Malta is currently experiencing the largest unprecedented economic boom in its history. The boom has boosted the standard of living of many Maltese citizens; the Maltese have become richer and therefore boosting domestic materialistic demand for goods and services. The boom also led to an unprecedented surge in migration – migrants that are needed to support the economic momentum by bolstering the workforce.
Nonetheless Malta’s fundamental reality remains the same when it comes to its scarce resources and space. After all, Malta is still a small island state in the middle of the most unstable region, the Mediterranean.
The economic boom has also brought with it unwanted consequences that could lead to its demise. Malta is currently in a watershed moment; progress, fuelled by the economic boom, has hit Malta like a tsunami, taking with it the island’s essential character. Unsustainable, irrational and unmanaged prosperity leads to a decline in the quality of life, leading to more traffic, air, noise and light pollution, illness, loss of vital resources, cultural depletion and other negative social and environmental effects. These are all a result of a flawed design of a linear economic model, that has been copied and pasted throughout the years.
Malta and the Maltese should stand up to this challenge and start to act from the ground up, changing their way of life into a framework that is more in line with ecological principles.
Below is a list of actionable solutions which together form a clear vision of the reformation ACT would like to see affected post-Iż-Żejjed Kollu Żejjed protest held on the 7th of September. It is our thinking that these can be combined with the demands already articulated to be presented to the relevant authorities after the protest in the spirit of bringing together all our efforts to make the protest as fruitful as possible.
- A holistic development strategy enshrining sustainable development goals, especially the UN SDGs
- Clarity and enhanced transparency
- A more open and inclusive process for all stakeholders involved
- More accountability
- The implementation of quality standards and processes that alleviate preventable suffering enhance our holistic wellbeing
Authorities Responsible for the Environment and Planning
To add to the boards and authorities demands, we call for the following:
Authorities should be impartial and independent
The establishment of a commission/panel of impartial experts that rotates every couple of years. The members of the commission/panel should be selected upon recommendation of the president of Malta. These members will have the duties of appointing board members and scrutinizing the decisions of the board.
The panel shall be composed of people of merit and adequate educational background and relevant experience in the field. The panel shall have the power to scrutinize the boards decisions, requesting binding suggestions such as impact assessments, reverting decisions back to the board, requiring the fulfillment of sustainable development obligations from the developers, and assessing the conduct of board members according to the established code of ethics of the board.
A code of ethics shall be drafted for the Planning Board regulating their conduct and providing them with guidelines, also enshrining the principles of sustainable development. The code of ethics shall serve to enhance the board’s independence, impartiality, integrity, propriety, equality, competence and diligence.
With regards to the demands on large-scale projects, ACT calls for:
All development currently being undergone and also all development in future to adhere to sustainable development standards (see ‘Policies’, first point)
Large scale projects must be backed by a binding social and environmental impact assessment paid by the developer and another commissioned by the commission/panel through a fund administered by the same commission
The impact assessment must be objective, based on factual evidence.
The assessment must be published and made easily accessible to the public after finalized
No decision is to be taken before the IA is finalized
Firms that are leased as public land for development should go public and issue shares on the stock exchange. Of course such development should be in line with the above criteria, but such a move would allow the public to own a share in the development.
The Regulation of the Construction Industry
With regards to regulating the construction industry, ACT calls for:
- Standards and binding guidelines should be set and adhered by all developers.
- Standards and guidelines should reflect sustainable development as well as safety objectives.
- Developers should be nudged to re-design their developments according to ecological principles such as water management, green infrastructure, and the reduction of greenhouse gasses.
- These standards should be enforced – abuses should not be tolerated, but mitigated and fined accordingly.
- Penalties should serve as a deterrent and not as a mere slap on the wrist.
- Developers that commit repeated offenses and do not take adequate action should have their fines increased, and should run the risk of freezing their assets and being blacklisted from public contracts. A list of such developers could be developed and made public.
- Corporate social responsibility and responsible business conduct obligations should be introduced so that developers/businesses contribute back into society.
- An environmental causes fund could be set up to fund environmental related projects.
Roads and Transportation
- Free Public Transport for everyone
- Better managed and reliable public transport
- More frequent routes in busy areas
- A modern eco-friendly bus fleet that fits Malta’s roads.
- Curbing the car problem with concrete measures.
- Stricter VRT standards
- Phasing out old polluting cars from our roads
- Harsher penalties for non-law abiding drivers
- Better, more accessible and safer pedestrian and cycling infrastructure
- Incentives for e-bikes
We believe that Malta can become the beacon for sustainable mobility, designed and devised to serve today’s reality as well as tomorrows. We need to plan, design and implement an infrastructural strategy that takes into consideration:
- Climate Change
- Water Scarcity
- Rising Temperatures
- The disruption and depletion of flora and fauna (biodiversity) that make up our national heritage and life backbone due to overdevelopment and irrational globalisation.
- Health issues arising from: noise, air and light pollution.
- Landscape aesthetics
Such a strategy should be aimed at curbing the impact related to:
- Energy: Production of Water and Air Conditioning
- Health (Physical and Mental)
We propose that sustainable infrastructure is green infrastructure and should incorporate:
- Permeable Asphalt,
- Light Coloured Asphalt,
- StormWater Management,
- Segregated Lanes,
- Bus Rapid Transit System,
- Leaving Greenery on Country roads,
- Building Reservoirs under roads/parking,
- Pedestrianised Areas
- Investing in a modern, electric fleet of public vehicles including buses, minivans
- Incentivise carpooling for employees of both the private and public sector
The Metro option poses as an attractive option nowadays nonetheless Malta’s characteristics, would make it impractical for a metro to set up and operate. The Metro would come with a big price tag not only financially to set it up and run it but also environmentally and socially. Other alternatives could be adopted instead such as a decentralised, automated, electric and silent cars.
We also believe that the mobility strategy should incorporate policies that improve work-life balance such as:
- Differentiated Car Pooling Strategy – for public and private sector employees in busy service areas
- Flexi Hours
Respect for our Planet, our Country, and Ourselves
- Reform the economy from a linear cradle to grave model into a circular restorative cradle to cradle model
- Establishing ecological and sustainable principles within the system of production and distribution, moving towards a symbiotic relationship with the natural environment rather than a destructive exploitative one.
- Raising the bar when it comes to tackling Climate change with a holistic strategy and concrete actions
- The preservation, protection and restoration of our natural heritage, biodiversity and the sensitive ecosystems.
- An approach that fits Malta
The above comments reflect ACT’s position, ACT reserves the right to revise or add further comments at a later stage.