The President of Malta

Diskors mill-E.T. George Vella, President ta’ Malta, waqt it-tnedija tal-Malta Sustainability Forum 2023, (Diskors bl-Ingliż)

Dear participants,

I greatly welcome this opportunity to address you at this launch of another edition of the Malta Sustainability Forum.

Since its inception, this Forum has garnered remarkable momentum and is regarded and appreciated as an important landmark of awareness and networking. 

I myself follow the discussions that are held within this format very closely, and I am always glad to share my thoughts on the subjects and themes that are identified.

This year, like last year, we are being invited to ‘Sustain Tomorrow Today’.

This is an ethos that should continue to guide us, year in year out in our quest to fulfil, at least partially, the targets set by the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

I also welcome ongoing plans for the Forum to enter into discussions on the very pertinent issues of Transport, Pensions and later-on, Small States and Climate Change in the longer term.

These themes are relevant as they mirror pressing challenges being faced both on the national as well as the international levels.

Thankfully, the concept of ‘Sustainability’ has progressively become linked to the broader concept of quality of life and is no longer perceived merely in financial or economic terms.

To have a holistic interpretation of development, the idea of economic progress needs to be complemented with progress in social mobility.

This is the very essence of sustainability.

It took us very long to come to this realization. We should strive harder to include the environment, education, health, energy, social justice, and inter-cultural dialogue amongst other parameters, in our discussions.

We also need to add increasingly the word ‘peace’ to the narrative on Sustainability.

Nowadays, there is a growing understanding that there can be no peace and no security without development.

Sustainable Development is thus critical towards consolidating approaches to peace and security as it enables long-term peacebuilding efforts and durable and strong societies and nations.

We should also be making better use of existing instruments and tools at our disposal.

The transformative ambitions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are to remain the cornerstone of our collective efforts.  Even though the window of opportunity to reach these goals is fading away gradually.

I cannot stress enough the importance of partnerships which lie at the core of the 2030 Agenda, including a multi-stakeholder approach. Member States, civil society, business, the private sector, and local communities all have a vital part to play in galvanizing partnerships.

Their holistic and inclusive nature allows for different actors to come together, including those who are most vulnerable.

With Malta now serving its two-year tenure on the Security Council, we have already placed special attention on the unique challenges that small island states like Malta, as well as small island developing states, face.

A case in point is the Ministerial Open Debate Event that Malta organised as part of its UNSC Presidency programme, entitled ‘Sea-Level Rise and its Implications to Peace and Security’, which took place on 14 February.

Discussing eventual sea-level rise due to climate change, initially contrasts quite sharply against the background of the tragedies of the war in Ukraine, and the devastation of the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

However, they are equally detrimental to global peace and security.

As a small island state, with its legacy intertwined with our experience at the UN in advocating for a Law of the Sea and to place Climate on the agenda of the General Assembly, Malta has always reiterated the importance of ensuring healthy seas and oceans underlining their evident link to the health and well-being of humanity.

The impacts of climate change on the security of our people and planet  are not to be left unnoticed or unaddressed.

The SDGs are not a litany of utopic objectives.

They are targets that should be attainable, given the attention and commitment we have all pledged in consecutives Conference on Climate Change.

To conclude, we should remain fully committed to long-term sustainability in the field of development assistance with the primary objective of eradicating poverty by providing quality education, building sustainable infrastructure and empowering the potential of women and youth in their personal development.

This should be the attestation of our collective commitment towards achieving a fairer and more equitable world.  

I wish you every success in your deliberations.

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