This Constitutional reform should discuss “the right to a healthy environment” and should see this right formally enshrined within Chapter IV of the Maltese Constitution. This right is gaining more and more support on a European and international level and Malta should thus be following in the steps of the long list of European, Asian, South American and African countries that enshrine the right to a healthy environment within their national constitutions. This right is in fact of paramount importance to a small and densely populated country such as Malta, as it would provide a stronger basis for protection of the environment and enforcement of our environmental laws, and would also give rise to further accountability and transparency.
The suggestion being made here is for the inclusion of a new article in Chapter IV of the Constitution of Malta, and which must also fall within the remit of article 46 so that it is legally on par with the other listed human rights. Such a right links with and builds upon the current article 9(2) of the Constitution, and should provide that: “All persons in Malta shall have the right to live in an environment which shows due respect for their health and well-being.”
Owing to citizens’ participatory rights under the Aarhus Convention (ratified by Malta in 2002), this proposed constitutional right should also entitle all persons to be able to lawfully and peacefully participate in any form of decision-making processes that may affect the environment.
Notably, article 1 of the Aarhus Convention recognises “the right of every person of present and future generations to live in an environment adequate to his or her health and well-being” and it is high time Malta does too.
Dr. Chloe Gambin (LL.D, LL.M Energy, Environment and Climate Change Law)