In this election cycle, with political parties promising the earth and sky and everything in between, the environment of our country is often used as a trading card in party leader’s desperate attempts to get people to vote for them. With the oft-embarrassing track record on the environment of both major political parties, we of course instinctively tend to take their words with a tad touch of cynicism. Who can blame us – given the demise of our environment, year on year, while some make ‘hay while the sun shines’?
Civil society activists, who have tirelessly over the years (with often very limited resources) fought hard to get the environment at the forefront of our discussions on the future of our country did a historical first on Monday 22nd May. For the first time ever, a coalition of environmental NGOs wrote an environmental wishlist for Malta in the format of 10 recommendations, in a 6 page document. This is no easy feat – while most environmentalists have a lot of common ground to share, it is no secret that most prefer to work alone, and while the environmental NGO platform TerraFirma has long tried to bridge the divides, this is a slow process. This document was then presented to all political party leaders during what was dubbed the Great Environmental Credibility Challenge, and this was followed by a brief debate which led to the party leaders scrambling to defend their environmental track record… often by blaming the sins of the other.
I encourage you to read through the 10 proposals, which can be viewed here. What would you add to it?
It is difficult to disagree with most of them given the sad reality of Malta’s situation today. Besides empowering citizens and their power to contest environmental degradation, the proposals also encompass the vast number of environmental issues facing Malta today. It is the hope of civil society activists in Malta that this document would be consulted, and indeed taken to heart, as with the passing of time our environmental situation gets from bad to worse.
What can we do?
I also implore you, dear readers, to focus on the following two words: COMMON GOOD. Often in this country we tend to think in an entirely selfish manner. When money opportunities come our way, we throw ethics out of the proverbial window and do what everyone else does and aims to make cash, as fast as possible, cutting (legal) corners if possible. The environment is at the core of our common good – indeed we exist BECAUSE of the environment, and not outside of it. If mankind is to not merely survive but thrive in the coming decades, we need to stop endangering our common home.
This also applies to Malta – often depicted as being raped or violated by rampant development, illegal waste disposal or gross acts of pollution. Slowly, we are seeing a rising tide of people (shamefully often consisting mainly of foreigners not Maltese) that are taking a stand, organising clean-ups, speaking to our politicians, demanding change. It is crucial that we join such movements for the betterment of our country… lest we prefer passing on a rubbish-strewn concrete landscape to the coming generations, and condemn ourselves to a sad lament of a greener, simpler, aesthetically pleasing past.
As the renown civil society activist Martin Luther King Jr said:
“The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.”
“We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Stand up, and be counted. I also encourage you to listen to this song by the band Muse – may it inspire you to act.