The Malta Independent 5 March 2024, Tuesday
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What we leave behind us

Alfred Sant MEP Thursday, 30 November 2023, 08:00 Last update: about 4 months ago

From a certain point of view, controversies about the environment are controversies regarding what we will leave behind us. Many changes are carried out in our times for our times, but in reality most will be irreversible. One can well see this from the old photos of the Maltese and Gozitan environment, in towns, villages and the countryside. It is impossible to bring them back to their former state.

Some changes no one will want to reverse. Where filth, poverty and wretched living conditions prevailed, progress has been marvellous. However, where the countryside and the coast have been totally devoured by buildings and roads it does feel like we have lost an idyllic heritage and replaced it with a confused mess.

For many of us, even the relatively young, there is hardly need to turn to photos to grasp the extent of the changes that have been affected. We can remember how things were formerly. What hurts is that the rate with which the envornment has been changing continued to increase, both by way of speed and by way of scale. It does seem as if we do not much care abut what we will be leaving behind us.                   



Except in special circumstances and for truly exceptional reasons, I always felt and expressed a deep scepticisim regarding the use of referenda as a political tool by which to establish what the people really want. In its organisation, in the way by which questions are expressed and put to the vote, in the idea that complicated choices can be resolved with a simple yes or no, and in the timing proposed for the question(s) to be set, the margins for mass manipulation  are enormous.

Moreover in Europe during the past decades, an interesting method has been discovered by which to make referenda a more effective manipulative tool. As happened in Ireland when a referendum did not deliver the desired result, it is repeated  a while later... and then it passes. Or as happened in France and the Netherlands, its content is amended slightly and is incorporated into a new treaty signed by the member states and ratified by their Parliaments.

So, proposals being made for changes to the European treaties linked to the holding of referenda can only provoke deep suspicion.



If one of Malta’s main resoiurces is the surrounding sea, should we not generate on its basis economic initiatives that will create jobs and earn money? Other countries use the natural resources they have to endow their economy with a competitive tool for its development. Indeed all do this.

If Malta follows their example and endeavours to generate profitable sea-centred activities, how far whould it take this process? Surely only to the point at which  the natural environment remains undestroyed and undamaged. But then how is this point to be determined? How should projects be evaluated? Would it be for instance, according to the need for the Maltese people to continue to enjoy as swimmers every inch of the foreshore? Or is it according to some imperative by which outside the big ports, no patch of the shoreline is built on?

It makes sense for such questions to be considered now that the government has presented proposals for the development of more infrastructure intended to service super yachts.

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