Sociologist from Malta

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Feedback to public consultation: Outline application for the construction of a Waste to Energy Plant at Maghtab

 Re: The outline application for the construction of a Waste to Energy Plant at Maghtab


With reference to the public consultation in question, I am hereby appealing to the Ministry to employ a Social Impact Assessment (SIA) process, which is in accordance with international standards for example those set by the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA), which is accessible from this link:

In this regard, please refer to my correspondence dated 31 May 2019 to the PA regarding SIAs. To date, I have not been informed of any policy update in this regard.

A copy of my correspondence can be obtained from this link - Here I propose key elements of SIAs in line with IAIA policy: 

Dr Michael Briguglio
Sociologist




Monday, September 21, 2020

How did Covid19 change Maltese society? A comment to Malta Today

Whilst Covid19 has so far had various uneven impacts on Maltese society, it would be preposterous to reduce social change (or reproduction) to any singular determining factor. On the other hand, one can look into the impacts of a social phenomenon, in this case Covid19 and how it relates to other social phenomena. For example, in the  Maltese economic sphere, industries such as tourism are facing uncertainty, and public finance is constantly under pressure to make up for the crisis. 

At the same time, Malta's dependency on construction seems to be as influential as ever. The world of employment is facing changes: Workers who lost their jobs, others who are adjusting themselves to digital methods, and new challenges for the work-life balance. In turn, this dovetails with sectors such as education and with existing social factors such as class, gender and social status. For there is a difference between a worker on contract in a sector facing precariousness with another worker with job security. 

If one factors in other considerations, such as social integration, diversity, demographic change and caring responsibilities, the equation becomes even more complex, where people share commonalities (for example Covid-driven anxieties) and particularities (for example one's specific family/household situation). 

The reproduction of salient Maltese cultural characteristics can be observed too: A sense of community when facing national challenges, a lack of planning and enforcement in certain policy aspects, personalized and factionalized politics, and the resilience of the consumerist identity in a car-driven society. Each and every one of us faces an extra covid-influenced layer of daily dilemmas and choices in a society of opportunities and risks. We may have more questions than answers . In a social reality made up of plural truths and identities, the challenges of recognising and trusting governance processes and evidence-based knowledge becomes ever more complex. Upcoming conflicting school opening challenges and vaccine narratives may be two cases in point.

My comment was included in a feature by James Debono, which can be read here:

https://www.maltatoday.com.mt/news/national/104840/200_days_of_covid_from_excellence_to_shambles#.X2if4z_is2w




Feedback to Consultation re Partial Review of the Ta’ Qali Action Plan (Phase 3)

I have submitted the following regarding the public consultation in question: 

Attn: Ministry for the Environment, Climate Change and Planning


Re: Consultation re  Partial Review of the Ta’ Qali Action Plan (Phase 3)

With reference to the public consultation in question, I am hereby appealing to the Ministry to employ a Social Impact Assessment (SIA) process, which is in accordance with international standards for example those set by the International Association for Impact Assessment, which is accessible from this link:

In this regard, please refer to my correspondence dated 31 May 2019 to the PA regarding SIAs. To date, I have not been informed of any policy update in this regard.

A copy of my correspondence can be obtained from this link: 

Dr Michael Briguglio
Sociologist




Thursday, September 17, 2020

Feedback to public consultation on Water Catchment Management Plan

I have submitted the following: 

Ministry for Energy and Water Management​
(​Energy and Water Agency)
water-energywateragency@gov.mt

Re: Consultation on the Significant Water Management Issues in preparation for the development of the 3rd Water Catchment Management Plan  

Link: 

With reference to the consultation in question, may I propose that the proposal and consultation exercise employs a social impact assessment process, to ensure greater outreach and deliberation with stakeholders. An SIA could produce valuable evidence for policy formation and implementation.  Various methods, both quantitative and qualitative could be used within social impact assessments. The former refers to generalisable data especially through numbers, while the latter produce in-depth data on matters. Research methods in SIAs may therefore include, for example, quantitative perception surveys and qualitative methods  which involve a deeper look into social realities. Besides, elite interviews may verify the advice, concerns and interpretations of persons who are experts or who have experience in the respective field under analysis. SIAs should involve the participation of different stakeholders, ideally through mixed research methods. Analytic indicators should be provided and the entire process should be subject to peer review by independent experts in the field. 

This means that if a study is being carried out by a team of social scientists, this should be scrutinised by other independent social scientists. This could help identify shortcomings and possible improvements to the same SIA.


Social impact assessments should not be one-off exercises: To the contrary, they should be ongoing processes which engage with various stakeholders and which report back so as to ensure effective policy processes. They should also use complementary research methods so as to ensure reliable and valid data.


In this regard, you may refer to international SIA standards, for example those set by the International Association for Impact Assessment, which is accessible from this link:


Dr Michael Briguglio
Sociologist









Ħsibijiet (62) Narrattivi pubbliċi

Pajjiżna mhux nieqes mill-kontroversji soċjali. 

Kemm il-darba ninnota li jinħolqu narrattivi li jiġu ripetuti fl-isfera pubblika, minn netwerks differenti u f'setturi varji, illi mhux bilfors ikunu ibbażati fuq evidenza jew proċess deliberattiv. Jistrieħu fuq twemmin li n-netwerk "tiegħi" bilfors għandha monopolju fuq il-verita' u interessi leġittimi. Fl-istess ħin, min mhux magħna huwa bilfors kontra tagħna. Ma jimpurtax jekk ħaddieħor isaqsi mistoqsijiet jew saħansitra jippreżenta evidenza li ma taqbilx man-narrattivi ta' dawn in-netwerks.  Anzi, ġaladarba dak il-ħaddieħor mhux wieħed minnha, niddemoniżżawh, għax bilfors ħażin. Ħalliha li nagħmluha tal-bravi u tal-inklussivi.

Analiżi ta' dan it-tip ta' fazzjonaliżmu dommatiku, ta' dawn il-proċessi ta' poter tista' ssir dwar kwistjonijiet, organiżazzjonijiet u kampanji speċifiċi. Jistgħu jiġu analiżżati id-diskors, il-kompożizzjoni u l-iffinanzjar tan-netwerks, l-interessi, l-istrateġiji u l-antagoniżmi fost inkontri u proċessi soċjali oħra.


Navigating through Covid - Michael Briguglio

In my op-ed in today's Malta Independent I discuss various dilemmas which we face when navigating through Covid-19.

You can read the article here:

https://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2020-09-17/blogs-opinions/Navigating-through-COVID-6736226986


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Feedback to public consultation on the trapping of finches

My feedback to public consultation: Conservation of Wild Birds (Framework for Allowing a Research Derogation To Determine Malta’s Reference Population of Seven Finch Species) Regulations, 2020

 Attn:

Ministry for Gozo 
(Wild Birds Regulation Unit)
wildbirds@gov.mt

With reference to this public consultation, I am submitting the following points for your consideration.

1. The policy proposal will allow trappers to keep the birds they trap without any form of enforcement or accountability. This goes against the spirit of the policy framework in question 
2. The scope of the scientific study should be to improve the conservation of finches rather than to be used as a political excuse to derogate from the directive in question. The methodology requires scientific accreditation and independent peer review.
3. The methodology being proposed will allow around 4,000 non-scientifically trained people to trap birds simultaneously using live decoys and electronic lures in a small island state. This looks like a case of over-pressure on migrating finches. The methodology requires scientific accreditation and independent peer review.
4. The proposal and consultation exercise requires a social impact assessment process, even more so since the policy proposal looks tailor made to accomodate one lobby amid a much broader field of stakeholders. An SIA could produce valuable evidence for policy formation and implementation.  Various methods, both quantitative and qualitative could be used within social impact assessments. The former refers to generalisable data especially through numbers, while the latter produce in-depth data on matters. Research methods in SIAs may therefore include, for example, quantitative perception surveys and qualitative methods  which involve a deeper look into social realities. Besides, elite interviews may verify the advice, concerns and interpretations of persons who are experts or who have experience in the respective field under analysis. SIAs should involve the participation of different stakeholders, ideally through mixed research methods. Analytic indicators should be provided and the entire process should be subject to peer review by independent experts in the field. 

This means that if a study is being carried out by a team of social scientists, this should be scrutinised by other independent social scientists. This could help identify shortcomings and possible improvements to the same SIA.


Social impact assessments should not be one-off exercises: To the contrary, they should be ongoing processes which engage with various stakeholders and which report back so as to ensure effective policy processes. They should also use complementary research methods so as to ensure reliable and valid data.

 

Dr Michael Briguglio
Sociologist


Photo: The Malta Independent


Monday, September 07, 2020

#Ħsibijiet (61) Klassiżmu politiku

Meta wieħed janaliżża l-istrateġiji ta' dawk li jeċċellaw fl-esklużjoni ta' min ma jappartjenix fin-netwerks tagħhom, wieħed jista jinnota diskors selettiv u kontradittorju. Id-diskors jiġi analiżżat kemm b'dak li jintqal, kif ukoll b'dak li ma jintqalx: Dak li jiġi mwarrab mill-aġenda politika.

In-nuqqas ta' trasparenza tikkumplika l-affarijiet. Izda analiżi strutturata ta' dan il-klassiżmu politiku jurik kif jitfasslu dawn in-netwerks, kif u meta toħroġ il-propaganda u x'għodda tintuża għal dan il-għan.  

 





  

Feedback to Public Consultation - Aarhus Convention National Implementation Report 2021

I submitted the following with regards to this public consultation.

 To: 

aarhus.malta@era.org.mt
Ministry for the Environment, Climate Change and Planning
(
Environment & Resources Authority)

Re: Public Consultation - Intent and Objectives: Consultation on the Aarhus Convention National Implementation Report 2021
Link: 
https://meae.gov.mt/en/Public_Consultations/MECP/Pages/Consultations/IntentandObjectivesConsultationontheAarhusConventionNationalImplementationReport2021.aspx

With reference to above, I hereby propose that the policy process employs a Social Impact Assessment (SIA) process, which is in accordance with international standards for example those set by the International Association for Impact Assessment, which is accessible from this link:

In this regard, please refer to my correspondence dated 31 May 2019 to the PA regarding SIAs. To date, I have not been informed of any policy update in this regard.

A copy of my correspondence can be obtained from this link: 

Dr Michael Briguglio
Sociologist