Following the turbulent end to 2019, Friends of the Earth Malta hopes that the new leadership will bring about substantial changes since decades of a dominant value system based on prioritising economic growth at all costs has led to some of the biggest environmental and social injustices suffered by the country.
We expect some very fundamental changes in governance and values which would place people at the core – not a pseudo-socialist prime minister who would unapologetically state that they are leading the most business-friendly government in Malta’s history. We believe that there will be no prospect of environmental and social justice in the country until our institutions are unshackled from the grip of big business who have taken control of our democratic structures.
Friends of the Earth Malta demands that all national institutions should be freed from political manipulation and thus serve the public interest rather than politicians and big business. All large tenders and planning applications that were dished out over the past years must be investigated by an independent authority. We also demand that national services such as the power station are renationalised in the interest of the general public.
We also believe that the environment ministry was not being provided with the necessary resources in order to pull punches – one case in point being the influence carried by the PA as opposed to ERA. They clearly need to be on equal footing and run by competent individuals with environmental and planning backgrounds; not individuals driven by self-interest and/or politically allegiances. One way of making sure that future generations will enjoy whatever is left of our open spaces is by entrenched the protection of the environment into Malta’s Constitutionally – all citizens to be given right of action to sue Government for implementation and enforcement of laws/actions to protect environment and air quality and also by clearly protecting ODZ/Public Domain Sites by stating clearly that no new applications will be accepted on such land.
The agricultural sector should be strengthened and farmers’ livelihoods protected and valued by giving the agricultural sector a clear direction and support the shift to quality production. A strong National Agricultural Policy setting out a vision and goals for the sector should be put in place and kept updated – possibly through a fully-fledged Agriculture Ministry.
Considering that climate change and biodiversity collapse are threatening the entire planet we also hope that they will see beyond the parochial and the demagogue vote-seeking measures which go against current scientific and planning reasoning – one case in point being the outdated demand induced road-building madness being steamrolled by the current infrastructure minister.
We will also be eager to see Robert Abela as new Prime Minister give waste-related issues the importance they deserve – specifically by making sure that the Beverage Container Refund Scheme (BCRS) is introduced successfully as promised in 2020.Issues related to poverty and gender justice also need to be tackled head-on since we believe that there can be no environmental justice without social and gender justice. In the parallel exploitation of women’s work and nature, both are traditionally conceived as being infinite and readily available resources to be appropriated without resistance. At the same time, the current profits driven system relies on women’s time, energy and capacities to ‘make up’ for the destruction and privatization of nature.
Finally, we also expect Robert Abela to be open to clear and honest dialogue with environmental NGOs – if the wellbeing of communities living in harmony with nature is at the core of his agenda they will find our support in the interest of all those living on the Maltese Islands.