​The first major step in the development of the NSE was the publication of a Vision for 2050 in November 2020. The Vision for 2050 was developed following a thorough scenario building exercise, through which multiple scenarios were explored so as to support decision-making processes by providing an analytical framework for finding suitable, or robust options with regard to a specific policy target.

The methodology chosen to identify the lead scenario for 2050 was based on the Environmental Scenario Analysis method used by the Partnership for European Environment Research (PEER). A holistic approach was also adopted, where it was acknowledged that safeguarding the environment cannot be addressed without considering economic and social aspects. The robust method involved extensive consultations with a wide range of stakeholders and experts who have a bearing on the environment, as well as a Citizen Survey. Further detail on the methodology can be found in the Scenario Analysis Methodology document.

The scenario analysis exercise resulted in the selection of a Wellbeing First Vision for 2050 where strategic alignment across government entities creates a robust policy framework that contributes to an improved quality of life that endorses environmental limits. This is reinforced by greater collaboration among government, citizens and stakeholder groups in decision making. The removal of silos improves environmental, social and economic wellbeing dimensions at par with each other in a holistic manner​.


In a Wellbeing First Vision, success is measured on what really matters for quality of life, and the environment is increasingly recognised as fundamental to a system supporting overall wellbeing. Furthermore, synergy between public and private domains creates a roadmap with targets and goals into which businesses willingly become involved in, and public institutions benefit from learned input derived from private enterprise.​

Key Challenges

One of the first steps for the development of the Wellbeing First Vision was to elicit the key environmental challenges, and broadly identify the underlying driving forces. This is because, the present state of the environment is influenced by pressures which in turn result from specific drivers as per the DPSIR (Drivers, Pressures, State, Impacts, Responses) framework for describing the interactions between society and the environment. Knowledge of the key pressures facing the environment and the driving forces causing them is therefore critical to improve the state of the environment.


The underlying driving forces resulting in environmental challenges issues can be grouped into the following broad categories:

DRIVING FORCES Exogenous drivers including natural and transboundary conditions, as well as climate change (this driver recognises background conditions such as Sahara Dust, mercury levels in marine water, and changing climatic conditions as external drivers)
Population density and demographic changes pertains to the size, structure, and distribution of populations, and spatial or temporal changes in them in response to birth, migration (including work migrants), aging, and death. It also recognises criteria such as education, nationality, religion, and ethnicity, as also influenced by spikes in migration due to foreign political factors
Citizen choices reflects public choices as consumers or users, as influenced by education, awareness, aspirations, religion or ethics, political beliefs etc.
Technology including market complements and substitutes; capturing the ways in which the technology, products, or services available on the market change the environment)
Unintended/Unsustainable Policy Effects understood as existing policy initiatives to address an issue such as declining agriculture, which may have undesirable spinoff effect on the environment)

Economic Growth

  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Transport & Infrastructure
  • Tourism
  • Agriculture
  • Fisheries
  • Industry & Energy
  • Public Sector

Other Sectors (e.g. variants of the service sector)

the increase in the amount of goods and services produced, also giving regard to the influencing dynamics of the internet economy, artificial intelligence, and other emerging markets influencing technologies

The State of the Environment Report 2018​ was crucial in identifying the key challenges shown in the table below. These are explained in more detail in the NSE: Recognizing Malta’s Environmental Challenges​ paper. For more information on how these were identified, also consult Wellbeing First – A Vision for Malta’s Environment ​and the Scenario Analysis Methodology​ document.

Theme Key Challenges
Safeguarding Environmental Quality: Air High levels of ground-level ozone, especially in rural areas
High levels of PM10
High levels of nitrogen dioxide in traffic-prone areas
Safeguarding Environmental Quality: Environment and Wellbeing Limited access to open space or safe environments conducive to physical activity and mental health
Limited planning for environmental noise, and integrating solutions in land-use and transport planning
Limited understanding, awareness, and management of chemical flows through our food and living systems
Excessive coarse dust emissions
Addressing Climate Change Levels of GHG emissions
Limited national preparedness and resilience to future climate change impacts
Restricted synergies between climate change policy and other policies
Sustainable Use of Resources: Land and Coast Limited integration of land-use into coordinated decision making and policy development to maximise land-use efficiency
Lack of integration of the ecosystem approach into urban planning and development
Restricted understanding and management of vacant dwelling stock
Need to rationalise development in the countryside
Need to value and manage the costs of land degradation and soil erosion
Need to strengthen environmental stewardship in agriculture
Need to renew afforestation efforts
Need for integrated coastal zone management that continues to curb pressures of economic activities on the natural environment
Sustainable Use of Resources: Marine and Fresh Waters High water stress
Quality of groundwater bodies
Inland and coastal water pollution risks
Ecological status of inland surface waters and transitional waters
Nitrates in coastal inlets
Managing and safeguarding the quality of the marine environment
Introduction of non-indigenous species
Sustainable fishing
Marine litter and micro plastic pollution
Sustainable Use of Resources: Resources and Waste High generation of waste
High levels of landfilling and low alternative waste management practices
Need to strengthen waste enforcement capabilities
Limited waste data quality
Sustainable Use of Resources: Geology and Minerals Limited data on mineral production, resources and reserves
Environmental costs of limestone use are not internalised
Need to assess the availability of building material alternatives
Control and mitigate negative environmental affects that are a by-product of quarrying
Need to implement the continued restoration of quarries, not limited to the quarry’s afterlife
Need to establish a minerals extraction policy framework
Enhancing our Natural Capital Biodiversity protection needs to be better integrated into sectoral policies
Implement management measures of Natura 2000 sites
Limited biodiversity awareness
Continue to improve the knowledge base on Maltese biodiversity, and valuate it’s services
Introduction and eradication of invasive alien species
Enhance efforts to curb illegalities, supporting timely conservation actions
Enabling Change & Empowering compliance: Policy Responses Assess and monitor the costs and benefits for environmental policy
Improved communication of environmental data, authorized permits, and environmental awareness
Embark on the opportunity to extend the environment education role
Continue to promote a transition to a circular economy
Better integration of environmental needs across all sectors
Further the promotion of an Environment Fund
Strengthening of environmental enforcement and environment liability
Our Neighbourhood Environment Ensure liveability of urban areas in terms of noise levels, air quality, cleanliness, greening, aesthetics, and access to open spaces; and access to natural open landscapes to determine our quality of life.




Public Consultation on the National Strategy for the Environment 
National Strategy for the Environment 2050 – Consultation Brief

Vision Document
Wellbeing First: A Vision for Malta’s Environment, National Strategy for the Environment 2050 – Final

Annexes to the Vision Document
Environment in Malta: Today and the Future – Citizen Survey Report
Intent for the National Strategy for the Environment and its Vision for 2050 – Consultation Brief
Intent for the National Strategy for the Environment and its Vision for 2050 – Public Consultation Submissions & Responses Report
NSE: Recognizing Malta’s Environmental Challenges Paper
Scenario Analysis Methodology
Scenario Analysis: Synopsis of Stakeholder Meetings

Public Consultation on the Vision Document
Wellbeing First: A Vision for Malta’s Environment, National Strategy for the Environment 2050 –Consultation Brief
Wellbeing First: A Vision for Malta’s Environment, National Strategy for the Environment 2050 – Public Consultation Submissions & Responses Report

Wellbeing First Vision Video Animation