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Atlas of Lebanon

Part 7 - Territorial Governance, Urban and National Planning

Municipal Unions: The Emergence of a New Territorial Unit

Jihad Farah, Emilio Gemayel et Dima Raydan

Texte intégral

1Municipal unions have come to represent a new level of action and governance. They mobilize both local actors concerned with a more efficient local development, and community-based political parties seeking to reinforce their territorial reach. They also experiment with new tools aimed at strengthening planning and decision-making capacities, such as urban observatories and strategic planning.

2The first municipal unions appeared during the war, following the 1977 law which authorized their creation. However, a surge of interest for the unions was only observed after the return of the municipal elections in 1998. There were 53 of them in 2016, against 13 in 1990. The first factor of this increase is the search for a more efficient territorial action based on economies of scale and a significant rise in resources. The second one is the interest and the support shown by donors and actors engaged in decentralized cooperation for these cooperation mechanisms. The third one is the involvement of the main political parties in municipal matters through the creation of specific departments. The latter provide municipalities affiliated to the parties with training, technical assistance, and networks devoted to the exchange of best practices. In the context of the political crisis, which has been hindering state action since 2005, municipal unions have become new political and administrative spaces for these parties to conquer, since their perimeters often fit the contours of micro-territories occupied by specific sectarian communities. They also provide a space for experimenting new planning and management tools, as the creation of urban observatories and the increased use of regional strategic planning attest.

Figure VII-15: Evolution of the geographic coverage of the municipal unions

Figure VII-15: Evolution of the geographic coverage of the municipal unions

The Tripoli Environment and Development Observatory (TEDO)

3The municipal union of Al-Fayhaa, comprised of Tripoli and its area, created the TEDO in 2000 within the framework of a European cooperation project. Its aim was to improve decision-making processes and urban management by ensuring a continuous flow of quantified data. Even though it mainly focuses on environmental issues, the observatory also works on questions related to the development of the urban area. TEDO counts on data dissemination and data sharing with the involvement of the city’s main public agencies, economic and social actors. Its efficiency is less related to the quality of the information and its appropriation by the concerned actors than to its capacity to inspire and support collective reflection on the city and the issues it faces. This experiment actually constitutes the first step of a strategic planning process called City Development Strategy, in which the union engaged as early as 2008.

Strategic planning: Land-use planning and territorial development

4Since 2008, about ten territorial and urban strategic plans have been completed or are still under study. Some of the plans may be carried out by municipalities (e.g. Saida) or answer a demand of the CDR (e.g. Akkar) but municipal unions are the main sponsors of this rise of strategic planning. Donors and international organizations are involved in almost all the processes aimed at developing strategic plans. The latter are given various designations and are based on different methodologies. However, they converge in the search for a balance between a stabilized vision of the economic, social and environmental future of the region, the identification of priorities and long-term actions and projects, and the development of a network of actors that can support the strategic plan over time. The strategic plan is thus not so much a planning tool than an opportunity to strengthen governance mechanisms and to make sure emerging territories are acknowledged. This experiment is still recent. If the implementation of some strategic plans has already started, like in Jezzine, most of them are still under review or suspended because of political or financial reasons.

Figure VII-16: Completed strategic planning documents and studies

Figure VII-16: Completed strategic planning documents and studies

Regional strategic planning in the Akkar region

5This Strategic Sustainable Regional Develop-ment Plan is part of a development project led by the CDR in the North of Lebanon. It is a governmental response to the fights that occurred in Nahr el-Bared and aimed at countering the rise of radical Islamism. In 2003, a law, which was passed but has not yet been enforced, turned the Akkar into a governorate (muhafazat). This initiative is based on a reflection regarding the levers that could be used to trigger territorial development and the forms of governance which may stimulate this process. The plan conceives of the Akkar as a combination of areas characterized by the presence of natural land and human circulation. Reinforcing connections within the territory as well as with the neighboring sectors located in the heights of the cazas of Minieh-Denniyeh and Hermel could activate this potential.

Figure VII-17: Provisory scheme included in the Strategic Sustainable Regional Development Plan of the Akkar

Figure VII-17: Provisory scheme included in the Strategic Sustainable Regional Development Plan of the Akkar

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure VII-15: Evolution of the geographic coverage of the municipal unions
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/13312/img-1.png
Fichier image/, 263k
Titre Figure VII-16: Completed strategic planning documents and studies
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/13312/img-2.png
Fichier image/, 153k
Titre Figure VII-17: Provisory scheme included in the Strategic Sustainable Regional Development Plan of the Akkar
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/13312/img-3.png
Fichier image/, 133k

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