Alfred Vella, the rector of the University of Malta, made a hard-hitting speech on Malta’s shortcomings in environmental sustainability as he opened the academic year earlier in October. Claire Caruana probed further.
You were quite critical of Malta’s performance on the environment in your speech. Why did you decide to you use the speech to make such a statement? 
A rector has the problem of what to tell students and staff present in the audience on the first day of semester, because this occasion comes around every year. New students would probably not have heard what was said the year before, but the other students and staff would have.
The theme needed to be different from the previous one. I felt the university could not remain totally silent about what we could call – and not to sound critical of any administration but the entire lot, government and people – the elephant in the room. It is something that can prejudice our quality of life and make meaningless any education that we are providing to the students.
You were criticised for saying all this while not doing anything about it. What is the university doing?
You cannot preach but then do nothing. Otherwise I don’t…

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