Joanna Spiteri Staines spoke at the Repubblika General Meeting about environmental policy. The environment chapter from the manifesto is below.
5. An Environment that is enjoyed by All
No one lives in isolation. Whatever we do or otherwise, we will always live within an environment. The difference lies in the quality of the environment that we will have to live in.
The environment is not a decoration or a luxury. It lies at the heart of our quality of life, it is the space where we enhance or ruin our lives and that of others.
The environment is an essential factor for the common good, which belongs to us all, but at the same time it belongs to no one in particular. It comprises the natural environment, which includes the air, landscape, sea, countryside and urban environment that contains squares, streets, lanes and public spaces.
In June 2018, our Constitution was amended to introduce a declaration where it was stated in Chapter 2 that: “The State shall protect the environment for the benefit of present and future generations and shall take measures to address the problem of pollution and any other form of environmental degradation in Malta, and to promote the right of action in favour of the environment” (Article 9 (2)). Unfortunately, this chapter ends with Article 21, which states that: “The provisions of this Chapter shall not be enforceable in any court”.
A dog without a bite, smoke without fire, empty words.
This is certainly not enough with regard to the huge challenges that we have to face. Among these are the following:
- the great challenge of the use of the land when the economy has been closely tied to the destruction of the natural and urban environment in a country with the highest population density in Europe (1325 persons per Km2, when the EU average is at 117 persons) and this is increasing by 5% annually (when the increase in the EU is of 1.45).
- the great challenge of the state allowing the countryside to be transformed into a labyrinth of narrow corridors surrounded by high walls in spite of its constitutional obligation to defend the countryside. This same state is allowing the urban environment to be transformed into concrete cages one on top of the other.
- the challenge of a sustained and sustainable supply of energy which for a time appeared to be solved but which now appears to be affected by corruption. It is our opinion that the domestic infrastructure for the generation of electricity should be nationalized and a sufficient and sustainable supply of electricity should be established. From then onwards, Government should ensure a steady increase of electricity generated from sources of renewable energy.
- the challenge of waste management; though for a time the problem seemed to be solved, it now seems unable to cope with a larger population and needs.
- the transport challenge which, despite the small size of our country, is making us spend more time in travelling, makes our lungs sick and forces us to live in a chaos of cars jammed into one another.
- In the energy, waste and transport sectors, national policy should be redirected so as not to remain enslaved to uncontrolled and unplanned growth. Wherever possible, energy consumption, waste generation and the need for mechanized transportation should decrease or become more efficient instead of enlarging the infrastructure to cope with antiquated and vicious habits.
Repubblika would like to contribute towards the protection and improvement of the environment.