Dingli Cliffs’ regeneration through education: National Agricultural Policy – 16/04/2018
Regeneration refers to renewal, but the definition extends to various themes including social and economic factors. Considering the stretch of Dingli Cliffs, which are designated as part of the Natura 2000 network of protected sites, regeneration needs to be considered at the three domains, as sustainable development. One of the aspects of regeneration explored in the Draft National Agricultural Policy for the Maltese Islands 2018-2028, is to “invest in flexible career pathways and educational services for current and prospective rural entrepreneurs to offer an array of essential information, exchange of ideas…” (MSDEC, 2018, p.222)
With regards to economic regeneration, the construction, management and daily operations of The Centre has resulted in a the provision of previously non-existent facilities at source by local people, empowering local employment to benefit the economy, and including the socio-economic returns of new environmentally-friendly jobs. The Centre also favours vitality and viability of local produces, benefitting the economy e.g. bread is daily purchased from the local bakery, perishable items from local stores, fresh vegetables are brought from local Dingli farmers.
Concerning social regeneration, the majority of the staff at The Cliffs Interpretation Centre live in Dingli village or have links to the village. Through the local produce and food that are prepared, The Centre promotes local produce that are in the verge of being lost, such as wild edible plants and even traditional rural skills and knowledge systems. Even the free eco-walks that are organised twice a week promote good well-being. This complies to the National Agricultural Policy with the aim to “Mainstream social and cultural activities to raise awareness on the local product offered, its nutritional benefits and the opportunities emanating from the sector.” (MSDEC, 2018, p.222)
One important aspect of such regeneration is that The Centre is run by local professional personnel who love the environment and feel a particular sense of belonging. All types of visitors may engage with the environment, and this enhances the environmental consciousness of the area.
Since The Centre has pioneered information dissemination at Dingli Cliffs and the surrounding areas, it focuses on the potential of education to raise awareness. Through the free organised school visits to secondary school students, The Cliffs Centre directs its focus to the future career pathways of the students that visit. The Centre thus provides early stage exposure to issues of importance, including environment, agriculture, history, local produce, gastronomy, and more.
Through complying with the National Agricultural Policy and other strategies, The Cliffs Centre will continue striving to offer information services and authentic experience to visitors. Being self-sufficient means that it can offer sustainable solutions, and assistance for real self-sufficient project should be taken into consideration by the related authorities.
The quote by Edward de Bono, in his published book, “Thinking to Create Value-Bonting” (2016) is very relevant to the way of looking at an idea and challenging it. “‘Challenge’ means looking at a satisfactory idea, and then blocking that idea hence making room for other ideas. It is very important to realise that challenge is never directed at ideas that are wrong or inadequate, but at the best and strongest ideas. Challenge never suggests that an idea may be wrong. Challenge suggests that there may be other ideas which are blocked by excellence of the existing idea. That idea may be excellent and possible also the best one, but for the moment we will challenge it in order to see if there might be other, even better ideas”. Hence, the general public and upper authorities may find it initially difficult to accept a new concept, however through challenging the current concepts, creating new ones, and without undue negative pressures…….acceptance is enhanced.