Tourism is hands down one of the major contributors to Malta’s economy. And while its impact might have been somewhat subdued this past year, with a global pandemic practically shutting down our airways, there’s no doubt that it will be back and stronger than ever in no time.
Now that’s all well and good, but it’s about time we started thinking of ways Malta’s tourism industry can survive and thrive whilst drastically reducing its carbon footprint.
That’s where Climathon 2020 comes in.
Climathon is the world’s largest global climate hackathon joined by hundreds of cities and thousands of citizens across the globe. This climate hackathon (hence Climathon) is an initiative of EIT-Climate KIC (quite a mouthful, we know). This is a Knowledge and Innovation Community supported by the European Institute of Technology.
This community aims to bring like-minded people together in a bid to come up with practices that help the planet – and this year, in particular, Climathon took a closer look at sustainable tourism.
As you might have guessed, Malta was in on the fun.
Malta’s Ministry for Environment, Climate Change and Planning (MECP) in collaboration with MCAST and the Climate Action Board brought about this year’s edition Climathon in Malta, which happened on 13th and 14th November.
The MECP even took on the role of Climathon challenge owner.
This means that the Ministry presented its participants the challenge of cultivating sustainable tourism practices amongst tourists in Malta. The MECP was also tasked with explaining how unsustainable tourism practices contribute to the effects of climate change.
Once such information was conveyed, participants were invited to discuss, team-up, and brainstorm out-of-the-box ideas about how both tourists and locals can reduce their carbon footprint, and thus, promote sustainable tourism in Malta.
Participants got to work together in a bid to find solutions that would help tourists coming to Malta opt for a more sustainable stay. They were also encouraged to participate and engage in a variety of talks, workshops, and activities which helped them fine-tune their ideas and solutions for their final pitch.
Hundreds of other cities from all over the world that have also hosted their own editions of Climathon joined Malta during these jam-packed two days.
Now we know what you might be thinking – how did so many people from all over the world meet up during a pandemic?
Easy – it all happened online.
For the first time ever, Climathon was held virtually. This platform allowed the same degree of collaboration between participants, whilst also making sure that everyone was safe and sound.
Practically all participants pitched great ideas, solutions, and initiatives throughout the Climathon.
But out of the four pitches submitted, only one winning idea could emerge – and this was a mobile application called Merħba.
Merħba seeks to help both locals and tourists become aware of sustainable options in Malta by listing all the eco-friendly event, restaurant, accommodation, and mobility options – but its perks don’t end there!
This nifty concept would also have the app monitor traveller’s choices and provide users with information about their carbon footprint. Based on their impact, the user will then be able to earn points redeemable for local, sustainable products and services.
Merħba will also include an information channel that will send out important national updates, news, and sustainability initiatives to users.
The HSBC Malta Foundation sponsored the winners’ prize.
Congratulations to the winning team of Climathon Malta 2020, made up of Allen Tom, Francisco Barrios, and Gayle Murphy!
Learn more about this interesting event right here.