Update: Students discuss environmental issues during EkoSkola Parliament
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Update with further information: The 14th EkoSkola Parliament session took place this morning with students from Gozo and Malta taking part.
In the opening speech Speaker of the House of Representatives Anglu Farrugia, explained the relevance between the right of every person to live a life of dignity and the right of every person to live in a clean environment.
He said that over the years the international community has developed the legal concepts of rights and environmental justice.
The Speaker added that, today the international community recognises it is the right of every person to have (a) free access to water, the main source of human life; (B) dignified and sustainable livelihoods; (C) clean and healthy environment and (d) good food and cleanliness is an essential right to human life. Promote protecting the environment because any environmental pollution is jeopardising the livelihood, life and human existence.
The Minister for Gozo Justyne Caruana, said that she had pride in the Gozitan students, who this year worked very hard in aid of the environmental agenda. Adding that “together we will continue to accomplish and deliver projects in aid of Gozo.”
The salient issues discussed during this year’s session were; concern on the ever-rising vehicle numbers on our roads, the marine waste and single-use plastic saga and the retreating green open spaces due to the blatant urban sprawl.
The issues had been identified by the students themselves in a survey carried out in November of last year.
To discuss these issues in more detail the students came together in the 9th edition of the Young People’s Summit last March whereby they produced a list of recommendations which were collated into a declaration.
This deceleration was read out this morning at Parliament in front of several Members of Parliament from the three political parties under the watchful eyes of several educators that packed the Strangers’ Gallery.
Not only did the students express their concerns but they also brought forward tangible recommendations of which most have already been tried and tested in their schools but have as yet to be endorsed by the House of Representatives.
EkoSkola said that “the concern of the students was palpable throughout the whole session since they couldn’t quite understand the procrastination on various accounts notwithstanding the fact that most Members of Parliament had not only agreed, but commended similar appeals in past EkoSkola parliament sessions.”
In another attempt to keep piling pressure on the country’s policy makers to keep to their promises, students suggested a legally binding signed agreement with the Members of Parliament which would ideally be made public.
During the sitting there were also a number of interventions from various other schools; calling for a revision of the milk carton and fruit schemes, protecting sensitive ecological areas from development, sensitising youths in exercising their voting rights to become agents of change.
Another innovative proposal was the plea to appoint a Minister that would represent children at Parliament and speak on their behalf. That would also mean regular meetings with the MPs instead of the singular yearly appointment. These were all tabled in the motion which was unanimously approved.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, the Leader of the Opposition Adrian Delia and parliamentarians from both sides of the House addressed today’s EkoSkola in Parliament.