PR 01/22 | The 74th General Meeting of the European Council of Civil Engineers convenes in Malta to discuss the challenges of Climate Change

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The 74th General Meeting of the European Council of Civil Engineers convened in Malta this morning. This was the first time this prestigious European federation convened in person since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020. The event was organised with the support of the Ministry for Public Works and Planning.




Opening the general meeting, the ECCE President Engineer Andreas Brandner stated that the COVID and the war in Ukraine have caused serious disruptions to the production and shipping of materials across Europe resulting in significant inflation.


Brandner also remarked that the effects of the failure to maintain and upgrade critical European infrastructure, including water, transport and sewage systems, to cut public expenditure is becoming increasingly apparent. The measures that many European governments are now adopting, driven mainly by lobby groups, are resulting in an exorbitant waste of public funds. The ECCE president called for a more holistic approach in this regard.



Andre Pizzuto, President of the Kamra tal-Periti and host of the four-day event, spoke of the critical role of built environment professionals, and in particular civil engineers in addressing the climate emergency. Pizzuto remarked that “during these past two years, as members of society became more sharply aware of the vulnerability of humanity on this earth, the impetus to address the impending climate emergency gained renewed urgency.”


Pizzuto referred to research publications pointing to the fact that “Malta’s energy demand over the next thirty years is projected to grow significantly, as its population continues to also grow at a fast pace. By the end of this decade, buildings will account for over 50% of the energy demand. A further 30% will be consumed for transportation.”


“The dominance of cars in Malta, with 6 cars for every 5 inhabitants, further exacerbates the unsustainable energy demand in our country,” he warned.


The KTP President called on the European Commission and national governments across Europe to strengthen the engineering profession by affording it the recognition it merits and providing the necessary legislative and regulatory infrastructure for engineers to meet the challenges posed by the climate emergency in a safe and sustainable manner.


“Nobody in their right mind would have considered liberalising and lowering standards in the regulation of health professionals during the peak of the health crisis we have just been through. Then why does the Commission think it is appropriate to continue advancing the notion that dropping standards in engineering is appropriate in the midst of this environmental emergency?” he asked.



In his opening address, Minister for Public Works and Planning, Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi said that the Government, mindful of the challenges affecting the construction sector, mainly where human resource management is concerned, will be introducing new laws aimed at improving regulations in the field including those on the licensing of contractors and improving the skills of all workers in the sector. Once adopted, these laws will boost the quality and standards of the construction industry. The Minister added that it is also vital that a safe development process is also energy efficient and considers the needs of the public, particularly the end consumers. He stated that it is time for the Civil Engineers’ profession to take a more leading role in the planning and design processes. They need also to contribute towards helping the country to reach its net-zero target and climate action programmes. Minister Zrinzo Azzopardi stated that a healthy community in a resilient economy will look at these disruptions as an opportunity for change, a change for the better.




PR 07/20 | Earth Day is every day, and anywhere you are

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Today, the entire planet is marking Earth Day 2020, which this year is focussed on climate action.

Climate change is currently the biggest challenge being faced by humanity, as it also struggles with the severe impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Any challenge, however, is also an opportunity for positive change in ensuring a more sustainable future.

At the end of 2020, Malta, along with all other signatory nations, is expected to increase its national commitments to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. Just two days ago, Minister Aaron Farrugia announced that Malta had joined 16 other EU countries in backing a call to put the “European Green Deal” at the heart of a post-coronavirus recovery. The respective ministers are urging Europe to remember the challenges of climate change when putting forward long-term strategies for a resilient recovery from the current crisis, and stated that while all efforts should be focussed on fighting the pandemic, we must “begin to prepare ourselves to rebuild our economy and to introduce the necessary recovery plans to bring renewed, sustainable progress and prosperity back to Europe and its citizens. While doing so, we must not lose sight of the persisting climate and ecological crisis. Building momentum to fight this battle has to stay high on the political agenda.

This is indeed a very welcome step. Malta has, for many years, failed to meet its obligations on various matters ranging from waste management to emissions, and from over extraction of resources to uncontrolled energy use. We simply cannot afford to carry on with our past attitude to these matters – the Kamra tal-Periti therefore fully backs Malta’s renewed commitment to ensure that things will change, and remains hopeful that this is not just an exercise in paying lip service to these ideals.

On its part, the Kamra tal-Periti is committed to collaborate with Government in achieving these goals. For many years it has been lobbying for significant changes in the building and construction industry, which is known to be one of the biggest contributors to climate change. In May 2019, it published a comprehensive proposal for an overhaul of the building and construction regulation framework, which proposal has the support of all the main players in the industry, and which is aimed at ensuring that our building stock is more safe and efficient, and that it is focussed on quality rather than on quantity. These proposals were recently presented to the Committee established by Prime Minister Robert Abela, and the Kamra looks forward to the outcome of the consultation process being undertaken by said Committee.

Last October, the Kamra tal-Periti took the important step of signing up to the Davos Declaration titled “Towards a high-quality Baukultur for Europe”, and to date remains the only Maltese organisation to have done so. The Declaration, which was endorsed by the European Ministers for Culture in January 2018, calls for quality, joint responsibility and cultural sustainability to be at the core of our policies relating to the built environment, and stated that “We urgently need a new, adaptive approach to shaping our built environment; one that is rooted in culture, actively builds social cohesion, ensures environmental sustainability, and contributes to the health and well-being of all.” They also acknowledged the importance of adding “economic value by creating higher-quality and more durable assets and favourable conditions for economic prosperity within society (by using) resourced sustainably, thus ensuring that future generations will also be able to benefit from positive social and economic development.

The Kamra tal-Periti will continue to strive to ensure that its members place sustainability at the core of their practices and professional responsibilities, to promote and improve standards with the aim of ensuring better quality buildings and open spaces, and to acknowledge the important role that we play in ensuring a better quality of life for our citizens. However we cannot do this alone. Government must become the champion for a better built environment, not only by investing in good design but also by being acutely aware of the consequences of its policy making and decision-taking in all fields.

The challenges faced by our built environment will not be easy to overcome but they can be with concerted action, shared responsibility and commitment to the development of a vision which catalyses all stakeholders to work for better quality places that bring dignity, pride and real delight to their users. Earth Day 2020 can be an important moment for our citizens to rise up, with millions of people around the world, to demand the “creativity, innovation, ambition, and bravery that we need to meet our climate crisis and seize the enormous opportunities of a zero-carbon future.