Prof. Godfrey Baldacchino, the University’s Pro-Rector for International Development & Quality Assurance, and a member of the Department of Sociology, and Prof. André Xuereb, Head of the Department of Physics, are two of the three thematic ambassadors for Malta appointed yesterday by Minister for European and Foreign Affairs, Hon. Evarist Bartolo.
Prof. Baldacchino will serve as ambassador for islands and small states, while Prof. Xuereb will be ambassador for digital affairs.
Together with Maltese diplomat Ms Cecilia Attard Pirotta, who is now ambassador for women, peace and security, Prof. Baldacchino and Prof. Xuereb will work towards encouraging and influencing debate about their three areas, which as Minister Bartolo said, “will address new realities and keep pace with continued development in international relations.”
Prof. Baldacchino, who is also the Executive Editor of the Small States & Territories journal based at the Institute of Islands and Small States (ISSI), will be working closely with Institute, currently led by Director, Dr Stefano Moncada, and he will help strengthen Malta’s interests as a small state internationally through the promotion of scholarships and other opportunities.
Prof. Xuereb, on the other hand, will work alongside the government to advance and protect the security interests of the islands in cyber policies. He will also support companies expand internationally.
These thematic ambassadors join two other UM academics who are already in their post, namely Prof. Simone Borg, thematic ambassador on Climate Action, as well as Prof. Alan Deidun, thematic ambassador on Oceans.
In a social media post, the Ministry congratulated the three thematic ambassadors and is looking forward to their work addressing current issues and challenges.
Newspoint reached out to Prof. Baldacchino, who said his appointment is a seamless connection to his professional interest in how (small) island life is constructed, managed and exploited; and the resourcefulness that jurisdictional power and status - especially being a sovereign state - provides within this socio-geographical context.
Malta brings various strengths to this configuration. We come with a cosmopolitan and minimally bilingual citizenry, a diversified entrepot economy, and an active member of the [British] Commonwealth: most small island states are former British colonies. We are also blessed with a well-respected, top-notch public university - the oldest and largest amongst the world's smallest states - which can serve as the vehicle for the education, training and professional development of '3rd country nationals' from small and island states", he continued.
Prof. Xuereb also shared the news, thanking the Ministry for being given this opportunity. He remarked how the world has become digital, and spoke to Newspoint about how technology giants wield power greater than some nations.
"Digital and science diplomacy are powerful tools that add strong ties between nations. Having an Ambassador for Digital Affairs ensures that Malta benefits from new digital technologies, works with other nations to create a safer and more secure world, and keeps an open dialog with leading digital actors. Engaging in science diplomacy will help Malta participate in, collaborate, and lead global initiatives", he said.