Malta’s Green Talent

Last Updated on Thursday, 1 June, 2023 at 11:54 am by Andre Camilleri

Last week, the government unveiled the 16 green projects that were selected after a national call for proposal that was issued at the beginning of the year. Frankly, the process did not take long from the opening of the applications to the selection process. Indeed, the timeframes and the application procedure to choose green projects resembled the method applied to pick contestants for Malta’s Got Talent. Let’s leave to your imagination who you would assign the judges’ seats.

Sincerely, we are all delighted to see the government’s roadmap on the implementation of funds allocated for the benefit of our environment. Certainly, the establishment of a new agency to cover for the operationalisation of the call for submissions, as well as the selection process and the subsequent implementation of the green projects is obviously reasonable. However, it transpired that for the first phase of the projects only €10 million were allocated. Hence, it appears that the first phase is just a preview of what will follow with the multimillion budget allocated for the purpose of green infrastructure projects encompassing the new MFF 2021-2027.

The subsequent tranche of €700 million, allocated for the purpose of green infrastructure projects will be implemented over the span of several years. Obviously, before the funds of the new MFF are utilised, the projects that fall within the perimeter of the old operational programmes under the MFF 2014-2021, must be implemented ahead of the decommitments date. Notwithstanding that those who submitted their proposals longed for their project’s selection, to primarily embellish a few dilapidated areas, it appears that the new agency had to allocate the limited financial resources as it deemed appropriate.

Nonetheless, the designated green spaces that will be created are still beneficial for the environment and the residents. Certainly, I augur the participants a successful implementation with their green projects. Surely, I was glad to see Hospice’s project selected. Indeed, Hospice truly helps patients with terminal illnesses, and the area can serve as a respite for the personnel and the volunteers. The new garden is located in Santa Venera and replaces the original plans to erect a block of concrete apartments. However, Santa Venera requires a much bigger green lung to offset the CO2 emissions that are emitted on a daily basis through Santa Venera tunnels. As I already explained in my preceding opinion pieces, we must cover the area of Santa Venera tunnels to improve the residents’ wellbeing. And we must roof it in a way that the CO2 emissions are absorbed by matured trees, akin to the ones that got sick right across San Klement Park.

Personally, I thought that green projects in the Marsa and Ħamrun area would be included. Residents within the area are longing for a green lung. The area requires extensive regeneration and embellishment. When I meet with the residents of Marsa and Ħamrun they just tell me that they are forgotten. Needless to say, the government still have an allocation of additional €700 million for the purpose of green infrastructure projects. Therefore, the government must ensure that these localities are factored in when designing future green projects.

On the other hand, I did not quite understand the rationale behind the selection of the green bus shelter project in Gżira. Cynically, it is a fraction of the size of the existing petrol station on the Gżira front which had to be relocated to the adjacent gardens. Perhaps, the idea is to utilise all the allocated funds. However, only the judges would know the political motivations. Still, it is important to start thinking differently. And providing a green bus shelter is actually important now that summer is approaching. Eventually, green bus shelters must be the norm to create shade and mitigate extensive heat stress emanating from climate change. 

Likewise, Wied Blandun, as well as the zones between the Fgura football pitch, down to Polverista, require an urgent uplift to transform them into recreational parks. Wied Blandun must become a green buffer zone between Fgura and Kordin. For the benefit of my readers, those who do not know the borders between Fgura and Bormla, Polverista is located just outside the Fgura tunnel. Plainly, I am mentioning the borders, as apparently the judges that chose the new green projects, did not know that one of the contestants hailed from Birgu rather than Bormla. When they were at the table deliberating about the contestants and who will make it to the live shows, naïvely, they assigned the project under the location of Bormla rather than Birgu. I am told that the ‘New Leaf’ project will be located in De La Salle College. Indeed, the location is actually Birgu. Certainly, the agency did the right thing to select a green educational project for our students, who will definitely benefit from this plan. Notwithstanding that we “tal-Kottonera” recognise the Mintoffian narrative of ‘Kottonera Magħquda’, over the years, we still had some issues with the definition of borders ‘konfini’. However, the matter was resolved long time ago between the local councils of Bormla and Birgu.  

Obviously, my readers dropped me a few lines to inform me that the New Leaf project changed its location from Bormla to Birgu. An acquaintance texted me about the location. He told me that the judges are needed for peacekeeping projects. I replied with a question mark as I did not quite get what he was saying. He proceeded to say that at a European level they need the judges that mistook Birgu for Bormla to broker a diplomatic peace agreement between Russia and Ukraine on the latter’s occupied borders. Obviously, it’s dark humour and I do not normally smile. Indeed, it is a case of Le Petit Monde of others. 

To conclude, climate change is happening, and we must start assessing the physical and transition risks, seriously. The next step is the assessment of how big Malta’s Green Talent is, and ideally reopen the call for proposals and tenders to absorb the next tranche of €700 million allocated for green investments, as we truly need to transit to a greener economy and a greener Malta.

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