The politics of sustainable development

published on Sunday 29 June 2008

by Carmel Cacopardo

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 The government is in transit: it has declared that from now on sustainable development will be the cornerstone of its policies. However, it has not yet stated how this will come about. With regard to this issue, it cannot wait five years to implement its proposal. It must be in a position to deliver immediately.

The adoption of sustainable development as the focus of government policy should lead to the logical conclusion that the economy should henceforth no longer be viewed as an objective but rather as a tool: the economy should be at our service, rather than being our master! The point of departure should be the ecosystem of which we form part. The limited capacity of our ecosystem should lead us to adopt ecocentric policies as distinguished from the current anthropocentric ones. This is what sustainability is all about and this is what the adoption of sustainable development, as a policy objective, should lead us to. The transition from the current state of affairs to a sustainable state should hopefully address the causes of our accumulated environmental deficit!

The government is now seeking ways to live up to its declarations in favour of sustainable development, hoping that it would not have to resort to make substantial changes to existing policies. It is however next to impossible to arrest the accumulated and ever-increasing environmental deficit without addressing the policies and attitudes that have caused it. The list is quite long!

In Malta too, mainstream politics is motivated by the instant link between cause and effect. The community almost immediately feels the economic and social effects of policies and administrative decisions. Thus, mainstream politicians are generally quick to react even to a perceived impact on the economy or on the social fabric. The effects of environmental impacts are however generally much

slower, in part due to the resilience of Mother Earth. Hence, for innumerable political generations, environmental impacts were completely ignored or sidelined, as there was a time lag at times of considerable duration between cause and effect. Now the chickens are coming home to roost and further postponement is not possible. Today’s generation will have to shoulder and address the accumulated environmental deficit, hopefully reducing its effect on future generations.

Policy needs to be approached in a holistic manner, focusing simultaneously on social environmental and economic considerations. It is not a question of an artificial balance between the economy, the environment and social policy but of acting correctly, preferably each and every time. A policy, which is economically sound but socially and/or environmentally wobbly, is of no use and should be discarded. The reverse side is already common practice as socially and environmentally sound policies are rarely applied if they do not pass the test of economic viability.

I acknowledge that this is quite a hard nut to crack, as it will require revisiting practically all areas of policy. Some areas will require minor policy adjustments while others will require a complete overhaul. In some areas action has already commenced. In others, action is incomprehensible at this stage given the current prevalent mindset.

The politics of sustainable development is concerned with redirecting economic activity such that this is compatible with ecological and social requirements. The environment, the economy and social needs are thus placed on the same level when decisions are taken. Throughout the years economic decisions have generally taken into consideration their social impacts. As a result, various measures have been introduced to mitigate and/or prevent negative social effects. The politics of social solidarity as developed has assisted in the transition from a free market economy to a social market economy.

The politics of sustainable development is the means leading to the next transition: an ecocentric economy. The environmental impacts of social and economic policy require attention at the drawing board rather than mitigation after they have occurred. In order for this to occur, it is required that instead of facing the effects we direct our energies to tackle the causes. It is for this reason that the Environment Protection Act of 2001 provides in Section 8 for the setting up of a National Sustainability Commission entrusted with the drafting of a National Strategy for Sustainable Development for the Maltese Islands. The Commission has laboured between 2002 and 2006 to produce a draft, which was concluded and presented to Cabinet for approval in December 2006. Cabinet approved it late in 2007.

In the public sector, the government’s adoption of the principles of sustainable development should spur action on three levels – tackling upstream impacts, direct impacts and downstream impacts. This will necessarily filter through to the private sector that will effectively have no choice but to proceed on similar lines. The government would be leading by example.

Some time last year, the government had commenced an exercise which should eventually lead to a system of public sector green purchasing, whereby non-economic criteria are inbuilt into tender documents. This would not only entail conditions of environmental importance, but also ones of social relevance. We have not heard much on developments to date except declarations during the March 2008 election campaign, and some echoes

afterwards that when contracting-out for services, the public sector will be on the look out for the conditions of work of the employees of those who take part in the tendering process. This was stated because a miniscule part of the private sector is being very innovative when it comes to determining the manner of circumventing the acquired rights of its employees. While the government is certainly hitting the right note when it identified the rights of those employed by bidders for public tenders as ripe for scrutiny, I believe that it is well past the stage of declarations. Concrete action is urgently required.

The public sector will properly manage its upstream impacts only if it ensures that all those who supply it with goods and services do so in a manner that is socially just and environmentally responsible.

The direct impacts of the public sector are the most obvious ones. The appointment of Green Leaders in different ministries and authorities was a step in the right direction as it set the foundations for a culture change among public sector employees. It can lead to quick results (known in environmental management as the “low lying fruit”) in areas related to energy and water consumption, use of stationery, other materials and equipment and waste management among others. The appointment of green leaders can thus set the public sector on the road leading to eco-efficiency.

However, an emphasis on the public sector downstream impacts will be that which eventually could make the major difference. The effects on those at the receiving end of the public sector will not only determine “value for money” but also, more importantly, in my view, it will determine whether the public sector is eco-effective.

The first on the list would be public sector employees themselves and the effects of the fixed term contract on their morale and professional conduct. Subsequently, each policy must be examined for its ecological impact while searching for alternative methods of implementation, which would reduce or preferably eliminate its undesirable impacts.

Managing the social and environmental impacts of the public sector is of paramount importance in the path leading to sustainable development. This will involve the individual policies that need to be analysed in detail. Value for money is not the only criterion used to assess whether public monies have been well spent. When this is taken in hand the public sector would have commenced trekking on the long road of sustainable development. The first steps are the most difficult. Translating rhetoric into action is only possible if the original rhetoric is a reflection of an inner conviction.

Only time will tell.

Leħen Ieħor Favur is-Serjeta’

 

 

 

Nifraħ lil The Today Public Policy Institute u lill-awtur it-Tabib George Debono għall-pubblikazzjoni tar-rapport “Towards A Low Carbon Society ; The Nation’s Health, Energy Security and Fossil Fuels.

 

M’għandi l-ebda dubju illi din il-pubblikazzjoni ser tkun ta’ għajnuna kbira biex iċċaqlaq lill-awtoritajiet ħalli jaġixxu biex jintroduċu miżuri li jwasslu għat-tnaqqis fl-użu tal-karozzi u użu ikbar tat-trasport pubbliku.

 

F’pajjiż żgħir bħal dan dan huwa possibli. Nistgħu nagħmluh bla diffikulta għax id-distanzi huma kważi kollha żgħar.

 

Huwa tajjeb li r-rapport jemfasizza fuq il-ħtieġa li t-tassazzjoni ambjentali għandha tintuża bħala strument biex tgħin fil-bidla tal-imġieba tan-nies. Opportunita tad-deheb qegħda wara l-bieb : ir-reviżjoni tat-taxxa tar-reġistrazzjoni tal-karozzi. Nittamaw li l-Gvern iwettaq dak li ilu jwiegħed, jiġifieri li s-sistema l-ġdida tkun waħda li tiskuragixxi lil min iħammeg.

 

Huwa neċessarju illi s-sidien tal-karozzi tal-linja jirrealizzaw illi l-kriżi tal-prezz taż-żjut m’hiex biss problema. Hija ukoll opportunita għall-komunita biex tnaqqas id-dipendenza fuq l-użu tal-karozzi privati u bħala riżultat ta’ dan tagħmel użu iktar frekwenti mit-trasport pubbliku. L-opportunita qegħda hemm biex nisfruttawha kemm-il darba t-trasport pubbliku jkun reformat, jaqdi iktar lokalitajiet permezz ta’ rotot ġodda, jkun puntwali u jagħti servizz iktar fit-tul matul il-ġurnata.   

 

Impiegi ġenerati mill-ambjent

Dal-għodu ħadt sehem f’seminar organizzat mill-ETC dwar l-impiegi ġenerati mill-ambjent.

Dan is-seminar huwa parti minn proġett ta’ studju ffinanzjat primarjament mill-Unjoni Ewropeja permezz tal-fondi strutturali. Intitolat Green Jobs : what prospects ?  is-seminar kien jifforma partu minn studju intitolat Study on Job Creation and Job Training in the Environment Sector.

Fis-seminar ħareġ ċar kemm għadna lura minkejja d-dikjarazzjonijiet kollha li jsiru. Ħareġ ċar l-interess tal-Universita ta’ Malta – li ma kienitx prezenti. Ħarġet ċara l-frustrazzjoni tal-industrija u l-intrapriża private iffaċċjata b’regolamentazzjoni mingħajr ma jsibu in-nies imħarrġa biex din ir-regolamentazzjoni tkun tista’ tkun osservata u implimentata.

Għad baqa’ ftit biex noħroġu minn din il-mentalita ta’ dilettanti : fejn kollox (jew kważi) jsir fl-aħħar minuta minhabba t-tama li jekk inhu possibli ma jinbidel xejn.

Seminar bħal dan huwa dejjem utli għax jiftaħ għajnejn dawk il-ftit li huma konxji li hemm ftit oħra li jaħsbuha bħalhom. 

Wara Spin Valley ……….. is-supermarket ?

 

 

 

 

 

Ilkoll segwejna mill-qrib l-iżviluppi dwar l-skandlu ta’ Spin Valley fil-Mistra. L-istorja kollha għad trid tinkiteb.

 

Illum ingħalaq kapitlu ieħor fl-istorja ta’ Spin Valley meta l-Bord tal-MEPA dal-għodu rtira l-permess(Outline) li kien inħareġ mid-Diviżjoni A tal-Kummissjoni għall-Kontroll ta’ l-Iżvilupp.

 

Prosit.

 

Issa jmiss iżda li l-MEPA tuża l-istess kejl ma’ permessi oħra li jixirqilhom trattament simili. L-ewwel fuq il-lista hemm is-supermarket fil-limiti ta’ Ħal-Kirkop/Ħal-Safi u li dwaru l-istess Diviżjoni ‘A’ tal-Kummissjoni għall-Kontroll ta’ l-Iżvilupp approvat permess minkejja r-rakomandazzjoni kuntrarja tad-Direttorat tal-Ippjanar kif ukoll minkejja li dan kien barra miż-żona tal-iżvilupp.

 

Għal min nesa’ xi ftit infakkar li l-awditur tal-MEPA kien investiga l-ħruġ tal-permess ta’ dan is-supermarket u kien ikkonkluda li dan ma kellux joħroġ.

 

Tiftakru li kienet irreżenjat il-Kummissjoni kollha, ftit minuti wara li ħareġ ir-rapport ? Iffriskaw ftit il-memorja.

 

 

Reviżjoni tas-surcharge

 

Is-surcharge jista’ jiġi revedut minħabba iż-żieda fenomenali fil-prezz taż-żejt.

 

Iżda mhux hekk biss. Intqal li qed ikunu kkunsidrati reviżjoni tat-tariffi. Jiġifieri apparti s-surcharge huma r-rati vera u propji tal-elettriku u l-ilma ukoll li jistgħu jinbidlu.

 

X’għandu jsir? Ovjament ħadd m’hu ser jieħu ġost li jiżdied il-ħlas kemm jekk dan ikun għall-elettriku kif ukoll jekk dan ikun għall-ilma. Iż-żieda fl-ispejjes minn x’imkien trid tiġi. Jekk tiġix mill-ħlas tal-kontijiet inkella jekk tiġix mit-taxxi ġenerali l-ispiża xorta ser titħallas u xorta ser inħallsuha aħna. Id-differenza ser tkun jekk iħallasx għall-ispiża min jagħmel użu mis-servizz jew jekk iħallasx għaliha kulħadd irrispettivament minn kemm juża elettriku u ilma.

 

F’soċjeta li tirrispetta l-ambjent l-għażla hi waħda ovvja :  li l-ispiża, soġġett għall-miżuri li jilqgħu għall-impatti soċjali fuq familji ta’ mezzi limitati, għandu jġorrha min jagħmel użu mill-elettriku u l-ilma skond l-użu.

 

Waqt il-kampanja elettorali AD ipproponejna li anke s-surcharge għandha tkun strutturata b’tali mod illi min juża’ ħafna elettriku u ilma jħallas rata ferm għola ta’ surcharge minn min juża’ inqas.

 

B’rati ta’ surcharge li jvarjaw skond l-użu tonqos il-ħela, kemm tal-elettriku kif ukoll tal-ilma.

 

Dan m’għandux isir għar-residenzi biss iżda għall-kummerċ u għall-industrija ukoll. Sussidji żejda ma jagħmlu ġid lil ħadd. Anke l-kummerċ u l-industrija għandhom ikunu soġġetti għas-surcharge bl-istess kundizzjonijiet : jiġifieri li min jimplimenta miżuri li jnaqqsu l-użu tal’elettriku u l-ilma jkollu rati ta’ surcharge inqas iebsa minn min juża’ ħafna.

 

 

 

Ara ukoll dawn il-posts fuq din il-blog :

 

 

Dik il-bozza

 

Surcharge

 

L-MLP u l-proposti tal-AD dwar is-surcharge

Opportunita ta’ darba

 

Il-prezz dejjem jogħla tal-petrol u d-diesel qed jagħfas lil kulħadd. Hu problema kbira, imma m’hiex problema li ħoloqha l-Gvern.

 

Din il-problema iżda tagħti lill-Gvern opportunita ta’ darba, kif ngħidu fuq platt. Aħna kapaċi bħala pajjiż nisfruttaw problema biex minnha l-pajjiż joħroġ minn fuq ?

 

Fl-istess żmien li l-prezz tal-petrol u d-diesel qed jispara l-fuq il-Gvern qiegħed iħejji biex joħroġ b’sistema ġdida ta’ tassazzjoni tal-karozzi li tkun tirrispetta l-kriterji tad-direttivi tal-Unjoni Ewropea.

 

Il-borma fuq tlieta toqgħod. It-tielet sieq hi t-trasport pubbliku.

 

Huwa ċar daqs il-kristall illi bil-prezz tal-fuel jispara l-fuq u b’taxxa ta’ reġistrazzjoni tal-karozzi li tista’ tvarja skond jekk tkunx meqjusa bħala għodda ambjentali jew għodda fiskali l-istat tat-trasport pubbliku jista’ jkun determinanti. Bi transport pubbliku effiċjenti n-nies tagħmel għażla li jaqbel għall-but. Tuża’ tal-linja jekk tal-linja tkun effiċjenti. L-effiċjenza mhux biss fil-ħin u l-frekwenza iżda ukoll fir-rotot li fihom jingħata is-servizz.

 

L-effett ikun :

1) iktar nies tuża’ tal-linja, li bi dħul ikbar jista’ jkollhom bżonn ta’ inqas sussidji,

2) b’iktar nies fuq tal-linja jfisser inqas nies f’karozzi żgħar, inqas karozzi fit-toroq, inqas traffic jams,

3) inqas karozzi fit-toroq ifisser inqas dħaħen, kwalita’ tal-arja ħafna aħjar,

4) b’inqas spejjes fil-karozzi żgħar ifisser li n-nies ikollha iktar flus fil-but, ammont li meta tgħodd l-ispejjes kollha (xiri tal-karozza, insurance kull sena, service, petrol/diesel skond l-użu) tista’ titla mhux ħażin kuljum . 

 

 

Din hi opportunita ta’ darba.

Is-sandwich nukleari jkompli jikber

Bil-ftehim bejn Franza u l-Algerija dwar għajnuna teknika fil-qasam tal-enerġija nukleari kemm għal skopijiet ċivili kif ukoll għal finijiet ta’ difiża is-sandwich nukleari madwarna qed ikompli jikber.

 

U  l-Gvern f’Malta fommu sieket! Ma ngħidx li ma hu jagħmel xejn, għax ma nafx. Imma għandu l-obbligu li jzommna infurmati.

 

Ara ukoll il-posts segwenti f’dan il-blog :

 

28 t’April 2008        Chernobyl : it-22 Anniversarju

 

26 ta’ Mejju 2008    Sandwich bejn il-Libya u l-Italja

 

9 ta’ Ġunju 2008      F’Krško evitat inċident nukleari

 

15 ta’ Ġunju 2008    A Nuclear Sandwich in the Mediterranean

 

 

Fr Peter u r-Referendum fl-Irlanda

 

Li tkun favur l-Unjoni Ewropea u s-sehem ta’ Malta fiha ma jfissirx li taqbel ma kull ma jiġri fi Brussels u l-istrutturi tal-EU.

 

Dan hu l-punt prinċipali li joħroġ mill-artiklu/diskussjoni ta’ Fr Peter fis-Sunday Times tal-Ħadd li għadda intitolat A pro-European ‘bravi’ to the Irish voters.

  

Punti ta’ min jixtarrhom f’din id-diskussjoni/artiklu huma s-segwenti :

 

  1. Oddly enough, I sympathise with the reactions expressed by Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici, although he is motivated by Euroscepticism and I by deep attachment to the authentic European ideal.
  2. I am amazed that almost all those who reacted locally to the Irish ‘No’ have lamented the likely loss of our sixth MEP at least at the next European Parliament elections, but none of them has pointed out that with the treaty we would instead lose always having a Maltese Commissioner as well as our turn in the six-monthly cycle of hosting the Presidency on our own.
  3.  ……. it was strategically opportune for the Maltese Parliament to ratify both the Constitution and the Lisbon Treaty. However, we should also be grateful to the Irish for following the example of the French and the Dutch and voting ‘No’.

Fi ftit kliem, Fr Peter il-konsulent tal-Gvern qed jgħidilna li m’hemmx għaliex jiddispjaċina li l-Irlanda qalet le. Għalkemm dan hemm min ha pjaċir bih (għax huwa kontra dak li tirrappreżenta l-Unjoni Ewropea) fl-aħħar dak li ġara jista’ jkun ta’ ġid għalina ukoll.

 

ara ukoll il-post intitolat L-Irlanda tgħid le għall-Ewropa datat 13 ta’ Gunju 2008

Il-Boathouses tal-Armier

 

Id-deċiżjoni li ħa l-Gvern permezz tal-Korporazzjoni Enemalta li jipprovdi substation tal-elettriku bi spiża ta’ €82,000 u dan biex jaqdi li min b’mod illegali abbuża u qiegħed jokkupa art pubblika fl-Armier hi tal-mistħija .

 

M’huwiex aċċettabbli li min jabbuża u jieħu f’idejh art pubblika ikun ippremjat. Dan m’huwiex kompatibbli mas-saltna tad-dritt (rule of law) f’soċjeta demokratika iżda mal-liġi tal-ġungla. Fejn min għandu s-saħħa jhedded u jimxi.

 

L-anqas m’hi imġieba etika dak li għamel il-Kap tal-PN li kellu laqgħa sigrieta (ma ngħatat l-ebda pubbliċita) mal-assoċjazzjoni ta’ dawk li qed jabbużaw lejliet l-elezzjoni ġenerali bl-intenzjoni speċifika li jserħilhom moħħhom u b’hekk jipprova jieħu il-voti tagħhom.     

 

Il-kosta tal-Armier għandha tittieħed lura mill-Gvern f’isem il-poplu Malti u dan biex titgawda minn kulħadd, u mhux minn dawk li għax abbużaw qed jingħataw il-protezzjoni.

 

Illum qed nikkummenta fuq il-boathouses tal-Armier imma dak li qed ngħid japplika għal dawk ta’ bnadi oħra ukoll, fejn dawn inbnew b’mod illegali. Ma jistax ikun li min jabbuża jiġi ppremjat.

 

Is-skiet tal-MLP fil-kwistjoni kollha għandu tifsira ukoll. Għax hu ukoll għandu responsabbilta’ għal dak li wassal għall-qagħda tal-lum.