A feasibility study for an environmental justice index for the Maltese Islands has been recently published in the renowned journal Sustainability. The research focused on exploring whether it is possible to develop an environmental justice index suitable for use in small island state environments. The performance of the index developed was shown to be promising. Preliminary results showed that environmental justice issues appear to be present in Malta; despite the country's small size and it being a welfare state, significant spatial disparities in the distribution of environmental burdens and social vulnerabilities were observed. The findings are discussed in the context of methodological limitations and challenges, as well as in relation to the wider significance and utility of such indices.
By providing a basis for further research into environmental justice issues in Malta, this study supports, and calls for, the development of a robust environmental justice index. Such an index could act as a policy appraisal tool, substantiate policy at a localized level (rather than one-size fits all policy), as well as support multipurpose projects and whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches. Additionally, an environmental justice index could be used during impact assessments to identify localities which merit compensatory measures by the government and planning gain by developers.
This research was conducted by Maria-Stella Portelli under the supervision of Dr Elisabeth Conrad and Dr Charles Galdies of the Institute of Earth Systems. Locally, such a study is the first of its kind and complements the steadily growing awareness on environmental justice. Details of this open access research article can be found online.
The study was partially funded by the Endeavour Scholarship Scheme (Malta). Scholarships are part-ﬁnanced by the European Union–European Social Fund (ESF)–Operational Programme II–Cohesion Policy 2014–2020 “Investing in human capital to create more opportunities and promote the well-being of society”.