The Malta Environment & Planning Authority launched the State of the Environment Report 2005. The Prime Minister Dr. Lawrence Gonzi was presented with a copy of the report by Minister for Rural Affairs and the Environment Perit George Pullicino. Present also was a delegation from the Authority led by Chairman Mr. Andrew Calleja and representatives of the National Statistics Office led by Director General Dr. Alfred Camilleri.
This report aims at providing the scientific information necessary for the country to be able to develop in an environmentally sustainable manner. It is a snapshot of the state of the environment. This edition is the third of its kind and is a legal obligation of the Authority designed as a contribution to the scientific community and the country in general. The report provides vital information to all those involved in formulating policy, to all NGO's and to the public in general. It is also an indicator along which new policies may be formulated and may help to identify the areas which need investment to be afforded the necessary protection.
According to the Environment Protection Act of 2001, the competent Authority has to publish the Report on the State of the Environment every three years. This report of 2005 was prepared in collaboration with the National Office of Statistics and draws on sources stemming from environmental monitoring. This report is substantiated by several sub-reports and information pages which are all accessible on website, as well as on CD. An innovation this time round is the handy abridged version with the key indicators. This major document was also translated into Maltese.
"This document is by nature, a complex and detailed one. It is not a document that may be easily translated into an simple and readable version which captures the general, non-scientific interest. With the inclusion of new formats we are hoping to bridge this gap." said MEPA Chairman Mr. Andrew Calleja.
"This report is different in that his time we have tried to make the data more concise and visual so that the environmental message is carried better. The main aim of this report is to inform and educate about the state of the environment as well as helping in the decision-making process so that environmental issues are dealt with urgently." commented MEPA Director General Dr. Godwin Cassar.
Amongst other findings in the report, sulphur dioxide in air decreased by 36% between 2003-2004. There were also significant decreases in benzene levels, with a reduction of 42% in Hompesh Road/Fgura. These followed the introduction of cleaner fuels, unleaded petrol and low sulphur fuels in power stations. Malta's bathing waters meet EU Bathing Water Directive quality standards. Whereas these results are encouraging, there are other areas where the challenges are greater, as for example, for waste management nature protection.
On the basis of the findings of the report the following priorities for action are identified: focusing on environmental impacts that have serious affect on human health; promoting eco-efficient economic growth; promoting environmental education; improving the knowledge base to support the development of environmental policy; leveraging finance to fund environmental improvements across government and the private sector; better coordination between government ministries and agencies; improving capacity for implementation and enforcement; and the setting up an environmental action plan.