Green lobby sees united front in Terra Firma collective

Terra Firma Collective brings together environment NGO's to give a stronger voice to their causes

Terra Firma Chairman John Paul Cauchi, Secretary Martin Galea de Giovanni, Minister Helena Dalli, Steering Committee John Portelli and project coordinator JD Farrugia
Terra Firma Chairman John Paul Cauchi, Secretary Martin Galea de Giovanni, Minister Helena Dalli, Steering Committee John Portelli and project coordinator JD Farrugia

A collective of environmental NGOs has been set up to put forward a united voice on green issues.

Terra Firma chairperson John Paul Cauchi and and project coordinator JD Farrugia said NGOs had important roles on the national and international stages, with volunteers giving their time and energy to ensure that all members of society are heard.

"Environment organisations in Malta have a very colourful history, some positive and others not so positive. We can mention the success story of the NGO that became the first green party in Malta, Alternattiva Demokratika (AD)," Farrugia said.

Farrugia said Terra Firma was borne from a realisation that NGOs working together can make a greater difference than when acting on their own, citing the spring hunting referendum as an example of what NGOs can achieve together.

Plans for 2015 include training programmes, a visit to Brussels for training and discussion sessions with international branches of organisations and youth camp, among others.

Cauchi pointed out that six NG's had already signed up to the collective, including founding members Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar (FAA), Friends of the Earth and Malta Organic and Agricultural Movement. Other members are BirdLife, Youth for the Environment, and Green Youth Malta. "The call was only issued a few days ago and many have already expressed their interest in joining," Cauchi explained, adding that those organisations interested were invited to contact the organisation through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter or their personal e-mail address.

Social Dialogue minister Helena Dalli said that she truly believed that this exercise should occur in many other sectors aside from the environment. "There are around 1,000 NGOs in the country, and many of them have the same aims, which often results in wasted resources," Dalli explained.

Dalli encouraged the creation of common platforms for common aims and said that she hoped there would be more attention aimed at the initiative so that other NGOs could follow suit.

She added that collectives like these would also help in the allocation of funds. "In 2014, 38 groups received €341,000 in financial aid from the ministry of social dialogue. This year the allocation has gone up to €450,000, however collecting groups with common aims would help to ensure that funds are allocated for the right projects and not duplicated," Dalli explained.

Dalli said they would prioritise those working for more value for money in their projects during the coming year to ensure that no duplication of work and funds would occur.

"NGOs are very important as they offer a very focused viewpoint, and the more collected these NGO's become, the more effective they will be," she said explaining that she felt that NGO's were an essential part of social dialogue.

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