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Atlas of Lebanon

Part 7 - Territorial Governance, Urban and National Planning

Top-Down Urban and Regional Planning: the Role of National-Level State Actors in the 2010s

Jihad Farah, Khaled Ghoch et Vicken Achkarian

Texte intégral

1The Directorate General for Urban Planning (DGU) and the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR) have long been the main official actors in the field of urban and land-use planning in Lebanon. However, over the past decade, these two institutions have been facing serious challenges, which they have struggled to handle, and they have had to adapt their practices.

Towards negotiated planning initiatives

2Master plans have historically been the main tool used for territorial planning. To be implemented, they need to be approved by a ministerial decree or a decision of the Higher Council of Urban Planning, which is attached to the DGU. The territorial coverage of the master plans has always been limited. In 2000, more than 40% of the urban areas were located within the perimeters of the 183 master plans approved at the time. However, since that year, there has been a considerable rise in the number of master plans. By the end of 2014, there were 568 approved master plans, covering 58% of the country’s urban areas.

3This increase went along with a simplified approval process: since 1998, only 9% of the plans have stemmed from a decree, to 85% before that year. More and more, these plans have been prepared on the initiative of municipalities and not the DGU.

Figure VII-5: Master plans in Lebanon, geographic coverage and chronology

Figure VII-5: Master plans in Lebanon, geographic coverage and chronology

4This evolution results from the affirmation of the municipalities’ role in the field of urbanism. Since 2005, the recurring political crises have de facto limited the opportunities to publish decrees. This trend also reflects the emergence of new regulatory practices. In the case of master plans that are subject to a decision or under study, the Higher Council retains some prerogatives if there are appeals or exemptions. This opens up space for negotiation and allows for arrangements, which take into account the complexity of the actors and interests. The high number of modifications made to the master plans (about three per master plan) confirms that trend. The DGU is moving from the technical and regulatory role of producer of the plans to the role of negotiator.

Figure VII-6: Change in the distribution of master plans approved via decrees and decisions

Figure VII-6: Change in the distribution of master plans approved via decrees and decisions

A decreasing role in urban and land-use planning

5The CDR is the central institution when one considers land-use planning initiatives led by the State. It was the conductor of the post-war reconstruction project. It directed the National Physical Master Plan for Lebanon, the main strategic tool aimed at orientating ministerial and municipal actions toward balanced territorial development, officially approved in 2009. However, since its publication, the country has experienced major upheavals, which have made a number of orientations contained in the document obsolete. Moreover, the fragile and divided governments born of the political crises that have affected the country since 2005 have hardly been able to develop innovation and coordination capacities. The CDR’s projects are regularly called into question. The destruction caused by the 2006 war against Israel and the considerable inflow of refugees since 2011 have disrupted the priorities, once more focused on reconstruction and emergency management instead of long-term investments.

Figure VII-7: Main funding partners of the projects led by the CDR (grants and loans) between 1992 and 2014

Figure VII-7: Main funding partners of the projects led by the CDR (grants and loans) between 1992 and 2014

6However, the CDR remains a key actor because of its technical capacities, its link to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, and of the relationships it has been building with the biggest international financial backers for the past 25 years. Most of the large-scale projects receiving international funds have thus gone through the CDR. The territorial action directed by this institution mainly concerns the provision of infrastructure and facilities, and remains dependent on foreign funds in the form of grants or loans. More than 9 billion US$ worth of grants and loans have been allocated to its projects by financial backers since 1992, but the investments only accounted for 2 billion US$ between 2006 and 2013.

7The regional distribution of the CDR’s investments has evolved since 2006. In the previous period, investments were mostly concentrated in the country’s central region and reflected the demographic structure as well as the reconstruction policy of the 1990s, which favored the capital city. Since 2006, investments in the various regions have been more balanced, which attests the growing political leverage of the regional decision-makers.

Figure VII-8: Change in the balance of the CDR’s expenses by muhafazat between 2004 and 2014

Figure VII-8: Change in the balance of the CDR’s expenses by muhafazat between 2004 and 2014

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure VII-5: Master plans in Lebanon, geographic coverage and chronology
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/13306/img-1.png
Fichier image/, 276k
Titre Figure VII-6: Change in the distribution of master plans approved via decrees and decisions
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/13306/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/, 91k
Titre Figure VII-7: Main funding partners of the projects led by the CDR (grants and loans) between 1992 and 2014
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/13306/img-3.png
Fichier image/, 29k
Titre Figure VII-8: Change in the balance of the CDR’s expenses by muhafazat between 2004 and 2014
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/13306/img-4.png
Fichier image/, 28k

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