The Malta Independent 16 December 2019, Monday

Let’s meet the needs of the present, without compromising the future

Monday, 4 November 2019, 08:11 Last update: about 2 months ago

1) What does sustainability in business mean today, and why is it being talked about?

Sustainability is about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. There are three main aspects to this: social, environmental and economic - or, put less formally, it’s about people, planet and profits. Business is key to social and economic development so it’s important that these do not come at the price of environmental degradation and general well-being. Hence we need to act in the present while thinking about the future and business decisions are key to sustainable development.

 

2) Why should businesses care about sustainability?

To meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement and achieve the Sustainable Developments Goals, trillions of euros will need to be mobilised globally. Europe alone has identified an annual financial gap of more than 180 billion euros to finance policies and investments necessary to keep the global temperatures in line with the objectives of the Agreement. And it is more than obvious that for such a gargantuan gap to be closed the private sector must play a key role. Most businesses are at different stages in their transition journey towards low-carbon and sustainable activities. Banks have a role to play in supporting corporates and SMEs on this journey, providing the funding needed to achieve this transformation.

 

3) APS is rooted in the community - why is that and what does it mean to the organisation today?

We are the oldest bank in Malta with an uninterrupted history throughout which the values of our founders remained core to our model. We speak of care and concern for our customers, our community: from new graduates to senior citizens, from young couples to established businesses — they are all our community. To care and be concerned is our ethos but it must also be authentic and contemporary, based on inclusivity. Which means that caring for our community also means caring to ensure that the economic development we are financing is sustainable. That also places on us responsibilities because we need to be concerned about sustainable development not just through CSR projects but especially through our lending policies and risk appetite.

 

4) What made you want to drive this Forum, and what was the idea behind it?

Given that banks finance around two thirds of the European economy, they play a crucial role in the transition to a more sustainable future acting as investors, capital providers and financial intermediaries. That is unlikely to change anytime soon. As a bank we are not only playing an active role in the Maltese retail and commercial market but also have sustainability as one of our core values. So it was natural that we felt a duty to take a leading role in driving this Forum.

 

5) Who should attend and can individuals and businesses make a difference?

Anyone who has the long term preservation of our Mother Earth at heart should attend. This is about our way of life and of those who will come after us. Our children and future generations. Obviously we expect business leaders, people in authority and decision makers to be particularly interested in attending but we hope that there will be good participation by the general public, the consumers. In fact the sponsoring partners are heavily supporting (and subsidising) the event with this in mind. Everyone can make a difference.

 

6) What do you hope to be the legacy of the Forum?

There is a bus stop just outside the University campus main entrance which contains a sign with the famous quote by explorer Robert Swan: ‘The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.’ So sustainability is for all of us. The way we adapt to the standards of a globalised world, the challenges we face in the immediate future and new trends in services, products and technologies, all form an important part of sustainable development. We hope that the breadth and depth of speakers, the power of the agenda and the innovative way in which we plan to deliver its message will be the legacy of the Forum.

 

7) Anything to add?

The Forum, the first of its kind, aims to empower the citizen to make conscious decisions towards a sustainable life. In fact, the overarching theme is the ‘Thinking Citizen’. So this starts with us and the time is now. I urge all those interested in this project to visit the website and sign the Manifesto:

https://maltasustainabilityforum.com

 

Tickets to the APS Talk are €20, including a networking reception. To view the full agenda and register for the Forum or Talk, please visit www.maltasustainabilityforum.com

 

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