Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, together with Charter signatories, the Malta Chamber, Kamra tal-Periti, the General Workers’ Union and the Malta Tourist Guides Union, today launched their Environmental Charter which has been presented to all political parties and candidates and is supported by 7 social partners, 14 eNGOs and 9 local councils.
Speaking on behalf of the FAA, Professor Louis Naudi explained that the purpose of the Charter is to get our politicians to commit to taking action to stop the continued destruction of our environment and the consequent decrease in the quality of life of the Maltese residents. Although aware of this, this administration does not admit it, deceiving the public with policies that focus on economic factors and weak laws full of loopholes, affect the quality of life.
Successive governments in Malta have trumpeted their mission to improve the quality of life of its citizens, using GDP based on numbers – cars, tourists, property permits or sales, income, etc. as a benchmark, without admitting that quality of life is more than just economic standards; it includes what people value in life, beyond the material aspects.
Property Development the projects are not limited to buildings; construction undoubtedly has impacts, but social costs and are buried, not calculated. The main negative impacts are damage to nature and the built environment, air and noise ppollution due to construction, heavy vehicles and increased traffic, prolonged closure of road spaces; detours; road and worker safety issues
Professor Naudi cited the EY Generate Youth Survey 2021, where 9 out of 10 felt that our biggest challenge is environmental degradation and overdevelopment. Almost two-thirds said they would prefer to live elsewhere in Europe. Similarly, in the 2021 Expat Insider survey, Malta ranked 56and out of 59 for the quality of the environment.
The Charter also emphasizes that the government has a legal obligation to protect the common interest of citizens when it conflicts with individual private or commercial interests. People have the legal right to enjoy a healthy and pollution-free environment, while public assets – including land, coastline, sea and cultural heritage – must remain public unless a fixed temporary concession is made. can be used to significantly improve the area and is not open to financing for gain or exploitation.
Ms Marisa Xuereb, Speaker of the Malta Chamber, said that for years we have assumed that economic development must necessarily come at the cost of environmental sacrifice, but there are ways to make progress without adding to the destruction of environment and cultural heritage of our islands.
Speaking of tourism, Ms. Xuereb said tourism must focus on quality rather than quantity to be sustainable. This is particularly the case of Gozo which has so far avoided embarking on the path of mass tourism. If major development projects ruin its charm and turn it into an extension of Malta, Gozo’s unique tourist offer will be irreversibly destroyed.
The Maltese economy is increasingly dependent on foreign workers. However, decisions to relocate highly qualified employees do not only depend on job opportunities but also on the quality of life that the country offers. Young Maltese people gain a lot from work experience abroad, but in order to attract them once they have gained experience and to reverse the brain drain, we need to provide a better Malta than the one they left. Malta must embrace economic growth that improves, not degrades our country.
Perit Andre Pizzuto of the Chamber of Architects welcomed the opportunity to position quality of life as a priority. He had strong words for the town planning of the past 50 years, which he called a “series of wrong decisions” that led to the current degradation of our environment. “Attracting high-value individuals will not happen by destroying the value of our country, our cultural and environmental heritage.”
Perit Pizzuto argued that although the two main parties claim to promote environmental values, their manifestos fall far short of the comprehensive planning reform that is needed.
Mr Paul Spiteri, Treasurer of the Malta Union of Tourist Guides, said that while some parts of Malta, such as Valletta and the Three Cities, are very attractive, the tourist experience in places like Bugibba is much less positive and this needs to be reversed, rather than spreading to other regions.
Astrid Vella, coordinator of Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar concluded by saying that the apolitical nature of the Charter is reflected in the fact that its supporters span the political spectrum. She argued that a poor environment compromises worker health while increasing the country’s public health spending. The granting of so many permits for luxury developments when young couples cannot find affordable housing is another environmental injustice.
Mrs. Vella confirmed that the Charter was approved by tthe PN, ADPD, Volt and independent candidate Arnold Cassola, who have pledged to implement it if elected to parliament, but the very party promoting an environmental manifesto, Labor, has made no attempt to endorse it. Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar calls on the government to recognize and sign off on the charter, which is non-partisan and supported by all segments of politics and society.
Our ancestors built strongholds to protect themselves from invaders, worked together in times of immense economic conflict, persevered through wars and pandemics, ultimately fighting for the Malta we all know and love. Today, it is up to us to take care of the islands for future generations, and ensure that the direction of public policy and its implementation protect our heritage and our quality of life against irreversible damage
We, the citizens of the Maltese Islands, therefore declare that:
1. The Government of Malta exists to serve all of its citizens and the common good.
2. It is a fundamental principle of government to promote and protect the ‘Quality of life’ of its citizens, endorse and implement the principle of the greatest good for the greatest number of people.
3. It’s our legal right that the state fights to protect the common interests of its citizens, where their best collective interest takes precedence individual interests whether for business, leisure or private use.
4. The government does not have the legal right to diminish citizens quality of life by abusing the inherent rights granted to its peoples.
5. Its inhabitants have a legal right to a healthy environment, free from air, dust, visual and noise pollution, live peacefully in your home and enjoy all public spaces.
6. Environment of Malta and Gozo – terrain (including roads and pavements), coast and sea – and cultural heritage are at to be legally protected common benefits, from which all and future generations will be able to benefit. These public goods should remain public and private participation should only be considered if the main objective is the significant improvement of the area, and not exclusively for pecuniary gain or exploitation. Concessions should be temporary and strictly controlled.
7. Eand the natural environment and urban green spaces are essential for our citizens Quality of life, especially trees which reduce stress, decrease air and noise pollution and provide shade.
8. It is the duty of government to uphold our Constitution, in which “the State shall protect and conserve the environment and its resources for the benefit of present and future generations and shall take steps to remedy any form of degradation of the environment in Malta, including that of air, water and soil, and any type of pollution problem and to promote, nurture and support the right of action for the environment.
9. The provisions of paragraph (8) of the above Constitution shall be legally enforceable in any Maltese court and the the principles contained therein are applied in the development of laws and the formulation of policies as well as in their interpretation.
ten. Infrastructural and unsustainable development should not come at the expense of Quality of life of its citizens. All government and planning authority policies and government decisions shall be subject to law, public interest and climate change considerations, with no exceptions or fast track for government projects except in the verifiable public interest..