As unprecedented as it was, the economic growth experienced in these last eight years did not restrict us solely to short-termism. Making the country ‘future-proof’ was a topic often mooted but maybe rarely described. This seemingly simple idea entails equipping Maltese society, the economy and the infrastructure around us in its wider sense, with a degree of resilience to be able to withstand the social, environmental and technological developments that are coming our way.
The public health crisis has understandably, dominated the news cycle and the collective attention of the global population. However, it should not take away our attention from a much deeper crisis which is no longer set in the future but which is here with us and which will wreak havoc if left unattended. This crisis is Climate Change and the warming global temperatures which have already resulted in abnormal weather patterns and unpleasant extremities.
The readiness to lay our focus on the future, was unexpectedly presented by the current crisis. The European Union came together in what was also an unprecedented manifestation of solidarity, to generate new funds. These funds are intended to not only enable member states face the current adversity but also to pick up the pace on the green and digital transitions – the toughest antidote we direly need.
To drive this change we have secured the largest ever allocation since the country joined the Union. A Recovery and Resilience Plan was designed last year, ambitious in its green targets, and with the first tranche of the €320 million received before the turn of the year, we are well-positioned to start putting it into practice.
A green economy which we are after, will not come about overnight. However, it will quickly result in changes in transportation, in business operations and industrial machinery and in waste management. It might sound daunting to a small business but it is possible with an ever-present State support. Knowingly or not, we already transformed, as small changes guided us into better waste separation, more recycling and adapted product choice including cleaner vehicles. These changes will continue as both the business community will be supported to transform its ways and means, and the customer will continue to be encouraged with subsidies and support for healthier and safer choices as seen in October’s radical budget.
Some might not be aware but we are living through the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The world changed before our very eyes thanks to rapid technological progress we have grown to depend on. There are digitally automated processes ingrained in our everyday life, robots and Artificial Intelligence products we constantly hold in the palm of our hands. Failing to adapt to such changes as a country will dissipate the potential we harbor to be relevant in this new changing world. We can still be an important tech hub, we can still attract new economic sectors provided by a digital economy and we can make our present systems including in healthcare and government services much simpler, quicker and safer through digital transformation.
“A green economy which we are after, will not come about overnight. However, it will quickly result in changes in transportation, in business operations and industrial machinery and in waste management.”
Significant support is there already. Small and large enterprises alike are not only encouraged but supported by the State to digitalise, develop their digital outlets so that they may venture into the global market, and to reimagine their operations digitally so that they may become even more efficient and competitive.
These transitions are the future and within them lies a beautiful opportunity to become a cleaner, healthier, country which ensures a very high standard of living and high quality employment. They also present undeniable challenges, not least to prepare factions of Maltese society and the workforce for a world of work that is changing.
Training and upskilling are essential in order to ensure that we can keep our own pace of transition without leaving anyone behind. Lifelong education is seeing more investment as it is quickly turning into a basic need.
Instead of sitting on our laurels, the growth experienced has only placed us better to master our own fate as a society and build our own future as destination of quality and a good place to live for everyone.