23 JANUARY 2002

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Protecting the coastline – syntheses and initiatives

Environment Minister Francis Zammit Dimech addresses a meeting on the MAP/METAP Workshop on Coastal Area Management Projects: Improving the implementation. Zammit Dimech reflects on Malta’s progress on coastal management and on CAMP Malta’s recent initiatives

I must recollect the year 1987, when a new concept inspired the philosophy of Mediterranean co-operation through which special emphasis started to be placed on integrated coastal planning and management. MAP focused on concrete actions called "Coastal Areas Management Programs.

CAMPS was the title given by the Contracting Parties to its Coastal Zones Pilot Projects, through which selected coastal areas were to be tackled with regard to environment and development. It is through CAMPS that the generic principles of the Convention became more area specific.

It is heartening today to look back at these years and to note the progress which has been achieved by the contracting parties in integrated management of coastal areas, and the resulting enhanced protection which has been given to those areas which have undergone CAMP. It is also to the great credit of the Priority Actions Programme Regional Activity Centre that this tangible improvement intended by the Contracting Parties has been achieved in the many countries which have participated in a CAMP. It is also evident that the contracting parties have been very receptive and appreciative of CAMPS since they have over time proved their value. To date, 11 CAMP projects have been completed, the Malta Camp is in progress and another three are starting or will start shortly.

Each successive CAMP has in general been an improvement on the preceding one. Such improvement should be maintained. Periodic re-examination of the modalities of the management and implementation of CAMPS should become formalised so that any required updates can be made, to the benefit of subsequent project.

In this respect I note that the present workshop has as its main task such an examination of the previous CAMPS. Participants and consultants who worked in previous and current CAMPs have been invited to Malta to recount their experiences to delegates from all countries. This sharing of experiences should form the basis for proposals for the future improvements of CAMPs, and of the implementation of the recommendations and outputs resulting from CAMPs.

The CAMP for Malta started just after the eleventh Contracting Parties meeting which was held in Malta in 1999. After these two years, CAMP Malta is now in the last phases of its conclusion. All the team leaders and the participants are concluding their work which will eventually lead to the preparation of a final integrated coastal area management plan. It is nonetheless useful and worthwhile to make some assessment of the effect which CAMP has had in Malta.

CAMP Malta has already proven to have been quite ground breaking. Although CAMP Malta took a long time to elaborate, however this long gestation period during which the agencies discussed it in detail, has resulted in a deep and lasting commitment to the project and to its ideals. I am informed that all the participants have put in an extraordinary effort, spending long hours collecting and analyzing and discussing data.

The participants, many on behalf of their agencies, others in their personal capacity, have also had considerable interaction with stakeholders, ranging from Local Council representatives, divers, farmers, hotel operators to medical practitioners. This has improved relations between regulators and stakeholders, and increased the credibility of the public participatory process which in Malta is now an established method of conducting government business.

Such public involvement also serves to strengthen environmental protection since the public can better appreciate the reasons behind any measures adopted by Government and thus willingly cooperate with Government.

The CAMP has also helped the participating agencies to work closely and fruitfully together on a project in which they had a common interest. CAMP has brought closer together the departments of Agriculture and Health, the Water Services Corporation, The Tourism Authority, the Ministry for Economic Services, the University, NGOs and many others. They all strove to a common aim concerning the Integrated Management of the North West part of Malta. This hitherto nonexistent, or weakly existing spirit of collaboration amongst many entities will be very useful for future collaboration.

I am certain that many of you here have experienced this renewed collaboration to resolve environmental problems. In Malta this collaborative spirit has certainly come at a most appropriate time when the Government will be entrusting the regulatory functions existing in the environmental field to a new body created by merging the Environment Protection Department and the Planning Authority.

I must also make reference to some of individual activities which have formed part of CAMP Malta.

One of the most useful activities has been the Systemic Sustainability Analyses Activity. In this part of the project, which was introduced for the first time here in Malta, many officials have been guided through the process of preparing a set of sustainability indicators for the North West of Malta. Through this process they have also received a deep understanding of the concepts of sustainable development which will be extremely valuable within the context of the National Commission for Sustainable Development. This Commission will be set later this year by virtue of the new Environment Protection Act enacted last September.

Another activity which has caught my attention was the work carried out in connection with sustainable coastal management which, together with the other activities has already provided considerable input into the revision process of the Structure Plan for Malta. The Marine Conservation activity is also noteworthy because through this work we are now very close to have our first marine conservation area. It is also with satisfaction that I note that through the efforts of the RAC/SPA, on the basis of the work carried out in CAMP, funding through the SMPA programme has been secured to implement such a Marine Conservation management plan.

The CAMP has also generally created a wider appreciation of coastal zone management techniques, which we hope to put into practice shortly.

I have no doubt that during the course of this workshop we will be hearing many more of the successes of CAMPs in your countries. No doubt there will be some aspects which will need to be improved or which need to be implemented in a different manner.

It is through such frank and honest discussion, between all of us, and together with the renowned consultants which have been brought here by PAP and MAP, that our desire for improved CAMPs will materialize. I also hope that you will come up with better prospects for implementing follow up actions deriving from CAMPs.

 



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