The Progress of a Truly Developing Nation

There is much to say about how things have changed through a short time span. Stories from the UNDP’s Environment and Energy webpages for Lebanon proudly announce some of the greatest advancements that have been achieved over the past decade, including the assistance of farming communities, bringing more efficient Energy to Health Institutions, and even reshaping the land in cities that long needed help. The real question is, how successful are these events in relation to the Standard Development Goals (SDGs)? Looking into some of these projects and their benefits, we can easily determine what goals they address and if they are met.

When looking at Lebanon from a broad perspective, it is a country of great potential, though much of it goes to waste. It is known to have a rich landscape with plenty of water resources, sites for agriculture, and is well positioned for trade. Despite all this, multiple socioeconomic factors have prevented certain people from efficient living standards, as well as limitations in keeping things clean and safe. The SDGs promote safety and equity among all people, and Lebanon should be no different. (A quick intro to the purpose of these Developments can be seen in this TVC video). In terms of Energy and Environment (E&E), the most concerning problems are obtaining more efficient sources of energy for heat and electricity, safe food, and safe water supplies, in addition to cleaner lifestyles in urban areas. Though a major bulk of Lebanon’s problems fall outside this thematic area, certain aspects can be handled to provide residents with a better lifestyle.

To address these issues, the UNDP and other international organizations have overseen projects to eradicate these setbacks one step at a time. Projects that set a great example include the installation of Solar Panels at public Hospitals and at the American University of Beirut (AUB), providing efficient stoves for village communities in the Bekaa regions, and wiping out an entire mountain of trash to replace it with a green park, as well as many others.

CEDRO is one of the biggest projects managed by the Energy and Environment programme of UNDP, where Solar Panels are used to produce clean energy for consumers without releasing harmful emissions. In addition, it helps institutions use that energy faster when needed. The best examples can be seen in Saida Government Hospital and Chahhar Public Hospital, where energy is needed for boiling water. With Solar Panels installed, staff report getting hot water much faster than from diesel generators, which needed more time to boil water. Plus, they did not need to spend so much money for diesel fuel. Thus, this project reduced costs of the Hospitals by saving money, while also reducing pollution, which in turn refers to SDGs like Good Health (SDG 3) and Clean and Affordable Energy (SDG 7).

The UNDP played different roles with rural communities, such as supporting the farming of Thyme in Zawtar Al Chakrieh to boost Agriculture and the income of the villagers, which relates to Reducing Poverty (SDG 1) and assisting Economical Growth (SDG 8). For the Northern Bekaa regions, special stoves and briquettes were distributed to family households so that they can keep warm without spending money on diesel fuel and generators to slightly reduce the burden of poor families (SDG 1) and give a better source of heat when electricity is not available (SDG 7).

One of the biggest projects implemented by the UNDP and Ministry of Environment was the rehabilitation of the Saida Dumpsite. For many years, it was a mountain of compiling trash with all forms of solid waste. In a surprisingly short amount of time (2013 – 2016), it was excavated and transformed into a proper landfill with a new park on top. This brought many positive changes to the community of Saida, including better Sustainability in the City (SDG 11) and saving life in the Water and on Land (SDGs 14 and 15).

All these projects plus the new plans for reducing carbon emissions with the Paris Agreement can push Lebanon to a better future, especially when it comes to keeping a good Climate (SDG 13) and making stronger communities. This will all be possible if we simply keep going in the right direction.