Friends of the Earth Malta has said today that following the “turbulent end to 2019,” it hopes that the new leadership will bring about “substantial changes.”
In a statement the NGO said that, “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,” stated FoE Malta, “not a pseudo-socialist Prime Minister who would unapologetically state that they are leading the most business friendly government in Malta’s history.”
The NGO argued that it believed 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.”
It also went on to demand 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,” the NGO said.
“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, FoE Malta said, “and run by competent individuals with environmental and planning backgrounds; not individuals driven by self-interest and/or politically allegiances.”
The NGO argued that “one way of making sure that future generations will enjoy whatever is left of our open spaces is by entrenching the protection of the environment into Malta’s Constitutionally.”
It added that “all citizens should 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,” it said.
“We will also be eager to see the 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,” said FoE Malta.
It stated that “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.”
Concluding the statement, FoE Malta said, “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.”