The development of Malta’s RIS3 strategy was primarily based on the identification of economic niches where Malta could have a competitive edge through investment in innovation.
The principle of sustainable development was cross-cutting and implicit throughout the process. In addition, some of the identified sectors, particularly ‘resource-efficient buildings’ look at the construction sector as an important sector for Malta’s development which could be strengthened by embedding within it innovative concepts related to improved energy and water efficiency tailored to the local environmental circumstances. Indeed, the ‘Sustainable Living Complex’, one of the research and innovation projects being funded through ERDF 2014-2020 funds, aims to develop a sustainable infrastructure that helps provide economic, social and environmental solutions to the country’s challenge of a rapidly growing construction sector. Specifically, through its focus on developing sustainable infrastructure, the project aims to foster a change of culture by breaking down established socio-cultural practices and seeks to educate Maltese society on the vital need for a more resource-efficient construction industry.
It is hoped that the results of this project will act as a real-life model for Maltese citizens, thus promoting a societal shift towards an improvement in and a more sustainable way of life.
The Maltese S3 is aligned with the following SDGs:
- SDG3 on good health and wellbeing: One of Malta’s identified RIS3 priorities is healthy living and active ageing and e-health. This ties in well with Malta’s challenges as an ageing population by seeking innovative solutions to independent living and health management.
- SDG 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth and SDG 9 on Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure are very strongly linked to the objectives of RIS3, and are indeed captured and valorised horizontally across the breadth of Malta’s RIS3 strategy as a whole. In practice, the RIS3 seeks to promote economic growth through the identification of promising new sectors or the transformation of existing sectors into higher value-added ones.
- SDG 11 on sustainable cities and communities links closely with Malta’s identified RIS3 area on resource efficient buildings by improving sustainability in water and energy use across Malta’s built environment.
Malta has its National Strategy for Sustainable Development. The objective of drawing up this document was first established in the aftermath of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), when the Maltese Government committed itself to adopt such a Strategy so as to “build upon and harmonise the various sectoral, economic, social and environmental policies and plans that are operating in the country” and to “ensure socially responsible economic development while protecting the resource base and the environment for the benefit of future generations.” Malta’s first Sustainable Development Strategy was adopted in 2007 and had a timeline that extended until the year 2016.
Given that the first Sustainable Development Strategy had expired in 2016 and national, EU and international developments that have taken place in various policy sectors since then, it was an opportune moment to develop a new Strategy. In formulating a clear direction for the long-term development of the Maltese Islands, a Vision that defines our strategic focus and outlines the image of Malta that we all want to see in the future was launched and finalised following a four-week period of open consultation between 26 October 2018 and 30 November 2018.
After the vision was finalised, work commenced on the development of the new Sustainable Development strategy and action plan, which, while being aligned with the Agenda 2030, will go beyond with a timeline for 2050.