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Atlas of Lebanon

Part 5 - Major Environmental Issues

A Partial Institutional Response

Chadi Abdallah, Stéphane Cartier et Claire Gillette

Texte intégral

1For now, few comprehensive strategies have been implemented by the public authorities as far as prevention and adaptation to climate change and risk management are concerned. These phenomena may be more and more studied in Lebanon but the legislative provisions and the measures that could ensure their enforcement have only partially been determined and implemented.

Climate change, an emerging issue

2Since the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s, as climate change has become a major issue on the international stage, it has been at the center of a growing number of studies in Lebanon. Most of these initiatives have been launched by Lebanese national public institutions, especially the Ministry of Environment, and international organizations, such as the UNDP. The topic of climate change was first considered as one issue among others and studied in projects focused on general themes before specific programs were devoted to it, including so that it would be taken into account in every institution. In this context, the National Action Programme to Mainstream Climate Change into Lebanon’s Development Agenda was launched in 2013. Coordinated by the UNPD and implemented by the Ministry of Environment, it benefits from a 500,000 US$ budget provided by the government. Its goal is to promote development strategies which help limit global warming, and to make public and private actors adopt measures which could contribute to a decline in greenhouse gas emissions.

3Despite the ambition which fuels these initiatives, their implementation remains subject to control mechanisms that are yet to be set up. Local governments and actors still seem largely excluded from these projects. Their impact thus still has to be assessed. Moreover, the trends observed on a local scale, such as the intensification of the urban heat island effect, are not considered within the framework of projects which might help regulate it: following a study published in 2005 by the Ministry of Energy and Water in collaboration with the UNDP, a legislative text defining thermal standards for buildings was prepared but has still not been approved by the Council of Ministers.

Figure V-14: Projects regarding climate issues in Lebanon

Figure V-14: Projects regarding climate issues in Lebanon

Risks: the gradual implementation of various projects

4Despite the destructive effects of phenomena such as mass movements, which have been more and more examined, no prevention and risk management plans have been implemented on a local scale. Most of the projects launched in the concerned areas consist in minor interventions limited to specific locations, for example in the construction of embankments and retaining walls aimed at reducing the impact of mass movements and debris falls.

5However, since the mid-2000s, several initiatives have been launched in this field. The Lebanese State endorsed the Hyogo Framework for Action (2005–2015), subtitled “Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters”, which was adopted by the World Conference for Disaster Reduction in January 2005. It led the Prime Minister’s Office to work in collaboration with the UNDP on a project called “Strengthening Disaster Risk Management Capacities in Lebanon”. A Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Unit has been set up and a national response plan prepared. Public institutions, including the Ministries of Education and Social Affairs, have been encouraged to integrate the issues related to risks in their activities. A platform managed by the NCSR has also been created to improve risk assessment. Various actors are involved in the project to allow for large-scale data collection, including in real time, and to ensure better analyses. One of its objectives is to enable the public authorities to implement the necessary measures in order to better prevent risks and better manage disasters when they occur. Yet, at the moment, besides these initiatives, no specific budget has been allocated to risk management within public institutions and local actors are only partly involved: in 2015, only 3 out of 8 muhafazat benefited from risk reduction plans.

Figure V-15: The SuNaR platform and risk assessment: multiple actors

Figure V-15: The SuNaR platform and risk assessment: multiple actors

A building code at an embryonic stage

6A major risk factor is the absence of constraining rules regulating urbanization in areas exposed to natural hazards or a lack of implementation of the existing rules, as the anti-earthquake arrangements illustrate. Even though a first attempt at spreading anti-earthquake measures through regulation was made in 1997, it was not before 2005 that a decree imposed assessments conducted by engineers and the use of a horizontal acceleration amounting to 0.2 g as a reference on rock. Many provisions included in the 2005 decree have remained mere recommendations, for lack of clarifications regarding technical controls. The 2012 decree made an anti-earthquake assessment of new buildings mandatory but gave the real estate sector time to adjust, until 2017–2018, before the application of the measure to every newly built structure. For lack of national references, this public policy de facto formalized the adoption of renowned foreign standards (American or French ones) provided that only one building code is used as reference per structure. Only adaptation to the Lebanese context, the decree mentioned a horizontal acceleration of 0.25 g as the reference on rock to use, higher than the one announced in the 2005 decree, which was never enforced.

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure V-14: Projects regarding climate issues in Lebanon
Fichier image/png, 465k
Titre Figure V-15: The SuNaR platform and risk assessment: multiple actors
Fichier image/png, 69k

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