In recent years, Malta’s economic growth and booming industry have led to substantial improvements in various areas and sectors. We currently have the lowest unemployment rate ever in our history, and we are slowly but surely emerging from the harshest days of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022 and beyond, we aim to continue enhancing the quality of life of our citizens by addressing our priorities and implementing change when necessary.
And safeguarding the environment is one of the foremost priorities for me as Prime Minister, and for my government. In the past two years, we have mobilised funds, tweaked plans and launched new green incentives in a bid to reinforce our efforts even further. We are on the right track, but we know there is more that can, and should, be done, as we look towards the future.
This is why we revisited the American University Project and decided to discuss and subsequently amend the agreements such that the original plans to build a dormitory in Cospicua, and a campus in the Outside Development Zone in Żonqor, Marsascala, have now been discarded. These pieces of land will return to government for us to restore for the benefit of the environment and people of Cottonera and Marsascala, including additional green spaces and the potential relocation of the waterpolo pitch to the old national swimming pool.
Safeguarding the environment is one of the foremost priorities for me as Prime Minister, and for my government.
An alternative location was found as the dormitory and campus will now be relocated to a site at Smart City which is not only already earmarked for development, but is also expected to host a Centre of Vocational Education Excellence, including the Institute for Tourism Studies Campus, through circa €41m of funding from the Recovery and Resilience Facility.
This alteration to the original plans was a win for all involved. Moreover, this decision mirrors the mindset in which we build on our many successes, recognise areas which need to be prioritised, and implement the necessary changes. Most importantly however, our environment is protected as a result of this mutually beneficial solution.
It is also part of my government’s bolstered vision to advance green reform even further in Malta and Gozo as was evident in our Budget 2022 proposals and our Recovery and Resilience Plan which was hailed as the greenest plan presented by all EU member states.
I am determined to lead my government and country to a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable future.
In Budget 2022, we introduced tax relief measures for those purchasing older properties or buildings in Urban Conservation Areas (UCA) to limit the demand for new development, whereas other measures such as the restoration of gardens and squares, the creation of new community gardens and prospective afforestation projects, aim to enhance urban greening in our towns and villages. These efforts will enable our citizens to breathe cleaner air and enjoy the open spaces for their recreational activities.
We also increased the maximum grant to purchase a new electric vehicle in order to have cleaner vehicles on our roads, reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality whilst funding from the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility will enable us to introduce the large-scale electrification of road transport. The RRF will also support a shift from road to sea, introducing electric ferry transport thus reducing emissions and congestions on land.
Decarbonising transport will be key to our success in achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
Through my numerous and various meetings with the people, it is evidently clear that making Malta cleaner and greener is a goal we all share. However, for this to happen, individuals and business alike must contribute to our country’s decarbonisation process. Only together can we achieve this objective.
Making Malta cleaner and greener is
a goal we all share.
And we are ready to facilitate this process. We will ensure no one is left behind.
Other Budget 2022 measures such as the assistance to companies to stimulate their green transition by means of PV panel investment schemes; the Waste-to-Energy Facility; and the increased funding for the installation of solar panels on government buildings, affirm furthermore our commitment to environmentally sustainable economic growth.
Yet whilst a lot of emphasis is often placed on land-based emissions, we must embrace the importance of the seas that surround us and tackle the challenges faced by the marine environment.
When addressing the One Ocean Summit held in France last week, I reiterated the need for shared responsibility by the international community, and our obligation to use the sea’s resources are used in a sustainable manner.
In Malta, we have protected about 35% of our territorial waters and are continually exploring opportunities to enhance our marine environment and reduce emissions. As part of our commitment, we are investing in a multi-million-euro Ship to Shore Facility that will greatly reduce emissions from ships berthed in Malta’s Grand Harbour and in Malta’s Freeport.
The COVID-19 pandemic was an unprecedented challenge. Yet together, we managed to overcome this massive hurdle by controlling the spread of the disease, and keeping the economy on its feet. Now, whilst ensuring the pandemic remains under control, we must give due priority to our environment, climate change, and focus on addressing land-based emissions and mitigating pressures on the marine environment.
This is a real, tangible and concrete plan to push our country forward and adopt cleaner practices as part of our wider green transition. We are committed to ensuring a future in which one and all enjoy more green urban spaces within the community, whilst safeguarding our thriving environment.
My government will continue to take bold decisions to deliver a more sustainable future for Gozo and Malta.