morning in Qawra, Malta, Hon. Julia Farrugia Portelli addressed members of the SUNx Malta Climate Friendly Travel Think Tank on the Government of Malta’s commitment to establishing itself as a centre for Climate Friendly Travel.
The key takeaway from the meeting was that the eXistential Climate Crisis requires even more urgent action by the entire global Travel & Tourism sector than has been generally recognized to date.
The Government of Malta, in its role as ally and partner, has committed to become a global Centre of Climate Friendly Travel. Malta’s Minister for Tourism and Consumer Protection, Hon. Julia Farrugia Portelli, was on hand to conclude the meeting and discuss the findings of the Think Tank.
The Hon. Minister for Tourism Julia Farrugia Portelli stated that our country is not just acting as a member of the international community in leading a global effort, but is putting on the forefront the Maltese tourism sector in addressing Climate Change by promoting Climate Friendly Travel through reduced emissions with the ultimate objective of carbon neutrality. The Minister added that Malta has a strong tradition of spearheading initiatives of global environmental significance such as the initiative at the 1967 United Nations General Assembly that culminated in the adoption of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and Malta’s action at the United Nations General Assembly in December 1988 that inspired UN’s resolution on the urgent need to conserve climate in the interests of mankind by protecting it against negative man-made changes and recognising climate change as a “common concern” requiring “timely action”.
SUNx Malta has been established through support from the Ministry for Tourism & Consumer Protection, and Malta Tourism Authority (MTA). On Monday 24th February they held the inaugural Climate Friendly Travel Think Tank, which gathered 35 international thought-leaders, with support from Qatar Airways, from across academia, industry, and government to debate the key issues on Climate Change in relation to Travel & Tourism. The goal was to review and update the first Climate Friendly Travel 2050 Ambitions Report which was released on the side-lines of the UN General Assembly in New York in September 2019.
The Think Tank followed the core framework of Climate Friendly Travel: Measured to Manage; Green to Grow; 2050-proof to Innovate. Leslie Vella, Deputy CEO of MTA, and Chairman of SUNx Malta, opened the event with an overview of why Malta has chosen to make itself a centre for Climate Friendly Travel against the backdrop of pushing the existential nature of Climate Change on the UN Agenda starting in 1987.
The key calls to action from the Think Tank were:
Professor Geoffrey Lipman, President SUNx Malta and President of the International Coalition of Tourism Partners (ICTP), said: “We must act now and we must act fast. We’re already seeing with the emerging Malta collaborative framework between Government and the Travel & Tourism Supply Chain, that a pioneering approach can achieve this. It can be replicated around the world, as States seek to fulfill their Paris Agreement Nationally Determined Contributions.”
He added, “We are delighted that Malta has taken a leadership position on tacking the existential threat of Climate Change and creating a support framework for Travel & Tourism which can help companies and communities in the transformation required.”
The Travel Think Tank concluded with a Town-Hall session led by the Minister Portelli, with a discussion of Malta’s commitment to the importance of tackling Climate Change and creating a model of Climate Friendly Travel.