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Title: An environmental justice index for Malta : a possibility?
Authors: Portelli, Maria-Stella
Keywords: Environmental justice -- Malta
Geographic information systems -- Malta
Environmentalism -- Malta
Issue Date: 2019
Citation: Portelli, M. (2019). An environmental justice index for Malta: a possibility? (Master’s dissertation).
Abstract: Environmental justice (EJ) research in Europe is somewhat lacking and the subject has thus far barely been considered in Malta, with no EJ indices that monitor and assess the spatial distribution of environmental burdens in relation to social variables. This study aimed to identify significant EJ issues in Malta and explore the feasibility of constructing such an index. EJ issues were identified by consulting relevant literature and local experts from different fields through interviews or questionnaires. Based on this, five environmental variables (air pollution, noise pollution, lack of greenery, overcrowding and overdevelopment, and proximity to locally unwanted land uses) were selected for inclusion in the index. Similarly, education, income, and health were chosen as social variables. For the identified variables, indicators were chosen based on SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely) criteria and availability of secondary data. The indicators were calculated for each locality and processed in a geographic information system (GIS). Cumulative environmental burden and social vulnerability scores were calculated based on quintile ranking of indicators. After normalisation, cumulative scores were aggregated into the EJ index. Spatial autocorrelation performed in GIS showed significant disparities within each variable, cumulative scores, and index. The preliminary evaluation of EJ distribution in Malta demonstrated areas of highest concern in parts of the Northern harbour, Southern harbour and South-eastern districts. There was a statistically significant positive correlation of moderate strength between normalised cumulative environmental burden and social vulnerability scores. This correlation shows that EJ issues are present in Malta: the most disenfranchised groups experience the greatest environmental grievances while the least socially vulnerable experience the least. Method validation was performed through a group interview with four of the previously-interviewed experts, who agreed that the index would be useful for policy development, subject to methodological refinement. Despite limitations, such as lack of availability of updated social data and widely varying sizes of the geographic unit of analysis, the developed index provides a basis for further EJ research in Malta, and contributes to EJ research in Europe and to the development of EJ tools that assess cumulative impacts. With investment and political support, a robust EJ index for Malta that can effectively be used for policy development is therefore a possibility.
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - InsES - 2019

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