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Culture: the driver and enabler for sustainable development

Article is taken from ‘The Malta Independent’ – Friday 24th June2022 (Page 6)

Naples, last week, was the meeting place for all the Culture Ministers of the Euro-Mediterranean region. The conference was both timely and necessary, given the need for a more nuanced approach to specific issues afflicting the Mediterranean areas.

There is no shortage of strategies, plans, and measures intended to tackle sustainability issues. Some, like the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, are overarching, multipurpose instruments intended to provide guidance and specific targets for the globe. But delivery on these targets depends very much on strategies and measures that are tailor made to address the challenges and better utilise the potential of each state.

Given its geographical peculiarities as an island nation with limited resources, Malta has always been sensitive to the need to adopt flexible rather than one-size-fits-all solutions. Which is why we are supportive of a format, such as that utilised during the Naples Conference, whereby Mediterranean countries come together to share experiences and discuss common issues that are specific to the region.

In this sense, we favour the better integration of culture in the agenda for the sustainability and economic development.

Culture has a lot to offer in this sphere, especially in raising awareness. In conjunction with the educational sector, culture can be a non-intrusive way through which our citizens can be made aware of the challenges that we collectively face and the stakes involved. Given its various forms whether tangible or intangible, culture has an unparalleled ability to reach every corner of our societies.

The different aspects of culture are particularly suitable to deliver the message especially in an age where there is an increased wariness of media in general. We need to find ways of harnessing this latent potential, such as through the use of cultural sites which can become inspirations of sustainable approaches applied in a practical manner.

We, as a country, are already gearing up to contribute towards the SDGs. Last year, the National Culture Plan was published with overall aim is to advance and enhance the resilience of culture in its many forms. In direct response to the Paris Agreement, the National Culture Plan has provisions to aid organisations in the sector in order to reduce carbon emissions and other negative environmental impacts. This will be done through the provision of resources and expertise and possibly through the creation of financial mechanisms.

As a Government we will also integrate environmental sustainability as a requirement in the selection criteria of public funding programmes, including the declaration of how the expected negative impacts on the environment are going to be mitigated and/or compensated. At an international level, Malta continues to participate actively in peer learning fora and in exchanging best practices.

The Mediterranean has seen numerous civilizations and polities emerge, each of which has left a substantial cultural imprint, mostly lying a short distance from the coast. This wealth in culture is under severe pressure from both the elements and from man.

More resources may need to be expended to safeguard tangible heritage for future generations, the impact of which would be multiplied by active collaboration across borders. This is particularly true for states that border upon a landlocked sea. Erosion, busy sea lanes, excessive tourism, and critical changes, amongst other things, are all affecting our daily lives, including our ability to enjoy culture at its source. If we are to really succeed in our endeavours, in order to protect our cultures, especially the cultural sites, we may need to look beyond the confines of the EU.

That is why we support the idea of taking the opportunity of the forthcoming COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh to push culture and cultural heritage to the centre stage of the climate debate, where it can positively contribute to the realisation of our common goals.

In particular, as highlighted in the final declaration, there is a need to push an agenda where culture will become the axis around which a sustainable, inclusive and supportive society, which nurtures and protects diversity in all its forms, can be built and maintained.

We believe that we need to deeply reflect upon the possibilities that culture offers in meeting the global scourge of climate change and in promoting sustainable lives and practices. The tools and structures to meet these challenges have been created over the past decade.

It is high time for culture to be directly engaged at the heart of this international endeavor in order to find speedy and equitable answers to these global challenges supported by our citizens. That time is now.


The Premju għall-Arti 2022 winners have just been announced.

The winners of this year's Premju għall-Arti awards, organised by Arts Council Malta, were announced on Wednesday, 15 June, at an awards ceremony at Fort St Angelo in Birgu. The Awards are in their fifth year, following two years of virtual awards due to the pandemic. Arts Council Malta received over 300 submissions for this year's edition, with 100 making it to the nominations stage. Nominations were short-listed to three finalists in each category, with a winner announced during the awards ceremony.

This edition of Premju għall-Arti consisted of 14 awards, out of which 10 were competitive, 3 honoraries, and one special award at the discretion of Arts Council Malta for an extraordinary contribution towards arts and culture during the year. This award was awarded for the first time during this edition of the Premju għall-Arti.

We continue to aim for and work toward strengthening the platform of artists, cultural practitioners, and the culture and creative sectors, and the Premju għall-Arti is a vital link that allows us to do so. Thanks to this initiative, we can continue awarding various forms of art and genres while expanding our ongoing community outreach.

Premju għall-Arti is Arts Council Malta's annual celebration of the Maltese cultural and creative industries.

Events like these underline our commitment to excellence in arts and culture. We believe this commitment as a government is crucial in professionalising high-quality careers in the creative and cultural sectors.

We are creating much more resilient and sustainable creative and cultural sectors based on the lessons learned over the years. We believe striving for excellence is critical to improving the sectors in Malta and Gozo.


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