Together Gibraltar held its first public debate on the subject of the environment on Monday evening, garnering consensus on issues such as the eradication of plastic bags and a reduction on Gibraltar’s vast vehicular ownership.
Independent MP Marlene Hassan Nahon, who launched the movement last week, will take the best initiatives from the meeting to the Gibraltar Parliament for discussion in the form of members’ motions.
There was strong engagement on the subject as ideas and opinions were bounced back and forth with people clearly passionate about affecting change or at least broadening their outlook on the topic.
The Charles Hunt room was packed, the event having attracted a good number of people from a cross-section of the community.
The aim of the series of debates is to start creating cross-party consensus in order to make a positive impact on the community outside of party agendas.
To that end, a wide consensus was evident on topics such as eradicating the use of plastic bags and reducing the level of vehicle ownership in Gibraltar.
One of the three panellists enlisted to brief the audience on areas within their expertise – marine biologist Lewis Stagnetto – discussed plastic pollution and prompted very active audience participation.
Mr Stagnetto, who is also the founder of the Nautilus Project, called for the eradication of single-use plastics but highlighted the good work that has already been done in this area locally.
Last month, for example, the Gibraltar Government and local businesses signalled a clamp down on the use of plastics, especially single use plastic bags, with some local stores banning them outright.
He also flagged how turtles see plastic bags as food, and dolphins and other mammals are caught in fishing nets and die or endure horrific injuries.
He also expressed his concern regarding microbeads and how they are being found in fish.
As they enter the food chain it is likely to have an effect on human health, he said.
Former politician Lyana Armstrong Emery, who ran with the UK Green party on the 2014 European election, also addressed the audience on urban development.
She called for a long-term development plan to be drawn up, taking into consideration concepts of sustainable development.
Ms Armstrong Emery further highlighted the vast numbers of vehicular ownership in Gibraltar and the need for measures to reduce this to strong murmurs of agreement from the audience.
Rafael Jimenez Castañeda, engineer and teacher at the University of Cadiz´s Masters in Renewable Energies, rounded off the event with his talk on the development of the renewable energy sector in the province of Cádiz.
Asked by Mrs Hassan Nahon for his opinion on the local issue of a diesel power plant versus liquid natural gas, he described LNG as the “better solution”.
Mrs Hassan Nahon later told the Chronicle that she was pleased with how the movement’s first meeting went, describing it as a “very positive step” in the group’s aim to deliver a civil society platform for the discussion and generation of ideas.
Together Gibraltar plans to host another meeting towards the end of January although the topic has yet to be decided on.