Valletta Local Council presents 10 proposals for a Greener Valletta Climathon addresses sustainability in Valletta
Water collection on Valletta’s roofs, PV-powered airconditioning by pumping cool air from wells, green roofs, solarpowered water taxis, city bike sharing and community gardens created through civic waste management initiatives were some of the ideas presented during the recent Climathon event held at the Valletta University Campus.
Climathon forms part of Climate-KIC, the EU’s largest public private partnership addressing climate change through innovation to build a zero carbon economy. Education is at the heart of these themes to inspire and empower the next generation of climate leaders.
The global climate change event took place simultaneously in major cities around the world, including Valletta where it was organised by Paragon Europe. In Malta, the event’s theme was, How best to be prepared for Green Valletta Capital of Culture 2018 and saw a number of individuals and businesses presenting their ideas and innovative solutions for greener initiatives – be they architecture, transport or business-related.
Participants were divided into three seperate workshops namely sustainable architecture workshop, a mobility workshop and a waste management workshop and asked to present ideas related to their respective assigned workshop.
The winning idea came out from the Mobility workshop and considered the creation of a Last Mile System – a system for the delivery of goods to Valletta that is centralised and outsourced. The system foresees the use of the old power station site just out of Valletta reconverted into a central hub for the collection and distribution of goods to retailers, businesses and citizens in the city centre using electric or low emission vans thus reducing congestion, pollution and inconvenience.
Dr Anton Theuma, CEO of Paragon Europe expressed his satisfaction at the turnout of the event and pointed out the importance for Malta to start thinking more seriously in terms of green initiatives that will lead to greater sustainability and efficiencies.
“The ideas proposed by the a three workshops were ideas aimed at making Valletta a greener and more sustainable city by reducing carbon emissions in order to help our capital city face the realities of new environmental challenges. However, really and truly, most of the ideas presented during this 12-hour marathon of meetings and discussions may be applied in most localities across Malta and Gozo. These ideas could easily serve as a basis for a truly nationwide green masterplan for our country,” said Dr Theuma.
Climathon was also addressed by Alexiei Dingli, mayor of Valletta who explained how this event was happening at a very exciting time for a city whose local council has already outlined a strategy for a greener Valletta based on 10 distinct initiatives in a bid to make the city the European Green Capital.
“Besides the introduction of plants, planters and other green elements with the direct involvement of the business community as well as the access to a number of green lungs such as monasteries’ gardens and the garden at the Archbishop’s palace, the local council is actively looking at how it can support the use of pedelecs and ebikes inside the city through the installation of bike racks and ebike charging stations. The Council is also planning a 5km pathway and cycle path by the sea round Valletta.”
Dr Dingli also referred to other initiatives being planned for Valletta with regards to improving mobility namely the introduction of the VATIS app (Valletta Accessibility Transport Information System) providing live data of the traffic situation round and inside Valletta to reduce congestion, the installation of parking sensors that indicate available parking and reducing cruising inside the city, new parking areas, electric cabs and self-driving cars, waste management technology, urban roof gardens and initiatives that monitor pollution and promote more social inclusion to help citizens adopt healthier living patterns.
Entrepreneur Angelo Xuereb also addressed the Climathon event and presented his most recent masterplan for Valletta based on a direct correlation between a decrease in access by cars and an increase in commercial and social activity.
“Although Valletta was never planned to accommodate vehicular traffic, every year the city sees over a million cars through its streets. We have also witnessed a constant decrease in commercial activity and a decrease in the city’s population. In 1939, Valletta’s population was approximately 24,000 whereas in 2011, the city’s population stood at 5,785. Whereas in 1995 there were 833 vacant properties, in 2011 these vacant properties went up to 1,363.”
“Valletta needs to be revived. This can be done by reducing traffic inside the city and encouraging a wide pedestrianisation project with a gradual move of cars to dedicated parking areas in Floriana. This will involve a wide traffic management plan that sees the use of free electric buses in and round Valletta, more use of maritime links between the inner harbour areas through a sealink beneath Valletta and directing traffic underground from the north towards Sa Maison directly leading to a huge underground carpark in Floriana.”
Mr Xuereb also emphasised the importance of continuous restoration and upkeep and proposed incentives by government to encourage people to come and live in Valletta by helping them in the restoration and upkeep of their buildings and common areas.
The Climathon will be followed by a series of Ideation Events during this month and December where respective individuals, companies and experts can further develop ideas. The full list of ideas will be gathered together in a publication.
The Valletta Local Council’s proposals
A Greener City – Plants and Green Elements in a joint initiative with the business community and the citizens to ensure the upkeep.
Accessibility to Valletta’s hidden gems such as monasteries, gardens, courtyards which will start being opened to the public more frequently.
A 5km walkway and cycleway by the sea round Valletta in collaboration with the Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation (GHRP). This with be part of a wider project involving a similar pathway from Bugibba all the way down to Kalkara.
Smart planning one’s trip to Valletta with a new app called VATIS (Valletta Accessibility Transport Information System). This app will provide live data of the traffic situation on Valletta’s ring road and at Valletta’s access points so that people driving to Valletta will know which areas are more congested and avoid them thus avoiding further congestion. This will be linked to a parking sensor system that reduces cruising inside Valletta leading to less congestion, less traffic and less pollution.
Valletta ditch will include a new parking area that will not interfere with the current city gate project. Lighting and better accessibility through pedestrian ways leading up to the city centre will ensure safer and 24-hour use of this parking site.
Encouraging less cars into Valletta through initiatives that incentivise car-pooling and carsharing activities.
Greener transport options – electric cabs, more use of ferries, electric bikes, travellators, selfdriving cars and electric buses inside the city.
Intelligent waste management systems through use of sensors that direct collectors to those waste sites that are most full to avoid overflowing. This reduces costs of collection. Another study is looking at Valletta’s tunnels which would support 80% of a system that vaacums waste to a recycling site outside Valletta.
Urban rooftop gardens and incentives to property owners inside Valletta to utilise their roofs as roof gardens.
City Plus Project – a set of initiatives that deal with the people living inside Valletta and that promote social inclusion. More initiatives that monitor pollution, that combat obesity and that ensure more child safety.