The Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia opened the Aspire Conference on a Sustainable Built Environment for Gibraltar this morning at the Sunborn Hotel, in the presence of the Minister for the Environment Professor John Cortes and the Minister for Transport Paul Balban.
The Aspire Conference was organised by the Department of the Environment, Sustainability, Climate Change and Heritage and is supported by a number of local industry sponsors. Aspire features a full line-up of keynote speakers and panellists made up of local and international experts in this field, as well as interactive workshops and a Trade Zone. The event is platform for participants to share their expertise, discuss current trends and challenges and network with like-minded individuals, dedicated to advancing sustainable building practices in Gibraltar.
The Deputy Chief Minister emphasised that the Government is committed to working with developers and contractors to ensure that they prioritise the local community in the design and execution of new projects. He warned that the private sector cannot simply put profit above quality of life. The Gibraltar Parliament unanimously declared a climate emergency in 2019, and Gibraltar has adopted ambitious, legally-binding targets under our Climate Change Act. These targets require Gibraltar to be Net Zero in terms of carbon emissions by 2045.
Dr Garcia explained that the Government has established a Net Zero Delivery Body, to ensure co-operation and internal co-ordination across departments as they seek to deliver those targets. The Government has also established an independent Climate Change Committee to oversee that work and make sure that Government is held accountable. However, as this Committee itself has said, no single organisation, initiative, sector or level of government, however innovative or impactful, can accomplish all the transformational change required to meet the challenges of tackling climate change. This momentous task requires a holistic commitment from all sectors of society to a revolution in attitudes, in approach, in technology and innovation and, importantly, in public engagement.
In that context, the Deputy Chief Minister announced the involvement of Learner Ambassadors from Gibraltar’s schools. Some of those students are participating in today’s Conference and will engage with Government and report through the Net Zero Delivery structure.
The Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Joseph Garcia, said: ‘In 2019 the Government was elected precisely on a manifesto which aspired to the best Gibraltar: to deliver a greener environment, to lay the foundations for a child-friendly city, and to change the way things have traditionally been done. We have made important strides in this respect over the years, but construction and development will have a disproportionate effect here given Gibraltar’s small size.
‘We all need to start acting with the urgency that an emergency demands. Despite the recent challenge of COVID and the ongoing trials of Brexit, the climate emergency must remain at the top of our agenda as well. Clearly, Gibraltar’s Net Zero targets will not be met without significant changes to the way we currently do things, and we must look to the experts in the industry for those solutions.
‘I am very grateful to the Minister for the Environment and Climate Change John Cortes and the team who have organised this impressive and innovative Conference. The Government is also very grateful to our sponsors, Cassais, the Montagu Group, NatWest International, Gamma Architects, Trusted Novus Bank, North Gorge Properties, Chestertons and NOSA. Indeed, this event would not have been possible without private sector engagement and support, which reflects a commitment on the part of the industry to improve the way we do things.’