Rehabilitation of the Saida Dumpsite

08 Feb 2013

Rehabilitation of the Saida Dump site

 

Statement by

Mr. Robert Watkins,

UNDP Resident Representative

2 February 2013

 

PM Senioura, MP Bahia Hariri, Minister Nazem Al Khoury, Mayer of Saida Mouhamad Saoudi

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

I am extremely pleased to be with you here today to help announce this important partnership between the Ministry of Environment, Municipality of Saida and the United Nations Development Programme to quite literally transform the largest solid waste dump on the Lebanese coast into a green space of public pride.

 

The timing of this initiative comes very appropriately in this 20th anniversary year of the first “Earth Summit” in Rio, which put sustainable development on the map, demonstrating that the short-sighted policies of the past too often traded economic, social and environmental objectives off against each other. We now understand that, while the act and consequence of reducing environmental degradation can both stimulate employment and reduce poverty, the reverse is also true: degrading the environment can undermine a country’s long-term prospects for its economy and society.

 

Lebanon has made commendable progress in recent years in taking action to restore and protect its environment. Yet the number of pressing challenges that remain ahead is extensive.  The latest “State and Trends of the Environment Report,” published by the Ministry of Environment, describes increasingly heavy pressure placed on Lebanon’s limited natural resources by economic growth and an expanding population. Amongst the most alarming issues highlighted are poor land management, the loss of critical sources of biodiversity, the continued emission of ozone depleting substances, inadequate solid waste management, high levels of air pollution and a lack of access to clean water.

 

In this regard, UNDP has placed a high priority on supporting Lebanon for over two decades now through policy advice and tangible projects on the ground, helping raise public awareness nationally while engaging the private sector and civil society across the industrial, agricultural and energy sectors as never before.

 

The undertaking we are inaugurating today is an exemplary embodiment of these principles and this sense of urgency. The landfill looming over us has long been a source of anguish for Saida and Lebanon as a whole. It releases noxious gases into the air we are breathing, leachate in into the sea that sustains us, and gives rise to sporadic fires which have continued, again recently, to be a source of acute stress to the environment and the people of Saida. The impact has even reached across the sea, with Cyprus for example having complained numerous times about waste that has reached its shores.

 

We at UNDP therefore sincerely welcomed the request of the Municipality of Saida to wield our extensive technical expertise to help put an end to this environmental catastrophe. After receiving the endorsement of the central government and the Ministry of Environment in particular, we launched an international competitive bid to secure offers from the best qualified and most competitive companies available on the global market. I’m pleased to note that these offers will be received by UNDP and the evaluation process initiated in just four days from now.

 

Finally, let me again thank the Municipality of Saida for their commitment to a better life for the city and the trust they have in UNDP, to the Ministry of Environment and particularly Minister Al-Khoury, for his critical support in helping make this project a reality, and to the Members of Parliament from Saida for their much-appreciated support throughout.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, the countdown has begun. I invite you to have another look at the site, perhaps take a few photos for posterity, and then propose that we meet again, there, in just a couple of years from now to celebrate what will truly be a remarkable transformation.

 

Thank you.