I address this article to all recently elected local councillors. Congratulations. You now hold a unique position to steer our communities toward a sustainable and prosperous future. As you embark on this journey, may I humbly remind you that it is essential to align your efforts with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is only by focusing on sustainable development and the common good that you can make a profound positive impact on our society.

One of your primary responsibilities involves the upkeep and improvement of streets and footpaths. I urge you to consider the long-term benefits of sustainable infrastructure. Utilising eco-friendly materials for maintenance and repairs, implementing green infrastructure solutions and ensuring accessibility for persons with disabilities are just some of the ways by which we can significantly contribute to our collective well-being. Partnering with social enterprises and working with NGOs can help achieve these goals effectively.

Effective waste management is another crucial area where your actions can make a difference. Implementing comprehensive recycling programmes, encouraging household composting and establishing accessible waste disposal points are essential steps.

Organising community clean-up events not only enhances cleanliness but also fosters a sense of community. Collaborating with NGOs for educational campaigns on waste reduction and recycling, and partnering with social enterprises to develop innovative waste management solutions, can significantly amplify your efforts.

Public gardens, playgrounds and leisure centres are vital for restoring a sense of community and enhancing our collective well-being. Maintaining and enhancing these spaces while promoting biodiversity by planting native species can create a more sustainable environment.

Ensuring that all public spaces are accessible, including to wheelchair users and parents with infants and young children, is equally important.

Engaging with social enterprises focused on urban greening and biodiversity projects, and working with NGOs to design inclusive public spaces, will help make these areas more welcoming for everyone.

Your role in maintaining road signs, bus shelters and pedestrian areas is crucial for promoting sustainable transportation. Creating extensive networks of bike lanes and pedestrian paths, installing clear signage and lighting and implementing traffic calming measures near schools and busy intersections will encourage more people to opt for sustainable modes of transport. Partnering with NGOs to advocate for safer transport options, and collaborating with social enterprises offering bike-sharing programmes or electric vehicle solutions, can drive significant progress in this area.

Engaging the community in planning and building schemes is essential for ensuring that development projects reflect the needs and values of residents

Engaging the community in planning and building schemes is essential for ensuring that development projects reflect the needs and values of residents. Holding public consultations and participatory planning workshops, and issuing recommendations for sus­tainable building designs, can foster a sense of ownership and cooperation among citizens. Working with experts or NGOs to facilitate community engagement sessions, and partnering with social enterprises specialising in sustainable architecture and urban planning, can provide the necessary expertise and innovative solutions.

As local councils, you play a pivotal role in educating the public on sustainability. Providing information on citizens’ rights and available services, and organising workshops and seminars on sustainable practices, can empower individuals to take action.

Collaborating with relevant stakeholders to develop educational materials and conduct training sessions, and partnering with private sector companies to leverage technology for wider dissemination of information, can enhance your outreach efforts.

Supporting community health through collaboration with health centres, while promoting healthy lifestyles through community programmes, is another critical responsibility.

Partnering with NGOs to deliver health education and support services, and working with social enterprises focused on health innovations, can ensure accessible healthcare solutions for all residents.

Building resilient communities in the face of climate change and other environmental challenges is imperative. Adopting sustainable practices within your operations, such as reducing energy consumption in public buildings and using renewable energy sources, will set a positive example. Developing local climate action plans, focusing on both mitigation and adaptation strategies, is crucial for long-term resilience.

Collaborating with experts and NGOs to create and implement climate action initiatives, and partnering with private sector companies to introduce renewable energy projects and energy-efficient technologies, will help build a more resilient future.

The functions and responsibilities of local councils in Malta provide a robust framework for advancing the SDGs and promoting the common good.

By taking proactive and innovative approaches, you can create vibrant, resilient and inclusive communities.

As newly elected councillors, you are in a prime position to champion these efforts, ensuring that our communities thrive both now and for future generations.

Through strategic collaboration with NGOs, social enterprises and other private sector partners, we can achieve a better quality of life for all and make significant strides toward a sustainable future.

I wish you all success.

Roberta LepreRoberta Lepre

Roberta Lepre is an advocate and managing director at Weave Consulting – the ESG specialists.

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