Please provide a brief summary of the initiative including the problems/challenges it addressed and the solutions that the initiative introduced (300 words maximum)
The Maltese Parliament promulgated the Sustainable Development Act in 2012. This legislative instrument has provided Government with the regulatory framework through which it can mainstream sustainable development in its policies, plans and programmes. At the same time there is an obligation towards raising awareness on sustainable development issues across all strata and sectors of government and society in general. From a governance perspective, the Sustainable Development Act provides for the establishment of three structures:
• the Guardian of Future Generations
• the Sustainable Development Network; and
• the Sustainable Development Focal Point Network
each having a distinct yet related role to drive the country’s sustainable development agenda both within public and private sectors at the national level.
The Ministry for the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change is charged with the role of Competent Authority for purposes of the SD Act.
a. What are the overall objectives of the initiative?
Please describe the overall objectives of the initiative (200 words maximum)
The major objective of this legislative instrument is the definition of the Governance structures and framework for mainstreaming SD. These structures are intended to permeate coherence, accountability, participation and capacity, amongst others, in the workings of government for sustainability purposes. It places responsibility on the public administration towards securing an integrative approach and efficiently mainstream sustainable development across all levels. This legislative instrument gears towards the horizontal aspect of SD across levels of government and also provides for a future independent watch dog for future generations.
In fact, the Guardian of Future Generations is instituted with the wide ranging mandate to advocate sustainable development across policy and government entities and safeguarding future generations through the promotion of sustainable development principles. Given the complexity of issues around future generations, the Guardian applies a multidisciplinary approach.
Another body constituted under the Sustainable Development act is the Sustainable Development Network, which is entrusted with the promotion and the mainstreaming of sustainable development concepts in Malta. This board function, therefore, is to encourage sustainable development knowledge and practices among government and civil society at large.
b. How does the initiative fit within the selected category?
Please describe how the initiative is linked to the criteria of the category (200 words maximum)
A dedicated Sustainable Development Act and the structures it creates is not commonly found in the international context, with an overarching element that regulates sustainable development actions across all levels of government. The unique character of this Act stems not only from dedicated primary legislation but also on the supporting structures enshrined in the Guardian for Future Generations, the Sustainable Development Network and the Sustainable Development Focal Point Network, which ensures the introduction of a multi-level governance approach. This legislative instrument provides for enough flexibility to ensure a dynamic interaction between these three bodies
The initiative should improve people’s lives, notably by enhancing the contribution of public services to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the realization of the SDGs
a. Please explain how the initiative improves the delivery of public services (200 words maximum)
Through the mainstreaming of sustainable development within the highest levels of Government’s administrative structures, the SD Act ensures transparency of the public service workings in the context of different sectors. The SD Act holds Government to the highest scrutiny possible as the Minister responsible for sustainable development is obliged by law to report, on an annual basis, the SD activities undertaken to the highest decision making organ in the country - Parliament. There is therefore the possibility of annual Parliamentary scrutiny on the workings of government in respect of sustainable development.
The annual report is prepared in fulfilment of Part IV, Article 14 of the Sustainable Development Act.
This initiative also includes a process for measuring progress across all sectors. A set of National indicators has been developed alongside the EU indicators set. These indicators have been developed ten years ago and have been worked out to monitor the progress achieved towards sustainable development in Malta.
The initiative must impact positively a group or groups of the population (i.e. children, women, elderly, people with disability, etc) and address a significant issue of public service delivery within the context of a given country or region.
a. Please explain how the initiative has addressed a significant issue related to the delivery of public services (200 words maximum)
The introduction of the SD Act brought coordination of workings on sustainable development across all levels of government and individuals. On the basis of the Act, each ministry is to draft its own plans and measures considering the sustainability principles and ensure that a proper mainstreaming of the agenda is carried out through its own workings. Several inter-ministerial committees have also been set up to ensure the policy processes are thoroughly filters and processed. Through the setup of specific indicators, we can assess the progress achieved on each pillar and across the facets of each pillar . The registered progress over the past years can be viewed in the attached indicators list.
b. Please explain how the initiative has impacted positively a group or groups of the population within the context of your country or region (200 words maximum)
The SD Act affects all strata of society since it has an overarching dimension. During the past four years the island has experienced a continuous strong annual economic growth which is translated to a 5% of the GDP.
This positive economic trend contributed to an increase in employment for people aged 20 to 64 years with an average yearly growth of 1.3 per cent. In comparison, the EU 28 yearly growth rate currently stands at 0.3 percent.
One of the targets of Sustainable development is to break cycles of poverty and enhance the well being of society. thanks to several budget commitments made during the past five years by government, the at-risk-of poverty indicator, incorporating persons who are living in households without dependent children and with dependent children, registered a decrease of 2.3 percentage points when compared to 2015 levels.
Malta invested heavily in renewable energy and also energy efficient schemes which saw a decrease in emissions and hence a better air quality. Protection of our marine areas and also biodiversity was also enhanced.
Mainstreaming of sustainable development requires the mainstreaming of lifelong learning. Malta is showing a growing trend in the percentage of people in lifelong learning which has gradually increased over the period 2008 to 2016. Such growth rate is also in line with the EU 28 trends for this period under review.
The initiative must present an innovative idea, a distinctively new approach, or a unique policy or approach implemented in order to realize the SDGs in the context of a given country or region.
a. Please explain in which way the initiative is innovative in the context of your country or region (200 words maximum)
The Sustainable Development Act can be considered as an innovative governance instrument since it set up a three pillar structure which work in a holistic manner towards the same aim using different methodologies and action plans. This multi tier structure consists of the Guardian of Future Generations, the Sustainable Development Network and the SD coordinators together with SD focal points in all its Ministries.
b. Please describe if the innovation is original or if it is an adaptation from other contexts (If it is known)? (200 words maximum)
Sustainable Development has been on the local agenda for quite some time, since in 1992 Malta submitted a proposal for a ‘Guardian for Future Generations’ at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). Inspired by the run up to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) Malta endeavoured to provide a legislative framework for sustainable development and on 10th July 2012 Parliament passed the Sustainable Development Act (Cap 521).
This Act provides the creation of a single point responsibility in the Government departments for what regards sustainable development action. The fact that the Sustainable Development coordinators are represented at Permanent Secretary level, is of crucial importance since are at it guarantees that SD is considered at the higher political level. Moreover, the SD Coordinators are accountable for the deliverance of the SD for each sub sector, which provides for a direct ownership of the responsibility .
c. What resources (i.e. financial, human , material or other resources, etc) were used to implement the initiative? (200 words maximum)
The implementation of the Act is financed through central government’s annual budgetary appropriation stemming from the annual budget. The human resources needed for the Act’s also implementation form part of the government workforce.
The Guardian and the SD Network are allocated separate financial assistance to sustain their operations. These two structures are complimented by the SD focal points network who gives a direct support for the implementation of the Act through the involvement of human resources by putting forward ideas and suggestions for the implementation of sustainable development. These individuals are also instrument to design specific police within their ministries to support and enhance sustainable development issues within their daily workings.
In addition to these, a competent authority which shapes itself through the Sustainable Development Directorate which is the current relevant structure under which all the governance framework coordination is carried out.
The initiative should be adaptable to other contexts (e.g. other cities, countries or regions). There may already be evidence that it has inspired similar innovations in other public-sector institutions within a given country, region or at the global level.
a. Has the initiative been transferred to other contexts?
This initiative is applicable to the whole island. It must be noted that in the past year Malta was approached by other countries to enquiry about the SD Act, in view of the interest on our legal framework. However, we do not have any information if this concept was applied or not.
The initiative should be able to be sustained over a significant period of time.
a. Please describe whether and how the initiative is sustainable (covering the social, economic and environmental aspects) (300 words maximum)
The SD Act has been in place since July 2012 and since then has tried to foster the mainstreaming of sustainable development within the workings of the public administration. Today it represents part and parcel of the everyday efforts of the public administration in introducing and applying sustainable development criteria within the daily operations. Progress achieved on the main pillars of SD in the past years can be summarised in the latest SD Annual Report as published in 2017. This report is being attached to this template.
In addition to this, as outlined earlier the Guardian for Future Generations major role is to defend the public interest and to comment on government decisions and how they affect citizens’ lives. This is crucial to maintain sustainability. An example of a recent intervention by the Guardian can be followed through this link: https://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20171220/local/sustainability-guardian-defends-majjistral-park.666004
b. Please describe whether and how the initiative is sustainable in terms of durability in time (300 words maximum)
The main aim of this initiative was the mainstreaming of Sustainable development concepts across the public administration. This scope was put in place with the provision that would serve as a long-term approach to the future policy development and operation of the Government and it does not have consider a definite lifetime. As sustainable development is based on the concept of mainstreaming of sustainability principles across all sectors this initiative ensures that this scope will be implemented in the long term without creating significant additional burden on top of dedicated structures.
The initiative should have gone through a formal evaluation, showing some evidence of impact on improving people’s lives.
a. Has the initiative been formally evaluated?
If yes, please describe how the initiative was evaluated? (200 words maximum)
. This initiative is continuously being evaluated though a monitoring process which is sustained by a number of indicators which show the progress achieved over a period of time.
b. Please describe the outcome of the evaluation of the impact of the initiative (200 words maximum)
The implementation status of the SD Act provisions is annually scrutinised through the compilation of the annual report and the consequent parliamentary debate. The latest outcomes presented in the Annual reports which are attached to this template
c. Please describe the indicators that were used (200 words maximum)
The list of indicators has been attached as a separate attachment to this template
The initiative must demonstrate that it has engaged various actors such as from other institutions, civil society, or the private sector, when possible.
a. The 2030 Development Agenda puts emphasis on collaboration, engagement, coordination, partnerships, and inclusion. Please describe what stakeholders were engaged in designing, implementing and evaluating the initiative. Please also highlight their roles and contributions (300 words maximum)
One of the main aims of the SD Act is the implementation of a new Governance Structure and the involvement of all the government’s ministries and entities together with the private sector, NGOs academia and all relevant stakeholders in the work related to the mainstreaming of sustainable development in the national context.
Such collaboration resulted in the creation of the Guardians of Future Generation, the SD Network and SD Focal points within the Government’ s ministries. These structures were discussed among all political parties and the SD Act was unanimously approved by Parliament on 10th July 2012.
The Guardian of future generations is composed by four members of which a chairperson, a person with experience in the environmental voluntary organisations and environmental matters, a person with expertise in social and community affairs and someone in the field of commerce, economy and industry, represents an innovative body which has the independent role of promoting sustainable development in policy making whilst supporting the private sector, NGOs, and society’s involvement in the general development of sustainable development initiatives and proposals.
The Sustainable Development coordinators within each ministry are represented at Permanent Secretary level, whilst the network is composed by the SD Coordinators, the Head of the Strategic Policy secretariat, a representative of the Non- Governmental Organisations Sector with knowledge and experience in the environmental matters, a person with experience in the commerce, economy and industry sector, and a person with knowledge and experience in the social and community affairs sector. Moreover the SD focal points in the different ministries have the role of supporting the members of the SD network in the implementation of their functions .
a. Please describe the key lessons learned, and any view you have on how to further improve the initiative (200 words maximum)
This initiative showed that the governance structure for SD represents the foundation for a robust SD agenda implementation and the delivery of its benefits to society at wider national scale. The progress and the success of this initiative in national contest for what regards the sustainable development mainstreaming in all the society’s sectors can be measured by the current position Malta covers in the UN ranking for the SDG’s implementation. Malta in fact covers the 22nd place in the SDG Index and Dashboard Report 2017.