It is my pleasure to open the launch of this campaign entitled ‘Business with a Heart’ which aims to increase awareness within Malta’s business community, about the United Nations’ Agenda 2030.
This United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development includes seventeen sustainable development goals which are further subdivided into a total of 169 target areas.
While this may seem like an overwhelming number of goals and targets for each of us to reach, in reality, many of us are already engaged in initiatives to achieve the aims established by these goals.
On the other hand, there is still more that must be done, to ensure that equity, equality, inclusion, and sustainability are an intrinsic part of our daily lives.
I would like to take this opportunity to commend Deloitte and SOS Malta, for giving visibility to this important commitment, agreed upon, by all leaders of the international community, in September 2015.
I must also commend the support that Deloitte and SOS Malta, are receiving from SKOP, and from the CORE Platform.
I am very pleased that the CORE platform, an entity established under the auspices of my presidency, with the remit of promoting efforts, for corporate social responsibility, in the Maltese Islands, is supporting this important initiative.
I am also very pleased to note that the business community in Malta, through such an initiative is reaching out to engage further, and to create effective synergies, with civil society activists.
Thanks to this united effort, we can ensure a more sustainable future, for the benefit of our nation, our Mediterranean region, and our world.
On the other hand, we must be aware that, we need to be courageous, in taking up the SDGs as an integral part of our operations, because some of these goals may challenge our status quo.
If we truly want a better future for all of us, in particular, for our children, we cannot afford to ignore any of these goals.
We cannot be complacent, in the face of inequalities and of environmental damage.
We cannot ignore the need to secure dignity, for each and every member of our society.
We must ensure the active participation of every one of us.
I would like to refer to some important indicators, from a 2015 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, entitled, “Make it your business: Engaging with the Sustainable Development Goals”.
According to this report, 70% of businesses formulated a five-year strategy, to embed the SDGs within their operations.
Moreover, this same report states, that an overwhelming 90% of citizens, believe that it is important for businesses, to implement the SDGs in their spheres of influence.
In light of this reality, whereby the majority of citizens worldwide, believe that businesses should implement effectively the SDGs, I believe it is important to ensure, that all members of the Maltese business community, respond to the relative implementation of these goals.
However, I must note that it is encouraging, that a large number of Maltese businesses are already engaged in some form of CSR endeavour.
This means that, for many Maltese businesses, there is no need to reinvent the wheel, while we must encourage more Maltese businesses to join, and engage effectively.
I really would like us to promote, and create more awareness, for Maltese Businesses, regarding the effects that their operations have, upon the communities around them. I am sure that in this way, everybody will realise the need for the necessary input.
In actual fact, the SDGs provide an ideal roadmap, to increase awareness and encourage everybody to make a proactive change.
I would like to reiterate that, we need to work in synergy, with the relevant authorities and non-governmental organisations so that we can ensure the effective implementation of these goals, for the benefit of all.
I would like to take this opportunity, to share with you, some examples, of effective synergies, in our country.
I recently hosted representatives from the Coca-Cola Foundation, the Energy and Water Agency of Malta, the Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean, who, together with my Office, have taken up the renovation of the 400-year old historical reservoir at San Anton Palace. If it wasn’t for this partnership, this reservoir, which was not maintained, for over 35 years, would have remained in a state of abandonment, and continued to waste 1.8 million litres of water.
Another first-hand experience, of an effective synergy, which I have recently inaugurated, is a project, funded by the Coca-Cola Foundation, in collaboration with, Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean; the Ministry for Gozo and its Eco-Gozo Directorate; the Energy & Water Agency of Malta; Nature Trust Malta and the Mediterranean Information Office for Environment Culture and Sustainable Development; together with the Helen Keller Resource Centre, whereby they have introduced a grey-water system, so as to recycle thousands of litres of water used in the therapy Jacuzzi, for the young people with disabilities that attend this centre.
These efforts, do not only reflect an investment in Maltese heritage, hence fulfilling SDG 11, and target 4 specifically, but also contribute to water conservation, thereby addressing also SDG 6.
The importance of addressing SDG 6, highlighting water conservation is also being effectively implemented through the initiative which is being conducted by HSBC Bank Malta plc, and a number of state schools, through their ‘Catch the Drop’ water programme.
An example of effective synergy, to address SDG 4, which calls for quality education for all, is being carried out by the Spiro Mizzi Foundation together with the state schools in the Cottonera area.
Furthermore, another effective synergy to address SDG 1, which lays down a clear message to tackle all forms of poverty and precarity, is being implemented by the Alfred Mizzi Foundation, in partnership with Caritas Malta and the Ministry for the Family, and Social Solidarity, to provide shelter for the homeless.
Another example of an effective synergy is the initiative taken up by GreenPak together with the Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation, and the Ministry for Sustainable Development, the Environment and Climate Change, whereby plastic bottle caps are collected and recycled. This initiative is making aware and encouraging children, young people, and adults to recycle but also engage in social solidarity, whilst addressing SDG 12.
I have many more first-hand experiences of effective synergies, to address SDG 1, through The President’s Trust and also the Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation.
On the other hand, my other Foundation for the Well-being of Society, through the collaborative community of learning which we have created at the President’s Secret Garden, is informing children about the importance of the SDGs.
Through my visits to schools and colleges in Malta, I engage in conversation with our young people, by sharing information, and encouraging active citizenship, to make the Sustainable Development Goals, a reality in their own lives, and an intrinsic part of their civic duty.
I would like to take this opportunity, to encourage our business community to show strong leadership, on issues of global concern, by responding, visibly and effectively, in support of the UN’s Agenda 2030.
I believe that we are duty-bound to promote those businesses that take an active interest in addressing social concerns.
I also believe that businesses which place the well-being of the individual, the family, and the community at the centre of their activities are the kind of businesses that are effectively contributing to the long-term, holistic prosperity of our country.
I am convinced that businesses which value the sustainable development of our united family of nations are capable of ensuring growing profits, because, they are endeavouring to sustain peace and well-being, as essential components for prosperity.
I must, once again, encourage, our businesses, to work in synergy with civil society, to respond, to the needs of our communities, in a practical way.
Businesses that take up this approach can choose the goals and target areas, which most closely, align with their interests and abilities.
By implementing effectively Agenda 2030, and its Sustainable Development Goals, we will contribute towards building a culture of positive peace and meaningful well-being, for the benefit of both present and future generations in our islands, our Mediterranean region, and our world.
On concluding, I would like to commend once more, this important initiative, presented to us and launched today by Deloitte and SOS Malta, with the collaboration of SKOP and Core Platform.
On behalf of the Maltese people I would like to thank you, and wish you every success in your endeavours to make the SDGs an integral part of our lives.