Sustainability… not merely important but fundamental


Very recently, Corinthia appointed Patrick Spiteri Staines as Head of Sustainability. He is a person of high professional standard, a real gentleman and blessed with an amiable character. Indeed an excellent choice for the job!


He was excited about this new venture. “It is a pleasure and an honour to be working for Corinthia. I am overwhelmed with the welcome I have been given, and already I feel part of the Corinthia team.”

I was curious to know his primary duties in this new role. “It is mainly to develop a holistic strategy for Sustainability for the whole Corinthia Group. This would cover all areas, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG). I will also be establishing a structured framework for monitoring and measurement of its progress. As part of this strategy, we will set targets and formulate actions for each business unit and will establish a small sustainability action team within each unit to execute, control, monitor, measure, and report.  To do this, I will be interacting with all stakeholders within the Group, vertical and horizontal, as well as external stakeholders, to make sure we focus on key priority topics that are valid for our organisation. It will also be my duty to keep up-to-date with the development in regulation and legislation and align our sustainability strategy accordingly. In addition, I will be coordinating the mandatory ESG reporting under the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD) and the increased regulatory framework that is evolving under the new Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). So, as you can see, it’s quite a handful!

Patrick is highly qualified for this job. His work history fully attests to this. By profession, he is an Electrical Engineer with a Masters in Sustainable Energy. In his previous role, a position which lasted 27 years, he developed and ran a company focused on Energy Efficiency solutions and Building Materials. For the last 15 years, he has been actively involved in providing Sustainable Energy solutions and Energy Audit services for Manufacturing Industry and Hospitality. He also chaired the Energy Efficiency thematic committee at the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry. The Government of Malta also appointed him to the Sustainable use of Resources for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Board. He is a registered Energy Auditor with the Regulator for Energy and Water Services (REWS) and is therefore authorised by law to provide Energy Audits to Companies. He is a certified dwelling building Energy Assessor with the Building & Construction Agency since 2009. And that is only a summary of a longer CV.

I could not resist asking some questions to our expert on the nature and importance of Sustainability. This area is now being emphasised and hailed as a cornerstone. 

Sustainability has become a buzzword and can mean different things to many people. However, I like going back to basics. If one takes the meaning of the word in English and applies it to an organisation, it would be the ability to use resources sustainably to improve the long-term viability of the business concern. Using resources sustainably means interacting with the environment, people and society in a positive manner, without causing harm and making sure that all the resources and the organisation will be there for the generations that come after us.

So, as you see, it’s not just important; it is fundamental. It encompasses all sections within a company and its interaction with the outside world. Its importance is not only because we now know that our actions are affecting the planet negatively and hence must change and possibly recover the situation, but also, as a result, our lives, as well as the organisation, will be affected.  We need to identify these risks and take actions to prevent or mitigate them. If we fail, this could mean further disruptions that will negatively affect people’s lives and the environment and may jeopardise the Company’s long-term existence.”

What are the main pillars of sustainability? “Environment, Social and Economic or Planet, People and Profit. These are the three main pillars of sustainability. To achieve sustainability, the organisation must identify the pertinent topics under these pillars and include them in a holistic strategy to tackle them simultaneously. Environmental topics cover natural resources, water, air quality, energy conservation and land use. Social variables include dealing with community, education, social resources, health, well-being and quality of life. Economic topics cover the financial well-being and governance of the organisation in its many facets. By identifying the most relevant topics for the organisation and prioritising, the company can start on the path towards sustainability.”

17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out by the United Nations

All this exercise must have its goals. What are they?  “The underpinning goals are to contribute to some of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out by the United Nations in 2015 for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This has the underlying objective of ending poverty in all its forms, protecting the planet and ensuring that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. The key SDGs related to the company are good health and well-being, good quality education, gender equality, clean water, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, resilient infrastructure, reduction of inequalities, responsible consumption, climate action and life on land. All actions should contribute to one or more of these goals without any adverse effects on any of the others while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.”

Those gaols are indeed noble but very challenging. Can one measure them? Are they achievable? “There are many areas covered within sustainability, and each has its particular means of measurement. Some are finite, like energy consumption; some are more qualitative, like biodiversity. The organisation will need to identify the most relevant sustainability topics and, from this, prioritise the most pertinent, that is, those topics that it affects the most and those that could affect the organisation. These topics will then be analysed to determine applicability within the organisation’s diverse set-up. This will form a basis for setting the key performance indicators, which will be monitored, measured and reported. The process will be ongoing, with corrections and modifications along the way to react to the changing environmental and economic circumstances. Success will be determined by how effective our strategy will nurture a mentality throughout the organisation on sustainability that will lead us on the path towards carbon neutrality, adding value to the organisation while enhancing our clients’ experience.

It is heartening to know that humankind is finally working hard to fulfil the needs of current generations without compromising the needs of future generations whilst ensuring a balance between economic growth, environmental care and social well-being. This balance may be our saving grace. 

Sustainability would prove a vital key to achieving this.