The Malta Independent 25 May 2024, Saturday
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TMID Editorial: Sustainability cannot just be a buzzword

Tuesday, 16 April 2024, 10:47 Last update: about 2 months ago

We hear the word sustainability used quite frequently, but looking at Malta today, are we truly applying it in sectors and on issues that affect us in our everyday lives?

Is our current transport policy sustainable? We have around 60 more vehicles on the road each day than the day prior. The government is implementing many infrastructural projects, but isn’t really tackling the issue at its core. There are too many vehicles on the road, and the alternatives are not viewed as viable by too many people. The country has a limit as to the number of vehicles it could handle.

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Are we being sustainable in the way we plan development? Clearly not. We have uglified our towns and villages way too much with blank party walls, pencil developments, shoe boxes build on top of each other and a lack of beauty in our streetscapes. Is it sustainable? Sure, if we want to live in shoe boxes in streets filled with no architectural beauty and little greenery. It is good that the government wants to start building green spaces in built up areas, but perhaps introducing policies that include more green in more projects could also be a positive. We also need policies that make sense to ensure that areas retain their character and create aesthetically pleasing buildings.

This ties in to another point, the country’s economic model. Finance Minister Clyde Caruana had said that Malta’s population will have to balloon to 800,000 over the next 17 years if the country is to keep its economy growing at the current rate, unless a new economic model is devised. Is that sustainable given the country’s size? No, given the impact this would have in terms of excessive construction, congestion, property prices, the list goes on. It is to be noted that the government is introducing measures to try and better control the situation.

What about our tourism sector? Is it sustainable?  While Malta has made leaps forward since the pandemic in terms of tourism numbers, and the country is back at pre-pandemic levels, the problems associated with such numbers are also present during the summer months. This is why the government should look into a strategy that would aim to attract higher value tourists, as that would mean that the need for sheer numbers would not be as important. This point is being made as, while one must stress the importance of the tourism sector for the economy of the country, indeed it is a key economic pillar after all, having the sheer number of tourists as Malta attracts in summer means that beaches are too packed, that developers will continue wanting to build higher and bigger hotels possibly in the countryside, that too many people in spots which have protection thus resulting in unintentional damage etc. Too many people in general trying to visit sites, beaches and more is not appealing to any tourist either.

An area where Malta could be successful if it goes through with its plan is the renewable energy sector. During an interview with The Malta Independent on Sunday, a government energy expert said that the Maltese islands could become fully reliant on renewable energy sources (RES) for periods of time once the government’s planned energy projects are completed. Such renewables include types found onshore and offshore, Ing. Ismail D’Amato said. Malta has a long way to go to build renewable energy infrastructure, but doing so would be beneficial.

Sustainability cannot just be a buzzword, but must be something we strive to achieve in all sectors.

 

 

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