The first event held in Gibraltar to Mark World Earth Day was held on Friday last at the University of Gibraltar, organised by the Advanced Leadership Foundation, the Department of Environment, Heritage and Climate Change and the University of Gibraltar.

The event was opened by Minister for Environment and Climate Change John Cortes, who stressed the urgency in acting on Climate Change, praising the recent world wide movement of students and other initiatives and calling for action to all of society.

Speakers included Juan Verde, President of the Advanced Leadership Foundation, Angel Cano, of Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, Dr Carlos Fernandez Jauregui of UNESCO’s Water Assessment and Advisory Global Network and Dr Liesl Mesilio, CEO of the Department of the Environment and Climate Change.

The presentations were all thought-provoking, and speakers and attendees entered into useful discussions that challenged both the statements and the reactions.

There were also two panel discussions. One was on the green economy greening business, with representatives from the Gibraltar Federation of Small Businesses, the Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce, Hassans and EY. The move towards greening the performance of businesses, and the growing expectations that businesses should care about their environmental impact came across, as did the frustration in some quarters that change is not happening fast enough.

The other panel discussion followed an introduction by Alejandra Saenz Mora of the World Youth Council, and included representatives from the Department of Education, the Youth Service and students from the College, Westside and Bayside, Fatima Errouas, Alexandra Lester, Anna Grech and Titus Ferro. The commitment of Youth to sustainability, and the challenges to this of much of present day society were two of the emerging features of the discussion.

The event ended with a dance presentations on environmental themes by the Mediterranean Dance Group and Danza Academy.

Minister for Environment John Cortes commented, “I found the event stimulating. There was good discussion, as people heard a wide range of views expressed. This kind of event would not have happened as a Government initiative just a few years ago. The more we discuss and debate the environmental problems affecting the planet, the more likely we will take action. But talk must be converted into urgent action, and that is the message that must go out.”