Country profile - Societal developments (Malta)
Malta obtained independence in 1964. In 1967, Malta had a population of 314 216 persons,4 with 6 240 persons employed in agriculture, 9 770 in services, and 18 580 in manufacturing. In 1985, the population was estimated at 345 418, and the employment structure was as follows: 4 608 employed in agriculture, 25 188 in services, and 31 690 in manufacturing. At the end op 2008, the population was 413 6095 and the employment figures stood at: 2.8 % in agriculture, 77 % in services, and 16.7 % in manufacturing. These changes were results of a modernisation of the economy and ongoing policy direction to encourage the development of the industrial and services sectors (including tourism). These changes resulted in Malta obtaining developed-country status in the United Nations in the last decade of the 20th Century.
During the period following independence, Malta experienced a period of significant economic development, in part related to tourism and ownership of housing, which sparked a construction boom. This resulted in the urbanisation of significant coastal and rural areas, which continues today, as Maltese households prefer to live in more newly-urbanised areas rather than the older historic settlements. As historic centres are valorised, there is an increase in demand for such housing.
From an environmental policy perspective, the main difference between the 1950-1980 period and the 1980-2010 period is that the later period saw the development of increasing environmental awareness in the population, which resulted in the enactment of Malta’s first environmental legislation in the 1991 Environmental Protection Act and its daughter regulations. Furthermore, in 1992, the Development Planning Act set in place a land-use planning system based on a national structure plan, to address land-use issues.
Following its 2004 accession to the EU, Malta invested heavily in environmental infrastructure and regulation, and the new Environment Protection Act was enacted in 2001, under which some 250 pieces of subsidiary legislation had been passed by 2008. Some improvements, such as with respect to air pollution, soon became apparent.6 At the same time, the increased availability and lower prices of imported goods have increased household consumption, with impacts on environmental issues such as waste generation, energy use and transport. The latter give an indication of the level of demands required from the natural and physical environment and which given time, may recover slowly. With the rise in climate change awareness, society is gradually investing into alternative sustainable solutions such as renewable energy sources, with the possibility of Government covering a percentage of their capital cost.
Research on the impact of immigration is still somewhat new and thus synergistic efforts are required to effectively identify the impact(s) that such a phenomenon is leaving on the islands (water usage, waste production, energy consumption and others) in concert with tourism, particularly in peak seasons7.
4 NSO (National Statistics Office). 2007. Census of Population and Housing 2005, Volume 1: Population,
NSO, Valletta. (http://nso.gov.mt/statdoc/document_file.aspx?id=2048, accessed on 4th November 2009).
5 NSO (National Statistics Office). 2009. Demographic Review 2008, NSO, Valletta.
(http://nso.gov.mt/statdoc/document_file.aspx?id=2550, accessed on 4th March 2010).