Minister of Environment and the UNDP distributed Green Awards for pioneers in the adoption of environmentally-friendly initiatives

Sep 4, 2013

The Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme and Beyond magazine, held for the first time in Lebanon, a National Green Awards Ceremony at a dinner at the Phoenicia Hotel. Green Awards were granted to donors and institutions for their generous support to Lebanon and its environment. 

Under the patronage of Minister Nazem El Khoury, the awards were granted to the following institutions and individuals: Lebanese Armed Forces represented by Commander General Jean Kahwaji, Head of the European Union Delegation in Lebanon the ambassador Angelina Eichhorst, UNDP Resident Representative in Lebanon Mr. Robert Watkins, Chairman of Libano-Française Bank, former Minister Farid Raphael, BankMed represented by Mr. Muhyi El Din Fathallah, Chairman of BLC Bank Mr. Maurice Sehnaoui, Middle East Airlines represented by Maitre Michel Tueni, Vice President of Haykal hospital Dr. Nisrine Bazerbagi , owner of Zetra Industries Mr. Salim Zeenni, Dr.Tony Issa of IPT Energy Center represented by Mrs. Myrna Issa, and MTV media station which won the shield of appreciation . 

In his turn, UNDP Resident Representative Mr. Robert Watkins granted a Green Award to Minister El Khoury, to Mr. Riad Salameh, governor of Lebanon's central bank, representatives of the Italian and Spanish governments, General Director of Beyond magazine Mrs. Pascale Choueiri Saad, the Association of Green Cedar Lebanon, and to NewTV station. 

Following the opening, a speech was given by Mrs. Pascale Choueiri Saad, General Director of Beyond Magazine in which she stressed on the "continuous cooperation and coordination with the Ministry of Environment and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to transform ideas into real projects and initiatives".  

Then followed the word of UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Robert Watkins. 

The Minister of Environment Mr. Nazem El Khoury ensured that "this First National Green Awards ceremony will become an annual tradition and an opportunity for the ministry to give credit to those who collaborated with it and provided support in achieving its goals.” 

“This is an approach which we hope will help build and reinforce the concept of partnership between the ministry and the civil society, a very important investment through which the preservation of the environment and the protection of our natural wealth is achieved. I can assure you that the benefits from such an investment are collective and losses would be irrecoverable on our health and that of future generations.” 

He added: "The objective of granting these awards is to motivate citizens, institutions, governmental and non-governmental organizations to be concerned as environmental damage equally affects the polluter and the receiver.  

Therefore, we all ought to be convinced that the protection of the environment is a shared responsibility among all of us. He also said that “the honored organizations are pioneers in adopting and promoting environmentally friendly initiatives. Their interventions had a significant positive impact on the environmental arena in Lebanon and made of them examples to follow. Not only are we appreciative of their efforts but we also find it in hope for the future. They have given the green light for a new start as they paved the way to a healthier and safer future." 

Mr. Khoury stressed that "the most important issue sought by the Ministry of Environment is making every citizen an environmental watch and a member of the Ministry’s team by being more aware of the environment and by refraining from harming it and tediously working towards conserving and improving it". The Minister also declared that “within the next month, the Ministry of Environment will launch three national competitions targeting schoolchildren, university students, and the media, respectively. In addition, the Ministry will organize a ceremony to honor the efforts of civil society organizations which have continuously supported the Ministry in its activities.” 

The Minister of Environment concluded by saying: "The path is still long ahead of us, but we are moving steadily and with determination. The awards tonight are just one step on this path.” 

UNDP Resident Representative granted Minister Nazim EL Khoury the UNDP Green Award in recognition of his role and his exceptional leadership of the Ministry of Environment, which cooperates, since its establishment with the UNDP. 

Also, Mr. Riad Salameh the governor of Lebanon's central bank received from Mr. Watkins a Green Award to honor the Bank for giving loans for environmental initiatives, a first in the Arab world. Moreover, representatives of both Italian and Spanish governments were awarded the Green Award for being generous Donors. Furthermore, awards were granted to the Association Green Cedar Lebanon that supported projects strengthening reforestation efforts, NewTV channel which contributed to the media coverage of UNDP‘s environmental project "Live Lebanon", and to Beyond magazine that disseminated news of the UNDP’s environmental projects.  

Minister Nazem El Khoury granted the National Green Awards starting with the Lebanese army, which contributed to the implementation of the First Artificial Reef project, an initiative by the Lions and Rotary Clubs in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Public Works and Transport and the University of Balamand, sponsored by IBL Bank. This is a unique achievement for Lebanon and for the Middle Eastern region. 

Minister Khoury honored the Head of the European Union Delegation in Lebanon, the ambassador Angelina Eichhorst, in recognition for the Support to Reform and Environment Governance Programme, funded by the EU with a grant of 8 million euro.  

UNDP Resident Representative Mr. Robert Watkins was granted the National Green Award from Minister Khoury in recognition to the UNDP projects at the Ministry of Environment, namely, the soring birds, the climate change, the Safeguarding and Restoring Lebanon’s Woodland Resources, the Integrated Solid Waste Management of Baalbek Caza, the Environmental Resource Monitoring in Lebanon, the Pops Medical Waste, the National Ozone Unit as well as the institutional support to the Ministry. 

Minister Khoury honored the Chairman of Libano-Française Bank, Former Minister Farid Rapahel for the Earth Card, launched in September 2011. This unique card on the Lebanese market is made of eco-friendly material, which helps preserve the environment. A percentage of the revenues generated by this card are transferred for the funding of environmental projects in Lebanon under the supervision of the UNDP-Lebanon.  

Minister Khoury also honored the Chairman of the BLC Bank, former Minister Maurice Sehanoui. With the support of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), BLC Bank Headquarters has undergone a full retrofit to become compliant with the green international specifications and the environment conservation standards. It was awarded the ARZ Bronze Certificate by Lebanon Green Building Council (LGBC); thus becoming the first operational green building in Lebanon. 

In 2009, BankMed launched its pioneering environmental initiative the ‘Happy Planet’ program, focusing on promoting environmentally and socially friendly initiatives both internally and for the general public. Since then, BankMed has been leading the way for Green Banking in Lebanon and has adopted several projects with the purpose of improving the environment, as part of a comprehensive Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy that ranges across several fields. 

Minister Khoury granted the Middle East Airlines the National Green Award for striving to grow the MEA fleet, but keeping the environment and specifically the CO2 emissions in mind. The newly ordered 10 A320neo aircrafts will lead to up to 15% fuel savings and thus, an estimated emission reduction of 36,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. The CEO of IPT, Dr. Toni Issa, represented by his wife Mrs. Myrna Issa, was granted the Green Nation 

al Award for creating the IPT Energy Center (IPTEC). IPTEC is a specialized research center established by IPT which aims at increasing the awareness and knowledge in the field of sustainable energy by promoting the use of renewable energy sources and energy efficient solutions in different sectors. The center also supports solutions with low environmental impact and less air pollution and encourages the adoption of energy efficient policies and measures in Lebanon. 

Albert Haykal Hospital, represented by its Vice President, Dr. Nisrine Bazerbagi, was granted the Green National Award for being among the leading institutions in the field of management and treatment of hazardous and infectious medical waste and a pioneer in its establishment of an Environmentally Licensed treatment unit on its premises for that purpose. 

Mnister Khoury awarded Mr. Salim Zeenni, President of Zetra Industries for the strong commitment of this company to quality, to environmental and social responsibility and to technical development. Zetra’s manufacturing facilities in Beirut and Tripoli are pioneers in holding the ISO-14001 and this since 1997. Zetra produces cosmetics, toiletries, aerosols and plastic mouldings.  

Minister Khoury granted a shield of appreciation to MTV media station, represented by Mr. Walid Abboud, for considering environmental issues as a priority and for covering environmental matters, thus contributing to increasing awareness among Lebanese citizens. Khoury thanked MTV for supporting the Ministry, noting that it has recently cooperated on the airing of a clip that encourages greater environmentally-friendly behavior among Lebanese. 

Finally, Mr. Khoury offered the artist Mr. Jean Marie Riachi the shield of the Ministry of Environment in recognition of his contribution to the dinner with a live musical performance.
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