The diversification of Gozo’s economy; the blue and green economy; digitalisation, the environment and a permanent link. These are some of the issues identified by social partners and activists to Renew Gozo Together.
Mario Fava – Local Councils’ Association
The effects of climate change aren’t a thing of the future anymore. They are now felt by everyone. We must therefore take all measures to save the environment around us, in the framework of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Local Councils have an important role to play in this field. Through the “Resident First” programme, we are implementing a number of measures across the country. Our point of departure is that every person living in our localities, irrespective of where they come from or what they believein, should be an integral part of every initiative we take. One of the concepts we’re developing is that of “Slow Streets” with safe corridors created in the heart of villages, where cars are no longer a top priority. Whenresidents get to enjoy their local spaces, their quality of life improves.
Abigail Cutajar – Engineer
I believe that Gozo can be a pioneer when it comes to a carbon free economy. I was pleased to hear that 54% of Malta’s RRF plan is based on green investment. This shows how much Malta is investing in this regard. Going forward, we need to address the increasing electricity demand. This can be done through more incentives to switch to renewables. Moreover, I believe that Gozo can serve as a platform to test new technologies which will help us achieve climate neutrality.
Joseph Muscat – Gozo Tourism Association
Although the pandemic has had its effects on the Gozitan economy, this island has always managed to overcome its challenges. The resilience of the private sector was primarily aided by Government, including through the wage supplement. We now need to work to diversify the Gozitan economy and look at digitalisation, the green and the blue economies. We must also ensure that development in Gozo is sustainable.
Daniel Borg – Gozo Business Chamber
We need to diversify our economy and expand to the Green Economy and Digitisation. I agree that Gozo can serve as a platform to test new technologies. This could be complemented with a new faculty, based in Gozo. The second fibre-optic link solved a structural problem in Gozo. A permanent link between the two islands gives a choice to Gozitan people and to companies. Gozo has a great contribution to make to the Maltese economy but only if it is on the same level as Malta in terms of accessibility. I believe that a new hospital in Gozo is essential to relief pressure from the national health system.
Kristie Bartolo – Circular Economy expert
I believe that it is important to combine environmental projects with the economy. We need to ensure that more companies move towards sustainable investment. It is positive that in public procurement, government is giving more importance to environmental criteria. It is now time to practice what we preach, to ensure that we leave a better country for our future generations.
Prof Alan Deidun – Academic & activist
Although the word development has a negative connotation, if you have the right tools, such as an effective Environmental Impact Assessment, you can reduce the impact on the environment. The sea is one of the characteristics that makes Gozo unique. The designation of a number of marine protected areas was a very important step. I now call on the government to designate Ħondoq ir-Rummien as public domain, as it is one of the last beaches in this country, where families can enjoy themselves without paying money. Another suggestion I would like to put forward is to have a Minister responsible for the sea, to ensure a more holistic approach.
Josmar Azzopardi – Għawdix
Over the past years we have seen progress in Gozo, but now the island is at a crossroads. We have to decide what the future holds for Gozo, and this decision must include all constituted bodies. We need to be couragous enough to change policies which have failed.
Brian Scicluna – iDEAT
When we talk about the environment we cannot just focus on the natural environment but we must give due importance to the urban environment. The unprecedented investment in the country’s major infrastructure was a good step forward. It is now important to introduce concepts such as “slow streets” as these produce very positive effects on the health and social aspect of people.
Eman Borg – LGBTI+ Gozo
This year’s Pride Week was special for Gozitan people, with the opening of our office in Victoria. Today, we have a safe social space where LGBTIQ people can feel comfortable to be who they are. I am grateful to livein a country which recognises everyone’s identity. The establishment of a GU Clinic in Gozo was another important step which left very good results. We now look forward to develop a programme of activities forEuroPride2023, to put Gozo on the European map on inclusion.
Mario Borg – Gozo Regional Development Authority
Gozo is made up of people who were born in Gozo, lived and have the ambition to continue living in Gozo. It’s made up of people who visit us every now and then. And it also includes people who chose to retire here. They all have different ambitions. The challenges of today are different than the ones we used to face a number of years ago. We used to speak about unemployment. Now we speak about labour shortages. Excessive construction is one of the challenegs which we need to address, as it is changing Gozo’s identity.
During the event, Prime Minister Robert Abela announced government’s plans to keep the fourth Gozo Channel ferry, but upgrade it to a more environmentally friendly one. He also declared that the air link service will be delivered without taking agricultural land. On climate change, Prime Minister Abela reiterated the government’s goal for Gozo to reach carbon neutrality before Malta. “The climate challenge is greater than COVID as it affects various aspects of society. I believe that we can turn this challenge into an opportunity,” he concluded.