‘Are we ready to consider a ban on new restaurants?’ – Prof Alex Torpiano

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Din l-Art Ħelwa President and Architect Professor Alex Torpiano asked whether Malta is ready to take drastic measures in order to safeguard its environment.

Speaking at the Business Breakfast organised by Newsbook.com.mt, Professor Torpiano said that the city of Dubrovnik in Croatia is proposing a ban on new restaurants. The city has so far fought overtourism by limiting cruise ships, banning four in five souvenir stalls, and cutting the number of tables and chairs by restaurants outside by 20%. He asked whether Malta is prepared to do the same with restaurants and boutique hotels.

He explained that while the number of tourists that visit the islands is on the increase, the impact of tourism on the use of water and residents is never accounted for.

The architect recalled that up until three years ago, economic growth was a priority, followed by the environment, however, now people seem to have realised that this was not correct. ‘There’s a price tag on everything, including the lack of open spaces,’ he stated.

Professor Torpiano stated that the planning policies should change, if we insist on growth, otherwise there is a price being paid which is completely ignored.

During his address, he referred to Laudato Si, the second encyclical of Pope Francis. He explained that several questions are raised in this letter, to understand whether a planned project would serve common good. He remarked that he is not convinced that everyone understands the meaning of ‘economy’ since many a time this is tied to the Gross Domestic Product.

An economy which takes the environment into account – Gordon Cordina

Economist Gordon Cordina said that the economy should take the environment into account, when devising economic policies. He explained that Malta should invest in projects which serve the common good.

Economic growth is not measured correctly when the impact on the environment is not taken into account, Cordina explained. He added, that more stringent policies are needed due to the limited space available, warning against bad planning.

In his comments to Newsbook.com.mt, psychiatrist Joe Cassar reiterated Professor Torpiano’s question, whether the country is prepared to walk the talk.

Environment Minister José Herrera who was on the panel remarked that what was applicable in the past, is not necessarily good for the present, arguing for drastic measures to ensure environment protection.