What is the National Strategy for the Environment (NSE)?
A healthy environment is both our duty and our right, and it is each and everyone’s obligation to contribute towards an environmentally sustainable future. Choosing the path and providing the necessary national focus for environmental matters from now until 2050 is critical for our collective wellbeing. This is exactly what the NSE strives to achieve.
The NSE, which is mandated by Articles 45 of the Environment Protection Act (Cap. 549), translates the previously published Wellbeing First Vision for Malta’s Environment 2050 into a strategic policy for our environment. It addresses the critical drivers identified therein and on which environmental prosperity depends, namely moving beyond GDP as a measure of success and having a joined-up approach towards common goals. It sets the direction for protecting and managing our environment from now till the next generation by ensuring that we will continue to deliver an environmentally sustainable future not only in the short term but also in the long term. The National Strategy for the Environment is a successor to the National Environment Policy.
The NSE has been built on eight key pillars, referred to as Strategic Goals. These address traditional environmental facets complemented with pillars which focus on key environmental challenges which our country faces, including challenges in our neighbourhoods, whilst also laying down the roadmap to enable and empower changes that are needed in order to support the required green transition.
The Role of the NSE
The NSE creates an overarching framework for Malta’s existing environmental strategies and plans. It considers the country’s environmental obligations and guides the future development of strategies and plans. This helps to ensure that efforts are focused on areas that will have the greatest impact. Being based on the fundamental consideration that the environment is critical for our wellbeing, and recognising the need to support the development of an economy which values such wellbeing as measure of success, the Strategy will also help strengthen cross-policy integration with other national and sectoral policies that are typically not environmentally-driven.
The environment is a critical component of sustainable development, as living beyond environmental means threatens ecological collapse, subsequently threatening societal and economic collapse. Strategic alignment with Malta’s Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) has been sought, with the NSE constituting the environmental pillar of the SDS, seeking synergy with its contribution to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Interlinkages with the European Green Deal, which strives to place Europe as the first climate-neutral continent, have also been duly considered. Climate change and environmental degradation are existential threats which go closely hand in hand. This Strategy has therefore integrated efforts to mitigate climate change or adapt to its impacts throughout the eight Strategic Goals. Such cross-linking ensures strategic alignment with climate-related policies, including the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) 2050, which provides the direction for reaching carbon neutrality by that date.
Stakeholder Ownership and Engagement
The NSE has been developed in consultation and collaboration with several stakeholders. A Panel composed of representatives from different sectors, such as policymaking, academia, the business community and voluntary sector, was set up to contribute to the development of the Strategy. A number of key players were also identified as having an important role in leading and implementing parts of the Strategy in view of their responsibilities. These have been included in the Strategy and their views were sought and integrated accordingly.
Realising the Strategy
The NSE will be maintained as a living document. It will be reviewed as necessary, and in accordance with the requirements of the Environment Protection Act (Cap. 549), so that it can adapt and respond to new evidence and opportunities.
To turn the Strategy into reality, Action Plans will be developed, each covering roughly a 10-year period until 2050. These Action Plans will translate the content of the NSE into more specific and tangible actions which will contribute to the fulfilment of the Wellbeing First Vision by 2050. Feasibility assessments and capacity requirements will also be factored in.
In order to measure progress, a monitoring framework will be developed for the Strategy and its Action Plans. The regular and comprehensive State of the Environment Report will be instrumental in contributing towards evaluating the effectiveness and success of the NSE, through indicators to track and report progress towards achieving the Strategy outcomes. This, together with other monitoring and evaluation mechanisms that may be necessary will guide improvements to the Strategy and our approach to delivery.
The NSE was available for public consultation from 7th September 2022 to 21st October 2022 and is currently being revised.
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