The Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) and the Ministry for Tourism, Culture and the Environment have published the draft National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) which defines a comprehensive framework for safeguarding Malta’s biodiversity over the period 2012 to 2020. Branded ‘Working hand in hand with Nature’, the NBSAP, which is currently open for public consultation, is a requirement of the National Environmental Policy and will contribute towards the national implementation of the Global Strategic Plan on Biodiversity under the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The main purpose of the NBSAP is to serve as a national policy driver to integrate biodiversity measures into relevant sectoral or cross-sectoral plans, programmes and policies, especially those that can have a bearing on Malta’s biological and natural resources. Biodiversity plays an important role in strengthening the environment, social and economic sectors. Safeguarding biodiversity has a positive impact on the standard of living and on sectors such as tourism that are central for generating commercial activity and employment. On the other hand, such sectors must continue to develop in a sustainable manner and in ways that respect biodiversity and enrich our environment. It is therefore important that biodiversity is integrated in the relevant policies that directly or indirectly effect biodiversity. The document proposes 19 national targets to be achieved by 2020, strategic directions seen as pre-requisites for reaching the targets, and a suite of focused, action and outcome-oriented measures grouped under 18 thematic areas. The achievement of these targets will necessitate broad participation and collective action in order to secure implementation of the proposed 82 measures set out in the NBSAP.
Dr Petra Bianchi, Director of Environment Protection at MEPA, said “while significant positive steps have been made over the last few years, protecting our biodiversity is a big challenge. The long-term vision of the strategy is that all Maltese citizens should value the importance of biodiversity.” Dr Bianchi added “All sectors of the community should contribute to improve the status of biodiversity, through efforts aimed at sustainable and more resource-efficient choices. The strategy aims at improving the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic biodiversity, as well as by reducing pressures on biodiversity and promoting sustainable use.” Malta’s NBSAP builds on a stock taking exercise, which was carried out in consultation with relevant Ministries, in order to identify further opportunities and areas of work to secure progress towards reaching both national goals for the environment and the 2020 global and EU targets on biodiversity.
The draft NBSAP is now available for a six-week public consultation process. Through such consultation, the intention is to further refine the document to ensure that agreement, commitment and ownership are reached on a set of practical and implementable measures that reflect national aspirations for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and other environmental goals, in the Maltese Islands. The document is available on the website www.mepa.org.mt/public-consultation. Feedback and suggestions may be sent to email@example.com by the 10th April 2012.