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Jun 4, 2024
Academy of Givers

The Academy of Givers held another members meeting, discussing with different industries in Malta how to create positive impact. Find out what was discussed.

Last week, the Academy of Givers held another one of its members' meetings, this time hosting Maltese industries in a roundtable tackling the negative footprint of these sectors and brainstorming new ways for them to turn the negative into positives.

To introduce the topic, we welcomed Keith Abela, Sustainability Officer at ION Harbour by Simon Rogan, a renowned restaurant in Valletta. Keith walked the audience through ION’s sustainability policy, which comprises mushroom farming, staff education focused on sustainability, and the use of locally produced and seasonal food, along with reducing water consumption and collaborating with the local Voluntary Organisation Friends of the Earth for composting their organic waste. The creation of ION's sustainability plan started with Keith’s personal experience of living sustainably, coupled with a constant review of the most recent scientific research related to sustainable production and consumption.

Attendees were then presented with a series of practical examples of the positive impact each industry could have. Improving the quality of the neighborhood to increase property value could be a first action for the real estate industry, along with pushing for better waste systems so the locality is kept tidy and nice. This latter suggestion could also apply to the hospitality industry, coupled with an attempt to make areas safer so that guests have a better experience.

Some recommendations were straightforward, while some more articulated. For the retail sector, it was suggested to focus on local produce to cut costs and the environmental impact of transportation. However, what could also be done is lobbying for the renewal of infrastructures to improve traffic, or for the improvement of public transportation to avoid congestion of roads and pollution.

At first glance, some of these suggestions might appear not feasible, however, it is important to remember that creating positive impact is a gradual process that starts with simple actions and progresses over time, aiming at long-lasting and sustainable improvements.

Based on these ideas, participants were divided into groups to discuss and brainstorm what their sectors could do to create a positive change. Some ideas that came up from the discussion entailed constantly making sure to contrast any greenwashing attempt or, in general, any attempt to just show that things are being done. Instead, focusing on taking action in any possible way is a good starting point. Sustainable sources of energy can be an option for the transport and communication sectors, while startups can still make a change by limiting travel and waste of materials and then scale their interventions up depending on their capacity.

Whichever industry you might come from, it is important to keep in mind that any production of goods and services entails waste production and a negative social or environmental impact. Thus, pinpointing that negative and creating a strategy to compensate for it is the first step toward positive change, followed by a more proactive attempt to constantly create good, and not just compensate for the bad.

Some questions that might help identify the negative impact are the following:

  1. Who are people directly connected to your industry? (ex. Employees, customers, etc) Who are indirectly connected? – Identifying all your stakeholders.
  2. What do you see as negative impact on people, your customers, and the planet?
  3. Who is part of your supply chain?
  4. Do you see any negative practice on these people?
  5. In Malta, have you identified where your industry is creating pressure/demand/issues that already concern the general public?
  6. How about the bigger picture – outside Malta?

To start your journey to create positive impact, some questions to keep in mind are:

  1. What is your main contribution to people or the planet?
  2. What expertise does your industry have? How could you use that to give back?
  3. What aligns with your industry that could help your business / the industry do better?
  4. What strengths and resources do you have that could help improve a situation?
  5. What needs to be done to lessen the negative impact – how can one look at long-term changes that will also benefit the business case?