Implementation of the NBSAP
Adopted in December 2012, Malta's first National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2012-2020), entitled "Working Hand-in-Hand with Nature", serves as a policy driver to set the country on the right track to meet its biodiversity and environmental objectives, as identified in Malta's National Environment Policy (2012) and in the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets and EU targets. The NBSAP addresses the need to preserve biodiversity and ecosystem services through biodiversity integration in decision-making as well as within policies, plans and programs of those sectors that act as drivers of biodiversity change. The NBSAP also aims to mobilise action in order to contribute to the achievement of the EU biodiversity headline 2020 target at a national level. Nineteen national targets have been adopted and are aligned with the Aichi Targets while still reflecting national priorities and contexts. The timeline for achieving the national NBSAP targets is 2020.
Malta’s NBSAP addresses both direct and underlying causes of biodiversity change. NBSAP measures are grouped into the following thematic areas: Genetic Resources and Diversity; Species and Habitats; Ecological Network of Protected Areas; Biological Introductions; Sustainable Use of Biological Resources; Sustainable Use of Natural Resources: Soil, Water and Land; Climate Change; Pro-biodiversity Businesses and a Green Economy; Financing Biodiversity; Communication, Education and Public Awareness; Participatory Conservation; Enforcement; Environmental Assessment; Research and Development; Biodiversity Monitoring; Networking and Information Exchange; Capacity Building; and, Other Sectoral Integration. Each NBSAP measure is accompanied by an indicative timeline. The latter is classed into four categories in the form of different colour coding to reflect the timeline when each measure is expected to be implemented or achieved.
A number of strategic directions are defined and are viewed as pre-requisites in specifying the means required for meeting the NBSAP targets. These strategic goals draw attention to the need for a proper valuation of biodiversity and integration in decision and policy-making, a coherent biodiversity monitoring framework to improve knowledge of Malta’s biodiversity, resource mobilisation (e.g. human, financial, technical resources) to enhance national capacity and enabling activities, strengthening the science-policy interface, promoting local participation and public-private partnerships in support of biodiversity, and strengthening the integration of biodiversity concerns in those sectors that depend on ecosystem services.
CBD, EEA, SEBI and EU indicators, including the EU 2010 Biodiversity Baseline, have been adapted to serve as examples of indicators to measure progress towards NBSAP implementation and are subject to revision.
Implementation of the NBSAP requires collective and coordinated action across relevant sectors and at all levels using existing or updated environmental and relevant sectoral policy instruments. New policy instruments for biodiversity are being developed at the EU level, as required by the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020. These include for instance the forthcoming EU Regulations dealing with the compliance aspects of access and benefit sharing and with invasive non-native species and will be directly applicable to Malta.
Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets
Malta is currently undertaking various activities that contribute towards the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets and implementation of Malta’s NBSAP. Significant progress is noted in the context of awareness and educational events, greater uptake of research projects and use of funds, strengthening of the legal regime affording protection to species, momentum in the implementation of the management planning process for terrestrial protected areas falling under the Natura 2000 Network as well as further designations in the marine environment, and continued mainstreaming of biodiversity in key sectoral policy instruments such as in the field of climate change adaptation and in proposals on spatial planning. Biodiversity considerations are also made in the implementation by Malta of EU Policy such as the Water Framework Directive and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The practice of undertaking EIAs and SEAs is also ongoing.
The status of species and habitats of Community importance present in Malta has been re-assessed in 2013. Results show an increase of 37 percentage points for habitats and 20 percentage points for species that have a favourable conservation status. This upward shift primarily resulted from the fact that Malta has gained additional knowledge on the habitats and species assessed, including enhanced data interpretation, such that the assessment could be carried out in a more comprehensive manner. A few genuine changes were also noted.
Other activities as defined in the NBSAP are in the pipeline. For instance, the exercise of assessing and mapping ecosystems and their services, will shed light on which areas warrant conservation action including restoration as well as any considerations of deploying elements of green infrastructure.
Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)
Malta’s NBSAP includes measures that address the need to strengthen and mobilise resources, to address knowledge gaps and to promote capacity building. Efforts aimed at enhancing the legislative framework as part of the better regulation initiative is an ongoing practice. There are a number of ongoing EU co-funded research projects in the marine environment that will generate new knowledge on marine turtles (loggerhead turtle), cetaceans (bottlenose dolphin), seabirds as well as benthic habitats (namely sandbanks, reefs, and submerged or partially submerged sea caves). The results of such projects will also shed insight to the need for any additional site designation in the marine environment. Malta is also currently finalising its national operational programmes on European Community funds. Biodiversity considerations are made in the development of such programmes in consultation with the competent authorities. Such programmes once completed will assist the exercise of developing a national biodiversity financial plan.
Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation
A review of the implementation of the NBSAP will be undertaken in 2014, 2017 and 2020. The indicators that will be used to assess such progress will be based on national, CBD and EU indicators, including the EU 2010 Biodiversity Baseline. Malta’s NBSAP is a living document, which will continue to evolve on the basis of experiences gained and review results with respect to its targets and actions. This reviewing process will continue to rely on consultations with relevant stakeholders.