EcoGozo... four years on
Gozo will become an eco-island by 2020, supported by a keen and committed sustainable community. We want to see quality of life in Gozo improving further through education, economic development and social progress. Gozo will strive to reduce its carbon and water footprints. We want to protect the Gozitan lifestyle, the island’s environment, resources, culture and identity, and see that all these play a significant part in attracting more visitors and investors to the island. Spurred by the objectives described in the relative mission statement, the Gozitan community has certainly proved itself to be keen and committed in giving its support to this ambitious but realisable vision.
Thus it would be justifiable to state that the eco-island vision for Gozo has generated a near-general consensus in which the majority of stakeholders on the island see it as a historic opportunity.
The government took up the essential role to consolidate and formalise this vision and subsequently organise and coordinate its implementation.
At a strategic level, action on ecoGozo has been distributed into four main priority areas, namely Economy, Environment, Society and Culture and Identity. EcoGozo does not only aim to bring about environmental improvement on the island.
This vision aims to achieve a stable and healthy environment for a better quality of life through a holistic approach that also seeks to foster sustainable economic development.
The document A Vision for an Eco-Island, published by the Ministry for Gozo, is prime testimony of the interest shown by Gozitans and other stakeholders in the ecoGozo vision.
It incorporates the information and feedback gathered throughout the public consultation process that also served as a valid tool through which grassroots endorsement and participation in this vision were also attained. Indeed it may be described as a compilation of ideas expressed by the people of Gozo.
The message emerging from this document shows Gozitans are proud of their island. They love their island and feel a strong attachment to it. In its smallness and quaintness, alongside the limitations, they see great potential.
Through the ecoGozo project Gozitans wish to preserve all that which gives their island a distinct identity while increasing the opportunities it offers in a sustainable way.
In launching ecoGozo and allocating substantial resources for its implementation, even in the midst of an international economic crisis, the government clearly showed that it understood this message and is committed to deliver upon it.
Indeed, looking back at what has been carried out in the past four years encourages us to persist in our endeavours to implement the initiatives proposed in the ecoGozo action plan 2010-2012.
This action plan has guided the ministry in its implementation process that today accounts for 61 completed or ongoing projects related with the proposed 82 recommendations. Furthermore, the ministry also completed or is in the process of completing more than 140 other recommendations that were originally proposed through the public consultation.
Further details may be obtained through the ecoGozo website www.ecogozo.com.
Throughout this process we have succeeded in establishing the appropriate synergies between government and civil society at large.
In these first few years of action we have also managed to attract the interest of private enterprise particularly through multinational corporate organisations for projects related to afforestation and water conservation. Significant assistance has also been forthcoming from various government entities as well as the University of Malta.
The first ecoGozo action plan is in its final year and a stocktake of results achieved and strategic planning for continued implementation is therefore due.
Before prioritising the next set of recommendations which are to be included in the second ecoGozo Action Plan 2013-2015, we are again inviting all those interested to submit their suggestions to continue to give ecoGozo as wide an ownership as possible.
Performance throughout the past four years gives us sound grounds upon which we intend to continue to work for the future of a better Gozo with the participation of all those who have the good of the island at heart.