New Guardian for Future Generations to be announced soon

Environment Minister José Herrera highlights interdependence of economic growth and sustainability as he tells forum delegates that he will soon name a new future generations guardian

Sustainability should not be seen as a hindrance to economic progress, Jose Herrera told forum delegates
Sustainability should not be seen as a hindrance to economic progress, Jose Herrera told forum delegates

A new Guardian for Future Generations, who will occupy the post which was vacated by Maurice Mizzi earlier this year, will be announced in the coming days, José Herrera has said.

The Environment Minister said Mizzi, who stepped down from the position in June following anti-Muslim comments he had made during an interview, had done a good job as future generations guardian, but that his time was up.

Herrera was addressing delegates during Malta’s first sustainability forum organised by APS Bank on Thursday.

The minister underlined that sustainability should not be seen as a hindrance to economic progress, and that the two were in fact interdependent. 

“Transitioning to a low carbon economy does not hinder economic growth but protects against unsustainable expansion and creates new business and employment opportunities... Sustainable development mitigates against boom and bust cycles,” he added.

The government had placed sustainable development as an integral part of its agenda, he said, and had been doing strides forward in this area.

The UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Herrera said, would be challenging to meet, but would also provide countless opportunities for international cooperation, and for the creation of strategies and policies which would bolster environmental conservation.

Essential to reaching the 17 SDGs would be ensuring strong coordination between all stakeholders, including private entities, the government and its departments. To tackle this challenge, Herrera added that the government had established a coordination mechanism underpinned by the Sustainable Development Act, aimed to create a framework for sustainable development and to mainstream this across all sectors.

We are all nature’s guardians

President George Vella said all people in society had the responsibility of acting as nature’s guardians.

Although large corporations’ behaviour created the biggest challenges to sustainability, every individual still had the responsibility to protect the natural world, Vella said.

Referring to the Lockean proviso - which states that while individuals have a right to take land from nature by working on it, they could only do so “at least where there is enough, and as good, left in common for others” - he asked whether we could genuinely say that we were leaving “enough and as good” of our planet for our children.

Pope Francis, Vella said, had been categorical about the seriousness of the challenge climate change is posing to sustainability, calling it a “global climate emergency”.

The President underscored that politicians had the responsibility of putting in place legislative frameworks to counter this threat, but that individuals also had a crucial role to play.

“We all have central roles in making the choices which bring about long-term [positive] change. The ills of our planet do not fall on our individual choices, but we shouldn’t feel nothing can be done by us,” he added.

Banks’ crucial role in transition to sustainable future

APS Bank CEO Marcel Cassar said that banks - which finance about two-thirds of the European economy - play a crucial role in the transition to a sustainable future, because they act as investors, provide capital and allocate credit to the local economy.

He added that APS Bank had taken the lead in organising the forum because it felt that, while governments and policy makers were central to the sustainability discussion, businesses must also play a key role if we are to ensure we do not compromise life for future generations.

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