Jum ir-Repubblika

Illum id-data hija 13 ta’ Diċembru 2016 – 42 sena ilu, Malta ġiet iddikkjarata bħala Repubblika. Għal ħafna dan il-jum ifisser biss ġurnata bla xogħol jew bla skola, għax sempliċiment hija festa pubblika. Pero, għalkemm it-tifsira ta’ dan il-jum tant importanti forsi ntilef għal ħafna, huwa importanti li nibqgħu nfakkruh, u min nesa issa jiftakar u jirrikonoxxi.

Wara li Malta ħadet l-Indipendenza mir-Renju Unit fil-21 ta’ Settembru 1964, il-poplu Malti ħa ddritt li jiggverna għal rasu, iżda ħass li kien ħaqqu jinqata’ darba għal dejjem mill-Imperu, u Malta ssir Repubblika. Taħt il-Gvern Laburista ta’ Dom Mintoff, bħal-lum fl-1974, Malta ġiet iddikkjarata bħala Repubblika. Iżda din xi tfisser għal pajjiżna?

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Sal-Indipendenza, Malta kienet kolonja. Wara l-Indipendenza, Malta saret stat indipendenti birReġina tal-Ingilterra bħala Kap tal-Istat ta’ Malta. Meta fl-1974, fil-Kamra tad-Deputati ġew ippreżentati numru ta’ emendi lill-Kostituzzjoni, fosthom li Malta ssir Repubblika, il-Membri Parlamentari b’maġġoranza kbira approvawhom, u fl-aħħar, Malta ħelset mill-Imperu Ingliż darba għal dejjem. Il-Kap tal-Istat dakinhar inbidel, u flok ir-Reġina tar-Renju Unit, ġie maħtur is-Sur Anthony Mamo bħala l-ewwel President tar-Repubblika ta’ Malta, filwaqt li Dom Mintoff kien lewwel Prim Ministru tar-Repubblika ta’ Malta.

Din il-festa għandha tifsira kbira għall-istorja politika Maltija, u tal-poplu Malti kollu. Il-poplu Malti wera u għandu responsabbiltà kbira li jkompli juri lid-dinja li vera kiber, u sar nazzjon.

Glen Spiteri – ADŻ Malta Green Youth Spokesperson

A Taste of COP

I have recently participated in Alter COP22, an event parallel to COP22 (Conference of the Parties) organised by the Federation of Young European Greens (FYEG) with the aim of giving a better perspective of what’s happening at the negotiations. The event was held during the last week of COP (13th to 19th November) in Marrakesh.

To start with, this edition of COP has focused on the implementation of the Paris agreement (COP21), with the following targets for 2018:

  1. A rulebook for implementation of the Paris Agreement by 2018
  2. National climate action plans to help countries achieve the target of less than 2⁰C global warming by 2050
  3. Who will make up for climate funding and how.

The possible consequence of Trump’s election has been raised in several discussions throughout the weekend. Despite Trump being virtually unable to withdraw from the Paris agreement in his first and hopefully last presidency, the agreement has lost a key leader. Europe should take back the lead if we are to meet our target. On a more positive note, China’s emissions have now stabilised.

15046891_1233465760051724_2378866111899762688_nAnother interesting note is that developing countries are investing more in renewables. It’s up to developed countries to do the same while funding developing countries’ mitigation and adaptation plans. It was also nice to see what civil society activists from the global south had to say – while investment in renewables is good news, the illegal occupation of Western Sahara is not. For this reason, global south natives should be included in the negotiations. Shockingly, the Moroccan regime has jailed poor people on the streets prior to hosting COP22. Moreover, as Europeans we should seek not to create a new debt with the global south, through trade deals like CETA and TTIP that would allow for the transportation of fossil fuels even if governments take sensible action.

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On Thursday 17th, we have performed an action in front of the COP22 Green Zone, in order to highlight the greenwashing at COP, especially with the influence big polluters like Shell and BP still enjoy, and the need for funds necessary for developing countries.

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The negotiations have made some progress with $100 billion to be provided to developing countries and increased focus on adaptation. However, big polluters need to be kicked out or encouraged to become cleaner, human rights infringements in the global south in the name of clean energy need to be addressed, the aviation industry’s emissions should be regulated and Europe should regain its lead.

Daniel Desira – ADZ Public Relations Officer

My COP Experience

Climate change, climate justice, climate action – We’ve been hearing these catch terms all week and it’s all about the climate, but what do they really mean? What are we really doing about it? Despite having the Paris Agreement, are we doing enough to seriously tackle these issues?

So, Welcome to COP22. I am currently in Marrakesh, as part of the Federation of Young European Greens delegations attending the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA1) as well as the Conference of Parties “COP22” under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). I have been attending plenary sessions, negotiations and side events. I also had the opportunity to meet and discuss different issues with people all around the world, from China to Kenya to Germany  and it’s evident – we have a serious problem, and not one- many.

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This is not my first experience in a big conference but it is probably the largest conference I’ve attended and the first day of COP was slightly overwhelming until we got the agendas organised, but once I knew what I had to do and where I had to go then everything settled down. I am following different discussions throughout the days regarding climate change, agriculture and water, depending on the theme set out for the day. The negotiations which I have followed were purely observational and very technical but extremely informative. COP21 set the framework even though it proved to be slightly ambitious and the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) is one of the topics which countries are challenged with along with transparency, global stocktake (referring to the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement), Loss and Damage and Capacity Building. COP22 is said to be the year of Action.

The venue is really nice and I must admit, it is decorated mostly using recycled items. Despite plastic and cans still being sold, most of the things we use are either made from paper or wood. The facade of Marrakesh pavilion is set up with wood pallets while the restaurants, chairs and tables are made from reprocessed wood.

The food is miserably over priced and despite us here advocating for food security as one of the many topics, there is so much food waste and so much meat. The food offered does not cater at all for vegetarians or vegans and is at least four times the price you would pay in the Medina. The welcome party on Monday night made me feel hypocritical. We are pushing change-driven ideas, coming up with innovative ways of tackling climate issues yet we are here luxuriously celebrating our presence and debating climate issues while other countries some of which are represented here, have families in their country living in poverty, with not enough food to eat, no drinkable water and roof over their head to sleep this evening. This is our reality and these are the issues which what need to be tackled. All this leads me to a big question – has this conference been sustainable or not? My quick and evident answer is No.

Back to the technical aspect of COP22 and the Paris Agreement; Marrakesh has been a historical moment for humanity but I am curious about so many other things. For example, how can we communicate the highly detailed Paris Agreement to the local citizens and insinuate small-scale changes to contribute to the wider perspective, when many are highly influenced by their culture and lifestyle? On the other hand, how can we stop large corporations from continuing to damage the environment due to their activities, when their interests are financial and/or political. Ultimately, how can we get our Governments to listen?

The Paris Agreement set the framework which ratifying parties promise to abide by in order to control the carbon emissions and the state of the environment. The Paris Agreement alone will not solve the problems we are facing and it is therefore the responsibility of Governments, stakeholders and the public to engage and take on responsibility for the decisions that we take.

Danika Formosa  – ADŻ International Secretary

ADZ on Budget 2017

We as Alternattiva Demokratika Zghazagh had several expectations including a rise in minimum wage, more initiatives for alternative transport and measures to address a range of issues relating to the environment and our quality of life. Most initiatives smack of tokenism rather than a result of a longterm vision . We are very disappointed that no plan to revise how the minimum wage is calculated has been announced. Those most vulnerable in the economy deserve to be paid decent wages. A truly progressive government, we feel, would have addressed this issue, as recommended by several including Caritas.

The planned promotion of sports and healthy living through sports facilities in Fgura, a BMX park and the raising of taxes on cigarettes and soft-drinks will go some way in tackling public health issues. There is also an urgent need for the implementation of a sustainable mobility plan, moving from the drawing board to execution. Unfortunately such plans are not courageous enough, and fall short of our vision for sustainable mobility and the move towards a zero-carbon economy.

Students are a major group of commuting citizens. Everyday students must leave their residences and make their way to their college/school. They can walk, take the bus, cycle, use private communal transport or their own cars or motorbikes. As more people use cars as the preferred mode of transport, the islands’ roads are becoming more congested. Major roads do not cater for cyclists, in that they do not have bike lanes. It is important that cycling ‘highways’ are created linking all major educational establishments and built-up areas. The lack of safety on mjor traffic arteries are one major factor which discourages commuting by bicycle or pedelecs. This Budget has not seen any important initiatives to encourage alternative modes of transport.

Although the Budget has some positive measures to reduce individual car use, such as incentives for free communal transport for private and government entities, there is still a long way to go in this regard.

The installation of bike racks as proposed by the budget is in itself a good idea, however this is the bare minimum and far from what would actually encourage people to take up their bikes as a regular mode of commuting. Stricter enforcement of road regulations, a major expansion of bike lanes and significant incentives on electric assisted bikes – pedelecs – which are particularly suitable for longer distances over 8km and hilly routes.

Some people still think that people in rich and developed countries use cars to commute – in fact the opposite is happening – well educated people in developed countries are choosing bicycles and pedelecs to move around and lots of cities in the EU spend money on bicycle infrastructure. The results are less cars on the road, a healthier population, cleaner air and a better quality of life.

Bird trapping season

Yesterday marked the start of the finch trapping season despite EU action, showing complete disregard towards our international obligations as a country, animal welfare and nature conservation.

The PN is not opposed to this decision, despite recently trying to appeal to animal lovers and environmentalists.

Trapping clears away considerable patches of land from Meditarrean vegetation and puts song birds behind the bars for their shortened lifetime. It’s about time to put an end to this madness!

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Daniel Desira – ADZ Public Relations Officer

Budget 2017 – Our Expectations

Budget 2017 in a nutshell – here are some highlights that us at ADZ are expecting

  • Minimum Wage: We have long argued that a strong booming economy in Malta is reason enough to raise the minimum wage. We feel that increasing the minimum wage to a rate which reflects today’s economy and society would uplift communities, increase spending power and help families make ends meet.

  • Road Safety: In recent light of traffic accidents, including unfortunate fatalities, we feel that part of the Budget should be dedicated to road safety measures which include extensive educational advertising campaigns by Government and Transport Malta to encourage road education, improvement in road quality to higher standards and increase penalties for traffic violation. Traffic fines should be allocated accordingly to improve the state in which many roads are to be found.

  • Open Spaces: a percentage of the Budget should be allocated to creating open spaces with emphasis on indigenous species, park facilities and recreational areas for families. We believe such investments are important for the well being of many communities in terms of health and living standards.

  • Energy: Clean energy targets have to be reached by 2020, so we believe further funds should be allocated to building solar farms and introduce new government rebates on solar panel purchase for households and businesses.

  • Education: The cornerstone of any society and educational system should well-funded. State schools should receive better funding for maintenance and educational programs as well as for the modernization of educational institutions such as MCAST and the University of Malta. Existing schools should be expanded to reflect growth in population and new schools built within development zones with adequate sporting facilities.

  • Sports: We would like the Government to create an intensive educational campaign on obesity and the problems associated to seriously tackle the problem. Additionally, the long overdue sports village should receive sufficient funds for its’ purpose and students attending higher education institutes should have subsidised fees for gyms, sports activities and nutritional advice.

  • Health – Health centres and polyclinics should receive new funding for better equipment, customer service and medicines. St Lukes Hospital should receive a new embellishment scheme to introduce as a “new health village”. We also urge the government to enforce measures on air and sea quality and tackle drug and alcohol abuse. These measures could include educational campaigns and better law enforcement as well as counselling programmes. Mater Dei should receive the funding it requires to improve bed shortage, queue problems and customer service. We also hope that the Gozo General Hospital embellishment receives its funds to provide the best health service to Gozo.

  • Economic Inequality – the next budget should not only focus on the COLA but also increase the minimum wage as well as implement new initiatives to encourage entrepreneurship to elevate people from poverty. This initiative would give citizens an incentive to start new SMEs and small businesses. Pensions for our elderly should be increased according to the cost of living and continue funding for childcare centers for single parents.

  • Taxation: Contribution is important to any modern society but we believe in a fair contribution system whereby high earners contribute more than low earners and the income bracket at which to tax is elevated and the maximum tax bracket is increased.

  • Environment & Cultural Heritage – We strongly believe that necessary funds should be allocated to protect natural areas, for the introduction of more educational programs and campaigns on the environment and for the protection of wildlife and bird migration. Heavier penalties should be imposed on illegal dumping of waste. The Cleansing Directorate should be adequately funded to clean up Malta and cameras may be installed for more effective enforcement.

  • We recommend that a Wildlife Unit should be setup to handle poaching, illegal hunting and illegal fishing activities. More funding for agriculture and upkeep and general cleanliness of the Maltese countryside should be allocated also. Country roads should be well maintained. Historic and cultural buildings should receive funding and protection, as well as touristic promotion for locals and foreigners alike.

  • Traffic: We recomend carpooling programs, better public transport through increased investment, encouragement of water transport, better VRT regulations on emissions locally and on an EU level and funding towards traffic management systems during peak hours.

Today’s budget should reflect society and its needs. We are looking forward to the budget of social justice and towards progressive ideas to fund projects which help the Maltese citizens achieve a higher standard of living without forsaking its environment and culture.

We believe in a Budget that will tackle modern day issues and yet achieve results of a booming economy with a social conscious. This Budget should focus on growth of the economy without overspending and one that helps citizens feel that 2017 will be a year of progress and social justice.

ADZ AGM 2016

Our AGM, held last Thursday 23rd June at Voluntary Centre, was attended by several of our executive and members as well as a few AD members.

Former ADZ chairperson Marc Andrea Cassar and AD secretary general Ralph Cassar have made a welcome speech.

The agenda and minutes were then approved, followed by the annual report. The report included the major events and activities held by ADZ such as kick starting the YMCA project, the launch of our activities working group, a press conference on safety in PaceVille, PRs and blog posts on a number of issues, being involved in a number of movements and increased communication with AD, our mother party.

The new executive’s election followed the discussion of the report. The following exec members have been elected:

  • James Gabarretta – Chairperson

  • Marc’ Andrea Cassar – Vice Chairperson

  • Anna Azzopardi – Secretary General

  • Daniel Desira – Public Relations Officer

  • Nizar Hingari – Treasurer

  • Pascal Aloisio – Publications Officer

  • Danica Formosa – International Secretary

  • Glen Spiteri – Exec Member

  • Mathew Seychell – Exec Member

Autumn Hunting Season opens again

The autumn hunting season is now open from 1st September until the 31st of January 2017.  This year, however, a slight change in the regulations has taken place.  From the former 41 species which could be hunted legally during the 5 month hunting season, one species has now been removed from the list being granted protection.  This bird is the red-breasted merganser (Serra in Maltese).

Additionally, another major change is that for turtle dove hunting.  While being one of the favourite game which may be hunted, the turtle dove has been listed as ‘vulnerable’ under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to its substantial decline over the last few decades.  This year the government has issued a moratorium on the hunting of turtle dove in spring and now has also limited the hunting of this species.  Hunting of turtle doves is now only permitted during the month of September with a quota of 7,000 birds.

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List of birds that may be hunted during the autumn hunting season including the red-breasted merganser which has now been removed from this list (marked in red).  Source: Wild Birds Regulation Unit

We welcome these improvements since we believe in the concept of sustainability.  Hunting such species in spring has always been bad since it contributes substantially to turtle dove population declines.  For such reasons, ADŻ Malta Green Youth has always voiced its concern over spring hunting and we always opposed any decisions taken in the past to open such a season.  The fact that such a decision has been taken is a step in the right direction.  Additionally introducing further restrictions for turtle doves during the autumn hunting season is a vital step for the conservation of this species.

While migration has already started with quite some interesting species being observed in the past couple of weeks, it will reach its peak in a few weeks time when several flocks of birds, particularly birds of prey can be observed flying over the Maltese Islands.  All birds which are not listed under Schedule IIB of L.S. 504.71 (now excluding the Red-Breasted Merganser) are all protected by law and may not be shot.  Therefore, we urge the public and law abiding hunters to report any illegalities to the police in order to safeguard the future of our natural heritage.

Money given priority over heritage

The latest developments across the entire nation are alarming.  The first shock came last week after the high rise buildings to be constructed at Mrieħel and Sliema were approved by the Planning Authority.  This decision will lead to significant negative impacts on infrastructure including traffic, human health and general well being, and finally, the environment.

We are now also facing more applications throughout the Maltese Islands to demolish characteristic old townhouses.  I am referring to the latest news on developing the magnificent old townhouses in Sliema into hotels, guesthouses or apartments without retaining the original architectural beauty of the buildings concerned.

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Such developments are a threat to our cultural heritage.  As someone whose family used to live in Sliema and who regularly visited family from a young age, I’ve experienced the transformation of Sliema from an a place which was already facing a building boom to a total mess within less than two decades.  While several years ago only the seafront began to be destroyed, now also the innermost parts of Sliema are facing destruction.  Unfortunately, one could often see pristine townhouses being pulled down month after month, year after year.  This nightmare still persists today.

It seems like we still have not learn our lesson.  The heritage we already lost is not enough and we need to wipe out the few remaining characteristic buildings unique to this locality.  Instead of looking after the heritage passed on to us from previous generations, we are erasing their mark on our country – a signifying memento of their hard work in shaping the country we know today.

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ADŻ Malta Green Youth condemns any act of destroying our cultural heritage.  Considering there are only a few traditional townhouses left in Sliema we should grant such houses even more protection and not develop them into monotone buildings.  We are already regretting what we did to our landscape, so let’s hope we do not lose more townhouses because we need to understand that we can never undo our mistakes.  Now is the time to act, to preserve our heritage, locally and nationally.

Pascal Aloisio – ADŻ Malta Green Youth Publications Officer

Nationalism is outdated

 

Like many others, I was shocked on Friday morning to wake to a headline stating that Brexit had won. Even more shockingly far right parties in France, Denmark and the Netherlands were also called for a referendum on whether to remain in the EU or not.

The rise of nationalism has long been coming and it seems as though it is finally here. The MEP elections two years ago were marked by calls throughout Europe to vote and protect democracy against the threat of right wing parties which were becoming increasingly popular.

People from different European countries want national sovereignty over a union. They then proceed to put forward this idea by demonstrating how their country was doing fine before it joined the EU. They state that they want direct control of their country, and that interference from others harms their country’s interest.

The problem with this argument is that times have changed. We are no longer living in times when a country could deal with other countries on its own and do well. In today’s unified and globalised world forming part of a Union like the EU is a great asset. Trade is increasing in between the member states and with other states outside the Union. This results in greater economic growth.

Another benefit is the freedom of movement which allows for residents to work and study in other member states. Students and workers are given great opportunities, which eventually lead to better jobs and better workers.

The EU is also well equipped to deal with the threats of terrorism to regional security. The union has a Counter-Terrorism strategy which involves the cooperation between different states in the EU. Member states work together as well as with international partners in order to protect citizens.

Malti.

Bħal ħafna oħrajn, il-Gimgħa filgħpdu qomt ixxukjat meta sirt naf li il-vot ta’ Brexit rebaħ. Sadanittant, iktar xokkanti kien il-fatt li ħafna iktar partiti tal-lemin f’pajjiżi bħall-Franza, Danimarka u l-Olanda ħadu din l-opportunità biex isejħu għal referenda fuq jekk għandhomx jibqgħu fl-UE.

Iż-żieda fin-nazzjonaliżmu ilha tħabbat il-bieb, u fl-aħħar waslet. L-elezzjonijiet tal-MEPs ta’ sentejn ilu kienu kkarateriżżati min sejħiet madwar l-Ewropa għal vot li jipproteġi d-demokrazija mit-theddd tal-lemin estrem lli kien qed jiżdied fil-popolarità.

Nies minn pajjiżi Ewropej differenti bħal donnhom jippreferu sovranità nazzjonali milli unjoni. Din l-idea jmexxuha billi jippruvaw juru kemm pajjiżhom kien għaddej tajjeb qabel ma daħal fl-UE. Jisħqu li jridu kontroll ta’ pajjiżhom, u li indħil barrani huwa ta ħsara għall-interess ta’ pajjiżhom.

Dan l-argument m’għadux ireġi, għax iż-żmijiet inbidlu. Mgħadniex ngħixu fi żminijiet fejn wieħed seta’ jitratta ma pajjiżi oħra waħdu u jkollu suċċess. Fid-dinja magħquda u globaliżżata tal-lum, li tkun parti min għaqda bħall-UE huwa vantaġġ. Il-kummerċ bejn il-pajjiżi membrri jiżdied, u jiġi ffaċilitat dak ma pajjiżi barra mill-ghaqda. Dan ifisser tkabbir ekonomiku.

Benefiċċju ieħor huwa il-moviment liberu li jagħti il-libertà lir-residenti biex jaħdmu u jistudjaw fi stati membri oħra. Studenti u ħaddiema jingħataw opportunitajiet tajba, li jfissru ħidma aħjar u ħaddiema aqwa.

L-UE għanda l-għodda neċessarji sabiex tiġġieled it-terroriżmu u żżom is-sigurtà nazzjonali. L-unjoni għanda Strateġija ta’ Counter Terrorism magħmula b’koperazzjoni bejn l-istati membri. L-istati membri jaħdmu flimkien ma sħab internazzjonali biex iħarsu iċ-ċitaddini.