David Xuereb, the Deputy President of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, said that economic growth and sustainable development should not be considered as mutually exclusive but rather as being two sides of the same coin.
“With some long-term planning both can be achieved and must be achieved. This should be our goal as a country,” he said, addressing the Parliament of Enterprises event organised by the Malta Chamber.
Mr Xuereb explained how Malta was seeing a shift from a more traditional sectoral-based economy to one which is moving more towards a 21st century information society, with buoyant growth, full employment rates and successive public finances surpluses.
“It is our duty as a responsible organisation to ensure that all this development does not come at a cost to our environment and societal well-being. Not least, the sudden labour shortage has resulted in thousands of foreign workers moving to our shores. This has brought about challenges in the form of infrastructural needs, housing availability, increased waste generation, further depletion of our scarce water resources, increased demand of electricity, more vehicles on the road and increased pressure on our public health and education systems.”
He commended the Ministry for the Environment for launching a long-term vision for Malta’s sustainable development for public consultation. “It defines the Government’s aspirations and outlines the image of Malta that we want to see by 2050. In today’s business environment, planning beyond a three-year horizon is incomprehensible with operational and technological changes happening on a daily basis.”
“Through the implementation of the so-called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), economic blocks are shifting their economic model from a traditional linear to a circular one, which takes into consideration the gradual decoupling of economic activity from the consumption of finite resources.”
“The so-called circular economic model could, if planned properly, achieve a balanced approach towards economic growth without depleting our environmental resources and impacting societal norms. With technological advancements and disruptive technologies in many fields, sustainable and intelligent mobility systems, renewable energy, proper waste and water management, and sustainable land use are not a figment of our imagination.”
Mr Xuereb said that this would become a reality over the next few years, creating new jobs whilst requiring new skills and knowledge, and urged his fellow industry leaders to embrace the change and be leaders rather than followers of these new developments.
“The Malta Chamber, believes that this is the opportune time to capitalise on the successes of recent years and plan long-term where we want to take our country. These are exciting times indeed and the Chamber is all too pleased to once again be an integral part of the process,” he concluded.