A healthy environment is both our duty and our right, and it is each and everyone’s moral and legal obligation to contribute towards a sustainable future. Choosing the path and setting the pace for protecting and managing our environment from now till the next generation is critical for a future which includes our common goods. This is exactly what the National Strategy for the Environment (NSE) will strive to achieve. The NSE is a strategic governance document serving as an umbrella framework for environmental elements targeting all national plans, policies and programs. Through this Strategy, planning for our environment for approximately the next 30 years, to 2050, will be undertaken to set out the direction to follow, to protect and improve the environment within a generation. The National Strategy for the Environment is a successor to the National Environment Policy​​.

NSE Graphic showing topics covered

The requirement for the NSE arises from Articles 45 – 47 of the Environment Protection Act (Cap. 549)​, where it is defined as a strategic governance document which sets the policy framework for the preparation of plans, policies and programs issued under the Act or under any other Act for the protection and sustainable management of the environment, including land and sea resources.

The ultimate objectives of the NSE are to:

  • ensure a better and sustainable quality of life
  • provide clear and long-term direction for our environment
  • set out national environmental targets
  • address the main environmental challenges Malta is facing
  • integrate and synergise efforts of all policies and stakeholders who directly or indirectly influence the state of our environment

Key Challenges

As per the DPSIR (Drivers, Pressures, State, Impacts, Responses) framework for describing the interactions between society and the environment, the present state of the environment is influenced by pressures which in turn result from specific drivers. Knowledge of the key pressures facing the environment and the driving forces causing them is critical to improve the state of the environment. In this regard, one of the first steps for the development of the NSE was to elicit the key environmental challenges, and broadly identify the underlying driving forces.


The underlying driving forces causing these 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 which are 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.



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