through the Recovery and Resilience Facility for green projects.

While we look forward with anticipation to the finer details of how entrepreneurs will be able to tap such funds, businesses need to think from now as to how to invest in clean, safe and sustainable products, services, buildings and operations.

In the context of post-pandemic growth, this needs to be seen not as a new burden but a means of creating sustainable solutions which will deliver new opportunities for growth.

As part of the SME Week Malta events, the Malta Employers’ Association will be hosting an online half-day SMEs national forum to discuss challenges and opportunities facing small businesses in the context of green growth. This hybrid event will be open to the business community and the public.

Registration is via https://forms.gle/dNTAnd8TTZRu3gp96.

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