Dr. Godwin Cassar and Mr. Vincent Gauci are this year’s awardees of the ERA’s prestigious Buonamico Award.
The Buonamico Award is a yearly award-giving ceremony held under the patronage of H.E. The President of Malta, which distinguishes individuals whose actions and achievements benefited our biodiversity and the environment.
This prestigious award has been inspired by Malta’s first naturalist, Giovanni Francesco Buonamico, who had recognized the importance of our natural environment in the 17th century. His varied intellectual interests resulted in the writing of at least four important manuscripts on natural history including the first flora of the Maltese Islands, the so-called “Brevis Notitia” manuscripts which acted as the basis for today’s modern reference books.
Buonamico’s role was pivotal for an environmental regulator’s perspective, with scientific evidence based work as the basis of all decision taking measures, to assure correct implementation to safeguard the Environment from a legislative perspective.
This year, the ERA board has chosen two distinguished members of the public who’s role had contributed towards the protection and the betterment of the Maltese environment.
Dr Godwin Cassar, who served for several decades within the public service and contributed in a significant manner, advocating the need for comprehensive spatial planning, is one of the recipient of this year’s Buonamico Award. He was instrumental in the late-1980s and 1990s in pioneering the establishment of the Planning Authority, later to be known as the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA). He spearheaded the formulation of a comprehensive Structure Plan for the Maltese Islands, Local Plans and several urban development and regeneration briefs.
Godwin was born in Valletta in 1948 and graduated as an Architect from the University of Malta in 1971. After two years in private practice, he spent thirty-five years in the public service, twelve of which were in public-sector housing development and a short spell of two-and-a-half years in roads development. Between 1987-1992 the focus of all his initiatives was the establishment of an effective up-to-date and comprehensive land-use planning system, including the development of a legislative, institutional and policy base incorporating a ‘state of the art’ national mapping function.
With the Works Department reform in 1992, he assumed the Directorship of the Planning Services Department which was subsequently hived off in October 1992 to become the Planning Authority where he was appointed Director of Planning/Chief Executive. Subsequent to the incorporation in 2000 of the then Environment Directorate within the Planning Authority which then became known as the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) he was appointed as its Director General which post he held until his retirement in 2009.
Godwin is a Chartered Town Planner and Architect and Civil Engineer by profession. He graduated as Bachelor of Architecture at the University of Malta in 1971, completed a postgraduate diploma at the Bowcentrum International Education (Rotterdam) in Housing, Planning & Building in 1975 and was a 1991 Salzburg Fellow. He was elected Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute in January 1996 and in April of the same year he was elected Fellow of the Royal Town Planning Institute.
In July 1998 he was awarded the Honorary Doctorate by the Central University of England (Birmingham). Moreover, he served as a member of several local and international committees amongst which are the Senior Committee of Officials European Conference of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning (CEMAT); Chairman Minerals Advisory Board; member of the National Commission for Sustainable Development; member of the Church Commission on Cultural Heritage and member of the EU expert group on Urban Environment.
Godwin is also the recipient of the Planning Authority’s 2019 President’s Award for ‘Outstanding achievement for services related to the Architectural and Spatial Planning’.
Mr. Vincent Gauci has also been awarded the prestigious Buonamico Award this year. Mr Gauci graduated in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Malta in 1967. The following year, he was awarded a World Health Organisation scholarship to read Applied Hydrobiology at the University of London. A year later, he was awarded a Masters Degree with a mark of Distinction.
Mr. Gauci started his carrier in the Public Service as a Water Bacteriologist in connection with the World Health Organisation Project on Waste Disposal and Water Supply. From 1983 to 1997, he carried out pioneer work in the field of liquid and solid waste treatment. Mr Gauci participated in several activities both locally and abroad in connection with the Mediterranean Action Plan.
As Director of the Environment Protection Department (EPD) during the period 1997 to 2002, he was responsible for biodiversity protection, pollution control and waste management. He drafted legislation, advised Government on environmental matters and formed part of official delegations in connection with Malta’s accession to the European Union. Following the merger between the EPD and the Planning Authority in 2002, Mr. Gauci was appointed Assistant Director in the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA), responsible inter alia for waste management regulation and environmental impact assessment.
Following his retirement from the Public Service in 2008, Mr. Gauci acted as an environmental consultant as well as a lecturer at the University of Malta, MCAST, Water Services Corporation and Wasteserv Malta Ltd.
ERA Chairman, Prof. Victor Axiak, thanked the nominees for their invaluable contributions to the environment and their exemplary role in protecting the environment through their outstanding knowledge and commitment.
Both His Excellency Dr. George Vella, the President of Malta and Professor Victor Axiak, ERA’s Chairman, congratulated the winners and their families, whilst thanking them for their priceless efforts towards the environment and for bravely spearheading initiatives that started to bring about societal change within Malta and amongst the Maltese.
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15 October 2022