Energy Observer continues its journey across the Mediterranean, stopping in Malta, the fifth port of call in its world tour. The archipelago is currently engaged in an ambitious sustainable development program which aims to preserve its water resources, better manage its waste, and preserve its biodiversity.
For Energy Observer, the first electric vessel powered by renewable energies and hydrogen, the stopover in Malta spotlights its ambition to restore natural spaces and biodiversity, in particular within the framework of its program to eliminate agrochemicals. Malta is actually the first EU country to have banned glyphosate, in July 2016.
Victorien Erussard, captain and first ambassador of the French sustainable development goals, and Jérôme Delafosse, expedition leader, went to meet individuals who are working towards writing the archipelago into the 2030 Agenda of sustainable development. Malta will in fact present the voluntary national review of its implementation program for Agenda 2030 during the high-level political forum to be held by the UN next July.
MALTA, ON THE PATH OF THE 2030 AGENDA OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
After its berthing in Tunisia, Energy Observer visited the island of Malta. This stopover was dedicated to filming its Web series: Odyssey for the Future. The Malta archipelago is seriously affected by the consequences of climate change (drought, torrential rain, seasonal disruption) and also by anthropogenic pollution. Its high population-growth rate has led to the destruction of ecosystems, increased water stress due to the absence of local water resources, and intense levels of air pollution generated by highly concentrated road traffic. Since joining the European Union in 2004, Malta launched, in 2015, an environmental protection plan to catch up with the rest of Europe: it specifically targets a more sustainable management of water resources, the preservation and restoration of ecosystems, as well as improved health and well-being among the inhabitants. In July 2018, Malta will present to the UN the first results of its ambitious policy to implement sustainable development objectives. The stakes are high for the archipelago: Malta welcomes 2 million tourists a year (for 460 000 inhabitants), and remains one of the best diving destinations thanks to the diversity of its marine ecosystems. Energy Observer stopped in Malta to learn more about the initiatives that have been put in place.
Malta is a symbolic stopover for Energy Observer because it epitomizes many of the challenges linked to climatic change that are typical of the Mediterranean: water shortage, rapid urbanization, pollution, tourism, waste treatment, ...These environmental pressures led Malta to undertake an environmental protection plan following the example of its little sister Gozo, the green island. We hope it will continue in this direction and become a European model of implementing the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.
We came to meet men and women who are taking action at a local level in order to find solutions to a global problem. We hope that Energy Observer will become a link for Mediterranean countries of different cultures and levels of development, with the aim of cultivating and strengthening cooperation for ecological transition.
A NEW STOPOVER TO BRING TOGETHER LOCAL INITIATIVES AND PROMINENT FIGURES DEDICATED TO ECOLOGICAL TRANSITION.
– The Bahrija Oasis permaculture project, founded in 2003 by Peppi Gauci after his return from a trip to Australia, is a pioneer of agro-ecology in Malta. The project has succeeded in transforming 6 hectares of abandoned farm land unsuitable for agriculture, into a permaculture plot where vegetables, fruits, and medicinal plants grow all year round. This activity regenerates soil depleted by monoculture, helps to restore ecosystems, enriches biodiversity, and saves water. The oasis also created a circular local economy by getting local stakeholders involved. It directly supplies local inhabitants and restaurants according to the season. This agro-ecological system is perfectly adapted to remote, island areas because it allows for genuine food autonomy and thereby reduces human impact on the planet.
– BeeAware is a course developed in Malta by Friends of the Earth that provides training in beekeeping and the protection of bees. The first traces of beekeeping in the Mediterranean date back 9000 years: the Romans even called the island “Melita”, meaning “honey” in Latin. Beekeeping is closely linked to the history of the island and is a real part of its cultural heritage. Threatened worldwide by the use of pesticides, and on a local level by residents who have adopted the practice of destroying colonies when they are swarming in the spring, it is imperative that bees are protected on this island, and indeed elsewhere in the world. The aim of this project is to make the Maltese people aware that bees play an essential role for both the agriculture and biodiversity of the island. It offers them the keys to raise bees and thus contribute towards maintaining a healthy population, while also protecting their environment.
ENERGY OBSERVER’S MALTESE STOPOVER IN NUMBERS:
– 800 square meters, La Valette, the smallest capital in Europe
– 450 000 inhabitants vs 320 000 cars
– 316 km2, smallest state in the European Union
– Highest density in the European Union, with 446 547 people, or 1 413 inhabitants per km2
– 50% of water comes from desalination plants
– 200 islands and islets
– 1 native bee species
Launched on the 28 of March in Marseille, Energy Observer’s Mediterranean Tour is the second leg in a 6-year world tour.
After Corsica and Sardinia, the vessel stopped in Tunisia, its first African port, then in Malta, from which it set off on Friday, 4 May, to reach Crete on Tuesday, 8 May.