Our Health Comes First – Open Letter to the Prime Minister

We the undersigned, can no longer watch silently as short-sighted decisions and greed continue to undermine all that makes Malta special.

The health and quality of life of the residents of Malta have deteriorated over different governments asrampant construction has ruined our towns and villages while damaging policies have continued unabated to pave the way for more building in our threatened countryside, impacting agriculture and biodiversity.

Our islands are paralysed by ever-increasing traffic which is costing the nation €274 million a year in terms of lost productivity and ill health due to toxic emissions – contributing to lung conditions, heart problems, cancer and strokes – as well as taking us ever further from our 2020 climate change targets.

In allowing the destruction of our heritage buildings and landscapes we are losing our beauty, our quality of life and social fabric. When we destroy that which makes us what we are, which distinguishes us from others, we lose our national identity and damage the unique product that our tourism sector – the pillar of our economy – depends upon.

The continued lack of commitment to enforce laws has filled our towns, countryside and beaches with abusive buildings, air and noise pollution, and has now resulted in the widespread pollution of our sea, once again affecting tourism, human health and depleting marine ecosystems.

In many towns nothing is being done to improve the lives of residents adversely impacted by industrial development and to provide them with green open spaces which are vital for their physical, mental and social well-being.

The recent permits approved to build high-rise towers will accelerate the degradation of our communities, as we further intensify urban densities in congested centres where our transport and infrastructure is already not coping with the present situation, let alone with the addition of massive speculative projects. These immediate changes to our urban landscape are being pushed through without the essential studied and holistic vision that provides comprehensive planning solutions taking into account the developments’ cumulative social impact and the limitations of our island.

With over 41,000 completely vacant dwellings, Malta needs to curb over-development through the imaginative and innovative transfer of construction activity to restoration work and to cease once and for all the demolition of heritage buildings.

We call for policies that give importance to urban carrying capacity rather than construction capacity which results in immediate financial gain for the few, at the expense of the many.

We call for environmental and social justice – We are duty bound to do so for the generations to come.

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Aħna hawn taħt iffirmati, ma nistgħux nibqgħu siekta hekk kif deċiżjonijiet mingħajr viżjoni u r-regħba ikomplu jimminaw dak kollu li jagħmel lil Malta speċjali.

Is-saħħa u l-kwalità tal-ħajja tar-residenti ta’ Malta ddeterjoraw taħt gvernijiet differenti hekk kif il-kostruzzjoni sfrenataqerdet l-iblietu l-irħula tagħna, filwaqt li politiki dannużi komplewiwittu t-triq għal aktar bini fil-kampanja mhedda tagħna. Dan kollu għandu impatt negattiv fuq l-agrikoltura u l-bijodiversità.

Il-gżejjer tagħna huma paralizzati minn traffiku dejjem jiżdiedli qed jiswa lin-nazzjon € 274 miljun fis-sena* f’termini ta ‘produttività mitlufa u problemi tas-saħħa minħabba l-emissjonijiet tossiċi – li jikkontribwixxu għal kundizzjonijiet tal-pulmun, problemi tal-qalb, kanċer u puplesiji – kif ukoll ibegħduna dejjem aktar mill-miri tagħna tal-2020 dwar it-tibdil fil-klima.

Meta nippermettu l-qerda ta’ bini ta’ wirt kulturali u tal-pajsaġġi tagħna, inkunu qed nitilfu s-sbuħija tagħna, il-kwalità tal-ħajjau n-nisġa soċjali tagħna. Meta neqirdu dak li jagħmilna li aħna, li jiddistingwina mill-oħrajn, aħna nitilfu l-identità nazzjonali tagħna u nagħmlu ħsara lill-prodott uniku lis-settur tat-turiżmu – il-pilastru tal-ekonomija tagħna – jiddependi fuqu.

In-nuqqas kontinwu ta’impenn biex jiġu infurzati l-liġijiet, imliet il-bliet, il-kampanja u l-bajjiet tagħna b’binjiet abbużivi, tniġġis tal-arja u tal-istorbju, u issa wassal ukoll għat-tniġġis mifrux tal-baħar tagħna, li għal darba oħra jaffettwa t-turiżmu, is-saħħa tal-bniedem u jnaqqas l-ekosistemi tal-baħar.

F’ħafna bliet mhu qed isir xejn biex titjieb il-ħajja tar-residenti milquta ħażin mill-iżvilupp industrijali u biex jingħatawlhomspazji miftuħa ħodor li huma vitali għall-iżvilupp fiżiku u mentali u għall-benesseri soċjali tagħhom.

Il-permessi approvati reċentement biex jinbnew torrijiet għoljin se jaċċelleraw id-degradazzjoni tal-komunitajiet tagħna, hekk kif inkomplu nintensifikaw id-densità urbana f’ċentri ta’ konġestjoni fejn it-trasport u l-infrastruttura tagħna diġà mhux qed ilaħħqu mas-sitwazzjoni preżenti, aħseb u ara maż-żieda ta’proġetti spekulattivi enormi. Dawn il-bidliet immedjati tal-pajsaġġ urban tagħna qed jgħaddu mingħajr il-viżjoni essenzjali studjata u olistikali tipprovdi soluzzjonijiet ta’ ppjanar komprensiv li jqisu l-impatt soċjali kumulattiv tal-iżviluppi u l-limitazzjonijiet tal-gżira tagħna.

B’aktar minn 41,000 residenzi kompletament vakanti**, Malta għandha bżonn trażżan l-iżvilupp żejjed permezz tat-trasferiment immaġinattiv u innovattiv ta’ attivitajiet ta’ kostruzzjoni għal xogħol ta’ restawr u tieqaf darba għal dejjem it-twaqqigħ ta’ bini ta’ wirt kulturali.

Aħna qed nitolbu għal policies li jagħtu importanza lill-kapaċità urbana minflok il-kapaċità ta’ kostruzzjoni li twassal għal qligħ finanzjarju immedjat għall-ftit, għad-detriment tal-ħafna.

Aħna qed nitolbu għal ġustizzja ambjentali u soċjali. Aħna għandna d-dmir li nagħmlu dan għall-ġenerazzjonijiet li ġejjin.

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Signatories

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