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Alex Torpiano / 12 Chris Vassallo Cesario / 32 Shirley Cefai / 28 Oriana Abela / 20



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The fact that the world is constantly changing is undeniable, and one of the most obvious ways change occurs is in the climate. Most people have noticed that the weather is less stable and more prone to frequent changes, something we’re not used to in Malta, especially during the hot, arid months.

Some might say we’re fortunate because the beautiful Mediterranean Sea surrounds us, so we have constant access to the beaches and the cool waters. Of course, those living in Malta know it’s not quite as easy as that.

Until recently, people who wanted a moveable summer house were quite happy to park along the seashore for many months of the year, blocking access to the sea for the public. Then the law was enforced, and the public could have their views and access back.

It seems like when laws are enforced, life gets better. Who would’ve thought?!

Of course, there’s the matter of actually getting to the beach—calculating the time for regular traffic, the inevitable accident that will cause further delays, and then a series of Formula 1-style laps looking for parking before you can step onto the beach valiantly try to secure a small sandy patch big enough for your towel and ideally a corridor of space around it to restrict your area from the large group of teenagers to one side, and the extended family to the other.

The traffic situation in Malta has become so tedious, so aggravating, so all the friggin time that it has led people to seek other solutions, and one such answer is – buy a boat! Many

people are spending their money on a boat to get away for the summer because it eliminates the time wasted in traffic and the hassle of the beach; it makes sense, right? But there’s the flip side to that, which is increased pollution in the sea.

We live on an island so densely populated (we currently rank 8th in the world) that we have no more space to breathe, so we’re trying to find alternative spaces and are clogging those too.

This issue deals with environmental issues, climate changes, the urban landscape and the policymakers – issues that affect our daily lives. We will keep talking and writing about them because people must be informed; however, we also need to see plans in action. Just like the rules were enforced against the illegal parking of the caravans, we need to see more rules being enforced when it comes to other issues that are plaguing us – litter in the streets, lack of respect for road signs and traffic rules, and the everincreasing pollution of all sorts – dust, noise, exhaust. You name it.

Malta has reached a state of urban madness that most people are extremely unhappy with, but it seems we’ve resigned ourselves to the sad reality that it won’t change – so let’s buy a boat and escape for the weekend.

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Disaster strikes

The recent series of small earthquakes may have caused concern among locals in Malta. Dayna Camilleri Clarke spoke to Prof. Alex Torpiano to dispel the myths surrounding this hot topic.

Re-imagining Qormi valley

Recently, a group of young architects from AP Valletta submitted their proposal to The New European Bauhaus Prize for the regeneration of Wied id-Sewda in Qormi. Konrad Buhagiar and Erica Giusta write about their proposal.

Building for the common good

Project Green, a seven-year initiative with a budget of €700 million, aims to create a greener and more liveable country for Malta. In an interview with Steve Ellul, Project Green CEO, he discusses with Giselle Borg Olivier what he would like to see from the project and his plans to achieve it.

With a significant increase in population and commercial activity in the past decade, there are concerns about the potential harm to the built environment. Ray De Micoli addresses the issue of balancing the demand for new construction projects in Malta with the responsibility to protect the environment and public safety.

Building a sustainable future

MONEY interviews Oriana Abela, partner and leader for capital markets at Grant Thornton, who explores the fascinating realm of sustainable financing and the pivotal role of green bonds in shaping a brighter tomorrow for future generations.

For over 20 years, Shirley Cefai has lectured on conservation, but it might be more accurate to say that she has “preached”—and not necessarily to the converted. Speaking to Vanessa Macdonald, she delves into the importance of compatible uses for historic buildings, debunking the concept of “facadism”, and more.

Unveiling the vision

Keeping our culture alive From grey to green, can Malta flourish?

Giselle Borg Olivier sat down with Chris Vassallo Cesareo, the new president of The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise, and Industry, to delve into the president’s vision for the future, explore initiatives undertaken by The Malta Chamber.

A planning system gone perverse

Victor Paul Borg argues that the perversion of the planning system has led to haphazard developments and a lack of accountability, despite promises of reform from the government.

12 32 38 22 26 28 16 20 COVER STORY

The architecture of happiness

Shirley Agius Xuereb explores the idea of human-centred, well-designed buildings and their importance in promoting wellness. We often forget how essential aesthetics and design are when making spaces that are good for our mental health.

Sustainability: A new engine for business value creation

Theo Dix explores the growing significance of sustainability as a core component of corporate business strategy and emphasises that sustainability is no longer a mere buzzword or a cosmetic add-on.

Beyond GDP: Why we need new ways to measure economic progress

Gross domestic product (GDP) has long been the traditional measure of a country’s economic progress. Still, it has come under scrutiny for its inability to reflect environmental sustainability, social inequality, and citizen wellbeing. Paul Rostkowski and Daniel Galea explore the limitations of GDP.

2023 is the year of AI

New tools have come and gone, and the way we think of design has, while zigging and zagging, remained consistent over millennia. From the first tools and temples to the cities designed by the Greeks, the Romans, and the Mayans, we have endeavoured to keep a healthy balance between form and function. Camille Felice explains.

What money can buy

Here’s where you’ll get a first look at the latest new-season clothing.

Dayna is a senior speech therapist by day and feature writer by night. When she’s not busy fixing words, she is travelling the world and adding to her fridge magnet collection.


Giselle is a marketing professional, and independent writer and proofreader. She runs Content for Success.


Theo Dix is a senior manager leading EY- Parthenon, the global strategy consulting arm of EY in Malta.


Vanessa had every intention of retiring but so far has been caught up by exciting freelance projects and voluntary work.


Victor is an investigative journalist with more than two million words and hundreds of pictures to his name, in books, magazines, and newspapers in every corner of the world.


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Are we addressing the “elephant in the room” on a local level?

While the recent series of small earthquakes may have caused concern among locals in Malta, it’s imperative to understand that not all earthquakes are linked, and not all small earthquakes lead to bigger ones. With a vast amount of misinformation circulating the islands in the wake of the Turkey and Syrian earthquakes, Dayna Camilleri Clarke spoke to Prof. Alex Torpiano, dean of the Faculty for the Built Environment at the University of Malta and executive president of Din l-Art Ħelwa to dispel the myths surrounding this hot topic.

Photo by Jaanus Jagomägi

We have seen a spike in tremors across the Maltese islands recently; is this cause for concern?

The Mediterranean Sea is geologically active. It is defined by the interaction of the African and Eurasian tectonic plates, which move towards each other while one plate slides under the other. This movement could be temporarily slowed down by regular friction forces, which would cause stresses to build up inside. However, when the restraints are overcome, sudden movements release the lockedin stresses and create vibrations in the rock mass, which we feel as earthquakes.

Earthquakes happen all the time because tectonic plates are always moving. They occur more often in some places (like at the edges of tectonic plates) and much less often in others. Malta is not considered an area where earthquakes happen, so we can discuss low to medium seismicity. Nevertheless, Malta is relatively close to high seismic areas, such as Greece and Sicily, and can therefore be affected by earthquakes in such locations.

Having said this, I do not believe the spike of significant tremors across the Mediterranean region is a specific cause for concern.

Should the public be concerned about structural security in Malta?

Earthquakes can cause ground shaking that results in damage to buildings; they can cause landslides, and they can cause tsunamis. How dangerous these earthquakes depend on their strength, where the epicentre is, and how often they happen. The power of a seismic

event over 100 years is likely more significant than that over 10 years. Structural integrity depends not only on the level of the seismic hazard but also on vulnerability, that is, on the characteristics of the subsoil or of the buildings that make it less or more possible for a seismic event to cause damage. In addition, geological features of the site, like clay-rich subsoils, can worsen ground tremors’ effects.

However, the most significant source of vulnerability is related to the typology of buildings being built and their construction details. For example, masonry buildings that aren’t reinforced are inherently weak because there isn’t much connection between the parts. This vulnerability grows with height, defined as the number of storeys or the height of unsupported walls, and with the removal of internal walls to create open-plan layouts, particularly with open ground floors to create garages or commercial spaces. »

Tectonic plates

These typologies are increasingly popular in Malta and Gozo and are particularly vulnerable. For large open-plan floors and multi-storey developments (including the ubiquitous addition of floors to existing buildings), unreinforced masonry construction is not very appropriate if the vulnerability to seismic action is to be reduced.

What can we do to increase the level of security within our own homes?

It is difficult to answer this question generically. The owner of an apartment almost can’t do anything on his own to make his apartment safer. Low-rise masonry buildings with enough internal walls that are properly connected, preferably in the traditional form of closed cells, are not very vulnerable.

One of the more significant risks with other typologies is the lack of good tying between walls and slabs, and as has been seen recently, when the walls fail, the slabs fall on top of each other like pancakes, crushing everything in between. Seismic retrofitting is possible in the form of enhanced tying of components. Still, it can’t be done to an individual apartment but to the whole block - but more is needed to counter the effect of soft storeys, open plans etc.

Can our buildings and infrastructure withhold stronger tremors? Is it something taken into consideration during design?

Seismic reinforcements

What we take into consideration during design depends, believe it or not, on decisions taken by society. In Malta, there are scarcely any building regulations about anything, let alone the requirements of buildings to resist earthquakes. This is a societal decision, as represented by their political leaders. There is no such obligation, and even if there were, one would have to decide on the level of seismic action that needs to be resisted. This effectively implies deciding on the costs that should be incurred to make buildings aseismic.

When the Delimara Power Station was being built, it was decided that it should withstand an earthquake with a return period of 475 years. This means that it should be able to withstand a level of ground vibration that, according to statistical calculations, could happen once every 475 years. However, some years ago, there was a big controversy about whether Mater Dei Hospital, which had to be aseismically designed, was actually constructed to the quality that could achieve this.

One could ask whether key bridges that support our main transport infrastructures or vital electrical and water supply systems have been designed in this way, or whether critical facilities, such as ambulance deports, civil protection facilities and radio stations have been, that is, all the facilities that one needs to remain functioning in the event of a seismic accident. I hope they are. But there is no regulation yet that demands this.

Are there any procedures in place regarding new structures and towers? Are earthquake-safe buildings and materials possible and realistic in Malta?

The answer to this question continues from the previous one, in that a client could decide that, irrespective of building regulations, the proposed project should be designed aseismically. One cannot say that a building could be designed to resist any earthquake, so the concept of safety must be qualified.

A building could be designed to resist an earthquake of up to a given intensity. Structural engineers can use existing design codes, should

Schematic drawings of various retrofitting techniques

this be required. However, it would certainly help if there could be a generally-accepted level of peak ground acceleration (that is, the intensity of the ground shaking by the envisaged earthquake) that should be adopted should one wish to create an “earthquakeresistant” building. This would obviously directly impinge on the cost of construction. I think high-rise concrete or steel buildings probably have this capability, if nothing else, because of the continuity throughout vertical and horizontal directions, even though without the relative calculations, one would not know.

Nevertheless, I would say that it is certainly not impossible to design buildings in Malta that could resist a level of seismic activity that one could realistically expect to occur; however, the comments made before about the use of unreinforced masonry to achieve more than four to five floors in height, the adoption of soft storeys and open plan layouts, must be kept in mind to reduce the vulnerability of the buildings. I feel that in Malta, there is both a reluctance to legislate and a dangerous degree of complacency, particularly regarding the choice of building typology and the relative building materials.

Have we improved our ability to predict the outcome of future quakes, and is this information available locally? How close are we to being able to predict earthquakes?

I am not a seismologist and cannot answer that question. However, it is still very difficult to predict future earthquakes.

What part of the world is best equipped to handle earthquakes, and how are they prepared?

The technologies developed to resist earthquakes in earthquake-prone countries like Japan and California are impressive. For example, the buildings can be lifted above the foundation on flexible structures, which allow the ground to move without transmitting the movement to the building, or by using giant dampers - something like colossal shock absorbers - that dissipate the energy of the ground vibrations. This requires an economic power rarely found in other parts of the world. It is difficult to predict how AI, or perhaps more importantly, more powerful computing power, such as is currently touted by quantum computing, could impact the whole science of earthquake prediction.

What more can be done on a national level?

Well, rather than talk about “what more can be done”, can we talk about

doing something? As I said earlier, we know how to design buildings aseismically, but regulations are necessary, if nothing else, to determine which buildings ought to be seismic-resistant - hospitals, ambulance depots, civil protection, bridges, high-rise buildings, or buildings accommodating large numbers of people (schools? prisons?). It is then essential to establish guidelines on the intensity of earthquakes that one should reasonably design.

We also need hazard maps, that is, maps that identify the geological or geomorphic contexts that are intrinsically more vulnerable to earth-shaking, for example, where landslides could be triggered, or at the edges of vertical drops, where fissured rock may be dislodged, or where clay-predominant subsoils magnify the effect of tremors. And, of course, one hopes that we also have a good contingency plan that can be triggered in an emergency! As has been seen in Turkey, a quick response can save lives even after a devastating earthquake.

Earthquakes don’t kill people; buildings do. Do you agree with this famous statement?

Most definitely. Buildings with the ability to transmit the horizontal forces generated by the tremor down to the ground, that is, structures which are sufficiently braced, or comprising shear walls, or designed

based on vertical and horizontal frame action (that is, beams and columns connected at their ends, with the ability to resist rotation), and with good tying in a vertical and horizontal direction, have a greater chance of avoiding collapse in the case of earthquakes.

The use of materials with intrinsic flexibility is also more critical than just seeking stronger (and stiffer) materials - consider the example of how bamboo flexes in response to strong winds because of its inherent flexibility, rather than break, and how it then returns to its original position once the horizontal disturbance is over. Steel and timber have this intrinsic ductility; concrete elements can be combined with specific fibre-reinforced polymer fabrics to achieve flexibility. Unfortunately, masonry has limitations in this sense!

There are scarcely any building regulations about anything, let alone the requirements of buildings to resist earthquakes.
The seismic dampening widgets (Base Isolators) under the Utah State Capitol building


Project Green has a budget of €700 million over seven years. What would you like to see come out of this initiative?

A nicer country. We are living in a small island state with all its peculiarities: we have one of the highest urbanisation rates in the European Union and the highest level of population density across the EU, but that doesn’t mean that our ambitions—to have a nice environment where one feels comfortable to live—are different from the ambitions of any other European citizen.

Over the next seven years, what I want for myself, for my children, and for my compatriots is a city—because, by European standards, Malta would be considered a city— that is second to none in terms of open spaces and green areas for people to use and enjoy.

If we think of Tel Aviv, which is very similar to Malta—small with a large population—this kind of activity is commonplace, and they are progressing in creating functional open spaces. We want people to enjoy available open spaces (just like we did during the COVID-19 pandemic when we went outside far more than we do today).

We envisage a country where one is comfortable leaving their car key at home and choosing to get around using alternative mobility, including walking around city centres… just like in many other European cities.

We can do that by having the proper infrastructure in our communities, from public open spaces like parks to green open spaces in our piazzas—the core of our communities.

Is seven years enough to achieve this?

Project Green, a seven-year initiative with a budget of €700 million, aims to create a greener and more liveable country for Malta. In an interview with Steve Ellul, Project Green CEO, he discusses with Giselle Borg Olivier what he would like to see from the project and how he plans to achieve these goals.

I believe it’s important to set ambitious timelines, even if they may seem challenging. As someone from the financial services industry, I value the importance of setting common targets that we can work towards. If we don’t challenge ourselves, we may not achieve our goals.

We have a pipeline of projects and are working towards meeting our deadline; however, this doesn’t mean all projects will be completed within the next seven years. Some projects will require a larger investment commitment and will take longer to complete. It’s not reasonable


to expect all projects to be finished quickly. Additionally, we need to stagger the projects due to the limited space in our small country. However, we are committed to meeting our target and progressing towards a greener future.

You’ve mentioned green open spaces and workable spaces, but we’re seeing a lot of development happening everywhere. How are you working in

sync with developers? How are your goals and their goals going to play nicely together?

I think we need to balance things out in this country. We need to find a balance between economic development and investing in green open spaces. We can’t stop all development, but we should be speeding up investment in green spaces. We need to achieve this balance not just with Project Green but also on a broader economic level.

Project Green will encourage private investment in green infrastructure so that companies or developers who previously only invested in property will have a new area to invest in. We’re opening a new green area of potential collaboration and development for the construction industry.

We’re already creating an important infrastructure project in San Gwann—a green open space of 7,200 square metres. »


We will need developers for their expertise in building roads and tunnels, but our focus is on improving the quality of life for people in the area rather than building more apartments.

We’re trying to find a balance between traditional development and investing in green infrastructure.

Minister for Environment, Energy, and Enterprise Miriam Dalli said Project Green will focus on three pillars: quality, collaboration, and sustainability. How will the entities with which you collaborate be chosen? Will there be due diligence performed on these entities?

There are three important principles that we consider essential to everything we do. These principles are fundamental and apply to all aspects of our work. Let me explain how

budget across various proposals. We will also be having other calls in the coming months, so projects that were not selected in this round could be successful in a future similar call. I’m also confident and interested in maximising EU funds for these projects, and we are committed to ensuring that our application process meets the necessary requirements to access these funds.

The €10 million scheme received quite a lot of backlash, mostly from NGOs, due to its six-week timeline for applications, with the main reason being that NGOs don’t necessarily have the professionals on board to provide the technical requirements requested, nor do they have the funds to pay for these requirements, such as an architect’s valuation. So what do you have to say to that?

We want much less concrete and much more biodiversity.

we implemented these principles through an example. One week after starting “Project Green,” we announced a call for €10 million from local councils, NGOs, and voluntary organisations. We asked them to propose green open space ideas, which we would finance and provide logistical and technical support to make sure they were completed. We ensured that the guidelines for these proposals were based on sustainability and quality to ensure they had measurable green outputs, such as the number of trees planted or the amount of water captured. This approach was well received by those seeking quality projects rather than just funding for old ones. We want much less concrete and much more biodiversity.

Our focus is on biodiversity and sustainable materials, and we encourage projects that promote sustainable mobility. We could have come up with our projects and told the community, “This is the project that we’re going to implement.” However, that’s not the way we wanted to go about it. We want

projects to come from the community, so we asked the public for proposals.

We received 72 proposals in just six weeks, which we are analysing and evaluating. Despite the short timeframe, we believe that we have covered 2-3 years of project pipelines. Some people told me that the timeline was too short, but my modus operandi is that we should hit the ground running, and I want these projects to be delivered now. We believe that cooperation and community involvement are critical to the success of these projects, and we are committed to delivering them as soon as possible.

When will the results of the 72 applications be available? And how many are going to be selected?

The application process results will be communicated to the successful applicants by the end of May. We have a budget of €10 million, and since not every project will carry the same weight in terms of financial expenditure, we will try to maximise that

Project Green has offered a lot of technical support throughout the application process to ensure that the application is strong. We offered all NGOs a three-hour information session where we explained the application process and what is expected from them, and it was a very well-attended event. Following that session, we met with many interested applicants to offer further guidance about the proposals.

I wasn’t expecting to receive that many applications; most of them came from local councils and NGOs across both Gozo and Malta. We even received applications from voluntary organisations such as band clubs and sports facilities. I appreciate the fact that many likeminded NGOs and entities have the willingness to deliver and to deliver fast. I believe this sector has a lot of enthusiasm, and we are fuelling it by providing the necessary technical and financial support. However, I am not one to lie idle and let things fall by the wayside.

Will the winning applicants run their


proposed project alone, or will it be done in collaboration with your team?

It will be done in collaboration with Project Green as well as the private sector, and we will work hand in hand with the project applicants, particularly in the implementation phase of these projects.

Project Green has absorbed Parks Malta. How much of the budget will be allocated towards maintaining existing parks, and how much is going towards creating new spaces?

Maintenance is a crucial aspect that we take very seriously. In every project we work on, we ensure that there is a maintenance plan in place for a minimum of 10 years. We allocate a significant portion of funds, ranging from 10 to 25% of the project cost, for this purpose. We believe it’s important to maintain these projects once they’re completed, as we have invested a lot of money to implement them. However, maintenance is often overlooked, not just in Malta but in the southern Mediterranean region as a whole. I intend to change this mindset. We will invest in existing projects that didn’t have a maintenance plan before. For example, we recently extended the San Klement Park in Zabbar, a beautiful picnic area of 2,300 sqm, and we ensured that the park had a maintenance plan in place. We involved the local community in this project, which was initiated by the local band club, which approached us with the idea of planting 140

trees, one for each year that they have existed. This project has benefitted around 11,000 Fgura, Zabbar, and Bormla residents within a 10-minute walk from the park.

The San Gwann project will create an underground underpass for diverting traffic, while a garden will be at street level. Infrastructure Malta is responsible for roads and traffic, while Project Green is responsible for this project. Will the entities be collaborating, and who makes the final call?

To successfully execute projects like these, a comprehensive collaboration structure is necessary. Therefore, we involve various entities such as the Planning Authority, Transport Malta, Infrastructure Malta, the Water Services Corporation, Enemalta, and the heritage regulator. We also collaborate with the local councils, providing them with financial and technical support to execute their projects. We engage with the communities of the towns and villages to gather feedback and suggestions, as they are crucial to the project’s success.

Project Green makes the main decisions for these projects, taking bold decisions to change how the country looks. Similar to how Mandragg was transformed by Dom Mintoff and the airport extended by Eddie Fenech Adami, bold choices are necessary for real action to happen.

We are starting a placemaking exercise, using San Gwann as a blueprint. We consult with the public, visit the project site, and factor in the needs of different groups, such as older people and parents with children at the nearby school. It is an initiative that I believe is innovative and important to achieve the desired results.

This collaboration initiative is critical to our commitment to delivering high-quality, sustainable projects. As I mentioned, we are allocating substantial funds towards maintaining each project for at least ten years to ensure they remain in good condition while investing money into existing projects, like the San Klement Park extension in Zabbar.

On the topic of the maintenance and upkeep of the projects... Will Project Green be around for seven years, or will it continue?

Although I can’t predict the future, it’s essential for Project Green to continue maintaining these projects. We don’t just create projects and leave them be. Green infrastructure is dynamic and will change to reflect the community’s needs over time. For example, seven years ago, we wouldn’t have thought to include “smart” benches in parks, but now they are a requirement. Seventeen years ago, we may not have considered providing WiFi, but now it’s necessary. So, in seven years, we must revisit the projects to ensure they meet the community’s needs. There isn’t a set timeline for this, but ensuring that the projects are delivered effectively is essential.

There is talk that you are going out for the MEP elections. How is that going to affect your role as CEO of Project Green?

It is humbling to hear that people see me as a potential political figure who could positively change their lives. While I appreciate their confidence in me, it is ultimately speculative and subjective. I cannot predict what the future holds for me regarding my political aspirations. At this moment, I am fully committed to leading this agency and delivering high-quality projects that will enhance the quality of life for people through green open spaces. As a parent, I want to create a better environment for my children and future generations so they can take pride in their country just as I do.



Exploring the Power of Green Bonds and Incentives for REITs


Grant Thornton Malta, the country’s sole accredited reviewer of green bonds, provides invaluable insights into how these investments empower individuals with choices while making significant contributions to sustainability. We delve into the benefits, risks, and critical significance of transparency and incentive packages in fostering sustainable financing. They stand at the forefront of this ever-evolving market, ensuring its integrity and sustainability.

Can you explain how green bonds offer investors a choice and contribute to building a better world for the next generation? What are the key benefits and potential risks of investing in green bonds? Green bonds allow investors to support environmentally friendly projects and initiatives while generating financial returns. Investing in green bonds can build a better world for the next generation by financing projects promoting sustainability, such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean transportation, and sustainable infrastructure.

The key benefits of investing in green bonds include the potential for diversification, as they offer exposure to a unique asset class. They also align with the growing demand for sustainable investments, which can enhance an investor’s reputation and attract environmentally conscious investors. Additionally, green bonds can provide stable long-term returns and help mitigate climaterelated risks.

However, knowing the potential risks of investing in green bonds is essential. These risks can include project-specific risks, such as construction delays or regulatory changes, and general market risks, like

changes in investor sentiment towards green investments. Therefore, through thorough due diligence, including assessing the Issuer’s credibility, project viability, assessing the underlying projects financed through the use of proceeds, investors should be able to make informed investment decisions.

As Grant Thornton Malta is the only accredited reviewer of green bonds in the country, what specific responsibilities and challenges does your organisation face to ensure governance and transparency in the green bond market?

As the only accredited reviewer of green bonds in Malta, we face several specific responsibilities and challenges in ensuring governance and transparency in the green bond market. Some of these responsibilities include:

1. Conducting rigorous and independent assessments of green bond frameworks and verifying the alignment of the bond proceeds with the MSE bye-law, taxonomy regulation, and ICMA guidelines.

2. Ensuring transparency by evaluating the accuracy and completeness of green bond documentation, including the use of proceeds and impact reporting.

3. Collaborating with relevant stakeholders, such as issuers, investors, regulators, and industry bodies, to promote best practices and enhance the overall integrity of the green bond market.

The challenges we face in fulfilling these responsibilities include:

• Keeping abreast of the evolving industry standards and frameworks

• Designing project evaluation processes to

complement international best practices and standards together with the local regulatory landscape

• Addressing potential conflicts of interest

• Ensuring that the issuer has adequate corporate governance and has instilled the necessary disciplines to maintain the green bond in the future

Furthermore, all our work and procedures are undertaken while maintaining a high level of independence and objectivity in our assessments, as, ultimately, various investors will be relying on our reports as accredited reviewers.

Could you elaborate on the data requirements for the continuing obligations of green bonds?

The continuing obligations of green bonds include ongoing reporting, typically on an annual basis, and disclosure requirements to ensure transparency and accountability. These obligations involve collecting and verifying data related to the environmental impact, use of proceeds, and progress of the underlying green projects.

It is to be noted that all companies with listed securities (except micro) will be required to comply with sustainability regulations due to the new CSRD, irrespective of whether their securities are categorised as “green” or fall under the scope of traditional listings.

As a member of the MIA and MFSAC committee, how are you actively lobbying for better incentive packages for green bonds? What measures or changes are necessary to encourage more significant investment in green projects through green bonds?

interviews Oriana Abela, partner and leader for capital markets at Grant Thornton, who explores the fascinating realm of sustainable financing and the pivotal role of green bonds in shaping a brighter tomorrow for future generations.

As a member of the MIA and MFSAC sustainability committee, we actively contribute to lobbying for better and more relevant regulations for the Maltese landscape around sustainability, which directly or indirectly apply to the green bond market.

Grant Thornton advocates issuing an incentive package for REITs (real estate investment trusts). Could you explain the significance of such an incentive package for the property bond market and how it aligns with the broader goals of sustainable financing?

The current MSE bye-laws require REITs to comply with more onerous obligations than those relating to standard listings without presenting any new incentive to comply with said increased requirements. The issuance of an incentive package for REITs would hold significance for the property market as well as investors and align with the broader goals of sustainable financing:

1. Increased access to capital: An incentive package for REITs can attract more

investors to the property market, providing REITs with increased access to capital. This can fuel the growth of sustainable real estate projects, such as energy-efficient buildings, green infrastructure, and affordable housing.

2. Diversification of sustainable investments: REITs allow investors to participate in real estate markets while focusing on sustainability objectives. By investing in REITs, individuals and institutions can diversify their sustainable investment portfolios beyond traditional products, contributing to the overall goals of sustainable financing. REITs also offer smaller investors the opportunity to participate in the real estate market without requiring a high level of initial capital to purchase a property outright; this removes some inequalities that might exist in the real estate market.

3. Alignment with environmental objectives: The incentive package can incentivise REITs to incorporate environmental considerations into their investment decisions and operations. This alignment

with environmental goals promotes sustainable development by encouraging energy-efficient building practices, renewable energy adoption, and reduced carbon emissions in the real estate sector.

Considering the need for better incentive packages, what additional lobbying efforts or collaborative initiatives are required to foster a more favourable environment for green bonds and REITs in Malta? What are the key stakeholders involved in these efforts?

Several additional lobbying efforts and collaborative initiatives are essential to foster a more favourable environment for green bonds and REITs in Malta. Key stakeholders involved in these efforts include:

1. Government and regulatory authorities: Engaging with the government and regulatory authorities is crucial to advocating for favourable regulations, tax incentives, and policies that support the issuance and investment in green bonds and REITs. Collaboration with these stakeholders can help create an enabling environment for sustainable financing.

2. Issuers and investors: Working closely with them is essential to understanding their needs, addressing concerns, and developing solutions that incentivise the issuance and investment in green bonds and REITs. This collaboration can involve knowledge sharing, capacity building, and joint initiatives to drive market growth and innovation.

3. Financial institutions and industry associations: Collaborating with financial institutions, such as banks, investment firms, and industry associations, is vital to promote sustainable financing practices. These stakeholders play a significant role in shaping market norms and practices, and their support can enhance the credibility and acceptance of green bonds and REITs.

4. NGOs and sustainability-focused groups: Collaborating with NGOs and sustainability-focused groups can help raise awareness, drive education, and advocate for sustainable financing practices. These stakeholders can provide expertise, contribute to industry guidelines, and promote best practices that ensure the integrity and impact of green bonds and REITs.

Green bonds: aligning investments with sustainability goals.


The New European Bauhaus Prize is a competition that encourages architects and designers to accomplish projects that are both sustainable and new. Recently, a group of young architects from AP Valletta (including Elena Bajada, Sergio Sammut, and Polyanna Galvao) submitted their proposal for the regeneration of Wied id-Sewda in Qormi. The project shows how urban regeneration transforms neglected areas into thriving, sustainable communities. Konrad Buhagiar and Erica Giusta write about their proposal.


Denmark and the Netherlands have historically led the way among European nations sensitive to the struggle between natural forces and artificial shifts in the landscape. Man’s efforts to discipline, contain, and exploit nature’s unbounded strength and to convert it into benevolent energy are nowhere more visible than in the alternation of ditch and dyke, bridge and canal, water and greenery that characterise the architecture and landscape of the lowlying lands of Northern Europe.

Sustainable urbanism is still studied the most in places where flooding and sea surges are expected. This is because these places need a complete analysis of the site and a toolkit of urban strategies to protect against these environmental hazards. In July 2011, for example, Copenhagen was hit by an extreme 1000-year storm event, or “Cloudburst,” in less than two hours, where 150mm of rain left large areas of the city under up to one metre of

water; this led to the establishment of the Copenhagen Cloudburst Formula. This strategy uses approaches from different fields and creates a shared vision that brings together engineers, hydraulic experts, GIS and information technologists, architects, planners, biologists, economists, communication experts, and landscape architects with local people, investors, and politicians.

Cloudburst solutions termed “blue-green infrastructure,” represent the next generation of water infrastructure and landscaping projects where nature, city, and recreational space are rolled into an integrated package. Following the organisation of participatory workshops that encourage citizens to actively shape their municipality’s Cloudburst strategy, these solutions are now embedded in local plans, promoting the synergy between projects, cities, water utilities, and philanthropists who act as catalysts for economic and social development. »

Sewda Valley Regeneration Masterplan

Malta has much to learn from these experiments on the moulding of the landscape to yield the best possible fruits in terms of economic growth, preservation and production of heritage, and community wellbeing. With this in mind, AP Valletta has recently taken up the challenge of carrying out a study on “Wied is-Sewda,” the valley that, over a millennium ago, was the seed and lifeline of a community that settled on its slopes to become, until recently, one of the most prosperous urban centres of the island.

In the modern period, as late as the 1940s, the area was renowned for its crafts and local productions: farming and stock breeding increased, and flour milling and bakeries

discouraged positive interventions, and turned the location into the neglected and abused backyard of the once splendid baroque village.

AP Valletta’s regeneration proposal aims to bring back the intrinsic positive characteristics of the area, allowing its secular cultural heritage to be experienced once again by visitors and the community alike. The interventions envisaged are a specific type of urban agriculture whose main feature is re-greening the area by rewilding the central canal and bringing back the historical water structure of Qormi that allows for the natural flow and absorption of rainwater.

became staple industries. Since then, however, years of neglect and abandonment have caused the village of Qormi to lose the connection between its community, history, and topography.

Today’s Wied is-Sewda, along with the town itself, is mainly an industrial and residential area renowned as one of the most flood-prone locations across the Maltese archipelago. Years of random and erroneous asphalting projects, proposed as short-term solutions to flooding, the uncontrolled urbanisation around the canal crossing the valley, together with the added onset of climate change, have irrevocably diminished the qualities of the area,

This solution caters to climate adaptation. According to the Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment for the Malta River Basin District, published in 2019, the effects of flooding are expected to get worse soon because of rising temperatures caused by global warming. Restoring riparian habitat will also warm the valley and improve the air quality in the town and the area around it.

In response, the plan calls for two underground water channels between Triq is-Sewda and Triq Il-Wied and to rebuild three bridges in Triq Il-Wied. This will improve the water flow in the channel and help prevent disasters. Moreover, it does not rely on traditional drainage solutions

Sectional view of the regenerated valley

that, as research has shown, are inadequate in extreme events but, instead, is designed to be adaptive and seasonal, allowing for the flooding of the area and storing and harvesting the rainwater rather than allowing it to flow into the sea.

Besides creating this flood-able landscape, the project also includes:

• The creation of a productive green corridor crossing the whole valley.

• Connecting the historic centre of Qormi to Valletta.

• Providing public space and new areas dedicated to urban agriculture and education activities.

Furthermore, the pedestrianisation of part of the valley, the insertion of bicycle lanes, and new playground areas will improve walkability and connectivity. At the same time, the focus on biodiversity and greening with the introduction of flowering trees and other shrubs that attract bees and wildlife will delight the traditional Mediterranean garden. Finally, converting sealed concrete surfaces to bluegreen garden areas will create a natural and beautiful social, cultural, and economic point of reference for the community, reconnecting it to its intangible yet strong cultural and natural heritage.

The people of Qormi will use this new, lush community garden as a place to share knowledge across generations and create new social and economic models. Hopefully, it will unite the community and be an active force behind change. Besides benefiting from the new public and green space and improving its sense of belonging and attachment

to its historical and cultural heritage, the community will also contribute to the harvesting and exchange of local produce available in a new local market designed to be a space for communal gatherings. Furthermore, educational projects and seasonal sports activities linked to the new public spaces and gardens, together with the latest market promoting the production and circulation of local produce and talents, will all contribute to the circularity of the local economy.

The regeneration proposal for the Wied is-Sewda Valley addresses some of the most nefarious consequences caused by the climate crisis our world is facing. Malta’s water crisis is imminent and needs to be tackled urgently. Providing an adaptive landscape that allows flood ability in the central valley area will facilitate harvesting rainwater, fight land degradation and soil erosion, and promote the regeneration of the valley’s species and biodiversity.

Qormi’s community and its schools make compost school students grow seeds into saplings compost applied for faster growth of trees and plants saplings are planted once roots are deep enough
2030 2025 2023
Tas-Sewda Valley is (re)activated as a green lung through community engagement (re)use of organic material and waste from surrounding agricultural industries educating the community and promoting local produce and resources Project timeline: community engagement


During the last decade, the island has witnessed an unprecedented population rise and commercial activity. While churning out projects targeted to meet the demand, there is a general feeling that some projects might harm the built environment.

Some worksite accidents added fuel to the fire, causing a dire need to take a good look at the whole industry and bring all the players to the table to put stricter controls and regulatory enforcement procedures in place.

These measures have just been announced; however, as we question everything, this

may be the right time to implement a longerterm vision. One that would take Malta to practices and protocols more in keeping with striking a balance between feasibility and the common good.


Our architectural training taught us that although the client pays architects, they are responsible for acting dutifully and caring for the common good.

This means there must be respect to minimise disturbance and the impact of construction and compensate for the inevitable intrusion

by increasing the benefits and goodwill of the neighbours through the community.

Unfortunately, this has changed. These noble principles have fallen by the wayside. Instead, the notion emerged that architects are perceived as lawyers who act in defence of their clients.

The “perit” derives from the Italian word expert. The best service an architect can give is to challenge the brief and find solutions that go beyond the client’s expectations while safeguarding the environment and public interest.

With a significant increase in population and commercial activity in the past decade, there are concerns about the potential harm to the built environment. Ray De Micoli addresses the issue of balancing the demand for new construction projects in Malta with the responsibility to protect the environment and public safety.

Architects have the power to influence the built environment, and that creative force should help to make the neighbourhood a better place.

The time is indeed ripe to define the long-term aspirations of this country by rewarding and promoting good design at every opportunity. Buildings need to look good not only from the inside out but also from the outside in and to be sensitive to their context and location.

Rentable floor space vs intrinsic value

I am presenting two projects I am very proud to have designed with my team; Tipico Building at Portomaso and Spinola Park in St Julian’s.

Tipico Building

The project started as an idea of Ray Fenech, chairman at Tumas Group, to create a structure instead of the existing coffee shop at Portomaso. The challenge was to skewer through 5 floors of an existing building for the columns to reach bedrock foundations. It was indeed a formidable task.

We immediately felt that the presence of the existing Portomaso Tower should provide the spine for this new building. As the Tipico building rose, it needed to be set back, leaving grand terraces as outdoor spaces. In addition, the structure’s appearance introduced a hightech feel to the exterior and its use as an office building.

In the preliminary sketches, we explored various options for the sizing of the grid. Through the design journey, we realised that a

diagrid would be most suitable. To justify the expense of the diagrid, we used the pipework to drain the maintenance balconies and collect the rainwater.

The total internal office floor space is approximately 5,000 square metres. If the building was not terraced, there could have been additional floor space; however, we felt it would have spoilt the profile of the building. The project has been acknowledged internationally in several fora and publications and achieved several awards.

Spinola Park

The initial brief from our client was to design a mixed-use development with a large underground car park and offices on the upper floors. However, a planning control application changed the zoning from residential to commercial and parking.

The site was covered with various shrubs and trees. However, we decided to retain the look and feel of the green. This was successfully done through the introduction of numerous deep fibreglass planters. The pallet of colours selected for the façade are in earthly and natural tones in shades of green, brown, and grey. The old carob tree on the façade was preserved in its original place and inspired the food court’s name within the building.

In some sense, the project grew organically after listening to the various stakeholders in the community. We immediately became aware that this project was an opportunity, whilst creating several measures for the ‘common

good’. New links were introduced through two public lifts from the back street in the village core and two public lifts to the Parish Church.

The people who lived in the village core could now take a shortcut through the project, and likewise, church patrons could also use the car park for church services.

The site is located on the periphery of the town centre but at the same time close enough to walk to. In addition, parking facilities are provided for the public to alleviate unnecessary vehicular traffic in the village square and core.

To respect the profile of the existing Parish Church, the building was purposely terraced back. The large terraces are deep enough for employees of the offices to have meetings outside and short breaks without having to exit the building.

Spinola Park is also designed to have natural ventilation from the back street in the village core, through the building and the car park, and out on the main road.

There are also several positive environmental features to this project. The water generated by the A/C condensate is collected and used to irrigate the vegetation. The terraces also have a raised floor system and a network of ducts to collect rainwater and store it in 2 large reservoirs in the car park.

The air-conditioning and fresh air system is designed with a heat recovery unit, improving energy efficiency. The building envelope is also well insulated with doubleglazing apertures and structural openings covered in foam insulation to improve the climate control factor.

This project has been hailed for the sensitivity of the building profile, respecting its location, the Parish Church, and the Wied Ghomor Valley.

Terracing and receding the building on the upper floors resulted in the loss of 1,500 square metres of rentable floor space. Notwithstanding this architectural feature, the reduced internal space would be offset by the enjoyment of the terraces, which in turn increased the intrinsic value and beauty of the building.



For over 20 years, Shirley Cefai has lectured on conservation, but it might be more accurate to say that she has “preached”— and not necessarily to the converted. Speaking to Vanessa Macdonald, she delves into the importance of compatible uses for historic buildings, debunking the concept of “facadism” and emphasising the significance of visual aesthetics.


She recalls that in the beginning, she frequently had to justify the significance of the idea: “Conservation is all about deciding how to intervene: should I replace the stone? What is the impact of the replacement on the aesthetics of the building? What if the problem is structural? How can I intervene without impinging on the historical and social value of the building?”

“One of my favourite anecdotes is about a student in the 1990s who asked what would happen if we demolished Hagar Qim and Mnajdra and replaced them with a holiday complex.” The student asked whether this would not generate more money. It is not an irrelevant or frivolous question.

“But I don’t get that question anymore; now, students argue that the temples are part of our cultural identity. So, there is a lot more awareness.”

Over the past three decades, she has seen a massive step forward: “We are proud of what we are doing—but having said that, there are still a lot of problems.”

She gave as an example the former Roxy Cinema in Birkirkara, which has been gutted. She said the idea of “facadism,” which means keeping only the front of a historic building, has been largely debunked. Overseas, this is now seen as an old way of doing things and a bad one.

This means keeping a building’s original layout and finding ways to use it that work with it, rather than trying to fit a new use, like one that needs a lot of open space, into an old building with many small rooms. “It is not enough to ‘save’ the streetscape,” she said, shaking her head, adding that the large cinema space could have been used as a design feature.

“You would be amazed at what our students come up with when we ask them to find compatible uses.” She has a lot of hope for the future. “I used to be the lone voice in the wilderness, but now if one person protests, they will be surrounded by another hundred.”

Her comment asks: When does a building become culturally relevant? Of course, some sites have been around for a long time, but what about gunposts and art deco houses?

“We used to go according to the maxim that anything more than 50 years old was historical, which made it easy, but you cannot use that anymore.” “The pace of life is so fast.” “Austrian art historian Alois Riegl wrote over 100 years ago that history is a chain of events in the development of something coming to us today,” she said, clearly a saying she still abides by.

Cefai referred to British-era buildings, saying that these were all too often underrated, even though they were built with things like passive ventilation, which helped to cool them naturally. “We do not need to reinvent ways to do this.” “We can already see it in the historic buildings!”

Gunposts, for example, were part of the development of the island’s defence system. And, while the British buildings around

the fortifications may conceal some of the bastions, they are also evidence of the harbour’s use, from galley shelter to more industrial use, she explained.

The reference to the British buildings hiding part of the fortifications should not be taken out of context. For example, if you consider the Ggantija temples, it is not just the building but the whole atmosphere around it that has to be preserved. »


“The visual is very important,” she stressed. However, regarding what is being built now, “the minute we start to talk about historical and aesthetic value, we must start talking about conservation and restoration,” Cefai said.

“An art deco house could indicate how architecture developed on the island. It could be about craftsmanship. It could be about the materials used. It is not just one element but something that can be shown to future generations to demonstrate a particular stage in our development.”

Cefai may appreciate how far things have come, but that does not mean she is content. On the contrary, she believes there is a long

way to go. “There is always someone wishing to make money out of heritage.” So you either “use it or lose it.” The age value is usually quite obvious, but if something is being used and it grows naturally, then that is much better than being left derelict. “At the university, we start by figuring out the values, and then I teach my students how to figure out the traits. This needs to stay the same when they step in.”

Recognising what deserves conservation is the first step; the next is determining how conservation should occur. When it comes to paintings and antiques, the idea of conservation makes sense, but it needs to be more robust when it comes to buildings. Unfortunately, Cefai lamented, there need to be more people who understand how to treat stone, for example, saying that she often comes across


well-meaning people who insist that you can mix cement into mortar without causing damage to the stone.

“It is better to leave out the cement and redo the mortar every few years because that way, you retain the stone. However, our stone is very porous, so we must be careful about what materials we use. And we must be ready to seek advice when we come across something that we are not familiar with. My generation of architects, who had hardly any exposure to conservation, needs to listen more to the younger ones, who know more. The day will come when the younger generation’s ideas become how things are done.”

And it is not only stone that forms an integral part of a building;

consider, for example, the impact of replacing a wooden balcony with an aluminium one, which is quicker and cheaper. So apart from awareness, the issue is resources: are enough people trained in these labour-intensive crafts? Are owners willing to pay more to get things done correctly?

What about the large houses of the past, which few people could afford to run, let alone maintain? She acknowledged that there are funds to restore facades, but it is a lengthy process, and you must find the right builders. Although more and more buildings are given a level of protection through scheduling by the Planning Authority, she thinks the most important thing is a culture change.

“We need to have many more people who appreciate the amount of damage being done... For example, with large buildings, we seem to think it is acceptable to keep the house itself but then build in the garden. However, the garden is part of the house and its context. So, as a result, the footprint refers to more than just the built component.

Cefai is on the council at Din l-Art Helwa, where her role is increasing to oversee interventions on heritage buildings and to ensure that they are doing well.

“It is impossible for the government to handle all the sites.” This is because so many structures need to be looked after, but there are not enough government resources. Therefore NGOs like Din l-Art Helwa are so important. “They complement what the government does... and with passion!”

Dr Shirley Cefai graduated as an architect and civil engineer and eventually studied conservation as an undergraduate at the University of Venice before going to York for a PhD. She currently lectures on conservation at the University of Malta.



Giselle Borg Olivier sat down with Chris Vassallo Cesareo, the new president of The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise, and Industry, to delve into the president’s vision for the future, explore initiatives undertaken by The Malta Chamber, and understand how it collaborates with stakeholders, both within and outside the business sector, to address challenges and capitalise on opportunities.


From the moment you enter the building that houses The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise, and Industry, there is a feeling of awe and grandeur, with the Lewis Farrugia Courtyard providing light to what would otherwise be a rather austere setting.

My interview with the new President of The Malta Chamber, Chris Vassallo Cesareo, takes place in the Council Room, an imposing room that has undoubtedly been the setting for many important decisions regarding policy and business in Malta, seeing that The Malta Chamber is “the independent voice of the private sector in Malta”.

At the outset of our interview, I made a slightly unfortunate error by referring to Chris’ recent appointment as Chairman instead of President (a mistake I quickly rectified). I attribute this slip of the tongue to my past interactions with Chris, where he had donned the hat of Chairperson for JA Malta, a role that he is clearly both proud of and fond of, as became evident during this interview.

It is obvious that Chris is the type of person who enjoys being involved in places where change can happen and where he can be a driver of change, so I was interested to know what motivated him to become involved in the Chamber of Commerce and how he rose to the position of president.

“Throughout my academic life, I was always involved in student and youth organisations, such as AIESEC, Junior Chamber International (JCI), and Junior Achievement (JA), which led to The Malta Chamber. I always felt that it was my way of having a voice, doing something, and giving back. Throughout my career, I have been exposed to different situations and have had many opportunities, so I want future generations to be able to bounce their ideas off somebody who has experienced the role.”

“Because I am running a second-generation business and fit nicely within the ‘small business sector’ at The Malta Chamber, this was the perfect chance for me to have a voice. That is my motivating factor; however, I encourage the youth and the new generations to take up these opportunities that are available to them. These organisations are doing great things for our country, and the results are being shown.”

Chris explained that he became a member of The Malta Chamber about 12 years ago, getting a position on the Council after two years. Throughout these past ten years, he has “worked the ranks”, having been entrusted to be involved in various tasks and join different committees.

“Obviously, one close to my heart was JA Malta (previously JA Young Enterprise). One Malta Chamber president wanted to explore how we could increase membership for The Malta Chamber, so I pushed for an MOU to be signed between The Malta Chamber and JA Malta. Following that, I was The Malta Chamber representative at any event organised by JA Malta, helping to grow the relationship between the two entities. There we see great potential and opportunity on various fronts; JA nurtures future entrepreneurs who need the mentorship The Malta Chamber members can provide.”

The Malta Chamber represents the full spectrum of the business community, and its members are structured into three economic groups: manufacturing and related industries; importers, distributors, and retailers; and the service sector.

“Together, these groups can benefit youth organisations that require mentoring because there is a wide range of areas to tap into,” explained Chris.

Following the signing of this MOU, The Malta Chamber realised it needed to be proactive in recruiting a younger membership demographic, so in 2019, the Young Chamber Network (YCN) was launched. The purpose of YCN is to give a voice to the youth in business, from entrepreneurs on their start-up journey to those in established businesses who require coaching and mentoring. YCN has organised several events over the years, both within and outside The Malta Chamber, to account for about 40% of The Malta Chamber’s members under 40.

“The whole transformation of our membership base and the idea of ‘giving back’ as The Malta Chamber has matured us because we can now understand what a start-up and thirdgeneration business want. Our collaboration with The Malta Chamber has changed, and our outreach goes even further with the PPPs (Public-Private Partnerships), such as, TradeMalta, and MBB (Malta Business Bureau), where we are represented on their boards.”

An interesting fact was brought up in conversation. The Malta Chamber is the only entity in Malta with its constitution enshrined in the Malta Civil Code, meaning that according to law, a Chamber of Commerce must always be established. “And we’re one of the few that is voluntary, making it even more powerful,” stated Chris.

So as someone who volunteers their time to give back to the business community, what does he think are the biggest challenges facing local businesses, and how is The Malta Chamber working to address these issues?

“We have five pillars, which we use as our guidelines, that reflect the current aches and pains of the business community, one of which is human resources. We’re working on a policy document on how to tackle and solve this issue that our members are facing by also working closely with Identity Malta and the Ministry of Finance. Furthermore, over the last couple of years, we have been working with MCAST to understand and improve the courses offered, especially those related to the trade industry.”

The Malta Chamber, being part of the MCAST board, collaborated to understand the course curriculum and outcomes for students over four years. They discovered discrepancies between theoretical instruction and industry needs. It became clear that there was a need to align the academic sector with the industry to help graduates gain practical experience and find careers in their chosen fields.

Chris took this collaboration further by addressing the issue of lecturers who struggle to keep up with industry advancements due to limited resources in educational institutions. To tackle this, The Malta Chamber proposed a pilot project. They suggested conducting practical topics that require machinery in a live environment like a factory. This way, students could gain hands-on experience and learn from industry professionals. The success of this project led to its expansion into mechanical and electrical courses. The goal is to extend this methodology to other sectors, such as maritime and aviation, in the future.

“It’s important to mention these initiatives »


because some people think nothing happens, but a lot is happening. We even had to convince the parents that this was a good idea because they were concerned about their child’s wellbeing and safety by educating them about the industry’s operations and safety parameters nowadays.”

Clearly, work is being done to fill this lacuna between the educational sector and the world of work, focusing on linking education and future generations with the skills that our entrepreneurs and the business community need. Moreover, The Malta Chamber also has projects in collaboration with the University of Malta focusing on IT, digitalisation, and financial services.

This segued into the second pillar that The Malta Chamber focuses on: the ease of doing business.

“One major issue that needs addressing is the burden of due diligence. Individuals involved in the tendering process must repeatedly fill out due diligence forms for each tender, which can be a daily task and quite time-consuming. In today’s digital age, where our information is stored in a centralised databank, there should be a way for different departments to communicate and access the necessary information without adding more bureaucracy and wasting valuable time.”

This recommendation has been highlighted in two documents published by The Malta Chamber: “Time to 5tep Up: Recommendations for the Next Legislature 2022-2027” and the pre-budget document. It is evident that the excessive bureaucracy and high costs

associated with this process are unfavourable for businesses. Moreover, these hurdles create obstacles to attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) to the country. “We strive to make our country more competitive and business-friendly, and resolving this issue would be one way of achieving that,” Chris emphasised.

‘Access to Finance’ holds up the third pillar of The Malta Chamber recommendations, wherein they recommend facilitating access in various areas, especially in ventures related to green deals and green environment initiatives, new technologies, and R&D.

“This pillar is inextricably linked to the previous one regarding bureaucracy. Why should it take forever for a business to open a bank account? It’s obvious that businesses need bank accounts to pay suppliers and receive income. Ultimately, when one analyses the recommendations, they should be relatively easy to achieve.”

The fourth pillar addresses the supply chain challenges faced by businesses. In collaboration with VISTAGE Malta, The Malta Chamber published a Confidence Index Report

that assesses the current state of business in Malta and provides forecasts based on survey results from local companies. The report reveals that various factors have adversely affected supply chains, including Brexit, customs delays, and postage delays from outside the EU. These issues have significantly increased costs and waiting times for 50% of the respondents. Additionally, the conflict in Ukraine has further aggravated this situation.

Since Malta heavily relies on imports, businesses face inflationary pressures on imported items, resulting in higher costs for retailers and customers. Furthermore, Malta’s geographical location presents an additional challenge, as limited alternatives are available if things do not arrive on time due to our lack of a direct connection to mainland Europe. When one link in the supply chain is disrupted, it affects all other components, and retailers are often left responsible for explaining delays to end consumers.

In cases where the European Union (EU) involvement is necessary, The Malta Chamber, through its association with the MBB, holds influence. They advocate and lobby with the EU to address Malta’s specific challenges.

The Malta Chamber is fighting for correctness and good governance...

For example, in 2021, the European Year of Rail aimed to promote rail travel throughout the continent, but unfortunately, this policy did not apply to Malta. As a result, part of the role of The Malta Chamber’s president and Council involves meeting with Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to explain the difficulties faced by Malta in this regard.

“We also have representation in three international lobby groups: EuroChambres, BusinessEurope, and HORTEC,” confirmed Chris.

The final pillar focuses on the government’s role in competition with the private sector. Allowing the private sector to offer and enhance services on a fair and level playing field fosters the growth of business communities. This approach is crucial for future generations to maintain trust in the ecosystem. When everyone operates on an equal playing field, businesses can compete fairly, stimulate economic growth, and inspire ethical entrepreneurs and future generations.

“We have a thriving economy and ample opportunities for young people, and preventing them from losing hope is essential.

The Malta Chamber is actively promoting good governance and striving for a level playing field, encouraging youth to stay and contribute,” urged Chris. “I pursued my studies abroad and returned to manage my family’s business. Despite other international opportunities, I chose to stay. I recognised the potential and actively engaged in making a difference. I urge future generations to join organisations like The Malta Chamber.”

To counteract the brain drain and incentivise highly skilled Maltese nationals living and working abroad to return to Malta, The Malta Chamber has proposed offering tax incentives to this group. Additionally, individuals with specialised expertise are encouraged to approach The Malta Chamber, as they can bring forth new and innovative business sectors. This aligns with the chamber’s vision of “Leading the present. Shaping the future.”

So how does The Malta Chamber president balance the needs of the businesses with the broader interests of the country?

“The Malta Chamber represents Malta; we work within the Maltese ecosystem with our families. So when we make a recommendation,

we’re making it for all the families that live in Malta and Gozo,” assured Chris.

The Malta Chamber prides itself on having a voice and instigating meetings with various entities to ensure that its recommendations are being taken on board by the relevant bodies.

“When we champion the five pillars, it affects everyone, including future generations. Adopting a mature mindset and avoiding an “us versus them” mentality is crucial during discussions. We must understand that effectively addressing and achieving these five pillars, which are fundamental to national issues, requires collective efforts. The Malta Chamber actively participates in the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development (MCESD) board to pursue goals that serve everyone’s interests. This will enable us to challenge ourselves with new pillars in the coming months. Let’s elevate our country to new heights and strive for higher quality standards.”

As the interview drew to a close, I asked Chris: With a two-year tenure ahead of him, what are his goals?

“Continue on the successes built; the continuity and legacy there are strong. We’ve got policy documents, such as the one on procurement and the one on good governance, that we will continue championing”, he states.

In 2020, The Malta Chamber presented a good governance document to the President of Malta, the government, the Leader of the Opposition, and the Speaker; this document was represented to the MCESD in April 2023. It contains approximately 60 recommendations regarding the state of good governance in Malta, and Chris confirms that these issues are a priority for The Malta Chamber. Furthermore, through collaboration with the Standards Commissioner and the Ombudsman, The Malta Chamber ensures that it stands for ethical business.

“We will certainly broaden the scope regarding education. The Malta Chamber is fighting for correctness and good governance, ensuring that what our future generations inherit is correct and leaving them the space to grow and nurture their future businesses. It’s our responsibility to ensure we remain the relevant voice of ethical business,” he concludes.



MONEY spoke with Zak Fenech about the sustainability practices integrated into the development of Quad Central, the significant steps taken to minimize its environmental impact, and its role as a sustainable and responsible choice for businesses.


How does Quad Central integrate sustainability practices into its development? Are there any notable green initiatives or ecofriendly features implemented within the project?

The Quad Central is projected to achieve LEED® Platinum Certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which certifies that sustainable building methods and systems are being dutifully employed to minimize environmental impact. While the choice to select sustainable building methods was not inexpensive and required meticulous planning, Quad Central has done so to secure its long-term positioning as Malta’s leading office space destination for discerning businesses conscious of their environmental responsibilities. The Quad Central is effectively implementing a blend of tested and innovative environmental measures with a conscientious effort to redefine the term ‘leading industry standard’. The project features high-efficiency air conditioning units with capture and recycling of condensate, capture and use of rainwater, specifically designed façade glazing with strict thermal properties, recycling of water with an on-site greywater treatment facility, use of photovoltaic panels, and dedicated bicycle storage and shower facilities for cyclists. These and other energy efficiency measures will reduce the environmental impact of the buildings.

Quad Central boasts a wide range of amenities available on-site. How does this convenience benefit the residents and businesses within the development? Can you provide specific examples of amenities that cater to different needs and enhance the overall quality of life?

Our development has been designed to provide top-class facilities for its tenants and visitors. Mixed commercial areas spread over two levels have been crafted to include open spaces, landscaped piazzas, dining and retail options, a fitness centre, a supermarket, a childcare centre with a green outdoor play area, a pharmacy, a medical clinic, as well as rooms for meetings and conferences. All the providers of the amenity services are top local and international names that are leaders in their area and serve to ensure that the working community within the Quad Central can enjoy a facilitated work-life experience found nowhere else on the island.

Quad Central offers flexible workspaces tailored to meet the needs of modern professionals. Could you elaborate on the design and features of these workspaces? How do they promote productivity, collaboration, and adaptability?

Quad Central provides Malta with the right ingredients for modern, functional office spaces, encompassing all the critical aspects of a healthy workplace under its four roofs. The availability of versatile and practical spaces is crucial to office productivity. Office layouts at Quad Central enable tenants to provide their staff with open work areas, private focus rooms, and meeting and lounge areas. Well-designed ventilation and full-height glazing using high-specification glass bring fresh air and natural light into the office without glare or discomfort. The towers also benefit from professional, high-spec receptions and lobby areas, so tenants and their clients have a positive building experience when they arrive.



Victor Paul Borg argues that the perversion of the planning system has led to haphazard developments and a lack of accountability, despite promises of reform from the government. Conflicting policies, a loose interpretation of regulations, and insufficient oversight from consulting entities and the Planning Authority further exacerbate the problem.

I recently attended a Planning Commission meeting that decided on development applications. When I talked about the development being part of a larger project—a case of so-called salami-slicing—the chairperson remarked defensively that salamislicing is not illegal.

Salami-slicing is the term given to a tactic used by some developers that involves splitting a project into various development applications, sometimes spread over a few years. In this way, a larger project that would have attracted heightened scrutiny and opposition is approved incrementally, evading heightened scrutiny in the process. In one case in recent years, a sprawling block of flats in Qala was split into several development applications. In the process, it evaded screening for an environmental impact assessment. This means salami-slicing perverts the principles of the planning system.

Is it illegal? Not directly. But planning law clearly states that people’s objections and representations are one of the considerations that should guide board members in their decision. Hence, salami-slicing undermines that essential element in the process of decision-making.

And to hear a chairperson state that salamislicing is not illegal and leave it at that was, in my mind, symbolic or symptomatic of what the Planning Authority is: an authority that has become the lynchpin in a planning system gone perverse.

And a planning system in which impunity is pervasive.

As I will show in the rest of this article, perversion has pervaded every level of the planning system. The result is nothing less than a disaster of haphazard developments up and down the country.

The government has promised some reform in recent months. Some of the government’s proponents, particularly the minister responsible for planning and the prime minister, have discussed planning controls and smarter development decisions. This has led to a greater willingness within the Planning Authority to engage with objectors and NGOs, but in substance, nothing has changed, at least not yet. And I doubt if it would change without making radical changes.

Let me mention a recent example of the superficiality of change. Recently, the Planning Authority approved a block of flats at the edge of the development zone overlooking a wide, shallow valley in Gozo at a place called Tas-Sajtun. The proposal elicited more than a thousand objections, and after a year of deferrals, the authority approved a substantially smaller version of what had been initially proposed. The authority made much of this “significantly reduced project”—it issued a press statement and put up sponsored posts on Facebook.

But you know what? The approved five-storey

block is in breach of a significant policy that limits the edge-of-zone of some areas in Gozo; these policies were interpreted last December by the planning tribunal as limiting developments to three storeys. So now we have the Planning Authority boasting of a “significantly reduced project” while ignoring the elephant in the room: even in its reduced form, it remains at odds with policies.

This brings us to one of the significant problems that have led to perversion. In 2015, the government published a range of new policies that changed planning parameters, particularly on heights and buildings beyond the development zone, and these policies conflicted, and still conflict, with those of the local plans. At the time, the government wanted a quick fix: to allow developments to go higher and to allow a range of developments in the outside development zone (ODZ) that had been restricted.

Since then, this has led to conflicting policies and a Planning Authority that has tended to interpret the latest quick-fix policies and largely ignored or given short shrift to the local plan policies that have priority in law.

Moreover, even the set of policies published in 2015 – in two documents principally, DC15 and the rural development policies – are interpreted loosely or selectively. The Planning Commission often focuses on heights; if it’s within the height limit, it goes, and in the process, it pays little heed to the policies that


advocate a context-driven approach.

Another change has been to put greater responsibility on architects to prepare documents for development applications. In this sense, Planning Authority staff and board members now rarely visit sites to gain a feel for the place. Instead, they go on to what architects submit, and many architects make submissions that do not give a whole picture. This is also the case with photomontages: many architects prepare photo montages that minimize the impact of proposed buildings.

Yet another problem are the consulting entities. Again, there are many of these, and the Agricultural Advisory Committee and the Design Advisory Committee are just two examples. But unfortunately, these tend to be “box-ticking” exercises that only look at proposals for development on the surface and in a narrow way.

The so-called external consultees are not more rigorous either. Among these, the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage has become one of the main problems in the past two years or so. I have investigated several cases in which the Superintendence changed its position. These include development applications in the scheduled settings of

top heritage buildings, such as windmills. In two cases I investigated, for example, the Superintendence initially said it would only accept a building of two storeys plus a recessed third floor, but then it gave its blessing to buildings of four floors. In another case, the Superintendence failed to save a medieval house described by the NGO Din L-Art Helwa as so pristine that it could serve as a museum—half of the house was knocked down, the rest subsumed in a block of nondescript 32 flats.

Within the Planning Authority itself, there is little accountability. I’ve seen cases where case officers claimed they omitted critical information, but no one investigated or punished them. In one case, a case officer delivered a permit to someone under the so-called summary procedure in clear breach of policies, and the permit was revoked as a result. Then it still went to the same case officer, who made false comparisons to recommend approval. At that point, the Planning Commission rejected the application, and then it came up again a third time and again went to the same case officer. So, instead of being removed from the case and possibly investigated, he was given the same case repeatedly until the development was approved.

I see many instances in which permits are delivered in clearly abusive manners. But no one is investigated. The police are hobbled by the absence of a law that would make abusive decisions a criminal office – yes, you heard right, abusive decisions are a criminal offence in Malta only in very narrow circumstances (making such a law is one of the recommendations made by judges in the inquiry into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, but the government has failed to implement any of the recommendations) –and doubly hobbled by their failures. This is another handicap: a systematic failure to investigate and prosecute corruption by the police.

And if all of this was not bad enough, you must resort to the Environmental and Planning Review Tribunal if you have to fight an abusive development permit.

Confidence in the tribunal is very low. One of the main issues that rankle with appellants is that the tribunal typically does not suspend the works on the development while the appeal is being heard. This means that, in many cases, the construction would have been completed by the time the tribunal decides on the appeal, a situation that, for most people, voids the point of the appeal in the first place.

The law specifies that, in deciding whether to suspend works during the appeal proceedings, the tribunal must regard whether the “development may be easily removed or reversed or that the request is frivolous or vexatious.” In the case of buildings, once constructed, they are obviously not easily removed. However, the tribunal also falls short of constitutional safeguards in other ways.

The question is, how do we fix all this? It would take a change in culture at the Planning Authority, a more robust system of accountability, tweaking of criminal law (such as making abuse of power a crime, something suggested by the judges who conducted the inquiry into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia), serious attempts to investigate and prosecute officials for corruption, and some tweaking in planning policies (as well as carrying out a holistic update of the local plans).

But does the political will to do all of this exist? That is the crucial question.

A row of flats by the same developer split into different development applications
The Planning Authority is the lynchpin in a planning system gone perverse.


Shirley Agius Xuereb explores the idea of human-centred, well-designed buildings and their importance in promoting wellness. Green and sustainable buildings have been getting more attention lately, but we often forget how essential aesthetics and design are when making spaces that are good for our mental health.


In the late 2000s, “The Architecture of Happiness,” Alain de Botton’s most famous book, was published. During that time, professors at the University of Malta went on and on about the history of classical western architecture. In addition, architecture students like us used every new star architect’s project as a model for our own.

De Botton said that spaces and the built environment significantly affect our emotional and mental states and that “buildings that promote well-being and mental and physical health can help to create a culture of vitality and prosperity” (de Botton, 2006).

The notions proposed by this book were humble compared to our reading lists, yet they were intriguing and deeply fundamental. Unfortunately, by the time this book collected dust on our shelves, most of us newly graduated architects probably lost a bit of our soul to the chaotic, fast-moving, and booming construction industry that came about later. Looking at the building stock we live in now, one would question whether it makes us happy and well.

A paradigm shift

As the Dean for Built Environment Prof. Alex Torpiano and the Dean for the Faculty of Social Well-being Prof. Andrew Azzopardi, both at the University of Malta, highlighted in a local newspaper article, neighbourhoods and projects without adequate planning and regard for well-being “risk turning our communities into miserable, intolerable, and unbearable contexts” (Independent, 2019).

One of the key “quality of life indicators” determined by Eurostat’s publication regarding life in the EU is “material living conditions.” This section highlights “housing conditions” as one of the crucial factors impacting our lives. Mainly, “low-quality housing may be associated with reduced well-being and increased psychological stress” (Eurostat, 2021). For example, according to Eurostat statistics from 2020, 10% of the dwellings in Malta are too dark (the EU average is 4.9%), and Malta was also the second EU state with the highest percentage of the population reporting noise from neighbours or the street (Eurostat, 2020).

This century has seen a push in our outlook

on mental health and wellness. COVID-19 has accelerated this and also impacted how specific spaces are designed to promote better well-being. This shift has been most evident in the design of workspaces through increased flexibility, better indoor air quality, natural light, ventilation, and access to green spaces. As most of us spend more and more time indoors (circa 90% of our time), ‘healthy’ buildings should be a requirement not only in our workspaces but especially in the spaces we live in and call home.

What has changed locally?

In the last decade, Malta has seen an everincreasing shift from most citizens living in typical 2-storey terraced houses to now residing in 2 and 3-bedroom apartments (57.4% in 2021). This transition occurred due to Malta’s increasing population, undersupply of properties, and planning policy changes. Locally, the current policies and legislation that promote user well-being in apartment blocks to a certain extent are our health and sanitation laws, police and civil laws, Guidance F, and DC15.

The main criteria are the following:

• Building heights and the number of floors result from the local plans determining the maximum allowable height in that area. This height is then split into floors with a

minimum internal height of 2.6 m. There is, however, little mention of the context or treatment of unsightly blank party walls.

• Furthermore, according to the Sanitary Regulations in areas in which apartment blocks will be built, should the street be wider than 3 m but less than or equal to 15 m, the overall height should not exceed three times the width of the street, despite the many exceptions to this.

• Minimum internal areas are defined as 55 m2 for a one-bedroom unit, 90 m2 for a two-bedroom unit, and 115 m2 for a three-bedroom unit, all of which could have an allowance of 10% of the minimum stipulated size of apartments as external space; however, there is no mention of minimum external areas to be included.

• Each habitable space should have a minimum aperture of one square metre. However, it does not state what size room this is acceptable for.

• The building is enclosed (or watertight) and impervious to dampness; however, there is no enforcement. There is also no directive on safeguarding the longevity of vacant buildings, resulting in many run-down properties and making it much more complicated and costly to retrofit them later. »


These changes and the fact that we have had a sellers’ market have led to a stage where construction and design quality became secondary, often resulting in overpriced, illdesigned apartment blocks.

Internally, people living in such spaces often inhabit damp, noisy, and dark rooms and require HVAC systems to heat or cool the space due to the lack of insulation and proper detailing. The stark contrast in the quality of these spaces is highlighted when such areas are compared to the ones in typical terraced houses. Although this typology had its defects too, many homes included more privacy, natural light, and open spaces through the implementation of backyards, front gardens, full use of the roof area, and larger rooms with airier internal heights on a quieter road.

The failure of the planning system is brought to light when analysing how a typical road, once home to several approximately terraced houses, is now transformed into numerous narrow and deep, multi-floor apartment blocks. It is only natural that this shift has resulted in denser populations, more traffic, a lack of garbage disposal infrastructure, and reduced areas for recreational green zones.

The social aspect

Environmental, social, and governance principles of ESG have been widely applied to several business models yet not entirely implemented in real estate projects. Applying such principles could potentially instigate a positive change in real estate too. In recent years, with people’s increasing awareness of the effects of climate change, a push from the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP27, legislation, and material supply concerns, the environmental aspect has gained more traction than the other two values. As a result, international green building certifications such as EPC certificates, LEEDs, and BREEAM have seen an international increase in project registration of approximately 20% in just five years.

However, the social aspect of architecture, urban spaces, and development should not be sidelined. With a change in mentality and a shift from a seller’s market to a more competitive one with clients demanding better spaces, the future of our homes could be brighter. The way this is to be tackled cannot

be another list of quantitative checklists but a holistic and qualitative approach to nudging developers, architects, and policymakers into creating positive spaces that stimulate and enrich the lives of the end users. Illdesigned buildings and spaces “leave our lives impoverished, whereas a successful piece of architecture is one where there is an accumulation of many moments of delight” (Steemers, 2021). Several studies show how architectural design strategies can improve well-being and happiness.

Wellness in architecture

Architects still refer to the Roman architect Vitruvius’ (1st century BC) criteria of the essential components of successful architecture as being firmness (structural stability and health), commodity (functionality and comfort), and delight (architectural quality and happiness). Whereas health in buildings is easier to define as the absence of factors resulting in disease, such as air quality, noise level, thermal comfort, etc., happiness and comfort are more subjective.

Nonetheless, with more emphasis being placed on mental well-being and happiness, recent studies, namely the “New Economics Foundation” (NEF), launched by the UK Government Office for Science, have identified five elements that constitute our well-being, namely: “connect,” “be active,” “take notice,” “keep learning,” and “give” (Aked, Marks,

Architecture is really about well-being.
I think that people want to feel good in a space. On the one hand, it’s about shelter, but it’s also about pleasure.
— Zaha Hadid

Cordon, & Thompson, 2008). These factors, along with others listed below from entities such as the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) and Fitwel, Building Health for All, are all ones that should be implemented to create healthy, comfortable mid- to largescale apartment blocks and surrounding areas.

Interestingly, design quality is not mentioned in several of these certifications and strategies. This is likely because good design is not entirely measurable. However, several

universal qualities unquestionably influence how users feel and interact with their space. Aesthetics, form, scale, orientation, colours, and outlook are among the most critical influences on comfort and beauty.

Way forward

Sustainability will soon become second nature to all stakeholders. It should be the right of all citizens of all social classes to have access to green and well-designed spaces in all buildings, not just luxury projects.

However, ESGs and wellness alone will not save the day. Once policymakers embody well-being strategies, these cannot just be a quantitative exercise. They will run the risk of “compliant” green and healthy buildings without “delight,” leaving the users in buildings they do not want to live, work, or play in.

The best way to measure the quality of a building will always be to measure the desire to stay in it, and the pleasure people take in looking at it.


SUSTAINABILITY A New Engine for Business Value Creation

Theo Dix explores the growing significance of sustainability as a core component of corporate business strategy and emphasises that sustainability is no longer a mere buzzword or a cosmetic add-on; instead, it has become a game-changer that drives value creation in businesses.

Perhaps once considered a distant concept, secondary to the immediate rigours of business performance, sustainability has now emerged in the front and centre of corporate business strategy. It’s not just a ‘nice-to-have’ or a boardroom jargon anymore; it’s a gamechanger, steering the wheels of value creation in businesses.

When leveraged effectively, the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) trio can carve

significant avenues of growth for companies. Forward-thinking businesses implementing ESG strategies are reaping substantial rewards: reduced costs, an elevated brand image, and the trust of their customers. This is not just a trend but a fundamental shift driving positive waves through their company valuations. As we delve deeper into the new era of business, it’s clear - sustainability isn’t just making companies look good; it’s making them valuable.

If we had to quantify the impact of sustainability-related investments, we would typically see a 2-3% volume increase for ‘climate friendly’ products; energy cost savings of about 40% due to decarbonisation; the avoidance of carbon taxes; approximately 0.5-0.7% lower cost of capital; a highly desirable employer value proposition with around 40% of millennials choosing roles based on companies’ sustainability agenda; and a market valuation premium of about 10%.

The Svanemelle Power Station, which once burned vast quantities of coal, is slated to be the new home of the Danish Museum of Science and Technology.

Leadership on the sustainability agenda can take you much further. Take the case of Tesla. By aligning with sustainability, the company has not just created electric cars; it has built an empire, boasting a market capitalisation more significant than many competitor car companies combined when only producing a small fraction of their volume of cars.

Yet, sustainability isn’t solely the domain of the electric vehicle market. Firms across sectors are aligning their strategic objectives with sustainability and witnessing substantial rewards—Adidas, for instance, with its Futurecraft.Loop initiative, a shoe designed to be remade, symbolises the transition from a linear economy to a circular one. It’s an innovative step that links a sustainable approach with increased brand value and market position.

Another shining beacon is Orsted, the Danish energy company that transitioned from one of Europe’s most coal-intensive utilities to the world’s most sustainable energy company. Its shift to renewable energy sources has not only dramatically reduced its carbon footprint but also generated significant business value, including a surge in share price.

Companies like Adidas and Orsted demonstrate that focusing on sustainability isn’t just about meeting the ever-increasing regulations – it’s about anticipating a future where ESG performance is as significant to a company’s bottom line as sales and revenues.

However, embracing sustainability is not without its complexities. It’s akin to a challenging puzzle, requiring the careful management of various factors. As AI systems

like Microsoft’s Vall-E software evolve, capable of imitating a human voice from just three seconds of audio, the potential for companies to replicate nature’s efficiency becomes increasingly conceivable.

For inspiration, one can look towards initiatives like the European Union’s Green Deal. This framework aims to transform the EU’s economy into a model of sustainability, bridging the gap between climate change, resource use, and social issues. It’s a systemic approach that could pave the way for future value creation through sustainability.

Of course, while sustainability is increasingly promising value creation for businesses, it’s not as simple as flipping a switch. It requires a well-crafted strategy and, most importantly, buy-in from management.

Leadership commitment and understanding are fundamental in creating a successful sustainable strategy. The question is, how do we secure this?

A key step is framing sustainability regarding long-term value creation, aligning it with the

business’s strategic objectives. EY’s LongTerm Value (LTV) framework can be a powerful tool. The LTV framework, based on the concept of creating shared value, enables companies to align their sustainability actions with strategic objectives across all operational levels.

The LTV framework encourages companies to view sustainability as a lens through which to view every decision. It presents sustainability not as a separate initiative but as a core component of the business model and strategy. By aligning with the company’s existing goals and targets, sustainability becomes directly relevant to the firm’s success and the interests of its leaders.

One of the most potent aspects of the LTV framework is how it integrates sustainability goals with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), cascading these targets down through various management levels. By incorporating sustainability into the existing decisionmaking structures, the LTV framework effectively places sustainability at the heart of business strategy.

These KPIs, linked with sustainability actions, become the performance barometer, driving management decisions in the right direction. They ensure that sustainability isn’t just a side project—it’s embedded in the company’s dayto-day running, integral to decision-making, and part of the organisation’s fabric.

Achieving management buy-in isn’t about convincing leaders of the importance of sustainability y – it’s about showing them how sustainability is critical to achieving the goals they already care about. By aligning sustainability with strategic objectives and using tools like the LTV framework to guide this alignment, companies can build a future where sustainability and success go hand in hand.

In summary, sustainability has evolved from being a mere point of discussion to a critical component of business strategy. It’s a captivating narrative involving AI, carbon footprints, millennial employees, and discerning investors – a tale promising more than just a happy ending but a profitable one. As businesses worldwide turn this page and venture into this new era, we all must sit up and pay attention. Sustainability is not just sound business but the future of value creation.

Sustainability isn’t just making companies look good; it’s making them valuable.
Adidas unlocks a circular future for sports with Futurecraft.loop: a performance running shoe made to be remade.


Why we need new ways to measure economic progress

Gross domestic product (GDP) has long been the traditional measure of a country’s economic progress. Still, it has come under scrutiny for its inability to reflect environmental sustainability, social inequality, and citizen well-being. Paul Rostkowski and Daniel Galea explore the limitations of GDP and why we need new ways to measure economic progress.

Gross domestic product (GDP) has long been the traditional measure of a country’s economic progress and is, by design, a universally attractive benchmarking and referencing figure. The fact that it is an indicator that follows specific and streamlined international standards with data available to all countries has boosted its appeal as the go-to gauge of growth. However, specific economic indicators have been gathering

due to their increased importance over the past few years. The GDP has been criticised for its inability to reflect environmental sustainability, social inequality, and citizen well-being, among other factors, in its reading. When the world is facing problems like climate change, running out of resources, and social unrest, it is essential to rethink economic progress beyond the usual measure of growth.

As an economic reading that solely considers monetised activity, undertakings that are not reimbursed, such as unpaid care work, volunteer work, and barter transactions, are not accounted for, undervaluing the importance of the contribution made by individuals and organisations forming part of this group. Secondly, GDP does not reflect the depletion of natural resources and the degradation of the environment. As resources


Development of resource productivity in comparison with GDP and domestic material consumption, EU 2000-2021

become scarcer and the impacts of climate change become more severe, a country’s GDP may increase due to the exploitation of natural resources. Still, this growth may only be sustainable in the short term. The depletion of natural resources may result in ecological degradation, which could have long-lasting effects on the environment and, ultimately, the economy.

Moreover, GDP does not reflect social inequality. High levels of economic growth can mask such disparities, and the benefits of expansion may not be shared equitably. For instance, a country’s GDP may increase. Still, the benefits of this growth may only be enjoyed by a small portion of the population, promoting social unrest and instability that could undermine overall economic progress.

A proliferation of alternatives looking to expand on existing measures with the hope of accounting for these negative externalities goes back decades. Several researchers, non-governmental organisations, countries, and international bodies have put forth many initiatives to raise awareness of the need to look beyond GDP as the sole measure of growth.

For instance, Figure 1 depicts the EU’s investigation into how economic growth can accompany increases in resource productivity and decreases in domestic material consumption. In 2019, the OECD listed around 500 initiatives that have laid the foundation for a joint effort towards achieving sustainable goals and the United Nations’ agenda, the aim of which was not to completely eradicate the use of GDP but rather, to devise a healthy

mix of indicators that cater for a broader spectrum of affairs. Adjusted Net Savings, a Comprehensive Wealth Index, a Better Life Index and an Ecological Footprint, were among the array of suggestions the UN system proposed.

Malta has been no exception to this movement. Locally, several attempts to push towards a better quality of life have been made, and significant progress has been made on the research front. One way Malta is looking past GDP is by adopting the Sustainable

social connections, and environmental quality. This index gives a more complete picture of a country’s progress than just looking at economic growth alone.

However, more action must be taken to ensure that more of what is being discussed is implemented. Relying solely on GDP as a measure of economic growth and progress cannot capture a spectrum of humanitarian qualities. Moving forward, policymakers and leaders must recognise

Development Goals (SDGs), a set of 17 global goals adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. The SDGs aim to balance economic growth with social, environmental, and cultural sustainability, and Malta has made significant progress in aligning its policies and strategies with these goals. The country has also recognised the importance of measuring the quality of life beyond GDP, developing an alternative indicator named the Malta Well-being Index, which measures factors relative to health, education, housing,

these limitations and work towards adopting further measures that provide a more accurate and holistic picture of societal progress. Several other measures, such as the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), the Human Development Index (HDI), and the Better Life Index (BLI), among others, have already been proposed and are being used in different countries around the world. Moving beyond GDP requires a shift in thinking and recognising the broader range of factors contributing to sustainable development.

Moving beyond GDP requires a shift in thinking and recognising the broader range of factors contributing to sustainable development.
Source: Eurostat, 2022
2000 150 140 130 120 110 100 90 80 Resource productivity Gross domestic product Domestic material consumption 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016 2018 2020


New tools have come and gone, and the way we think of design has, while zigging and zagging, remained consistent over millennia. From the first tools and temples to the cities designed by the Greeks, the Romans, and the Mayans, we have endeavoured to keep a healthy balance between form and function to solve the problems surrounding us. Camille Felice explains.

The printing press did not change how we think about reading but made reading accessible to the masses. A single new ‘design’ gave way to widespread literacy, changing the world and arguably leading directly to the internet.

But the longer answer relates to how we engage with design. It deals with how the new tools are headed our way and how these could significantly shift how we perceive our

roles in the design process.

“Design” is a term with immense scope. From drug design to graphic design, from residential interiors to Mars rovers, and from movie sets to fashion design, designers the world over apply their knowledge and the principles of good design to come up with the stuff that shapes our world. All of these areas of practice already make use of AI assistance. We have successfully trained machines to take


on problems too big for us to solve and leverage enormous computational power into solving the issue.

This is not new thinking. When we ran out of limitations in our arms and legs, we designed and built the machines that carved out the industrial revolution. As a result, we could develop taller structures, make more stuff and do so quickly, travel faster and farther, and in general, unshackle ourselves from the physical limitations of our species.

Now, with AI taking a shape that more of us can use and understand, we are taking the next logical step and reaching beyond the limitations of our minds.

AI is not new and has been in use for a relatively long time in tech terms. If you use banking, social media, air travel, and even the power grids in more advanced countries, you have been using neural networks with machine learning ability. The most efficient and hard-working systems that silently make our lives easier and more convenient are running some form of artificial intelligence. Still, we are not able to look under the hood and notice.

What’s changed is that we can now ‘talk to’ an AI and get it to do our bidding. You’ve probably heard of DALL-E - the first image generator we could speak to using plain English, which would generate images in seconds. A few months later, it was time for ChatGPT to make waves.

But there are many, many more examples of AI-powered tools that are available to us, most of which can perform a single function very well. The easiest to get to grips with are the tools that exist as a subset of devices we use daily.

Take all the new neural filters inside Photoshop or the integration of ChatGPT within Notion and Bing, or the way photography stock libraries give access to generative image AI services—other examples of the ready availability of AI already making our lives easier.

There are also valuable tools that make our workflow quicker and easier, the apps that take the repetitive or the boring and just make it happen while doing other things., Adobe Sensei, UIzard, Sketch2code, and all the apps that put a machine learning system at your disposal to automate the drudgery are there to give our minds better things to do. These tools should and will become more pervasive as we apply our minds to creative work.

From a design perspective, more creative tools are changing how we work and, sometimes, how we reach creative choices. For example, use Midjourney or ChatGPT as a sparring partner, as a tool to share ideas and dump the

contents of an absurd notion onto to see what emerges. This is a behavioural shift. We previously ‘edited’ these ideas and then shared them with our peers. We pitched writing prompts, shared early sketch work, showed prototype models, and sent over advanced drafts of a research paper… usually when it got to a point where we were seeking affirmation of our thinking more than anything.

Of course, doing so with an open mind, and selecting the people we consider like-minded, made the process an integral part of the creative journey. The most design adds to the work of our peers or those who came before us.

In the case of using AI as a member of the creative team, there is no need for affirmation, and there is no fear of exhaustion or rejection or judgement - one can dump their intentions on whatever tool is available and see what comes out at the other end. Many times, it’s rubbish. Sometimes it’s predictable. But there are those times when the AI misfires in a genuinely inspiring way, and this is where the magic can happen. At its least useful, it shortens the delay between thought and execution. And when we see it at its best, it is a beautiful synergy between humans and machines that creates what we’re already calling art.

This has been seen across the world of design. The impossible architecture, fashion, urban contexts, graphic art, and photography created by the sudden rise of the AI artist are already an inspiration. Of course, it sows fear in those afraid of change, but to those with a grasp of how the world works, it is a source of inspiration and imagination.

The best work is being produced by those who have taken to their tools like a fish to the sea. They have learned to wrangle these unpredictable, often infuriating tools into submission, coaxing beauty from the right combination of seed images and text prompts.

Once again, this is not new. Given the same paintbrush used to paint the Mona Lisa, I will still create a terrible stick figure. The best design has never been about the tools. It has always been about the brains that put the device to task.

This time, it’s a more complex and almost more cerebral set of tools we’re dealing with, so the knee-jerk reactions will be stronger. But it doesn’t change the way we think about design. Instead, it changes the way we integrate with the tools. And the sooner we realise that it’s up to us to make our silicon-based progeny help us create our best work, the sooner we will get to share it with the world.

Photographer Marvin Grech Model Raya Stylist Peter Carbonaro [Items by Mango - Pama, Tigne Point and Arkadia Gozo] [Items by Mango - Pama, Tigne Point and Arkadia Gozo]

OFF-WHITE Straight-leg woven trousers €750


LOEWE + Paula’s Ibiza logo-print canvas mules €520

Here’s where you’ll get a first look at the latest new-season clothing.

[All items available from , unless specified otherwise.]

FRESCOBOL CARIOCA Rafael grosgrain-trimmed straw Panama hat €245 BRAIN DEAD Logo-appliquéd webbing-trimmed Nylon bag €180 BOTTEGA VENETA EYEWEAR Aviator-style gold-tone sunglasses €320


Crochet-knit cotton polo shirt



Unstructured cotton-blend blazer



Jorge’s grandad-collar linen shirt



Slim-fit cotton sweater vest



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Logo-embroidered cottonblend Piqué polo shirt



Spirit of Big Bang Titanium € 25,200 /


King of Sweden and Prince Louis Cup

Experience the thrill of captivating polo matches in the King of Sweden Cup and the Prince of Louisa Cup. In a gripping match that demonstrated the sport’s mastery, the ApcoPay Blue Team, captained by Martin Arrigo and the Dragonara Pink Team, headed by Matthew Borg faced off against one another. The display of skill and horsemanship mesmerised the audience and culminated

in a breathtaking twist when Matthew Borg scored a decisive winning goal to secure a triumphant victory.

In the Prince of Louisa Cup, the Dragonara Blue Team, led by Mark Darmanin, and the Apcopay White Team, led by Matthew Grech, delivered an enthralling low-goal tournament. The match ended in a thrilling 3-3 draw, leading to a captivating penalty shootout. Ultimately, the Dragonara Blue Team emerged as the victors, with Bradley Farrugia earning recognition as the Best Player for his exceptional performance. Jeremy Besancon, a standout player from The Dragonara Pink Team, was awarded the title of Best Player in the King of Sweden Cup, further adding to the team’s triumph and showcasing his remarkable skills.

These exciting matches demonstrated the

intense competition and extraordinary skills of the players and highlighted the spirit of sportsmanship and camaraderie within the polo community. Furthermore, the King of Sweden Cup and the Prince of Louisa Cup celebrated the sport’s diverse talents and inclusive nature, welcoming players of all levels to showcase their abilities on the grand stage.

Unveiling Pomellato: Milanese craftsmanship and captivating gemstone fusion

Pomellato, established in Milan in 1967, is renowned for its coloured gemstones and elegant yet unconventional designs. Crafted by more than 100 expert goldsmiths at Casa Pomellato, the Milanese brand stands out for its unique designs and colourful gems, which have come to define an unmistakable and iconic style through innovative stone cutting and setting techniques.

Pomellato’s distinctive style is inspired by Milanese design, art and creative vibrancy. Hand-made easy-to-wear precious jewels suitable for everyday wear are what makes Pomellato different from other brands, the ability to combine understatement and playfulness with sophistication. The defining trait of Pomellato is their coloured gemstones and chains, from the iconic Nudo ring that can be found in a wide variety of sophisticated hues to the Iconica and Catene collections, which represent Pomellato’s passion for chains and Milanese goldsmithing

techniques. Pomellato is also recognised for its bold yet streamlined design due to its creative genius and meticulous craftsmanship.

Nudo, launched in 2001, was the first to use coloured gems ‘naked’ (Nudo in Italian means naked) in their splendour, free from any prongs and unique in how they are cut and shaped, giving each piece a distinctively irregular faceting. An essential design that soon became an icon. Pomellato dared to break conventions with Nudo and subvert the traditional design style. Thanks to its wide array of colours and basic shapes, Nudo embodies simplicity, elegance, and contemporaneity, immediately becoming a “must-have” in jewellery. Moreover, Nudo’s bold personality style attracts independent, freespirited, and fashionably chic women.

Pomellato is exclusively available from Edwards Lowell. For more info, email info@ or visit

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