Economic growth and the safeguarding of the environment seen as enablers rather than opposing forces

Ministers Silvio Schembri, Aaron Farrugia and Clint Camilleri address Malta’s Economic Vision 2021-2031 National Consultation on The Environment (Pillar 4), stating that activities which protect the environment develop new economic niches and a better quality of life

The government is committed to realising robust economic growth without jeopardising the longevity of Malta’s environment for future generations. The Economic Vision for Malta 2031 encourages activities which protect the environment as a key pillar for a better quality of life, with the safeguarding of natural resources leading to the development of new economic niches, investment and an improved tourism offering.

This was stated by Minister for the Economy and Industry Silvio Schembri, during the first of a series of seminars discussing each of the five pillars outlined in Malta’s Economic Vision 2021-2031 document for national consultation. The session, organised by MIMCOL on the island of Gozo, addressed the fourth pillar of the document, this being the environment, and saw the participation of Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Planning Aaron Farrugia and Minister for Gozo Clint Camilleri. Important stakeholders from government entities, civil society and non-governmental organisations participated in the event.

Minister Silvio Schembri emphasised that the growth and the safeguarding of the environment are seen as integrated rather than opposing forces.

“Environmental degradation is no longer ‘sine qua non’ to economic success. Rather than seeing the environment and sustainability as a trade-off to economic growth, the government sees it as an enabler that can help cultivate new niches – for example, tapping into reconstituted stone, something that has been used in neighbouring countries such as Greece and Cyprus. We can look at sectors such as marine biotech, a billion euro industry that thrives and maximises return in weather conditions much like ours,” said Minister Schembri.

He added that, to safeguard’s Malta’s future generations, the government will facilitate and enable a smooth transition towards a circular and sustainable economy across all sectors of economic activity. This while embracing new alternative energy practices to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Speaking about Gozo, Minister Schembri noted that the protecting of agricultural and rural land in Gozo remains a priority in maintaining a strategy of ECO-Gozo.

Minister Aaron Farrugia said that our most notable duty is that of safeguarding the future, health and wellbeing of upcoming generations. To this end, the government is working on various fronts to ensure more sustainable development, intelligent planning, and an ecological transition – with various policies and measures to combat climate change and to foster a greener economy. Malta’s Economic Vision, he said, is a good basis for moving towards a circular economy and better quality of life for all.

Minister for Gozo Clint Camilleri said that, back in 2012, we were in a situation where Gozo was lagging in economic development when compared to Malta, the unemployment rate was high and there was a lack of job opportunities. He stated that in recent years the government has realized that the only way for Gozo to move forward was through improved connectivity.

Minister Camilleri stated that, “During this time, we have invested heavily in accessibility, introduced the fourth Gozo ferry, introduced a second fibre optic cable to attract more companies that wanted to invest, especially in technology, and introduced the fast ferry service.” He described this service as a game changer, not only for Gozitans working in Malta and for students, but also for tourists visiting Malta, so as to also visit Gozo. Minister for Gozo Clint Camilleri expressed his satisfaction that, “For the first time, we are once again attracting Gozitans to the island of Gozo and others who are seriously considering relocating to Gozo. Gozitans are not only living again at home with their families, but we are seriously addressing the brain drain”. Regarding development, he stated that it is crucial that Gozo does not lose its characteristics.

The visionary economic document states that a future-proof Malta in the environment sector by 2031 can be achieved through various measures, such as:

• Efficient use of resources, including land, and better waste management;

• Combatting emissions and pollution;

• Achieving carbon neutrality;

• Providing green finance;

• Protecting Malta’s seas and harnessing the blue economy;

• Preservation and restoration of nature habitats.

All those interested to participate in the national consultation process can visit to submit their feedback.

The consultation process will remain open till the 31st of July 2021.