Church wants sustainability portfolio shifted from Environment Minister to Prime Minister

The Church Environment Commission said Malta should also move away from a short-term pro-business approach to a long-term pro-person approach

The Church Environment Commission said Malta needed to address the fact that it had an excessive number of cars on its roads
The Church Environment Commission said Malta needed to address the fact that it had an excessive number of cars on its roads

The Church Environment Commission (KA) has suggested that the country’s sustainable development portfolio be shifted from the Environment Ministry to the Office of the Prime Minister.

The KA said in a statement that it had taken part in a consultation exercise related to Malta’s sustainable development vision for 2050, during which it made a number of suggestions.

Sustainable development, along with climate change, currently falls under the remit of the Environment ministry.

This “tends to reinforce the misconception that sustainable development deals with ‘environmental stuff’,” the KA said, adding that instead, it should form part of the Prime Minister’s portfolio.

Moreover, it suggested that a parliamentary committee be set up, with representatives from both sides of the house, which would decide on a “national development strategy with accompanying policy actions”.

The KA called on the government to open itself up to the implementing positive discrimination of policies to safeguard the environment and social wellbeing over short-term economic gains.

It also recommended engaging consultants “who know what sustainable development means”.

Country’s carrying capacity being ignored

While commending the ministry for its work in presenting a long-term vision for sustainability, the KA said it found it strange that “in a document addressing sustainable development in a densely populated country like Malta, the concepts of ‘carrying capacity’ and ‘limits to growth’ are not sufficiently explored’.

“One needs to examine whether what goes into increasing our Gross Domestic Product is in fact contributing to the sustained wellbeing of current, and particularly, future generations.”  

The KA said Malta required a long-term vision attacking causes, rather than symptoms; a strategy to integrate environmental, social and economic policies; ongoing consultation on such matters that included citizens; an evaluation of the past to better inform future policies.   

Honesty as a key governance principle

Issues such as the “excessive number of private cars” and the “negative impacts on sustainability” of the construction industry, which have been completely disregarded by the ministry’s document “despite being the root cause of problems”, the KA said.

“The construction industry has gone well beyond its carrying capacity, and is impacting our living spaces and social fabric negatively.”

Finally, the KA pointed out that while 2050 vision acknowledges the crucial role of education in achieving sustainability, education, particularly for adults, remains lacking.

It said that the document rightly promotes the upskilling and development of an adaptable flexible workforce. “This would help Malta move away from unsustainable short-term gains for a few who profit from a pro-business approach, to long-term benefits for the community who would gain from a pro-person approach to the economy.”

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