Water conservation efforts in Malta put under the spotlight in Brussels
Two best practices from Malta were put under the spotlight during an event held at the European Parliament thanks to the Initiative of MEP Therese Comodini Cachia (EPP group) and MEP Miriam Dalli (S&D). The projects involved the Catch the Drop Campaign spearheaded by the HSBC Water programme and a Life+ project targeting businesses, hotels and SMEs directed by the Malta Business Bureau (MBB). The event was opened by MEP Ester De Lange, Chair of the MEP Water Group
MEP Therese Comodini Cachia stated, “The HSBC Water Programme, Catch the Drop Campaign as well as the MBB project on use of grey water in hotels are both projects which deserve European recognition. They are exceptional initiatives showing how private industry can work hand in hand with schools to provide valuable education and how the industry can not only make a positive environmental contribution but also generate skills for green and new jobs.”
She thanked teachers and heads of schools for supporting student initiatives and for the dedication they show in their work. She lauded the initiative of MBB and the business sector in Malta for their efforts to tackle the issue of water usage and remarked that further investment was required in developing technology that facilitates water usage and conservation.
“The EU and member states should invest and provide more opportunities for start-ups to develop technologies that facilitate water conservation and for the creation of greener industries and jobs.”
MEP Miriam Dalli emphasised that water scarcity has a major impact on other environmental attributes which can gravely effect our planet. “The abstraction of water for industrial use has declined over the past 15 years. But this is not enough. We need to invest more in projects that can reduce the use of water such as on-site recycling of wastewater, whilst promoting innovation such as advanced cooling technologies that require less water.” The solution however, stressed the MEP lies in a shift in attitude towards water conservation.
“That is why project like HSBC’s Catch the Drop and the Malta Business Bureau’s Life+ investment are important as they promote innovation both at an industry level, but also at a cultural level in order to both assist and inspire new solution’s to tomorrows problems. Moreover, these projects have also prompted the Government to consider the introduction of grey water treatment systems as part of its plans for the water sector. Listening to the impressive ways both Maria Regina College Mosta and the Archbishop’s seminary managed to put together easy, accessible and innovative ways to conserve and preserve water was extremely interesting. These students have some really good solutions to today’s challenges, and we need to do our utmost to ensure that they are heard.”
MBB CEO Joe Tanti said that “Savings of around 1.4 billion Euros per annum are possible for the EU hospitality industry. The savings could be achieved through the EU-industry-wide adoption of flow rate regulation and grey water treatment”. “Take up of these solutions will bring environmental benefits, increase the competitiveness of the EU’s hospitality industry through reduced costs, and create a new green industry and new green jobs for the supply of equipment and services to the industry. This supply industry would also have strong EU-export potential” continued Mr Tanti.
Glenn Bugeja, Manager- Corporate Sustainability Department, HSBC Bank Malta p.l.c. said that Catch the Drop is the largest ever national environmental and educational campaign of its kind in Malta with an aim to forge a blueprint for progress on sustainability of water as a resource. “Over the past three years, the campaign has taken its message to nearly 50,000 students, dozens of corporates and NGOs, and a number of local councils using a range of outreach activities”. He remarked that the programme’s potential to be a model for other European countries has attracted the attention of policymakers at the European Parliament level.
Samira Axiak (student) and Fiona Vella Ciangura (teacher) from Maria Regina College, Mosta Girls’ Secondary School stated that “Maria Regina College Girls’ Secondary School Mosta is very grateful for the opportunity the HSBC Water Programme - Catch the Drop campaign has given it by funding a Rainwater Infiltration Facility, which will help in partly replenishing the water table and reducing flooding. The School is also grateful for the opportunity to share this project at the European Parliament.”
Isaac Fenech (student) and Edward Tagliaferro (teacher) from the Archbishop’s Seminary Rabat, Malta stated, “We would like to whole heartedly thank HSBC’s Catch the Drop campaign for giving us constant financial and logistical support during the last four years in projects and initiatives of sustainable development through the Ekoskola programme. The Bank’s support enriched the students’ experiences as their ideas could materialise, ultimately leading to sharing of good practice at a European level in Brussels in September 2016.”
While in Brussels the delegation also held meetings with the European Commission, European Parliament Water Group, and officials from the Permanent Representation of Malta to the European Union.