“We do not inherit the earth from our fathers; we borrow it from our children.” Whenever I hear the environment being discussed, my mind immediately goes to this Native American proverb which, to me, beautifully captures our universal responsibility to protect and conserve the world around us. Not for us, not for future generations.
While I recognize that this statement may be a bit clichéd since the 1970s when it first became prominent in the environmental debate, it is still true.
While climate change accelerates, biodiversity plummets, and our seas drown from plastic, we still find many who deny these facts and continue to act as though the world is theirs. They pollute and litter, degrade habitats and species, and destroy waste resources. They often place concrete and asphalt in valleys and fields, often for commercial gain.
While this may be the case all over the world, it is unfortunately also the reality in Malta, where the challenges are numerous. In the past few years, we’ve seen environmental destruction at an unprecedented level. As a country and EU member, we have urgent climate change obligations to meet and implement. We also have a generation that has little chance to experience nature. Gone are the days when fields and quiet streets were every child’s playground and cars and concrete now rule the day.
The PN has remained steadfast in its determination to place the environment at the top our policy agenda to help stop and repair the environmental damage that we have witnessed over the past few years. PN Greens was established a few months ago to bring together all those who care about the environment and want to help it protect.
We have been working immediately to create more public recreational spaces for families, which could also be green lungs for our urban areas. We have seen the ‘gardens’ and ‘parks’ opened with much pomp and ceremony in the last few years, usually to distract the public from the latest controversial ODZ planning permit. Concrete and tame tree planters are not what people want or need. We will reverse this trend to ensure that every urban area has green spaces, which can truly bring nature closer than ever before.
This government seems willing to sacrifice our farmers in the name of development– Joe Giglio
This is only one of the many environmental proposals that the PN presented last year. It was a comprehensive set of tangible and concrete proposals that were presented before any possible election campaign to ensure they get the weight they deserve. They all have the potential to be implemented quickly, for everyone’s benefit.
These proposals adopt the human-centric approach to PN policies, especially in economic and social matters. These include working with local councils in order to identify abandoned spaces that could be rehabilitated into green areas for public use, as well as the creation pedestrian areas in the busiest parts of our towns and villages.
We also propose that a first-ever national environmental and tree mapping survey be carried out in order to provide a snapshot on the situation across Malta, Gozo, and Gozo. This survey will be used to identify gaps and problems in different areas.
These proposals also include farmers, who are essential for our national food security and who can be guardians of Malta’s biodiversity. While the government seems willing to sacrifice farmers for the sake development, the PN is fully aware of their vital role and will protect it. One essential way to do this is to protect farmers’ rights over the land that they work while also giving agricultural land the importance it deserves in structural planning.
Finally, our historic buildings. These buildings are our history and identity. It is disorienting and sad to see the old buildings being replaced by newer, more modern buildings in every village and town. The PN will strengthen the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, and assert its role to ensure that planning applications are properly scrutinised and evaluated in the public interest. A national fund will be established to protect historic buildings and gardens.
Other policies are being developed and will be launched over the next few months. All of these policies have one goal: to work together to make Malta a pleasant country to live in once more. Our tourism attraction will be affected if we continue to destroy our natural and built environment, and lose the unique identity that makes us stand out from other destinations.
This does not mean the PN is against any form of development. The contrary. We are committed towards ensuring sustainable development that maintains a balance between economy and environment. One example is the urgent necessity to redevelop and regenerate existing buildings, which will create new streams of employment in the sector.
These are just some of the environmental proposals that the PN has put forward which I feel strongly convey the party’s environmental vision. This vision is centered around our responsibility to build a better Malta.
Confronted daily by a government which has consistently relegated environmental policy to the bottom of its agenda, I am proud that I am a PN candidate.
Joe Giglio is a lawyer and PN candidate
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