Valletta,,Malta,-,September,23,2016:,Auberge,De,Castille,Dates

Good Governance – Local Level

In 2019, 456 Councillors were elected in order to form 68 new Local Councils. This was after the population of every locality in Malta and Gozo voted to appoint their representatives on the local level.

Although we are talking about Local Councils and Councillors, they still have to work and operate responsibly. They need to realise that once they are working with the people’s money, they have to do so with good governance. What is this good governance that we hear so much about?

Good Governance

That one operates within the framework of good governance is something that comes naturally to those who work genuinely and with the best interest of those they represent. This is something obvious, no guidelines are needed for this principle to be embraced. Nonetheless, back in 2008, the Council of Europe embraced the decision of the Council of Ministers, with this decision being taken on 15th October 2007 in Valencia, Spain, where twelve principles for good governance were adopted.

In simpler words, good governance means that there must be responsibility and good conduct in matters related to the public and public management. The twelve guiding principles are:

  • Representation and Participation
  • Responsiveness
  • Efficiency
  • Transparency
  • Rule of Law
  • Ethical Conduct
  • Competence and Capacity
  • Innovation and Openness to Change
  • Sustainability and Long-Term Orientation
  • Sound Financial Management
  • Human Rights and Diversity
  • Accountability

This agreement was endorsed by all the member states of the Council of Europe, with the aim of strengthening the will to ensure that this key democratic principle is protected. Let us take a deeper look at the principles that form the basis of this value.

Representation and Participation

The first principle towards good governance is founded on the importance of free participation and an open democratic process. This is a process which must be worked on at the local level of that particular country. At this stage, citizens are the core and the centre of activity because they are directly involved in choosing their representatives. Every man and woman should make their voice heard in this democratic process and nobody should try to deny this fundamental right. This participation is based on freedom of expression. This also holds true for those who might feel less privileged or vulnerable, because in a process such as this, everyone is and should be considered as equal. In this whole process, while the will of the majority is carried out, one must also consider and respect the opinion of the minority.   

Representation and Participation

The first principle towards good governance is founded on the importance of free participation and an open democratic process. This is a process which must be worked on at the local level of that particular country. At this stage, citizens are the core and the centre of activity because they are directly involved in choosing their representatives. Every man and woman should make their voice heard in this democratic process and nobody should try to deny this fundamental right. This participation is based on freedom of expression. This also holds true for those who might feel less privileged or vulnerable, because in a process such as this, everyone is and should be considered as equal. In this whole process, while the will of the majority is carried out, one must also consider and respect the opinion of the minority.   

Responsiveness

With responsiveness, reference is being made to the way the elected politician has to respond, in a way where the objectives, the rules, the structures and the procedures are adopted in a legitimate manner and as expected by citizens. Excess bureaucracy or reluctance to enact reforms or strategies which are beneficial to the population should not be allowed.

This is particularly true for public service, where we must ensure that this is served and performed. Apart from this, we must also ensure that citizens’ complaints are looked into within an adequate and reasonable amount of time, and that they are given a timely response.

Efficiency

This principle ties well with the prior principle. Efficiency means that there must be results for the objectives that have been agreed upon. This materialises by using the resources available in the best way possible, be they human resources or financial. There should be clear indicators of management so that it is possible to evaluate and measure the efficiency and effectiveness of the services offered. An auditing exercise should be done on a regular basis so that assessments can be made on what can be improved in operational matters.

Transparency

Every decision that is taken must be made within the framework of the regulations and the legal framework within which we are working. We must ensure that every citizen can freely access any type of information. This access must be available whether or not it is mandatory for it to be specified within the same regulations. At the same time, data protection must be ensured as required by law, such as in a process of competition for procurement. This helps foster trust between the Council and the residents because it would be clear to everyone that the intention of the Council is to put the best interests of the citizens at the forefront.

Rule of Law

We have heard a lot about this principle in the last few months, but it is perhaps only few who have managed to explain in a simple manner what these two words mean. Rule of law means that we must have trust in and follow what the law says and what is decided by our Courts. On the other hand, we must ensure that laws are being adopted in the same way for everyone, with impartiality and equality. 

Ethical Conduct

That one behaves ethically is not listed in any law. There is what we call moral, fiscal and political ethics. The three of them carry different weight, but all three have the same importance. The common good must always come before personal interests. Ethical conduct should ensure that there are strong measures in place so as to leave no room for corruption. One must be clear when it comes to conflict of interests. These must be declared from the start and there cannot be any involvement of that person; not in the discussion of the subject, and even more so in the process of decision making.

Competence and Capacity

It is necessary that the abilities of those that have the power to act and bring about change are constantly strengthened. This is so that a superior and up-to-date service is always given. This should lead to the continued motivation of people, especially public officials, to continue improving the service they offer. Practices and methods to assess people’s ability should be maintained, resulting in capabilities that can lead to more efficient results. 

Innovation and Openness to Change

New and efficient solutions are the answer to the problems that our residents frequently present to us. It is crucial that we are innovative in the way that we provide the service asked for, and we must always be open to change. Many times, even in a Local Council, you will find administrations that, due to a certain amount of experience and due to the adoption of the same systems that have always worked well in the past, are resilient to change and the introduction of new methods. A change in the mentality of leadership is not the easiest thing, but we have to ensure that we work in an environment where we are continuously encouraging and promoting the necessary changes. Yesterday’s problems deserve yesterday’s solutions. Today’s problems require a different and more flexible approach.  

Sustainability and Long-Term Orientation

We need to ensure that in the policies we adopt we take into consideration the needs of future generations. The politics we adopt need to look to the future so that we can ensure the sustainability of the locality we reside in. The decisions we take cannot create tension or shift problems from one place to another, because we would be solving today’s problems without looking at what effect our decision will have in the long run. The decisions must be sustainable environmentally and structurally, as well as financially and economically. We need to be proactive and, in consultation with people, see what the needs for the future are. The social fabric must be protected, and most importantly, we must act in ways that guarantee that what is ours today will be enjoyed by those who will come after us. Therefore, we have to shoulder this responsibility and ensure that we act in this regard.     

Sound Financial Management

We need to remember that we are operating with public funds. Therefore, each decision taken on spending needs to be in the best interest for everyone and, above all, to achieve the best result. Changing things just to increase the value of what we’re spending on does not justify the change. Neither is acting to reduce the cost by reducing the services on offer or by offering a mediocre service. Caution should be observed at all times, especially when it comes to decisions that will leave an impact on future generations; for example, borrowing, debt etc. The risks that we take need to be calculated and approved. No spending or borrowing can exceed the income of a Local Council. Therefore, it is crucial that there is a long-term business plan and that this is updated from time to time. The same for the financial estimates of the Council. Here, the question that needs to be made is this; “If this was my money, how would I act?” 

Human Rights and Diversity

In the scope of local regulations, these rights are protected. This is not enough. As a local authority, we need to ensure that these are safeguarded and that they are implemented without any form of discrimination. Participation is necessary in order to be ready to tackle instances where this does not happen. Cultural diversity is an asset for every locality. Therefore, it is crucial that everyone has the opportunity to participate in the locality. This is especially important for those who are the most vulnerable in society. Social inclusion and integration are essential to have strong and tolerant societies. These are principles which should be protected at all times. 

Accountability

Whoever finds themselves in a position to take decisions, whether it is collective or individual, needs to act responsibly when they take these decisions. It is important that every decision taken is backed up by evidence as to why it was decided. This information must be kept so that if there are any enquiries, the information is accessible in order to ensure transparency. There should be, and they exist, ways of how one can fight against decisions that have been taken secretly. These should be transmitted clearly to make them known, and they should be available to the citizen as well as to the competent authorities. 

Conclusion

Without a doubt, if as elected councillors we keep these principles which assure good governance in mind, we will then have assurance that citizens are at the centre of our work. We will also be assured that citizens’ trust in our work will continue to grow and multiply. Participation will also grow and the public will have a sense of belonging in the locality. This sentiment will then help increase the collaboration between the Council and its citizens, and this will automatically result in fewer problems and more collaboration in the broadest sense possible.   

Article by Mario Fava – President of the Local Councils’ Association

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Burgas collects old clothes for an ecological art installation

“Hugged nature” reminds of the connection between environmental issues and the fashion industry

A new campaign for collecting clothes has started in Burgas, which will then be used to create an ecological art installation. The campaign runs until 15 June.

“Hugged Nature” is the name behind which a future art installation will be made with the support of the Municipality of Burgas. With this work, the young artist Bozhana Slavkova will raise questions about “fast fashion”, the felling of urban trees and forests, as well as the relationship between environmental and social issues and the fashion industry – the second largest polluter on Earth.

Nature and art connected in one

Through the artistic method of yarn-bombing, which involves dressing elements of the urban environment in specially knitted “clothes” – in this case, the trees on a main street in the seaside town.

Residents of the city and anyone else who wishes can join the initiative by sending their non-usable clothes, especially if they are colourful, to be used for this project. All colours without black are welcomed. Knitted materials will also be accepted, such as cardigans, sweaters, blankets, duvets or crocheted tablecloths. Old fabrics, yarns and ready-made knits will also be accepted.

Those who have the time can prepare yarn from old materials, which will help the initiative. The participants do not need to be from Burgas to participate in the collection of materials. But those from the city can get involved in the whole project as volunteers.

The installation is expected to be installed in Burgas on 1 July, and at the end of August the clothes will be removed from the trees.

The organizers welcome citizens to participate in the project to show concern for nature, create urban art and get rid of unnecessary old clothes. The duration of the installation may vary depending on its condition. The organizers will constantly consult with an expert opinion so as not to cause any damage to the trees.

It is not clear at this time what condition the “clothes” of the trees will be in, but if they remain in good condition, they may then be placed on trees in other cities or sent to people who wish to put them on. When their lives come to an end, the clothes will be given for recycling.

Article taken from https://www.themayor.eu/en

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SeedGreen Programme

Do you have an idea that can potentially reduce the effects of Climate Change? SeedGreen is your chance to obtain assistance so that your green idea becomes a reality!

As part of the  #ClimateOn National Campaign the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Planning together with the Junior Chamber International Malta and the support of Malta Enterprise has launched a program for those individuals wishing to develop their idea into a start-up or potential project.  

Those interested are requested to visit www.seedgreen.org or else email: info@seedgreen.org or call 23316229 for more information.

Do not miss this opportunity!! Applications close by Friday the 28th May 2021.

Check out the SeedGreen video for more information and follow the #ClimateOn Campaign on Facebook and Instagram for more updates!

#ClimateOn – Turn on The Power For Change”

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Paris plans to pedestrianise historic centre

A limited traffic zone would restrict most vehicles from entering the central arrondissements by 2022

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s crusade against air and noise pollution plaguing the French capital took a fresh turn on Wednesday, when she unveiled ambitious plans to pedestrianise the historic centre of the city by 2022.

Ban on through traffic, limited vehicle access

The plan envisages introducing a Limited Traffic Zone (LTZ) where most vehicles, including all transiting cars, would be denied entry. The proposed zone would encompass the four central arrondissements (administrative districts) and part of the 5th, 6th and 7th arrondissements.

Public consultations have now been launched and residents’ feedback is deemed crucial to fine-tuning the project. Parisians can help define the LTZ contours, specify the categories of vehicles authorized to enter the zone, or even identify the streets that should be paid special attention to.

The Limited Traffic Zone is a tool employed by several large European cities such as Madrid, Milan, or Rome to reduce the flow of vehicles in the city center. This system makes it possible to reserve the road for pedestrians, bicycles, public transport, and certain categories of users (residents, delivery men, artisans, etc.). On the other hand, traffic is generally prohibited. 

“Embellish your neighbourhood”

In parallel with this project, the City of Paris has initiated the “Embellish your neighbourhood” approach to transform the spaces of daily significance to locals. More greening, pedestrian areas, cycle paths, or even furniture adapted to new uses could be installed following consultation initiatives at the district level. 

Green crusader

Mayor Anne Hidalgo has made improving air quality and reducing noise pollution a centrepiece of her agenda, recalls thelocal.fr. Her administration has already banned old diesel cars, pedestrianized the quays of the River Seine and launched a car-free scheme called “Paris respire” (“Paris breathes”), which sees certain districts made pedestrian-only on Sundays.

Air pollution levels in Paris actually declined by 20-30 percent during last year’s three-month hard lockdown. When the city reopened, 50 km of coronapistes (coronavirus cycle lanes) were built as a provisional measure, and later made permanent.

The Mayor’s green ambitions gained her many friends, and quite a few foes. The new plan to pedestrianise the city centre was generally lauded by downtown residents, outdoor eateries and shops which see busy car traffic as detrimental to their living and business. Opponents, however, view her transformation of Paris as chaotic, claiming hundreds of inexperienced cyclists and electric scooter riders are wreaking havoc on the city streets.

Article taken from https://www.themayor.eu/en

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Santander boasts the largest indoor vertical garden in Europe.

Starting on 19 April, it will be freely open for viewing

Vertical gardens and foliaged walls are increasingly becoming a common architectural solution in search of marrying environmental harmony and architecture – a way of bringing nature back to our urban lives. But how about letting nature indoors, too?

That appears to be the proposal of Santander’s newest addition – an interior vertical garden inside the Castilla-Hermida Civic Centre; a garden that is reportedly the largest of its kind in all of Europe. As of 19 April, between 8:30 and 21:00 anyone can visit the centre and admire the installation without a need for previous registration or entrance fee.

Nature aesthetics to bring a green therapy benefit

The project was part of the reconversion of the old Tabacalera building in the northern Spanish city into a modern civic centre. Last year, part of this transformation was the design of the vertical garden by FDA Arquitectos. The size of the installation is almost 600 square metres (17 metres in height and 32 metres in width).

In order to make the garden a reality some 22 300 plants from 26 different species have been planted. Given the size of the wall some planning, and adjustments needed to be made in order to make it work. Plants that are nearer the top can enjoy natural sunlight thanks to the glass ceiling but those placed in the lower half will be aided in their photosynthesis with artificial lighting.

The foliage is rooted in a semi-hydroponic textile system, which has been designed at the University of Seville, and which allows for optimal aeration of the roots without losing necessary nutrients.

The mixture of different plant species from different climate zones has been thought out so that no matter what season it is there will always be some plants that are blossoming, in essence creating an ever-changing mosaic.

Santander officials are of the opinion that this blurring between the boundaries of nature and interior design will increase the attractiveness of the city for tourism.

Article taken from https://www.themayor.eu/en

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Interactive screens enhance the tourism attractiveness of three Croatian cities

In addition to providing information, the screens have built-in chargers for mobile phones, electric vehicles and bicycles

The Istrian Development Agency (IDA) has set up three interactive screens in the areas of Pula, Poreč and Rabac in Croatia. The installation of these screens was carried out with the aim of enhancing customer service and boosting tourism.

What do the interactive screens offer?

The three screens have been designed to inform citizens and tourists about transport options as well as what areas have to offer in terms of attractions, sights, beaches, restaurants, hotels, etc. Due to the current epidemiological situation, the screens also provide information on the virus and the current measures which are in force to prevent its spread.

What is more, all interactive screens have built-in side shelves for charging and storing mobile phones, reported the IT engineering company PENTA d.o.o on its website.

The METRO Project

It is important to note that the installation of the interactive screens is part of the METRO project (Maritime Environment-friendly TRanspOrt systems). The aim of this project is to improve the quality, safety, and sustainability in maritime and coastal transport in the cross-border area of Italy and Croatia, reported the Croatian newspaper Glas Istre.

As such, it is not surprising that the interactive screen in Pula is located in the area of the Rijeka pier which is in the vicinity of the border crossing for passengers coming by boat from Italy as well as the railway and bus stations.

The Mayor of Pula, Boris Miletić voiced his satisfaction with the project as he noted that the interactive screens make Pula a smart city with modern infrastructure. Furthermore, he shared that this investment would undoubtedly improve the experience of tourists and thus, promote Pula as a travel destination.

Similarly, the screens in Poreč and Rabac were placed in the bay of Peškera and the Rabac waterfront, respectively. However, it must be noted that they are different from and more advanced than the screen in Pula as they come equipped with a charger for electric vehicles and bicycles. The Mayor of Labin Valter Glavičić and the Mayor of Poreč Loris Peršurić both highlighted that tourists and citizens will greatly benefit from the installation of the screens.

This investment cost just over 300,000 Kuna (46,228 Euros) and the IDA collaborated with PENTA d.o.o, the cities of Pula, Labin and Poreč, local tourist boards as well as port authorities to install the screens.

Article taken from https://www.themayor.eu/en

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In Brussels parking spaces make way for terraces

Allowing for more space for outdoor consumption

The Government of Brussels will be simplifying the regulations on catering terraces, making it easier for restaurants and bar owners to install them and extend their establishments. The approved guidelines will be in effect in 2021 and 2022 and are regarded as key support to local entrepreneurs, helping them to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The move comes after a proposal of State Secretary for Urbanism Pascal Smet and is another step in his ambition to make Brussels a city better suited for people than for cars.

Terraces will have a key role in the revival of the sector

Once the pandemic situation improves and the restrictions on non-essential commerce are lifted, Brussels residents and tourists will be able to enjoy more space for outdoor meals and drinks. According to the new regulation, flexible, modular, multifunctional and movable terraces will not require a planning permit, as long as they provide a free passage of at least 1.50 m. Terrace furniture can be stored outside if it is placed together in a secured way.

We provide clear and simple rules that are the same for everyone. In this way, many terraces will appear in Brussels this summer. Our bars and restaurants are going through difficult times and this way we are providing more perspective,” Mr Smet commented on the occasion.

The goal is to extend the space of catering establishments, allowing them to receive more clients since, due to the pandemic, indoor capacities have already been dramatically restricted.

Some rules to observe

Now, many more bars and restaurants in the Brussels-Central region will be able to install a terrace, without requiring a permit, through the transformation of parking spaces. However, there are certain rules to follow. These concern the timing and maintenance installation.

Among other things, terraces are seasonal (1 April – 31 October and/or during the holiday season). Their size is limited to the existing parking spaces and cannot exceed 50 square metres. They must be easy to dismantle, which should be done at least once a year.

The rules do not apply to protected sites, which require a planning permit. Catering licenses from the 19 Brussels municipalities remain mandatory.

Article taken from https://www.themayor.eu/en

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Local Enforcement – LESA

The Local Enforcement System Agency was officially launched in 2015 by virtue of L.N. 153 of 2015, under the terms of Section 36 of the Public Administration Act, Cap. 497. As an Executive Agency of the Government of Malta. The main function of the Agency is to provide the enforcement of laws, regulations, or Bye-laws and review of the work of local enforcement.

As part of the agency’s corporate social responsibility initiatives,LESA reinvests 1 million euros every year in the community. Since its inception, a total of 6 million euros have been invested in various community projects, over the span of six years. Lesa sees the safety of the community as an important value and to this effect, we aim to protect and safeguard the respective local communities. Apart from enforcement operations, Lesa widened its services of assistance in performing various tasks such as transport management services, school shepherding, assistance in traffic collisions, heavy vehicle/boat escort during transportation from one place to another. Through its outreach program, LESA also launches regular educational campaigns in collaboration with schools, local councils, and other stakeholders.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, LESA was one of the key players both in the enforcement of the regulations issued by the Superintendent of the Public Health and in the assisting in the distribution of medicines for both POYC and MDH patients. During the first weeks of the pandemic, community officers also helped combat the spread by delivering groceries to people who were in quarantine and could not leave their home.  In total, around 4500 individuals inMalta benefitted from these services. By assisting the local health authorities, Lesa was also one of the main distributors of COVID-19 vaccines to all elderly people’s homes and also in vulnerable people’s households both in Malta and Gozo.

Due to the emerging responsibilities and duties entrusted to the agency, investment in its human resources has been of utmost importance. In this regard, Lesa continuously invests in the training of its officers and yearly increases its workforce through the recruitment processes. Successful candidates will participate in an intensive 9-week training program, in collaboration with the Academy of Disciplined Forces. Upon completion,, each successful candidate will be officially licensed as a community officer.

Being aware of changes in the new technological world, Lesa is continuously investing in the latest technologies in communication, transportation, and safety to be of the best possible service to the community it serves in.

https://les.gov.mt/

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Eko Skola

EkoSkola, run locally by Nature Trust – FEE Malta, is an international programme for schools, helping them towards Education for Sustainable Development through a seven step process. Eco-Schools is the largest global sustainable schools programme – it starts in the classroom and expands to the community by engaging the younger generation in action-based learning. It guides students and all school stakeholders towards leading a sustainable lifestyle involving the whole community.  The Eco-Schools programme caters for students of all ages providing guidelines, explanations, resources, activities and lesson plans all related towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.    

EkoSkola Website: www.ekoskola.org.mt YouTube Channel mPower4Change.  Updates and schools inputs can also be followed on the dedicated Facebook page EkoSkola Malta.

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Eko-Skola – Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE)

Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) is an international programme coordinated by Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and represented locally by Nature Trust Malta. The programme empowers young people to take an educational stand on environmental issues they feel strongly about and gives them a platform to articulate these issues through the media of writing, photography or video. The programme develops participants’ skills and knowledge about the environment, enhances communication and citizenship skills, individual initiative, teamwork, critical analysis, social responsibility, and leadership abilities. Students follow the four step methodology: investigate, research solutions, report and disseminate. Apart from the annual competition, students also have the opportunity to work with foreign students, report international conferences and acquire international certification. Integration with the school curricula is also highly encouraged. 

YRE Website: www.yremalta.org.mt YouTube Channel mPower4Change.  Updates and schools inputs can also be followed on the dedicated Facebook page Youngreporters Malta

Please consider your environmental responsibility before printing this email.

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Children and their Rights

The Office of the Commissioner was set up by the Commissioner for Children Act in 2003 with the main aim of safeguarding and promoting Children’s Rights as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The work carried out by the Office focuses on: the protection of children; the promotion of children’s rights; ensuring the provision of necessary services for children; and the participation of children. The office acts as a focal point which monitors the current social and cultural situation in relation to children. The Office of the Commissioner for Children strives to ensure that children are included in all decisions and actions that may affect them directly or indirectly.

The Office of the Commissioner for Children encourages and supports organisations, such as Local Councils, to involve children in their work. One way for Local Councils to involve children in their work, including urban planning, is through the setting up of a Children’s Local Council within each locality. Children make major contributions to the communities in which they live. Their energies, skills, aspirations, creativity and passion can bring about positive change.

For more information about the Office of the Commissioner for Children visit www.tfal.org.mt. For regular updates you can find us on facebook: @Comm4Children and on Instagram: cfc_mlt.

For information and support, the Office can also be contacted on 21485180 or cfc@gov.mt

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