The Malta Independent 20 April 2024, Saturday
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Green leaders for sustainable development

Michael Briguglio Thursday, 22 December 2022, 07:30 Last update: about 2 years ago

The Government of Malta, through the Ministry for Environment, Energy and Enterprise, has launched Malta’s Sustainable Development Strategy for 2050 for public consultation. One expects that various stakeholders will have much to say in their feedback to the public consultation. In this article, I will focus on just one proposal which I think should be considered amongst others.

The proposal is to have the extension of the green leaders scheme in the public service. Some readers will immediately gather that this initiative has already been in place since the years during and after Malta’s EU accession process.

When it was originally introduced, every government Ministry appointed its own Green Leader, and they were responsible for various environmental responsibilities respectively. One of these was green procurement, which in itself has considerable ramifications given that Government is the largest consumer of products and services on the island. Another notable responsibility was the reduction and separation of waste within Ministries and their respective organisations.

Fast forwarding to today, we can say that in various instances Malta’s public service has increased its environmental awareness, and the Service’s last annual report - “Ħidma tas-Settur Pubbliku fl-Aħħar Tnax-il Xahar” - as dated on May 2022, gives some positive examples in this regard in areas such as transport, waste and energy. But in other areas, operations and policy-making, much more needs to be done. It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss the merits of such – what I wish to do here is simply to propose to government to extend the Green Leaders initiative.

What I am proposing is that the Green Leader approach be mainstreamed, with effective authority at various levels, not just at the top echelons of the public service - but also within departments, agencies, health centres, schools, and other organisations within the sector. In turn they will be responsible for consulting, proposing and implementing environmental initiatives, ranging from recycling and reduction of waste – which is still non-existent in various government entities –

to initiatives related to green procurement, environmental education, policy formation, impact assessment and other aspects featuring in the global sustainable development goals set by the United Nations.

Needless to say, different governmental organisations have their own realities and challenges. Some green operations may be common to different entities, but others may be specific to respective fields ranging across the governmental sectors.

Given that the public sector plays such an important role in Malta’s political, economic and social spheres, its greening can thus have a considerable impact at national level in Malta’s sustainable transition.

The Green Leaders initiative can also be extended to other social and economic sectors, such as the private and voluntary sectors. Once again, these produce and consume various goods and services, but they are also important pillars of Malta’s social fabric as they involve various social networks and practices. The Green Leader initiative can help build a stronger sense of community on environmental matters, where workers and volunteers can participate and work together in their respective employment or civil society communities, with a sense of responsibility towards

Malta’s sustainable development goals.

In sum, the Green Leader initiative can have both an instrumental and direct role in seeing that sustainable policy is produced and implemented, but also a ‘softer’ yet equally vital social role in raising awareness, deliberating and consulting with the respective members of government, private and voluntary entities, whilst hopefully bringing about a stronger sense of belonging and responsibility towards a greener Malta.

Best wishes for the festive season to all readers of this article and to all staff at Standard Publications.

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