Nicky Gouder & JP Fabri are co-founders of 40 under 40
Throughout the last few years, as Malta experienced record economic growth, we have been asking ourselves about the sustainability of this growth, and what it actually means for people living in Malta.
Whilst economic growth is important, it cannot be seen as the be-all and end-all, and it must also be seen in the context of a long-term vision for the country. Unfortunately, a lot of decisions are being taken with a short-term approach, and in many cases, with a five-year horizon.
As we have had discussions with a number of business leaders in the private sector, we have realised that there is a lot of passion, energy and talent, but also a lot of frustration, because it is not clear in which direction Malta is heading. We believe that the private sector has a lot to offer in terms of building a vision for Malta, and that policy should not be something which is monopolised by governments or policy makers. Therefore, we decided to take a bottom-up approach and have brought together 40 business leaders under the age of 40, to start to carve a long-term vision for Malta. The idea is not to simply have a vision, but to have practical proposals on how we want to achieve that vision in the next 15 to 20 years.
Focus is important, and we have decided to have a vision based on the following 4 pillars: Education, Environment, Well-being and the Economy.
Well-being is one of the main pillars of this project. Whilst there has been a lot of discussion about giving importance to our well-being, in reality very little, if anything, has been done. Well-being has also been shoved aside, and not given any importance. We cannot keep on focussing solely on economic growth without understanding what impact this has on our overall well-being. We cannot ignore the poor statistics of our children when it comes to risks of mental health issues. This project aims to bring awareness in this field, and also propose ways of how to ensure that our well-being is truly prioritised.
The focus of the educational pillar will be to propose new policies to truly improve Malta’s educational system and propel it to one of the best systems world-wide. We don’t want to simply improve the pass rates of students in various academical subjects, but we want them to be able to think independently and without bias. We want to have an educational system which prepares children for life and that they start to understand that their role in life is to improve the lives of everyone within society.
The environment remains a key pillar of sustainable development. Over the past few years, the environment has been relegated in terms of importance and priority. The challenges remain significant especially with respect to waste management; planning; conservation and the availability of open spaces. Pollution from various sources remains high and many are feeling that the environment needs to be given a new sense of life and importance going forward. This pillar will explore methods Malta should adopt to preserve and regenerate the environment.
Malta’s economy has continued to transform itself over the years diversifying its base and attracted new sectors. After growing at a very fast pace over the past few years, Malta will face a challenging and delicate time in the coming months and years. With questions being raised on the sustainability of the economic model, it is time for a national discussion on the future of Malta’s economic model. This pillar will explore different types of economic models; the diversification of Malta’s current and prospective economic sectors; and, the foundational elements that we need to invest in remain attractive and competitive to investment.
Whilst we are very passionate and energetic about this project and the change it can bring, we are not experts on all of the above, and we will be bringing in individuals who are specialised in these areas to add value to our discussion and the assist with our proposals.
We know that this is a very ambitious project, but the energy of everyone involved gives us the confidence we need to achieve our goal. There is nothing more important than developing a vision for our country, other than implementing that same vision.