A better shade of green | Ray Ellul

NDSF’s social investment demonstrates the importance it gives to initiatives which will improve the wellbeing of society through a better quality of the island’s green and blue infrastructure

Quality of life cannot be measured solely on income generation, employment levels, or increased consumption. The concept of social wellbeing is much wider than making ends meet. It is also about having sufficient time to spend with our families, pursue interests or simply relax. Good health – physical and mental – is what leads to enjoyment and contentment.

The drive to green our urban spaces is part of this broader thinking. It is important that people have a place where they can rest, take in pleasant surroundings, meet friends or enjoy some peace and quiet in a relaxing environment.

There is recognition that in the rush for progress there was neglect of the value of green environments and fresh air. The COVID-19 pandemic and concern over climate change have brought these issues to the fore and there is now an increased desire for positive change.

Towards this end, the National Development and Social Fund (NDSF) will be financing a €4.5 million urban greening pilot project in a number of different localities which will be managed by GreenServ, a new project implementation arm of WasteServ.

The latest project to be announced, in Ħamrun, will see an area currently used as a car park transformed into a roof garden. This will be an open green space with trees and shrubs. Vertical landscaping will be incorporated on the façade of new structures to integrate them into the overall design. A lift will be installed to make it easily accessible to all, and the garden will be equipped with public toilets. The well thought out design ensures that there will be no loss in the number of car parking spaces.

This is one of a series of greening initiatives. Another is planned at Triq il-Wied, Qormi, an area of a valley impacted by rainwater at various times. It will be very much at the centre of the community, where hundreds of families live.

A third project, in Mosta, will see the transformation of a derelict space in the middle of a residential area (Triq il-Mitħna, off Vjal l-Indipendenza). Today it is an unkept area which is inaccessible to the general public and a constant eyesore to passers-by. Once the greening project is complete, families in the locality will benefit from the much improved surroundings for years to come. Another benefit of this urban greening is that it takes away the threat of the area being developed.

A fourth initiative is in the pipeline for Żabbar, with the full details to be announced in the coming weeks.

Such projects are an illustration of the concept of intelligent and sustainable planning. NDSF’s social investment in this area demonstrates the importance it gives to initiatives which will improve the wellbeing of society through a better quality of the island’s green and blue infrastructure, that is, in water management, climate adaptation, less heat stress, more biodiversity, better air quality, sustainable energy production and healthy soils. 

NDSF will in the years to come, continue to fund other urban greening projects of national importance mostly in areas characterised by heavy traffic and urban congestion in order to optimise the socio-economic benefit within our communities.

The National Development and Social Fund is a government agency established for the purpose of managing and administering seventy per cent of the contributions received from Community Malta Agency, set up by virtue of the Malta Citizenship Act Cap.188.

Raymond Andrew Ellul is CEO, National Development and Social Fund