الاثنين، 14 نوفمبر، 2011
Lebanon, Environment, and the Year 2010
Lebanon, Environment, and the Year 2010
The present report briefly discusses the environmental situation in Lebanon during the year 2010 and how resolutions were issued in this concern.
Lebanon, Environment, and the Year 2010
Lebanon, Environment, and the Year 2010 1
Major incidents and their environmental consequences 7
Natural gas exploration in the Lebanese territorial waters 8
Why the energy law was rapidly issued? 8
Environmental challenges and the welfare of beach tourism 8
Petroleum Resources Act and actions of the Ministry of Energy and Oil 9
Emerging issues 9
Struggles and disputes in the Ministry of Environment 10
Issues regarding Sukleen’s contract and its extension 11
Solid waste file 12
Analyzing the Council’s response to the Minister 12
Plans for handling the solid waste file 12
The 2006 Plan 14
The Ministries’ programs and actions concerning sustainable development 17
The Ministry of Environment’s action plan for the years 2010-2012 18
A suggested 10-point plan 24
The performance of the Ministry of Energy and Water concerning the sustainable development files 25
The Sewerage file 25
Financing the project 27
Surface storage plan: Dams and mountain lakes 27
Horizontal reading of the plan 28
Renewable energy and power generation 29
The Performance of the Ministry of Agriculture concerning the sustainable development file 30
Updating and issuing the necessary legislations 31
Second part of developing the structure and activating the role of the Ministry of Agriculture 32
Project “green” accomplishments 33
Forests protection 34
Reading the report of the Ministry of Agriculture 34
Highlights on environmental development during the year 36
A new resolution issued by the general assembly of the United Nations concerning the oil spill 37
Accomplishments of the Ministry of Environment 37
Reducing drilling wells in the Ministry of Energy and Water 37
Foundations of a new plan concerning the solid waste file 38
Reading the new plan 39
Issuing a law concerning the conservation of burnt green areas and not changing their purpose of use 40
Measures in the Ministry of Agriculture to guarantee food safety 40
Conducting studies on environmental action plans for the ocean –the Palm Islands Reserve 41
Environmental issues 42
Marine dumping sites 43
Saida Dumping Site 43
Randomness in the management of the fire file 44
Mtein’s sand land and the file of quarries and crushers 44
Ministry of Environment and reserves conservation 45
Decrease in the number of bee hives 45
Pollution caused by lack of control on regional waters 47
Lebanon, Environment, and the Year 2010
The report Lebanon, Environment, and the year 2010 discusses the most important events that happened in Lebanon concerning sustainable development and environment, during the year 2010. Achievements and failures of the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Energy and Water, and the Ministry of Agriculture regarding sustainable development and their declared programs will be highlighted. Although this report does not include all the incidents related to the environment that took place in Lebanon during 2010, it is a humble and personal contribution in order to lead the way through sustainable development policies in a country midst the Middle East and proud of its unique nature. I apologize, beforehand, for any unintentional error, hoping for your comprehension in this sense.
Major incidents and their environmental consequences
Natural gas exploration in the Lebanese territorial waters
Why the energy law was rapidly issued?
The official website of the Israeli daily “Jerusalem Post” published on 2/2/2010 news about the discovery of three trillion ft2 of natural gas in the regions of Mira and Sarah, on the occupied Palestine’s coast, few miles away from the Lebanese territorial waters. This reserve, according to the The Canadian Bontan Oil and Gas Company, is worth around 6 billion US dollars. As a result, the Lebanese Government rapidly set and issued the Oil Law in order to prevent Israel from violating the Lebanese strategic supplies of natural gas. Consequently, the Parliament approved, by unanimity on August 17, 2010, the energy law, a move that paved the way for the exploration of natural gas supplies off the coast of the Mediterranean, on the Lebanese-Israeli borders. The Lebanese political crisis, however, disrupted the government and, before its resignation, the law’s file was suspended and its implementation did not happen. It is important to highlight that the cost of importing petroleum products (by sea) corresponds to 15% of the Lebanese National Income.
Environmental challenges and the welfare of beach tourism
As Lebanon engages in the effort to extract its own supply of gas, it has to be aware of the potential environmental hazards caused by this procedure, that it might kill sea life, and affect the beach tourism in the country. The concerned authorities must, therefore, take the responsibility to choose the best exploration company, as well as monitor their performance, to make sure it complies with international public health and safety standards. Any gas leak in the sea will, inevitably, change the alkaline and thickness level of the water, which will lead to an environmental disaster that will kill sea life and cause the drowning of the exploration machines which might, on the other hand, provoke marine explosions.
The exploration of the Lebanese oil resources must happen without delay since Israel is planning to extract gas few miles away from its territorial waters. The danger of gas leak already exists, so why shall Lebanon miss this significant financial opportunity? This must be considered especially if some of the expected income generated by the oil exploration could be used to develop power plants and improve their effectiveness by decreasing the emission of greenhouse gases and by increasing the use of renewable energy extracted from the sun, air, and water, for example.
Petroleum Resources Act and actions of the Ministry of Energy and Oil
The Petroleum Resources Act aims to enable the government to manage the petroleum resources extracted from the Lebanese waters by granting exploration and production contracts and licenses, as well as to settle on the distribution of its revenues which will be placed in a sovereign fund. This law also stipulates the application of these resources into renewable and permanent investments. On October 10, 2011, the Ministry of Energy and Water organized a workshop about the application of the Oil Law, which was attended by petroleum companies and worldwide experts. In this event, a primary act for the launching of such licenses was issued, according to the following frameworks:
- Legal and institutional frame;
- Managing and coping with the environmental dimensions;
- Managing the incomes and taxes;
- Promoting and preparing the launch of the first batch of licenses; and
- Managing and maintaining the information system and database.
In addition, the Ministry of Energy has hired a worldwide consultant to assist in the preparation of the application decrees. It also launched a land search for petroleum resources through seismic, geophysical, and electromagnetic examinations.
The Petroleum Resource Act triggered a new conflict with Israel regarding the oil supply in the sea. Lebanon might, therefore, be obliged to hand the exploration to a worldwide company backed by a powerful state, in order to guarantee the proper functioning and safety of the exploration. According to the newspaper “Al Diyar” in its article “Can France Protect the Gas Exploration in Lebanon With its Navy?”, Lebanon will generate an income of 122 Billion Dollars by extracting gas and the French President Sarkozi has already offered his country’s protection for this operation, under the condition that the exploration work is handed to the Total company. In addition, the Parliament did not pass the law of maritime delimitation in the year 2010, as it was expected, due to the political turmoil. It is predicted that, following the issuance of the demarcation law of the Lebanese economic zone, a conflict between Lebanon, on one side, and Israel and Cyprus on the other will arise since these two latter nations have consented on a meeting point of the three exclusive economic zones of each country in a way to guarantee their own interests. Questions and issues will, therefore, be raised concerning the international recognition of the exclusive Lebanese economic zone to be endorsed by the parliament.
In case the international community does not interfere to solve this matter, there is fear that such issue, in this sensitive region of the world, amid the conflict between Hezbollah in Lebanon and Israel, can become a reason for the outbreak of a regional war concerning the oil resources.
This problem will inevitably delay the exploration of the Lebanese petroleum resources and will constitute an aggravation and discouraging component in this sense. It is necessary, therefore, to find a national consensus regarding this issue which has major impact on the national economy.
Struggles and disputes in the Ministry of Environment
After Mr. Mohamed Rahhal became Minister of Environment, a rough relationship resulted between the Minister and the General Manager Dr. Berj Hatijan. The press began spreading news about the Minister wanting put the General Manager on a standby situation where despite being in office he had no power to act. Indeed, outside the agenda, Rahhal did try to raise this issue before the cabinet, however he was unable to do it due to lack of evidence and appropriate environment. According to governmental source, Minister Rahhal made several calls to the opposition Ministers and Armenian Parties in this concern. There is no doubt that the relationship deterioration between the General Manager and several employees triggered by this conflict between him and the Minister who, on the other hand, started to complain against Hatjian (the administrative body), a competent man with a difficult mood - unable to negotiate, to forgive or even forget.
The relationship between the two men worsened to estrangement and hostility. The Minister, therefore, excluded the General Manager from his functions in the Ministry through a coercive administrative leave (60 days) and that, according to Hatjian, came after he was supposed to close biding contracts and agreements that did not include legal conditions nor clear standards. On the other hand, Rahal considered that Hatjian became a burden on the Ministry due to his bad relations with most of MoE staff & some of its international partners.
The relationship between the General Manager and his administrative personnel also deteriorated increasingly as his staff stopped cooperating with him. Dispute and feelings of antipathy grew between them as they faced daily confrontations.
As result of the conflict between the two men, for example, the contract of Mrs. Minerva Andria, hired to work in the guidance and awareness department, was annulled due to her loyalty to the General Manager and lack of cooperation with the Minister. The positions of several employees were swapped as well, according to the General Manager, in order to punish or induce them to participate in this fierce and unequal war between the two men. As for the General Manager, he worked on tracking and punishing members of the staff who did not comply with his instructions. The Ministry of Environment, thus, became an administrative and political warzone between the parties of the country. Hate overwhelmed the ministry, disrupted its work, decreased its productivity and its employees, affected by the conflict, and became divided between the two parties. The matter regarding the General Manager’s bad relationships was also felt by number of international institutions and embassies. With the United Nations Development Program (UNPD), in particular, Hatjian accused its management of taking control of the organization and using its resources in inappropriate ways. The issue concerning the regressed relationship between Hatjian and the European Union was published as well.
The adverse environment in the Ministry deeply affected its performance. It harmed the environmental policies and the degraded the relationship between the ministry and organizations, media, and environmentalists. In addition, the administrative performance levels decreased and the existing conflicts between the national political parties increased.
It should be noted that, during this episode, the Minister of Environment, despite the administrative and financial contraventions, intentionally or unintentionally committed, gained the attention of the Lebanese media. He was, indeed, invited by the majority of channels, programs, and conferences, but did not have the chance to gain political support to execute projects since the controversy did not help the environmental cause, and, instead, increased the tensions in a country hit by crisis and political divisions.
Issues regarding Sukleen’s contract and its extension
The issue of solid waste treatment was raised again between May and October 2011. The cabinet issued a resolution to form a ministerial committee to negotiate with the Sukleen Company. The extension of its contract was approved under the condition it reduced its renewal value by 4%, or new international offers would be attracted. When the debate concerning this issue emerged and it was presented for voting, it received 14 votes from the situation ministers (including the Ministers Youssef Saadeh and Akram Chouheb) and 14 votes from the opposition ministers (including those ministers that are followers of the president and the Democratic Party ministers, Ghazi El Aridi and Wael Abou Faour). It should be highlighted that the Minister of Defense, Elias El Murr, and the Minister of Culture, Salim Wardeh, were absent. The final decision was to require the President of the Council for Development and Construction, Nabil el Jeser, to present, within 15 days, a report about the current contracts in order to discuss the issue and give his opinion about executing an international tender.
The issue regarding Sukleen’s contract extension emerged in the midst of conflicts in the country in the year 2010. The different points of view between the two parties of the country were on whether the costs were corresponding to the services provided. The cost of treating one ton of waste in Lebanon reaches 128 US Dollars and, as a result, Minister Bassil raised some questions to the Cabinet in this concern.
Solid waste file
The Minister of Energy and Water addressed the cabinet inquiring about Sukleen’s contracts. As a result, The Council for Development & Reconstruction presented a report before the cabinet as a response to the Minister’s questioning. The report included a cost analysis of the contracts with the Averda Group, an examination of the consequences of a 4% discount on the respective contracts, and a Statement of Opinion concerning the necessity and required timeframe to hold an international tender.
Analyzing the Council’s response to the Minister
The Council for Development & Reconstruction response to Minister Bassil was, in its majority, objective and convincing. It is known that the determination of waste treatment cost is complicated and particular to each region, according to the procedures adopted in the treatment, the services provided, and the level of environmental techniques applied. The geographic and topographic nature of the region and the type of soil also play important roles in determining the costs of waste treatment. Furthermore, there are administrative and political issues, as well as unexpected expenses resulted from the uncontrolled corruption present in the country.
On the other hand, nothing prevents the state from opening the waste treatment market to other companies holding experience, competency, and efficiency. In such case, costs would be determined and influenced by the competition of the market in a way that that most competitive one would prevail. The fear is that temporary agreements become permanent deals and Sukleen’s contracts are extended indefinitely. Permanent problems are, consequently, solved by superficial and circumstantial solutions, amid governments incapable of solving long term problems.
Plans for handling the solid waste file
The cabinet issued in 1997, upon the suggestion of the Ministry of Environment, an emergency plan for waste management in Greater Beirut and other regions. The plan included the following:
- Rehabilitation of Amrousiye sorting center and the burning of about 600 tons of solid domestic waste per day;
- Rehabilitation of the Carantina center to increase its capacity to 1100 tons of solid waste per day to be sorted, burned and fermented;
- Establish a new sorting center next to Beirut River;
- Compressing and minimizing waste volume to be dumped, knowing that the healthy quantity of bales to be buried is 200 tons per day of the waste from Amrousyie and Carantina centers;
- Definition of the role of the Construction and Development Council in the implementation of this project and selection of the location for sanitary landfill (with consent with the Ministry of Environment).
Unfortunately, according to the CDC, the emergency plan wasn’t executed as planned in Greater Beirut and other neighboring regions due to the following reasons:
- Resident’s resistance towards the burning of waste in Amrousiye and Carantina;
- The administration’s inability to provide the new centers for fermentation and fertilization of organic material (as stipulated in the treatment contract n. 2378). These centers would be able to process, as stated on the referred contract, 850 tons/day of organic waste. Without these facilities, the current amount of extracted organic waste at the existing fertilization center (Coral) is of only 300 tons/day. This causes an excess amount of organic waste to be transferred to Nehme’s landfill (instead of its destination to the fermentation and composting centers) which increases the quantity of dumped waste by about 300,000 tons/year. This contributes to the depletion of Nehme landfill’s capacity and also results in additional expenses of about 50% on the sanitary dumping contract.
- Some of the recyclable material extracted from the waste became disqualified to be marketed due to its contamination with oils, fats and coloring;
- The increased population and the additional duties added to Sukleen’s contract caused an increase in the amount of waste to be treated (around 2600 tons/day);
- The lack of convenient geological conditions for sanitary dumping in the north of Beirut which led to the use of Bsalim’s landfill for bulky items exclusively.
All this led to the need to dump additional waste in the landfill of Nehme, which totaled around 2300 ton/year (while it was supposed to dump 200 tons/day, according to the cabinet resolution n. 18 dated 22/1/97). The landfill conditions, therefore, had to modified in order to dump additional amounts of organic wastes. It is important to highlight how difficult it is to find a sanitary dumping location to replace the landfill of Nehme due to the opposition of the residents of the regions where it is suggested to be established. The failure of the plan resulted in pressures on Sukleen and its subsidiaries, required cost adjustments to be made and, therefore, led to increase in prices.
The 2006 Plan
- Application, as much as possible, of the general principles of recycling and composting in order to reduce the amounts of dumped waste through the establishment of distribution, sorting, recycling, and composting centers on all districts and the implementation of one or more sanitary landfills to serve all regions;
- Motivate municipalities to use their lands for sorting and composting centers and sanitary landfills, in exchange for a sum for every ton of treated solid waste to be paid according to the plan and within the provisions of laws and decrees that shall be issued in this concern;
- The municipalities will sweep, collect, and transport the waste to the sorting and composting centers under their own charges;
- The contractor will finance the study, implementation, and equipment of the sanitary landfill and the sorting and composting centers, which will be under its control for a period of ten years. In exchange it will receive a sum for every transported and treated ton of waste in the proposed locations.
Treating, recycling, and dumping domestic solid waste
Current situation (Beirut and Mount Lebanon in the year 2005)
Contents Percentage Recycling/composting Sanitary dumping
Organic material 60% 10% 50%
Paper and cardboards 15%
Plastic material 10%
All types of glass 5%
Metal and other materials 5% 0% 5%
Total 100% 20% 80%
Summing up the current situation: From the waste collected, around 80% goes to sanitary dumping, 10% is treated, and 10% is recycled.
Objectives of the proposed plan
Contents Percentage Recycling/composting Sanitary dumping
Organic material 60% 40% 20%
Paper and cardboards 15%
Plastic material 10% 6% 4%
All types of glass 5% 3% 2%
Tissues 5% 2% 3%
Metal and other materials 5% 1% 4%
Total 100% 60% 40%
Summing up the proposed plan: From the waste collected, around 40% goes to sanitary dumping, 40% is treated, and 20% is recycled.
The proposed plan
The proposed plan is based on the adoption, in all Lebanese regions, of sanitary landfills and treatment, sorting, and composting centers.
According to this plan:
• Every served region will have one landfill or more, if need;
• In every district it will be established a sorting and composting center and the waste residuals will be transported to a specific landfill in the served region or province of the district;
• The high quality compost extracted from the waste will be use for agriculture purposes while low quality compost will be used in the rehabilitation of land quarries and for forestry;
• During the first years the contractor, at his own expense, will launch awareness campaigns aimed at citizens to encourage them to sort their domestic waste and to use their organic compost in agriculture. In parallel, ministries, municipalities, and concerned parties will launch additional awareness campaigns, as well;
• Suggested locations for the implementation of the waste sorting, treatment, and sanitary dumping centers are included in detail in the annexed reports and map.
2006 Plan as agreed upon by the cabinet
The text of the cabinet resolution gives a preliminary approval of the plan proposed by the Construction and Development Council for the solid waste management, based on: approval of the proposed sites in the north and Bekaa, replacement of the Bosfore farm in the South by another location agreed upon negotiations with the concerned municipalities, approval of the establishment of two similar sites in Beirut and Mount Lebanon (one in the region and another in Jbeil).
It also expressed a preliminary approval for making the necessary acquisitions to implement the plan. The Construction and Development Council was assigned to prepare a book of terms and conditions that shall include, in addition to technical conditions, incentives to be given to the concerned municipalities. The cabinet also agreed upon the acquisition of 25000 m2 of land to expand the landfill in Nehme, until the replacing site is ready. The resolution also called for the application of previous resolutions of former cabinets concerning compensations for the municipality and its vicinity.
Despite the decisions presented above, the cabinet suspended the indication and the definition of the landfills in Beirut and Mount Lebanon due to the opposition of residents. Ministerial commissions were then formed to determine such locations, however they were incapable of completing their duties. As a result, and as the plan faced additional obstacles, it was suspended as a whole. Only in 2010 a final resolution was issued concerning the adoption of thermal fermentation in Beirut and Mount Lebanon.
The Ministries’ programs and actions concerning sustainable development
The Ministry of Environment’s action plan for the years 2010-2012
The Minister of environment, Mouhammad Rahhal, before taking office, announced during the government of Prime Minister Harriri an objective and ambitious program for his Ministry. The program included a ten step plan for the Ministry to be implemented during the years of 2010 and 2012 (period in which Harriri’s government should be in power). The program included the following:
Strengthening environmental inspection and the enforcement of laws and regulations, in partnership with the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Interior Affaires, and the Ministry of Finance. This chapter emphasized the necessity of issuing a number of decrees in order to apply resolutions from the Environmental Protection Act (Law n. 444, dated 29/7/2002), such as decrees concerning the environmental impact assessment of projects and the environmental and strategic evaluation of policies, plans, and programs. This chapter also called for the necessity of studying best practices to strengthen the environmental inspection and law enforcement, based on the books “Establishing and Issuing Environmental Legislations and its Enforcement in Lebanon – 2004” and “Environmental Efforts in Lebanon – 2008” (expected to be published soon). In addition, it emphasized the need for reviewing the licensing mechanisms for all development projects, activation of an environmental monitoring system, issuing the draft decree concerning environmental control, stipulated in the Law 690/2005 and the decree number 2275/2009, studying and following-up the issue of financial environmental reforms, etc.
The facts: Minister Rahhal mentioned in his book “The Most Important Achievements of the Ministry of Environment” that, on April 2010, he received the approval of the state council and the Ministry of Industry regarding the draft decree on strategic environmental assessment. He explained, as well, that he submitted a project to European Union concerning the necessity of strengthening the public sector’s competence and knowledge. In addition, he mentioned that the ministry is dedicating as much effort as possible in the preparation of projects in this concern to be submitted to potential donors.
Adapting to the impact of the climate change on natural resources, in partnership with the Ministry of Energy and Water, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Public Work and Transport, and the Ministry of Industry, by:
- Strengthening the role of the Ministry of Environment as the national authority in charge of following-up the application of the Kyoto Protocol (the United Nations agreement concerning climate change), especially in promoting projects that comply with clean development mechanism in all sectors (energy, industry, transport, etc);
- Developing projects that tackle the impacts of climate change on natural resources, especially water, with the collaboration of concerned authorities;
- Seeking to transform the Ministry of Environment into a Carbon Neutral environment;
- Promoting the control and monitoring of the quantity and quality of the water resources (including snow);
- Implementing the fight against the pond pollution, beginning with the Qaraoun Lake.
The facts: the Ministry of Environment took several measures in this concern and issued a resolution about activating its role as a national authority in charge of following-up the application of the Kyoto Protocol.
Fighting against the air pollution, in partnership with the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, the Ministry of Energy and Water, the Ministry of Industry, and the Ministry of Finance, by:
- Working on legislation concerning the air quality control and reviewing and adjusting standards relative to the air pollutants (resolution issued by the Minister of Environment n. 52/1-1996 and 8/1-2001), if needed;
- Improving and intensifying the air quality monitoring, especially in regions more likely to be affected by pollution. Facilitate the public’s access to this information;
- Push for the modernization of the public transportation system, encouraging its use and replacement of the existing taxi fleet by more fuel efficient vehicles;
- Strengthening the environmental monitoring and control and make it mandatory for industrial institutions of categories 1 and 2, in order to reduce the emission of polluting materials and substances, especially in the air (the law n. 444/2002 does mention the issue of making the environmental control compulsory);
- Support the Ministry of Energy and Water in initiatives that aim to: 1) guarantee energy supply, 2) encourage the use of renewable energy, 3) honor the commitment made by Lebanon, during the Copenhagen Summit, to develop a “road map” that will allow, by 2020, the country to derive 12% of its energy needs from renewable resources, and 4) work on the development of the first national air atlas as a first step to encourage the private sector to invest in renewable energies; and
- Following-up the work on the elimination of materials and substances that deplete the ozone layer, and the appropriate application of the provisions of decree number 2604/2009 concerning the “control of substances that deplete the Ozone Layer”.
The Facts: administrative sources indicated that, in 2010, substances such as Bromide were allowed to enter the country, contrary to the provision of the decree n. 2604/2009.
Permanent control of the land and soil, in partnership with the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, the Ministry of Interior Affairs and Municipalities, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Energy and Water, and the Ministry of Agriculture, by:
- Legislating on the management and control of quarries;
- Following-up the National Council’s monitor and control of quarries, apply the master plan concerning quarries and crushers thoroughly, and adjust it when necessary;
- Following-up the introduction of environmental concepts on master plans in order to reduce the deterioration of mountains and coastal regions, including the project concerning the operation of public beach properties;
- Reducing the deterioration of coastal regions caused by oil pollution by developing a preventive and complete treatment plan, including the follow- up of the introduction of environmental concepts into the laws and projects concerning oil exploration;
- Encouraging the sustainable management of forests and response to forests fires (prevention- confrontation - rehabilitation);
- Planting half a million trees per year, as of the year 2011;
The Facts: Minister Rahhal, like his previous predecessors, struggled on the issue concerning the management of quarries and crushers due to: conflicts of interest, political interference, lack of desire, impossibility of issuing resolutions and laws, and inexistence of clear and firm standards in solving problems. The transfer of this file from the Ministry of Interior Affaires to the Ministry of Environment put this latter under critics and pressures.
Maintaining and promoting the Lebanese ecological heritage, in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Information, the Ministry of Communication, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, the Ministry of Interior Affairs and Municipalities, and the Ministry of Finance, by:
- Issuing bills concerning natural reserves and related subjects (for example, the bill regarding protected areas and reserves in Lebanon, the draft decree tackling the classification of the reserves in Lebanon, the draft decree concerning the natural reserves commissions, etc.);
- Following-up the classification of natural reserves and sites through studies and issuance of necessary legislations;
- Issuing bills and regulations concerning “the access to Lebanese biological and genetic resources and sharing the benefits resulted from their use”;
- Encouraging eco-tourism through the promotion of protected reserves, within the policy of the Ministry of Tourism, and searching for ways to stimulate and execute such promotions;
- Following-up the National Council’s monitoring and control of hunting activities, issuance of related decrees, and the application of resolutions of the law n. 580/2004;
- Following-up studies and projects that aim to identify the biodiversity in Lebanon and its social/economical value, including marine biodiversity and methods to rehabilitate the aquatic ecosystem (for example, the experience with artificial reefs).
The Facts: In partnership with the Dbaye’s Fishermen Syndicate, the Minister launched its first eco-tourism tourism project. This project was funded by the United Nations Environmental Program who offered 125,000 US Dollars for its implementation.
The laws n. 121-2010 and 122-2010 were also issued and they specified the establishment of two new reserves in Hjeir valley. The wonderful site in Kammoua, due to political pitfalls, however, is still waiting for a legislation to turn it into a reserve, despite of the urgency concerning this issue. The fact is that the declaration of protected reserves is also related to political interests behind a specific legislation to protect and maintain them.
Strengthening the management of hazardous or non-hazardous waste, in partnership with the Construction and Development Council, the Ministry of Interior Affairs and Municipalities, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation, and the Ministry of Agriculture, through:
- Legislating on the continuous management of solid waste, including industrial exhausts;
- Managing domestic solid waste in a way that guarantee environmental, social, and economic safety;
- Establishing an integrated plan to address random landfills spread over the country and monitor the resources for its implementation and enforcement;
- Establishing a center for treating the hazardous solid waste, especially those derived from industries;
- Issuing bills concerning hazardous waste and amend the existing legislation, where necessary;
- Developing conditions to treat special types of waste such as used tires, oils, batteries, electronic tools, organic pollutant material, and rotten or expired goods to be destroyed;
- Enforcing the control of chemical materials and substances;
- Mobilizing the necessary resources to treat the residual waste derived from the effort to eliminate oil spill that took place during the war of 2006;
- Establishing an efficient plan to oblige all kinds of industries (touristic, industrial, or commercial), wherever they are located, public or private, to treat their fluid and solid waste. In addition, issue two draft decrees foreseen in the decree n. 2275/2009 on environmental licensing and the discharge and emission of fluid wastes;
- Introducing environmental concepts to the book of conditions and regulations concerning the establishment and operation of centers to treat leachate;
- Reviewing standards relative to water pollutant materials (resolution of the Minister of Environment n. 52/1-1996 and 8/1-2001) and amend them, if needed.
The facts: the issue of solid waste was highlighted during the year 2010 and, as a result, the cabinet issued the resolution n. 55 on 1/9/2010 to set the basis for a new plan in this concern. The cabinet also renewed the contracts of Sukleen and its subsidiaries. The decree n. 4760-2010 was issued, as well, concerning the conclusion of a grant agreement offered by the Italian Government to develop a project regarding the permanent control and management of waste in Baalbek district. This reflects that the government’s steps in this regard did not go beyond the framework of this issue’s current situation.
Support environmental-friendly products, in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Industry, and the Ministry of Economy and Commerce, by:
- Encouraging organic farming, supporting the promotion of its products, and supporting the comprehensive control of pesticides;
- Supporting environmental-friendly industries and products through tangible and moral incentives, such as establishing a mechanism to encourage the use of eco-technologies and renewable energy, and/or grant a certificate of ecological commitment to those companies that work on improving their environmental performance.
The Facts: Taxes on hybrid cars were removed, encouraging, in the near future, the import of such cars if they are available in enough quantity in the market (developed countries usually consumes the entire production of these types of cars). In addition, the ministry issued environmental certificates to organizations that received Carbon Neutrality statements, a step that shall be supplemented by other incentives in order to guarantee the transformation of companies into less polluting industries.
Develop job opportunities in the environmental sector in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, the Civil Service Board, the National Council for Scientific Research, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and the Academic sector, by:
- Introducing different environmental specialties offered academically in order to serve the country’s need in the concerned educational field and guaranteeing the adequate work market for these future professionals. Several Memoranda of Understanding have been signed with colleges in order to establish partnerships and pilot projects regarding research and scientific progress in environmental sectors;
- Studying ways to develop municipal laws to enhance the environmental specialization of the municipality’s board members and to develop a local environmental management;
- Contributing, in accordance to the decree n. 14865/2005, with nonprofit organizations to carry out environmental activities and encouraging research in the different areas of the environmental field.
The Facts: Several Memoranda of Understanding were signed with colleges and research centers. Hopefully they will not be applied before its efficiency and consequences are evaluated.
Seek to improve the work environment in order to maintain labor and occupational safety, in partnership with the Ministry of Labor, the Minister of Public Health, and the Ministry of Social Affairs, encourage research in the domain of environmental safety, and develop the necessary instructions to improve the work environment to maintain the occupational safety, by:
- Developing guidelines for improving the work environment in order to maintain its safety;
- Encouraging research in the field of environmental safety.
The Facts: Several Memoranda of Understanding were signed in this concern.
Follow up the strengthening of the Ministry of Environment, in partnership with the Ministry of State for Administrative Development Affairs and the Civil Service Council, by:
- Restructuring the Ministry of Environment, in accordance to the decree n. 2275/2009;
- Strengthening the human resources available in the Ministry of Environment, in accordance with the decree n. 2275/2009;
- Following-up the introduction of modern public administration concepts in the work executed by the Ministry of Environment, such as quality management system and a continuously updated website to assist citizens;
- Supporting the Ministry and concerned councils and funds with studies and strategies/plans such as: (1) updated study or analysis concerning the environmental situation in Lebanon, the cost of environmental degradation in the country, and the environmental and development indicators observed; (2) a strategy for the sustainable development and/or a national environmental action plan associated with the neighboring European policy, the World Bank’s strategy to support Lebanon, the environmental Arab annex, etc; (3) study of the necessity of the work in the environmental national Council as stipulated in the law for environmental protection (444/2002); and (4) study regarding the institutionalization of the environmental fund project that cooperates with the CDC and the Ministry of Environment, according to the law n. 444/2002.
The Facts: The administrative performance of the Ministry deteriorated due to the conflict and dispute between the Minister and the General Manager. The employees suffered greatly during this episode and, as a result, a negative atmosphere invaded the sector.
A suggested 10-point plan
With no doubt, the ten-point plan developed by Minister Rahhal is an ambitious plan. It certainly needs, however, a time frame to implement it that might exceed that of ten years, especially in an unstable country like Lebanon. That’s why it is natural that some of its terms remain unapplied. The deterioration of the administrative performance and the disputes present in the government led to the disruption of the Ministry’s projects, especially those that required resolutions to be issued by the cabinet or parliament legislations.
The performance of the Ministry of Energy and Water concerning the sustainable development files
The Sewerage file
The sanitation file is considered to be one of the urgent files. Treating the leachate in Lebanon is crucial for the conservation of the country’s fresh water sources and its strategic stock of groundwater, as well for preventing the pollution of the Mediterranean Sea.
It is known that most sewerage projects in Lebanon are random and incomplete. The majority of the sanitary systems are not connected to refineries and most of these refineries did not conclude their networks yet. This leads to pollution in seas, waterways, rivers, and valleys. The responsibility of monitoring this file is spread and distributed to several governmental authorities that have, between the, power conflicts (water institutions, municipalities, Ministry of energy and Water, Ministry of Environment, CDC, etc.).
The Ministry of Energy and Water, according to its report in 2010, established a sewage plan which essentially intends to collect and treat 80% of the sanitary water (sewage) by the year 2015 and 95% by the year 2020. The plan also aims to increase the use of refined and purified water from 0% in the year 2010 to 20% in the year 2015 and 50% in the year 2020.
The Ministry suggested “five initiatives” to be implemented in order to reach the objectives of the plan:
First, perform a comprehensive investment program that includes a table of priorities for the collection, treatment, and reuse of leachate. The Ministry pointed out in this clause that it will play a leading role in obtaining the necessary funds, in cooperation with the CDC, the water institutions, and the private sector. These investments defined according to the priorities, concern a short-term plan that will lead to the conclusion of the existing treating centers and to the increase of the number of networks that transport leachate to the existing centers.
The facts: This clause, as published, is general and wide. It needs to be clarified in order to explain the strategies that will be used to implement it.
Second, legal and regulatory measures to control the sector: the report mentioned that the new water law, on which the Ministry is focusing all its effort on, will include the basis and standards to organize the sanitary sector.
The facts: issuing a new water law in Lebanon and creating a new legal framework for the control of the water sector is vital. All the hard work and all the effort put by the Ministry of Energy and Water to organize this sector is acknowledged.
Third, institutional measures to define responsibilities and to create the ability to provide service: this includes the desire to develop water institutions and to cooperate with the private sector and municipalities in order to operate and maintain the treatment centers.
The facts: the development and activation of these institutions is an environmental necessity for the country in order to improve the management and control of fresh water (which quantities are declining as the population number boosting). The capabilities and levels of efficiency of these water institutions depend on the quality and quantity of their participants and subscribers to their services which will, consequently, influence their financial situation. These institutions are also affected by the particularities of the regions they serve and the human and logistic resources available in them. The majority of these institutions suffer from political interference and, therefore, their potential development will vary from one to another. Most of them also suffer from a lack of workers. Experiences regarding the privatization of some of their services led to significant misuse of their resources and the existence of favoritism (political appointments).
Fourth, the necessary financial measures to guarantee the sustainability and continuity of services at a moderate cost: this clause highlights the enforcement of the principle “the polluter pays”. However, in the absence of laws and government institutions to reinforce it, the state faces the problem concerning the collection of dues from the beneficiaries in the regions, which in turn, is closely related to the level of the government’s presence in these locations and the efficiency of its systems.
Fifth, initiatives to expand the participation of the private sector: it has been clearly pointed out in this clause the possibility of signing contracts with companies in accordance to BOT contracts, which constitutes the best alternative to guarantee the funding and operation of such projects. However, the question is: will companies be interested in financing projects which have no guaranteed revenue income in regions that lack the government’s presence?
Financing the project
Total expenses required to complete the funding of the plan established by the Ministry of Energy and Water sums up to 22,000 million US Dollars. The monetary resources available are 908.61 million US Dollars. Obtaining the total sum of 22,000 million US dollars from the state budget during five or ten years to finance the plan is uncertain due to the instability of the public budget and due to political conflicts concerning quotas and power struggle influenced by the strong divisions present in the country. In addition, if such funds were to be guaranteed in the budget, would the Minister be able to track, monitor, manage, and control the execution of all these projects, amid its lack of staff and resources?
Most probably Lebanon will have to, sooner or later, turn to soft loans and foreign grants in order to implement the plan. It is known, however, that the subject of foreign financing is related to homogeneity between Lebanon and the International Community which is, in fact, the bigger issue in current circumstances.
Furthermore, the current choice of turning to the private sector or to local financial markets to finance government’s projects is an expensive alternative which promotes corruption and political influences on the administration. The reduction of the government’s authority, its difficulty to implement laws and resolutions, and the diminishing rights entitled to protect local investors, oblige them be depend on associations and partnerships with political authorities.
Minister Bassil’s plan is ambitious, urgent, and necessary in order to protect the sea and Lebanese water resources. It is impossible, however, given the current situation, to fully fund it, hence the need to adjust it taking into consideration current facts and circumstances.
Surface storage plan: Dams and mountain lakes
It was mentioned in the section “Surface Storage Plan: Dams and Mountain Lakes” that the demand for water in Lebanon in the year 2010 totaled 1,473 million m3. Of this amount, only 1,047 million m3 were available, resulting in a deficit of 426 million m3. This shortage is the result of climate change (decrease in the amount of snow) and of the inability of water institutions to guarantee new water sources. There is, therefore, a significant scarcity of water and only half of the individual’s daily water need can be assured (160 to 180 L/day).
The Ministry evaluated the water needs on the “National Strategic Information on the Water Sector” and assessed the necessary amount of additional sources needed in order to cut the deficit and meet future needs. A master plan for water resources was developed. The water balance for 2015 was calculated based on the assumption that no new water sources will be added to the present supply and that up to 50% of groundwater layers and 75% of the leachate would be artificially renewed. As a result, the Ministry concluded that there will still be a shortage in the water balance, despite its decrease from 369 to 220 million m3. Consequently, the desire for establishing dams and mountain lakes arose as an alternative to stop the deficit.
Thus, the Ministry developed a surface storage plan, strongly based on the ten- point plan, which included a 3-stage executive scheme and a timetable for constructing dams and mountain lakes in order to plug the deficit by the year 2035. The plan included the construction of 19 dams and one mountain lake in the year 2015, 25 dams and one mountain lake by 2020, and 28 by 2035.
The executive scheme pointed out that even though financial profit is not one of the objectives of the project concerning the establishment of dams, it must generate income in order to operate and pay its execution costs, which totals 1,970 Million US dollars until the year 2020. The study also presented alternatives to determine the costs of producing one cubic meter of potable water. All expenses incurred in the project will be recovered by the year 2060, as determined in the study.
Horizontal reading of the plan
Amid the increasing deficit in the water balance, developing dams for storage of large amounts of water is essential. However, only the dams that receive the highest rates (Hermel-second stage, Al Bared, Al Msaylha, Al Jana, etc.) should be established while, in other cases, alternative methods of water storage (such as mountain lakes and ponds) should be considered.
Based exclusively on the information provided by the Ministry, it was not possible to determine the production cost of one square meter of water in each project independently in order to compare it with the costs of other projects and other parts of the world. The production cost of one square meter of water shall not exceed, in any case, the established world price (otherwise, the project will be financially unjustified).
In case of wars or armed conflicts between countries, dams constitute a threat to residential areas. It is important, therefore, to take this point into consideration when determining and deciding their locations. Because of their significant size, dams may lead to huge environmental damages which can result in topographic changes and elimination of the surrounding fauna and flora.
From an environmentalist point of view, it is suggested to the concerned parties of the Ministry of Energy and Water, to establish, as much as possible, ponds and mountain lakes in all Lebanese regions in order to feed the groundwater reservoirs and guarantee potable water. It is preferable not to construct concrete facilities for water storage, except in urgent cases. In order to supply the local need for potable water and where there are no risks of explosions, there is no problem if the government relies on groundwater wells in some regions (under the condition that it establishes ponds and mountain lakes in parallel, as well).
Most probably, the ministry will mostly turn to the public budget to finance the surface storage plan (funds required until the year 2020 are of 1,970 million dollars) due to the reluctance of donor institutions and international lenders to finance the dams projects. Finding the funds in the budget for new projects is a major challenge amid the increasing burden of public debt (except in the case of investment in petroleum resources and in taking advantage of its revenues).
Renewable energy and power generation
The “Policy Document of the Electricity Sector” was adopted after the Ministry of Environment considered a must to derive, by 2020, 12% of the country’s energy need from renewable sources. It also included a clause regarding the rationalization of energy in order to save 5%, as a minimum, of the demand growth. The document mentioned that the production unit in the ministry began to study the feasibility of increasing the production of energy derived from water in the factories of Kadisha and Nahr Ibrahim, "in addition to the feasibility of using small hydro power plants". The document noted that the Energy Department is discussing with the USTDA Foundation, after the UNDP published a wind atlas, the preparation of a feasibility study and book of terms for building wind farms. The Ministry of Energy also discussed a plan for producing energy from waste (before the proposal of the Ministry of Environment was approved by the minister Cabinet on 09.01.2010).
It is possible to say that, until today, the government did not conclude the stage of drawing the outlines of a strategy to find renewable energy resources in Lebanon and the legal framework governing this sector, even though the reliance on renewable energies has become a priority in most countries. Lebanon, however, is one of the nations with most need for renewable energy and most favorable for its production based on its climate and exhausting oil bill.
Minister Bassil’s policies and strategies and general plans of the Ministry of Energy and Water
Since taking power, Minister Bassil assigned a large technical team, consisting of more than forty-five consultants and specialists in various fields, to carry out the planning and the preparation of books of conditions and to track and monitor the projects. He signed contracts with a consulting firm as to rely on some foreign programs. The minister actually set up a management alternative for the crew of the Ministry of Energy and Water that replaced many of its departments amid a decrease in the number of staff and the growing administrative emptiness. Indeed, this team accomplished significant achievements that are worth highlighting. However, this team was temporary in nature and related to the presence of Minister Basil and his team at the center of the ministry decisions. This puts the sustainability of such accomplishments at risk and subject to the possible changes in the future project management in light of political criticism from the opposition. It was not located in the report "Achievements of the Ministry of Energy and Water 2010" any clause concerning changes in the ministry team. Therefore, it is possible that Minister Basil is also invited during the year 2011 to work on strengthening the administration staff by hiring competent personnel in order to avoid unoccupied positions in the administration.
The Performance of the Ministry of Agriculture concerning the sustainable development file
In December 2009, the Ministry of Agriculture presented a strategy to develop the agricultural sector in Lebanon for a period of five years (2010-2014). The strategy was based on eight themes: 1) updating and issuing the necessary legislation, 2) developing structures and activating the role of the ministry in coordination with the public, private, and civil sectors, 3) updating agricultural infrastructure and increasing the efficiency of the use of natural resources, 4) stimulating guidance and agricultural education, 5) promoting the control on the products and agricultural, forestry, and fishing inputs, 6) developing the production chains, improving their quality, and activating its manufacturing, marketing, and export initiatives, 7) developing programs and mechanisms to develop medium and small projects, and 8) conserving natural resources (soil, forests, biodiversity, regulating the use of marginal lands, pastures and fisheries).
In this section of the report, the work of this ministry will be evaluated according to the terms of its strategy on environment and sustainable development or those that have direct implications on these issues. The Ministry of Agriculture considered food safety in 2010 to be the main issue on conference tables it participated in. This is so due to climate change and its impacts on agriculture (which began to show its consequences in Lebanon through desertification and the decrease of the amount of water available for agriculture) and the emergence of new diseases on plants and animals. Also at the same time there is an increase in demand for food and agricultural products, there is a decline in the amount of food offered for sale in the market due to the use of crops in biofuel production in some countries. Based on this information, the ministry concluded that, among other initiatives, it is necessary to make several steps towards the increase in agricultural areas, water supply, and water storage.
Updating and issuing the necessary legislations
The issuance of the law that maintains burnt green areas without changing their purpose of use is considered a major accomplishment of the Ministry of Agriculture. It aims to reduce deliberate fire-starting in Lebanon, which was the cause of the majority of observed fires. The Ministry referred to the parliament a number of laws, being the regulation concerning the import and sale of agricultural products and the food safety law the most important ones. These laws are vital in maintaining the health of citizens and to ensure the safety of the environment by reducing the amounts of chemical residues in food and, thus, in the soil, air and water. Frequently, this is the result of excessive or wrong use of some medicines, materials, fertilizers, and other chemicals in the local food production. As stated in the mentioned report, the Ministry of Agriculture intends to issue a number of laws, including, among others, the forest law, the law of forest fires, and the sea fishing law.
The ministry also issued a series of decrees in 2010 and the most important one aimed to amend the Table (1) to the decree number 5246 dated 06.20.1994, regarding the organization of the ministry and the addition of a number of inspectors, monitors and guards concerning forests and fishing. A decree has been referred to the cabinet on the creation of a scientific committee to update the regulations concerning agricultural pesticides prohibited to enter or to be used in Lebanon.
The Minister issued, as well, a number of resolutions concerning the necessity of forming committees for the sectors and crops, mainly: a Committee on agricultural drugs, a Forestry Committee, Committee for the fishing sector, a Committee for the medical and aromatic plants, and a committee for the chemical residues.
Second part of developing the structure and activating the role of the Ministry of Agriculture
The report noted that 179 new employees (70 agricultural engineers, 4 veterinarians, mechanical engineers, IT professionals, etc.) were hired in the Ministry of Agriculture - General Directorate for Agriculture. Contracts were signed with 14 people. As stated in the report, the Ministry is in the process of filling up the remaining vacant positions.
Training and qualifying staff
The report mentioned that the Ministry signed with the Bari Institute and the Institute on Montpelier several Memoranda of Understanding in order to promote and strengthen sustainable agriculture.
The reported mentioned, as well, that the budget of the Ministry increased by 37 Billion Lebanese Pounds, on average, between the years 2009 and 2010. This is a significant accomplishment of the Minister which could not be achieved without the power, efficiency, and influence that the party to which he is affiliated to has over the decision making in Lebanon.
Cooperation programs with regional and international parties :
The Ministry of Agriculture signed a number of cooperation programs with the European Union, the FAO, and the Italian Cooperation Program. The programs which results in the most relevant environmental benefits were those concerning harvest programs to establish mountain ponds, signed with the IFAD \ OFID (worth 16 million euros) and with the Spanish government (worth 1.2 million euros).
The mountain ponds are the best way to feed the ground reservoirs and collect rain water to irrigate the crops in summer. These programs are the most beneficial and, therefore they should be established all around the country.
Cooperation development with Lebanese Authorities
The report highlighted that, in 2010, the Ministry signed, through the Council for Development and Reconstruction, with the Office of the European Group, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the OPEC Fund for Development two important projects: the first one supporting local development in northern Lebanon, worth18 million euros (dated 4/2/2010) and the second one concerning sustainable agricultural development in hilly areas, worth 16 million euros (dated 17/6/2010).
It was also mentioned in this part of the report that the Ministry is working on the integration of agreements that were signed between other ministries and a number of municipalities and federations of municipalities (Ministry of Interior) concerning rural development, forestation, forest protection, and the fight against its diseases. Cooperation and partnership with local authorities, if given the necessary attention and follow-up from both sides, might establish for the ministry a new era regarding work dynamics.
In the section on the cooperation with the Ministry of the Environment , it was stated that the Ministry of Agriculture will continue to work, cooperate, and integrate with the former regarding forests, forestation, conservation of vegetation, fighting desertification, preserving biodiversity, biological control of pollution in the air and soil, the control of local and imported agricultural products, and the treatment of residues from agricultural industry.
Project “green” accomplishments
The achievements of the “going green” project in the third sector were enumerated. We will quote in this report those concerning the mountain ponds that were developed: imposed ponds during the year 2010 (Arabism – Hermel, with a capacity of one hundred thousand cubic meters, Diman – Bchari, with a capacity of one hundred and twenty thousand cubic meters and Merstei – Chouf, with a capacity of fifty thousand cubic meters) and pools under concession (Maroun al-Ras - Bent Jbeil, with a capacity of thirty-five cubic meters and Bentael – Jbeil, with a capacity of thirty thousand cubic meters, and Marjaheen – Hermel, with a capacity of forty-five cubic meters).
The report mentioned that the Ministry of Agriculture is preparing a study concerning the development of fisheries, in cooperation with the National Council for Scientific Research and the Bari Institute. Four training courses took place in this framework in Lebanon and abroad. In addition, a tender is being established to buy four vessels to monitor fishing and, at the same time, rehabilitate and equip the Institute of Marine Sciences in Batroun. Two projects are also being implemented in order to develop abilities and competencies of fishermen in the south.
If the desire is to re-create our fisheries and protect our sea from illegal fishing, the presented measures should be the first of many more important and significant actions. If these efforts are not associated to the political will to strengthen the treatment centers and to treat the marine landfills to prevent pollution resulted from leachate and solid waste, they will loose their effectiveness and Lebanon’s sea will turn into an unfavorable environment for the growth of fish and marine existence.
The ministerial committee related to forests and chaired by the Prime Minister was formed on 13/1/2001. In addition, it was also agreed, with the National Institute of Administration, to conduct training courses for forest and fishing inspectors and guards. Furthermore, the ministry will distribute 400,000 forest seedlings in the autumn of 2010 and the winter of 2011, at the same time it is establishing habilitating a number of plant nurseries. It also launched a study, in collaboration with FAO, to raise the proportion of green lands covering Lebanon from 13 to 20% of its area.
Reading the report of the Ministry of Agriculture
During the administration of Minister D. Hussein Haj Hassan, the subject of food security constituted the point of interest of the Ministry of Agriculture in Lebanon. The strategy focused on increasing the amount of food produced in Lebanon and improving its quality by increasing the extension of agricultural lands and introducing the concepts of sustainable agriculture and other methods. Indeed, the Minister of Agriculture was able, compared to other ministers and initiatives concerning sustainable development, to implement significant achievements in terms of updating the laws, stimulating people, and increasing the budget of its ministry. This might have been caused, in addition to individual characteristics, by the political support that the party received since it represented the most powerful one in the Lebanese government. The minister was able to put a number of projects on the way of implementation and to take a number of important measures in the field of sustainable development due to its presence in a powerful ministry with a significant budget (88 billion Lebanese pounds) and with historical relations with international organizations such as IFAD, FAO, etc.
Highlights on environmental development during the year
A new resolution issued by the general assembly of the United Nations concerning the oil spill
The UN General Assembly issued in 10/02/2011 a new resolution which condemned Israel's approach and was titled "The Oil Spill on the Shores of Lebanon”. The assembly relied on its previous resolutions concerning the matter (61/194 in 2006, 62/188 in 2007, 63/211 in 2008, and 64/195 in 2009). As a result, Israel was asked to immediately compensate Lebanon and other States for polluting their beaches with oil. The assembly also gave instructions to the Secretary-General of the UN concerning the need to activate the necessary financial and technical assistance to treat the oil spill waste and asked him to update it with what was done in this framework.
The Resolution is considered a confirmation concerning the diplomatic dominance achieved by Lebanon regarding Israel during the July 2006 war and the causes of the oil spill. The Lebanese diplomacy could not, however, until present, recover this compensation from Israel due to the absence of follow-up regarding this context.
Accomplishments of the Ministry of Environment
Minister Rahal made a remarkable effort to increase the budget of the Ministry of Environment (withdrawal of funds from the reserve budget for necessary projects of the Ministry of Environment) and to raise the number of workers (promoting tenders through the Civil Service Council to introduce new personnel to the ministry and seeking contract to hire contractors legally). He tried, as well, to reactivate its presence on international level by strengthening its relations with a number of embassies and donors (EU embassy, in particular, and some UN organizations). He also sought to connect the ministry to research centers and universities. Also he reinforced its presence in the media by building connections with media organizations, in order to help his plan and aspirations for the Ministry of Environment. He also worked, in coordination with the Council for Development and Reconstruction, to establish guidelines concerning a new plan to deal with solid waste, in addition to finding two new landfills.
Reducing drilling wells in the Ministry of Energy and Water
The problem of increased number of drilling licenses in the year 2009 emerged as a total of 1850 licenses were issued, resulting in a total number of 25000 wells. As a result, the Minister of Energy and Water issued the Resolution No. 118-2010 which suspend the issuance of new licenses in order to regulate the sector and maintain the underground resources (the annual deficit concerning ground water reaches 200 million m3). About 700 million m3 of water are currently extracted every year, the unattended demand is of 200 million m3 per year, and what is preserved per year in the ground is about 500 million m3. In case of continued extraction, there will be a decrease in the groundwater supply which might lead to the depletion of these quantities. According to the Ministry of Energy and Water, the vast majority of the groundwater (432 million m3) was extracted through private wells.
The ministry also added new conditions on the license terms and signed contracts with worldwide auditing company to inspect sites before and after the excavation process, to submit reports on the existing amounts of water, and to determine the fees concerning the extracted amounts of water.
These reforms aimed to reduce the number of licenses issued and the exaggerated consumption of Lebanon’s water supply. Its most important point is the fact that the Council of State granted the right to the Minister of Energy and Water to issue these licenses and eliminated the possibility of their renewal. This gives the Minister additional power to save ground water supply. It might also contribute to minimize the impact of corruption of the administrative staff. On the other hand, it also gives the minister expanded limits and power that can be misused. According to reports of the Ministry of Energy and Water, the percentage of issued licenses remarkably decreased and only 18% of the total submissions were approved.
The increased difficulty in the issuance of licenses alone is not enough. There is a need to find new sources (mountain ponds, for example) to feed the underground reservoirs in order to restore the water balance.
Foundations of a new plan concerning the solid waste file
On 1/9/2011, the Cabinet adopted a resolution concerning the subject of solid waste management. Below is the text, extracted literary from the Official Gazette:
"Cabinet Resolution No. 55, date 1/9/2010”
The Cabinet, according to the resolution no. 55, dated 1/9/2010, upon the proposals contained in the report of the ministerial committee assigned by the Cabinet Resolution No. 1, dated 30/3/2010, proposing a plan concerning the management of solid waste in all regions of Lebanon, agreed to the following:
1 – Adopt the thermal fragmentation and conversion of waste into energy in the major cities;
2 - Adopt the 2006 plan in other Lebanese regions and study the possibility of adopting the thermal fragmentation;
3 - Involve the private sector and facilitate the tasks of solid waste monitoring, through TURN KEY (from collection to final treatment) or through 2 DIFFERENT OPERATIONS (01 collection, 02 treatment);
4 - Assign the Ministry of the Environment and the Council of Development and Construction to integrate the two proposed plans, in accordance with what was agreed upon above;
5 - Assign of the Ministry of Energy and Water to propose a legislation that secures the right of the private sector to produce and sell the energy produced during the fragmentation of the waste;
6 - Stimulate the municipalities that will receive different centers of waste management such as thermal fragmentation centers, relay centers, composting centers and landfills;
7 – Assign the Council for Development and Reconstruction, in coordination with the Ministry of Environment, to sign a contract with a worldwide consultant in order to:
• Choose the best solution and appropriate mechanism for the Lebanese situation (based on principles of the plan);
• Develop books concerning the primary technical terms for the classification of companies related to thermal fragmentation (DUE DILIGENCE TO SHORT LIST ONLY PROVEN TECHNOLOGIES);
• Assess and classify companies;
• Develop the book of technical terms for the final tender;
• Evaluate the offers;
• Monitor and control its execution;
8 – Assign the Ministry of Environment to hire a worldwide consultant to be responsible for quality control workflow, in conformity with the principles of the plan, and appropriate progress of its implementation;
9 – Assign the Ministry of Environment to hire a local consultant to conduct an awareness campaign for the acceptance of thermal fragmentation technology;
10 – Entrust powers to the government in order to control the appropriate implementation procedure and to ensure its funding, taking advantage of successful experiences in the neighboring country.
Reading the new plan
The Ministry of Environment succeeded in convincing the Cabinet of finding new ways to solve the problem of solid waste by adopting the thermal fragmentation method, which allows the transformation of waste into electrical energy. On the other hand, there are lesson yet to be learned regarding the development of the enforced strategies amid unstable political situation.
The Ministry of Environment began, in coordination with the Council for Development and Reconstruction, an advisory work to locate thermal fragmentation centers. The fear is that the subject of determining these locations, discussed in the Cabinet, might trigger a political crisis and transform temporary and situational measures (the extension of Sukleen’s contract) into necessary and permanent solutions. At such moment, the scenario is re-designed and "a new plan again" is put under study. It should be highlighted that no direct and major impacts resulted from the thermal fragmentation centers on the residential region were pointed out. In fact, these centers do exist in the middle of a number of European cities.
Decision makers should be more aware of the country’s interests so that their policies can be an action, not a reaction, to circumstances. Hence, the need to address the files in their early stages, before its detonation, in order not be overwhelmed with solutions. In case this file emerges again, the Lebanese waste market and industry should be opened for international participation. This can be achieved in a 10 year period since insisting on temporary and situational measures becomes a heavy burden on the budget.
It should be noted that Sukleen and its subsidiaries continue to execute the business entrusted to them. This happened after the clause to negotiate prices mentioned in the Cabinet resolution was suspended and as Sukleen adopted the condition to decrease its extended contract value by 4%.
The development and enforcement of the 2010 plan concerning the solid waste treatment is a national necessity due to the decline in Nehme’s landfill capacity to absorb additional waste and in order not to allow a situational and temporary solution to become permanent. It is wise to remedy the crisis of solid waste and treat them before it emerges again.
Issuing a law concerning the conservation of burnt green areas and not changing their purpose of use
The first annual report on the progress being made in the agricultural sector strategy for 2010-2014, regarding the update and issuance of laws (paragraph c, p. 10) stated that, in 2010, the law concerning the maintenance of burnt green areas and not changing their purpose of use was issued. This was a significant achievement of the Ministry of Agriculture. Its objective is to reduce the intentional fire-startings in Lebanon, which are the cause of the vast majority of the fires experienced in the country.
Measures in the Ministry of Agriculture to guarantee food safety
The first annual report on the progress of the agricultural sector strategy 2010-2014, regarding the update and issuance of laws (paragraph c, p. 10), stated that, in 2010, the draft law on food safety was referred to the Parliament for consideration and approval. This represents an important step in the process of maintaining public health and stimulating sustainable agriculture and environment, especially in a country suffering from a control disorder on the quality of food. The Cabinet is, therefore, invited to approve this law as soon as possible since it will bring significant and positive impact concerning food safety and on the quality of life of the Lebanese people.
Conducting studies on environmental action plans for the ocean –the Palm Islands Reserve
A draft study entitled “Environmental Action Plan for the Ocean – The Palm Island Reserve” and funded by the Ministry of External Spanish Cooperation for the Spanish Ministry of Environment was conducted with the objective to highlight, in a scientific and deep manner, the sea conditions and the ecosystem around the Palm Islands. Such study is significantly important due to the need of establishing effective environmental policies based on numbers and science. It is a simple step, of increasing importance and a positive indicator regarding the effects of the extending the partners of the Ministry of Environment worldwide.
In the early days of December 2010, Lebanon was invaded by wave of fires never seen in such period of the year. The Daily Al Nahar has estimated the number of fires to be of 120 spread in: Fatri and Ma'ayan, Wadi Shahrour, Bkasin, Halba and Cheiktaba, Haris , Bablye, Bzbdin, and Ras El Metn. These fires destroyed dozens of hectares of forests and agricultural lands and affected residential regions, which obliged the Lebanese government to seek aid from friendly countries.
Marine dumping sites
The issue concerning marine dumps in Lebanon (Tripoli, Sidon, Tyre, etc.) constitutes a real shame for a country that depends heavily on tourism. Solid wastes flooded many areas of our territorial waters and affected the marine environment, which is gradually losing its vital components. These landfills, in particular the landfills in Saida and Tyre, are becoming a heavy burden to the Lebanese sea and on the relationship with neighboring Mediterranean countries. Many studies were issued on the loads of waste in Lebanon (Phoenicia), from its shores to those of the European Mediterranean countries. The view of the waste floating or submerging in its waters became a part of the Lebanese marine panorama. Everyday divers, boat owners, and tourist boats suffer with its negative impacts. Many fishermen in Lebanon are searching for their fish in the midst of a large amount of waste caught in their nets together with the fish.
As for the landfill of Tripoli, it has been included in the study due to its direct impact. Keeping the waste behind the walls prevent its leakage into the sea. However, the landfill’s capacity will run out by the year 2012. The government needs to be aware of such scenario and must find an alternative soon before such crisis concerning the waste in Tripoli explodes.
Saida Dumping Site
Despite the Future Movement taking control of Saida’s Municipality and despite the talks of Ministry of Environment on the existence of necessary funds- 20 million US dollars (offered by Saudi Arabia) plus 5 million US dollars (offered by Waleed bin Talal), the Government failed, in 2010, to solve the crisis of the landfill in Saida. Thousands of tons of waste are thrown in the sea and around the its landfill every time a significant storm blows. The company that took over the management of the waste treatment plant in Saida didn’t start working yet, despite the presence of the necessary legislations and the required political coverage. It should be noted that the contract with the company responsible for establishing a plant and treating the marine landfill includes many flaws and technical shortcomings. The contract also contains many unrealistic (receiving collected waste within a timeframe of 48 hours only, for example), unfair and disfunctional points concerning its effects and objectives. It is as if an entire project has been created not to treat the mountain of waste, but to issue the legislation for embanking more than 550 thousand m2 of maritime are under the pretext of addressing the marine landfill. It should be highlighted that the legislation to address such issue must, inevitably, be law since a decree is not enough deal with such matter.
The Minister of Environment Tony Karam, in the government of the former Prime Minister Siniora, announced an approach to the subject, according to his point of view. He called for the determination of the locations for the sanitary landfills in order to stop the use of the warehouse location. He also called for the need of building a wall to protect the sea in case parts of the landfills collapse. The Minister suggested formation of a coordination committee composed of representatives of the Ministries of Environment, Interior, Public Works, Energy and Water, the Council for Development and Reconstruction, and the Higher Privatization Council to manage the project. Concerning the waste plant, the Minister expressed several remarks about the technical suitability of the adopted methods, the "no antenna" composting procedure that needs twenty-one days to treat the organic waste, the control of odors, and the availability of the required spaces. He also presented, among others, a number of questions about revenues and costs and about the company responsible for the project. At the end, he recommended the need to complete all the technical, administrative, financial, and legal studies in order to demonstrate the relevance in establishing a plan, including its timetable, necessary steps, and description of how to complete them.
The problem is increasingly emerging in the landfill of Saida, as well as the apparent reluctance to solve it. The mentioned landfill and the one in Tyre (which treatment file is still not enforced) have major effects of the beach tourism, on sea life, and on our relationship with the neighboring Mediterranean countries. Finding a solution for this dilemma has become an urgent need. There is the fear the repercussions of this file have major negative effects on the municipal authorities in control of the concerned areas.
Randomness in the management of the fire file
With the wave of fires that invaded the country, the issue of randomness in the management of fires files has emerged, despite the purchase of specific aircraft.
The Minister considered that the purchase of the jets was never the solution, but constituted a modest measure to deal with the crisis concerning the deterioration of green spaces. He called the Ministry of the Environment to "reorganize its priorities in order to search for sources of funding to enforce the plan to fight fires and work hard to lay a bill to establish the National Foundation for Forests, which will be responsible to deal with issues of forest wealth preservation and reforestation." Abboud wanted his superiors to "include, among other files, the funding of the plan to fight fires to be displayed during talks between leaders of donor countries." He expressed his concern regarding "the loss of the remaining green areas in Lebanon amid crises and cutting time."
Mtein’s sand land and the file of quarries and crushers
Starting from the second half of 2010, the issue concerning the license and its withdrawal of Mtein’s sand land (Northern Metn) got the attention of the media as the land sand belongs to the owner of the MTV television station (who is close to the forces of the fourteenth of March movement). The Minister of Environment issued on 28/9/2010, as Chairman of the National Council for the Diggers, the decision No. 48/AM to cancel the license of the estate number 4093 in Mten. This license was given a few days before to a second category institution, which included an industrial sand digger that belongs to Mr. Roy Samaha. It was accused of violating the conditions imposed by the referred license (surrounded by water springs) and gave the applicant 15 days to rehabilitate the place. It was noted in 2010 the increase in the number of licenses issued for transporting soil and stocks. In addition, as of the end of 2010, the phenomenon of granting licenses for quarries and crushers (considered to be small projects) directly by the Minister of the Environment (without referring to the National Council of crushers and quarries) has spread. It should be noted that this mechanism of obtaining such a license is illegal, ambiguous, and has undesirable environmental and financial implications.
Furthermore, it is an escape from the technical standards used in granting licenses and from the payment of fees and taxes (direct and indirect), raising doubts and questions about its goals and objectives.
Ministry of Environment and reserves conservation
The Ministry of Environment could not implement the law and maintain the reserve of Bentael in Jbeil. The Ministry of Public Works succeeded in establishing a road leading to Hboub, a village in Fidar, in Jbeil district in October of 2010, despite the claims of the Minister of Environment to stop the work since the project was against the law of reserves. The incident reflected the political divide in the country as the two ministries conflicted as if they belonged to different governments. It should be noted that the way the road has been constructed, (under Decree No. 1751 issued on 29.11.1999) close to the buffer zone of reserve, was contrary to the law of reserves (No. 11 on February 25, 1999). It was built around the valley of Safala, that separates the road of Fidar from the reserve of Bentael (the separating distance does not exceed 100% from the red line). The consequences of the noise pollution and emissions of carbon dioxide from the vehicles put in danger all the protected biological diversity.
This incident had a negative impact on the Minister of Environment’s image and its ability to enforce and protect its domain. What happened is an example of the effect the political divide and crisis present in the country which, unfortunately, is what the media is searching for to consume and sell to its public. This raises the issue regarding the acknowledgement of the existence of the Ministry of Environment and its interaction with other ministries.
Decrease in the number of bee hives
The bee industry in Lebanon suffered in 2010 from the same harm that affects this sector all over the world: the phenomenon known as the Colony Collapse Disorder . It results in the migration of bees to the hives and the decrease in the honey production to minimal rates. For example, bee hives that once produced 10 kg of honey are now producing 5kg. Consequently, as a result of the migration of its population, bees became unable to reproduce. The exact causes of this devastating phenomenon are still unknown, but scientists are unanimous to agree that the changes in natural environment are behind such disaster. Examples of these changes are: climate changes due to global warming (disturbances in the regularity of seasons, the increase in differences between the maximal and minimal temperature, vegetation deterioration, etc.), electromagnetic radiation stations, mobile and wireless devices, sterilization of seeds, excessive use of pesticides, genetic modification of plants, technical problems related to inexperienced beekeepers, the regression of forests and vineyards due to fires and construction, as well as some viruses.
In the United States values destined to study this phenomenon did not exceed the amount of 8 million dollars (which is small considering the contribution of this sector to the American and worldwide economy). In Lebanon, allocations objecting the research and study of this phenomenon have been minimal.
Some scientists began to fear the disappearance of honey as a result of the decrease in the number of bees worldwide. The disappearance of honey itself is not catastrophic to human life, since it can be replaced by other nutrients, but the extinction of bees is disastrous in itself, on plant diversity, and on the fertility of fruit trees.
In 2005, the contribution of the bee industry to the Lebanese national economy was nearly 37.5 billion Lebanese pounds. This number was calculated as follows:
Number of bee hives (250,000 hives) * rate of honey productivity of one hive per year (10 kg of honey) * average price for a kg of honey (15,000 LP) = 37.500.000.000 L.L.
It should be noted that there is no comprehensive statistic regarding the number of bee hives in Lebanon. The number used in the calculation above was an approximation according to information from the cooperative organizations in some regions and based on statistical sampling and previous official statistics. Beekeepers in Lebanon normally do not rely on the revenues of this activity as a major source of income. It is usually a secondary source of income for the families.
Bee farmers in Lebanon suffered direct economical losses. They have lost more than half of their hives in the last four years due to the phenomenon of the Colony Collapse Disorder. The production of honey per hive decreased from 10 kg to 5 kg in average. The local honey supply in the Lebanese market decreased to minimum. The contributions of this sector to the Lebanese national economy for the year 2010 can be calculated as follows: (125.000 hive * 5 kg * 40.000 LP) = 25.000.000.000 L.L. This shows a decrease of 12.5 billion LBP, in comparison to the year 2005.
As for the losses resulted from the decline in the number of bee hives during the five years prior to 2010, they can be estimated at 93.75 million Lebanese pounds, as follows:
Number of hives (125.000) * hive price (750.000) = 93.750.000.000 L.L.
In addition, the decrease in the number of bees led to a decline in the agricultural production of fruit trees and some plants that depend on these insects for pollination. The fruit trees production has decreased 25% according to specialists and the plant diversity became endangered as the risk of extinction of some of its species has increased.
Finally, some scientists tend to believe that the bees will not become extinct, but they will adapt to the new conditions and changes, surpassing the phenomenon. However, such conclusion is uncertain and waits for further studies that might reveal the outcomes concerning the decrease in the number of bee numbers worldwide.
Pollution caused by lack of control on regional waters
In the morning of 08/24/2010, at the peak of the tourism season, dead cows appeared on the shores of Southern Batroun. This incident constituted an indicator of the lack of control by the central state on Lebanese beaches and territorial waters. As a result, the sea has become a dump of ship waste of all kinds. This raises the issue and the need of strengthening the Coast Guard role.
Concerning all that have been mention in this document, it is recommended:
• First, the Council of Ministers is invited to adopt a clear strategy for managing the solid waste at the national level; so, it would be important to develop further the solid waste management plan of 2010 & then put it on the track of implementation.
• Second, the Ministry of Economy and Trade (MET) should stimulate Green Businesses in Lebanon. To lay the foundations of a Green Economy should be within (MET) priorities; for that it should work together with the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Industry to find tax legislation and the necessary financial resources to encourage, maintain, and increase such initiatives.
• Third, the government should develop, fund, and enforce a plan to fight fires. Prior to the allocation of funds in such projects, it is necessary to finance initiatives to reduce the phenomenon of global warming and other green projects. I believe that strengthening the capacity of civil defense and developing a judicial control system would be crucial to reduce the causes of intentional fire-starting; moreover, developing necessary infrastructure to combat fires (such as water tanks, forests’ roads, observation towers, & early warning techniques…), would be of highly important to preserve the remaining green spaces. It should be noted that the Lebanese Ministry of Interior is currently making every effort to develop a law concerning the work of civil defense forces in Lebanon to be approved by the government and be transferred to the Parliament.
• Fourth, the Ministry of Environment should be given a major role in monitoring and controlling the work of the companies, which are supposed to explore oil in the Lebanese territorial waters, in order to ensure proper environmental safety standards.
• Fifth, the Council for Development & Reconstruction (CDR) & the Ministry of Power and Water are invited to complete the already unaccomplished sewerage plants to stop the flow of sewage into the sea. So, it would be highly important to establish treatment plants for the already made networks & networks for the already made treatment plants.
• Sixth, the Lebanese diplomacy should adopt a greener look; so, it would be highly important to strengthen Lebanon’s presence & roles at the international green platforms to attract more green funds.
• Seventh, the Ministry of Agriculture is invited to establish mountain ponds in all Lebanese regions; it is worth mentioning that such ponds, besides being an additional source of water for irrigation, feed the underground reservoirs of water.
• Eighth, the Lebanese government should begin to lay the foundations of the Council for Sustainable Development with a main purpose, which is to develop common policies & regulate the activities of the different ministries involved in the sustainable development sector (energy, water, agriculture, environment, economy).
• Ninth, The Ministry of Environment should work, in collaboration with the concerned parties, on formulating new legal frame to enhance further the legal capacities & work of the National Council of quarries and crushers; so, it would be important to eliminate all legal inconsistencies in this regard.
I would like to thank all who collaborated with me directly or indirectly to monitor the environmental situation in the year 2010. The contributions of the media (National News Agency, L'Orient Le Jour, La Revue du Liban, the Daily Star, al-Akhbar, Al-Nahar, Al-Balad, Al Joumhouriya, El binaa, Al Liwa, Al Anwar, Sawt Loubnan Radio, Free Lebanon Radio, LBCI, MTV, Tele Liban, OTV, NTV, NBN, ANB, Future news, Radio-Strike, El jaras Radio, & websites…) were priceless to me; so, together we worked on adjusting governmental policies, deterring some environmental hostilities, raising awareness & lobbying for the green noble cause. Moreover, I would like to thank the Ministry of Environment (MoE), the Ministry of Power & Water (MoPW), the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), & the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR) for their cooperation. Furthermore, I appreciate the moral support of my family, my colleagues at work. Finally, I thank my sponsor Dr. Aseel TAKSHEE for her collaboration in the English version of the Report.
• “Most Important Achievements of the Ministry of Environment” Report
• “Achievements of the Ministry of Energy and Water 2010 - the Year of Plans and Strategies” Report
• The Annual Report on the Work Progress in Strategies for Developing the Agricultural Sector 2010-2014
• The presentation of the Council for Development and Reconstruction concerning the plan approved by the cabinet in its session on 28/6/2006 and the future measures - June 2006
• Cabinet resolution no. 18 dated 22/1/1997
• Cabinet resolution no. 55 dated 1/9/2010
• A/RES/65/147 Oil Spill on Lebanese Shores
• The letter of the Minister of Environment to the cabinet regarding the garbage Mountain in Saida (dated 18/7/2009)
• The contract between the contractor and the municipality of Saida.