Sustainability, FKNK and BirdLife Malta

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 April, 2023 at 9:04 am by Andre Camilleri

Last Sunday, I was invited to deliver a speech at the Labour Party’s General Conference, where besides the state of our economy, I touched upon sustainability. At times, we get the misconception that sustainability is about reducing paper, the planting of a few saplings and shrubs, and the inclusion of a few banners made out of unsustainable materials affixed to a crosswire fence to promote green enclaves.    

On the contrary, sustainability is about long-term planning, and the bridging of different outliers to work together for the common good. Undoubtedly, preserving the environment is crucial. However, bridging our differences is much more important at the current political juncture. Certainly, the training of our workers is even more important for an economy to flourish. Trade schools must return, and they must also cater for our imported labour. Importing labour and dispatching them to the retail sector is unsustainable. We must have a training plan in place on how to improve the skills of our workforce. This must be part of the government’s plan on the S of ESG.

Importantly, we must learn how to work and live together with less disagreements. Indeed, this week, Maltese courts rejected a request filed by BirdLife Malta for a warrant of prohibitory injunction on the spring hunting season relating to turtledoves. According to the CEO of BirdLife Malta Mr. Mark Sultana, Maltese courts, relied their decision exclusively on the Wild Birds Regulation Unit’s reports. Mr. Sultana further explained that the report was devoid of additional scientific data. BirdLife Malta expressed that the data up to 2021, and which was left unreported, indicates supplementary declines in the number of turtledoves. Sincerely, I hope that Mr Sultana is quoting the correct figures. The last time I heard an academic quoting figures and interpreting the methodology of a survey, I literally cringed in my seat. ‘Addio’ the gaussian and the multiple imputation technique. Anyway, “ħallikom mill-imbierka servejs Mark”.  

Let’s forget statistics for a minute and focus on the crux of the argument. Those who knew me prior to my public appearances are cognisant of the fact that I am in favour of sustainability and a pro-conservative of the environment. Furthermore, I am a promoter of the protection of our cultural heritage. Also, I am an animal lover and by animal lover I do not mean just felines and hounds but all animal species. Nonetheless, I am not vegan and eat mostly, salads, poultry, and fish. Unquestionably, the return of animals to the environment is only possible when it is properly conserved and with limited human interference or disturbance.

Sadly, over the past twenty-five years, I saw large parcels of virgin land being destructed for insane development. Not to mention the dilapidated state of some valleys or large parcels of land serving as dumping zones. However, during the past decade the situation improved, and surely animal species cannot breed or flourish in such a disturbed environment. Evidently, we have two outliers here. On one side, we have the FKNK who are in favour of the protection of the Maltese cultural heritage, and on the other hand we have BirdLife Malta who are on to conserve the environment and the protection of animal species.

In diplomacy and economics, we were trained to spot commonalities between two outliers, and we also used the same concepts in game theory. It might sound paradoxical. However, it is important to find a common denominator when dealing with two outliers. We must pursue a dominant strategy that produces a better outcome out of all the chosen individual strategies. Let’s all agree that both FKNK and BirdLife Malta disapprove of poachers. Also, let’s all agree that both FKNK and BirdLife Malta are supporters of the preservation of the environment. The former needs an environment to breed animal species, while the latter requires the protection of the environment to protect and breed additional animal species.

Simply put, we must devise a compelling matrix to chart what connects BirdLife Malta and FKNK rather what separates them. The common interest and the best strategy for both organisations must rest on the protection of natural capital and the breeding of additional animal species. In my humble opinion, BirdLife Malta and FKNK ought to work together to save Malta’s natural capital and what is left of it. Frankly, I can see them coming together with joint statements condemning any destruction of natural capital, as well as the condemnation of the abuse of poachers. Clearly, they must work together and unite to work on a plan for the breeding of additional animal species and to allow hunting for food in a sustainable roadmap. They can devise clear procedures, as well as pre-agreed reportable and verifiable figures relating to hunting and trapping.

Clearly, FKNK and BirdLife Malta can sit with the European Commission and agree on a concrete roadmap. And the European Commission must position itself as an honest mediator rather than creating additional disputes in a small territory. Staying apart will never bridge the obstacles. In a small territory like ours we should learn how to come together and live with each other with less conflicts. We must talk to each other, and draft positions to keep our state and institutions in checks and balances. When you think about it, it makes more sense to sit in a room and discuss ideas on how to sustainably hunt for food rather than working in silos and barking at each other.

We must use our judicial system’s resources better and avoid wasting our court’s time with the filing of multiple court injunctions. I am positive, that what I am suggesting here can certainly promote additional transparency and cut abuse when it comes to this business. Undoubtedly, we can go harsher on poachers to reduce additional abuses. FKNK and BirdLife Malta can work together on research papers on endangered species, share their expertise, issue joint publications on what can be hunted or not hunted, as well as suggesting policies to government to lessen abuses. And surely this mustn’t be used as a smokescreen.  

During my years of experience in international politics, I saw two outliers coming together. They hated each other but loved their country more than they detested each other’s ideologies. In the end they shook hands for the common good. They realised that agreeing on sound principles that promote shared interests for the collective, even if some of the values go against each of the individual’s ideologies, is a mature decision for the state of a nation to progress. Unless FKNK and BirdLife sit down and bridge their gaps, sustainability can never be achieved. And certainly, we will be left without a common framework that might also be useful to promote the circular economy, greener spaces, as well as ESG. The next step is to adhere to strict planning if we are to live a calmer life in such a small territory. We must be greater than the sum of our individual aspirations.

Finally, I sincerely hope that FKNK and BirdLife Malta bridge their divergencies. And if I can be of any help feel free to get in touch with me on my email address 

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