Source: Times of Malta
The European Green Deal must serve as a guide for our economic planning
The pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis have underscored the importance of environmental health and resilience as a critical complement to public health. Better air quality, improved water quality, effective waste management and enhanced biodiversity protection will not only reduce the vulnerability to pandemics but will also improve overall societal well-being.
Against this backdrop, it is clear that addressing global issues such as climate change, air and water pollution, biodiversity loss, ocean degradation and inefficient resource use has become even more important as countries seek to rebuild their economies. The global rallying call to ‘build back better’ is a testimony to this sentiment and the European Union has been a trailblazer in this regard.
The European Green Deal announced by the European Commission is the first comprehensive plan to achieve sustainable development in any major world region. As such, it becomes a global benchmark, a ‘how-to’ guide for planning the transformation to a prosperous, socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable economy.
Europe’s Green Deal is a demonstration of successful European social democracy. A mixed economy, combining markets, government regulation, the public sector and civil society will pursue a mixed strategy: public goals, public investments in infrastructure, private investments in industrial transformation, public-private research and development missions and an informed population. It is industrial policy at its most sophisticated. It is also at the heart of the EU’s strategy to drive the economic recovery from the pandemic.
The Green Deal is, in fact, a way to support and relaunch Malta’s economic recovery. Through a well-thought implementation of the EU Green Deal initiatives and the substantial budget allocated to it at an EU and national level, Malta has the potential of kick-starting an economic recovery which is green at its heart and which can transform the island into a new wave of economic growth and development.
This was also echoed by the Malta Competitiveness Report 2020, which was published by the national productivity board earlier last week. Through a very thorough analysis of the economy’s performance over the past few years and by also integrating the impact of COVID-19, the report highlights recommendations that, at their core, are based on digital transformation and the greening of the economy.
A green recovery is a win-win strategy
A green recovery is a win-win strategy for Malta and businesses and, moving forward, the government should step up actions for a green and inclusive recovery: speed up the transition to a low-emissions economy, track progress through pertinent, comparable and timely data and leverage finance to invest in the green recovery.
To be fair, a number of initiatives have been mentioned in policy documents, speeches and the national budget. However, it is pertinent that a holistic approach is taken towards the green economy which needs to encompass access to finance, skills required, research and much more.
This is because the green sector has the potential to unleash innovation, attract foreign investment, kick-start a green start-up hub, open up new financial markets and products while establishing Malta as a regional hub for green tech and green start-ups.
And Malta has the credentials to champion this just as it had done when it pioneered at a global level the common heritage of mankind. Malta can leverage size; regulatory innovation and European funds to truly usher in a new kind of economy, one which is green, sustainable, innovative and efficient. It is also a route to achieve societal well-being and for us to start looking beyond the headline GDP figures.
This reiterates the call made in a recent report Seed and EY launched together with the Commission of Justice and Peace entitled Beyond GDP.
The green economy can indeed usher in a much-needed new type of economic activity in Malta. Yet, for this to materialise we need to translate policy into concrete action and the Green Deal is a good way to structure and steer such action.
We need to support local businesses to tap into funds and to participate in European calls for them to be protagonists in this new economic wave.
If you are involved in the construction, tourism, infrastructure, energy, agricultural, architectural, retail, digital or innovation-based sectors then support in the form of funding, grants and expertise is available for you to embark on this green transition and revolution.
There are over €540 billion available for Europe to make this transition and Maltese businesses should and need to access these funds to embrace this green and digital revolution.
The writing is on the wall. The opportunity is up for grabs and the resources are there.
We have a unique opportunity to start building a new type of economy that is resource-efficient, carbon-neutral, innovative and sustainable.
Green is truly the new black!
JP Fabri, partner, Seed Consultancy