The Mare Nostrum Project’s Maltese partner, Integrated Resources Management (IRMCo), recently launched a precedent-setting charter on integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) in the area of the Grand Harbour, together with a consortium of local authorities, NGOs and other civil society stakeholders.
“After several face-to-face discussions, meetings, and seminars, the participants moved from a negative viewpoint to a very positive platform by putting all the outcome of the discussions into a charter of principles, or best practices that should be followed. If the legal regulations are not enforced then something else more tangible and real should be put in motion, they argued. This is how the idea of a charter, championed by the local people came about,” related IRMCo director Anna Spiteri. The Charter has been widely covered by local media, and nine schools have also said they want to sign, she noted.
“The Charter aims to empower the citizen by describing principles of best practice on safeguarding and sharing the green and blue open spaces, coastal areas, trees, soil, agricultural land and valleys and built heritage, finishing on a strong note on the need for genuine public participation,” Spiteri commented. “Stakeholders expressly fear losing more open spaces and cited the lack of empowerment and of enforcement as their biggest frustrations.”
The charter, the first of its kind in Malta, is titled Local Communities’ Charter for liveable cultural landscapes in our Grand Harbour: A Place for Our Children. Following initial research, review of coastal planning law, various stakeholders were consulted in the form of interviews and interactive workshops bringing together representatives of local councils, heritage and environmental NGOs, university lecturers, artists, residents, and others. The lack of integrated planning, leading to overdevelopment and conflicting uses of the front (blue space) and back (green space) of the Grand Harbour, emerged among their main concerns.
Speaking during the launch at Senglea Local Council, Malta’s Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties, Dr. Helena Dalli explained how such initiatives can promote good governance at all levels of government, and stressed the importance of dialogue among stakeholders.
The Charter marks a milestone in the EU-funded Mare Nostrum project, and provides a stepping stone for upcoming phases of the project, particularly a community mapping workshop (Public Participatory GIS) to be organized by IRMCo as an empowerment tool to help implement the Charter.Leave a reply →