At the start of 2016, Nature Trust (Malta) would like to call on the National authorities to make a resolution for 2016 and place the environment high on the national agenda. Malta and Gozo have suffered over the years due to bad planning decisions and lack of law enforcement in the environmental sector.
Government after government has made the Outside Development Zone a rubber band for its political manoeuvres purely for vote-catching purposes, rather than striving to implement sustainable development growth. Over the years very little has been invested in our countryside and natural environment. Today, our countryside environment is in a pitiful state with illegal dumping, illegal development, and no law enforcement.
Nature Trust (Malta) has long been calling for environmental police and rangers in our country side to deter illegal activities and enforce existing laws. Issues such as the Armier boathouses still linger from the past with no government having the courage to take action and solve them once and for all. All the political parties in Malta manage to do is blame one another for past and present mistakes, without doing anything to correct them. They seem to be only interested in emphasising past mistakes in order to justify new ones.
A few weeks ago a milestone international agreement was reached on climate change after years of idle talk and simply letting the problem grow bigger. Finally, many countries are realising that we are essentially destroying our planet under the pretext of economic growth.
NTM feels that Malta too has to think locally and move on towards environmental protection. Malta’s wish list should include implementing the following courses of action for this year:
• Have effective environmental law enforcement
• Stop ODZ development and focus on regeneration of the existing built-up areas. Set up and truly implement Marine Protected Areas
• Take action on illegal buildings spread all over the country
• Boost renewable energy and clean energy in the economy
• Implement afforestation projects which have been long overdue despite commissioning of studies and reports
• Address the traffic issue which is becoming a health hazard due to pollution in our towns and villages
• Allocate budgets for biodiversity protection
• Take immediate action on the ground water problem before it is too late
• Put environmental conservation on a horizontal level in all ministries and departments
• Promote truly green procurement
• Give the power it deserves to the new Environment Authority and not have just another toothless body which politicians can hide behind
• Put sustainable development and its true meaning as part of the country’s policy and make sure that development applications are done sustainably with carrying capacity studies (Eg today we have a large number of Petrol applications in ODZ when we already have a large number of existing ones)
The environment has in recent years been shoved down lower on the agenda. This can also be seen from the concerns of the Maltese in the latest Euro Barometer findings. Malta deserves better from our leaders than such a sorry state of affairs, when we clearly have the potential to be an example for all Europe in the sphere of Sustainable Development.