Malta’s natural environment has been bruised and battered over the years, and as the destruction steamrolls forward, the sense that the ecological horse has already bolted becomes increasingly difficult to ignore.
It’s a perspective which Conrad Borg Manché is sensitive to.
“We’ve yet to develop a national culture of appreciating and caring for our environment,” he tells Times Talk. “Yes, we're a bit late, it's true. But the earlier we start, the better it is.”
Mr Borg Manché made national headlines when, as Gżira mayor, he led protests to force MIDI to revise their Manoel Island plans and grant the public foreshore access.
Now he has added another feather to his cap, with Environment Minister Jose’ Herrera having appointed him the first chairman of newly-created agency Ambjent Malta.
The agency will administer Malta’s national parks and Natura 2000 protected areas, among other things. Whether it will have the necessary resources to do so – it took government seven years just to draft management plans for protected sites – remains to be seen, though Mr Borg Manché says he’s been given assurances to that effect.
He is also keen to see Ambjent Malta drive projects in urban settings, and suggests a novel way of making up for Malta’s lack of open space – going vertical.
“Green walls,” he says. “Vertical walls covered in vegetation. Why not have the Gżira flyover columns entirely greened?”
The idea is an interesting one, though with Ambjent Malta still in its infancy, Mr Borg Manché must settle some more mundane issues first. Such as which environmental projects the agency will lead.
“They’ll probably fall within our remit,” he says when asked specifically about afforestation projects. “But we’ve yet to sort out the nitty gritties.”
Nevertheless, the mayor and freshly-appointed chairman is confident that he’s been handed the Ambjent Malta keys for all the right reasons.
“They know I act on what I say,” he insists.
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