6 Ensure environmental sustainability

Where we are?

Lebanon has made progress in moving towards a more sustainable development path, though much more effort is still needed from the authorities and from individual citizens. In recent years the country has introduced a number of relevant initiatives, and this section cites some of the many successful achievements of the Ministry of Environment (Ministry of Environment 2012b). For example, Lebanon has started an air quality-monitoring programme that should ultimately lead to the development of an air pollution management strategy in the country. In the area of biodiversity conservation and in order to maintain forest coverage, Lebanon has resumed the National Reforestation Plan, which was halted between 2006 and 2008. Moreover, building on the momentum of the National Reforestation Plan, a five-year Reforestation Initiative was launched in 2010 to strengthen Lebanon’s forest seedling-producing nurseries. In addition, after the devastating forest fires that took place in 2007 and 2008, Lebanon developed a National Strategy for Forest Fire Management, and in 2010 a law prohibiting the exploitation of burned forest areas was approved. These planning initiatives are all favourable practices promoting environmental sustainability. However, rigorous implementation and enforcement and continuous follow-up will determine the sustainability of success. The ability of the Ministry of Environment, other ministries and
intergovernmental agencies to pursue plans are, as in many other countries, subject to political conditions and Cabinet reshuffles. With every reshuffle, plans are reconsidered and redrafted
(Ministry of Environment and UNDP 2010).

Environmental Resources And Biodiversity
In 2010, forests covered around 13 percent of Lebanon’s land, while other wooded lands covered another 10 percent. Coverage ratios have not change much in recent years, though high-density forest areas are decreasing. Forests in Lebanon have been facing many challenges (figure 9.1) due
to habitat fragmentation, unplanned urban expansion leading to soil erosion, disease and dieback, forest fires, wood harvesting for home heating and charcoal production, and illegal quarrying.
According to World Bank estimates, the cost of environmental degradation in Lebanon, linked to land and wildlife resources, is around US$100 million per year, or 0.6 percent of Lebanon’s GDP. Lebanon has launched and implemented a number of programmes to combat deforestation and other environmental threats, such as the National Action Plan to Combat Desertification, the National Reforestation Plan, the Safeguarding and Restoring Lebanon’s Woodland Resources programme and the Lebanon Reforestation Initiative. Civil society is likewise working on a number of reforestation projectGreenhouse Gas Emissions
Lebanon’s total greenhouse gas emissions were estimated at 18.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent in 2000, up by 2.8 percent on average annually from 1994. The most significant
sources of pollution from economic activities are the transport, energy and industry sectors. CO2 is the main greenhouse gas emitted, with 84 percent of emissions in 2000, while methane (CH4)
and nitrous oxide (N2O) constitute 10.2 percent and 5.7 percent respectively. Energy production and transport are the main contributors of CO2 emissions producing 63 percent and 25 percent respectively, whereas the waste sector constitutes the main source of CH4 emissions (88 percent). The main contributor to N2O emissions is the agriculture sector.

Ozone-Depleting Substances
To protect the atmosphere, Lebanon established in January 1998 the National Ozone Unit as part of the Ministry of Environment to meet its obligation under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Under the Protocol, Lebanon committed to the phase-out of all ozone depleting substances by 2010. The National Ozone Unit has provided technical and financial assistance to approximately 100 industries (in the foam, aerosol and refrigeration sectors) in the country, helping them to convert their production to technology using non-ozone-depleting substances. During the period 1998– 2010, Lebanon reduced consumption of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) from 923 tonnes in 1993 to zero consumption in 2010. Phasing out CFCs did not completely solve the ozone depletion problem.

UNDP's work in Lebanon


    UNDP in the Energy Saving Spotlight
     UNDP in the Energy Saving Spotlight

    It may seem that such issues may not directly affect Lebanon, but Lebanon has more of a reason to be concerned. For such a small country with a relatively low population, its energy consumption per capita is severely disproportionate and as such its carbon emissions are very high.more

  • UNDP Lebanon women working in cultivating wild sage, a medicinal and aromatic plant-Akkar North Lebanon

    Harvesting wild sage in Mejdel Akkar
    Harvesting wild sage in Mejdel Akkar

    In one of the highest mountains of Mejdel Akkar in North Lebanon, far away from the noisiness of the hectic city, three women harvest sage from the wild.more

Targets for MDG7
  1. Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources
  2. Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss
    • Proportion of land area covered by forest and proportion of species threatened with extinction
    • CO2 emissions, total, per capita and per $1 GDP (PPP)
    • Consumption of ozone-depleting substances
    • Proportion of fish stocks within safe biological limits
    • Proportion of total water resources used
    • Proportion of terrestrial and marine areas protected
  3. Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
    • Proportion of population using an improved drinking water source
    • Proportion of population using an improved sanitation facility
  4. Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020
    • Proportion of urban population living in slums