Greenpeace unveils details of its coastal waters campaign
December 20, 2011 02:14 AM (Last updated: December 20, 2011 12:25 PM)
By Olivia Alabaster
The Daily Star
Water sampling off the coast of Lebanon.
Water sampling off the coast of Lebanon.

BEIRUT: Greenpeace Lebanon unveiled Monday the details of their “Secret Mission: Blue Shield 2011,” which involves samples of coastal waters being taken, with the eventual plan of lobbying government to fully endorse marine protection treaties. After having built up intrigue surrounding the campaign over the last few weeks, Greenpeace sent out the first of a series of short videos Monday detailing the project, which will include testimonies of fishermen and others who are most affected in their daily lives by coastal pollution.

The campaign has asked members of the public to join their Secret Mission, which is exclusive to Greenpeace Lebanon, with over 2,500 having signed up so far.

As revealed in Monday’s first testimony, the campaign is aimed at protecting Lebanon’s coastal waters, which have been severely threatened after years of mismanaged waste water, industrial run-offs, and solid waste flowing directly into the sea.

Over the last few months, Greenpeace members took samples of coastal waters at eight sites around the country, including Tripoli in the north, Dora in Beirut and Sidon and Tyre in southern Lebanon.

The samples have now been sent to London for testing, and for the main pollutants to be identified. Results are expected in February, after which Greenpeace Lebanon will collect and analyze the results.

They will then produce a report on the findings, and recommend a strategy to government on what steps to take to target the key pollutants and polluters in Lebanon.

For Rayan Makarem, campaigner with Greenpeace Lebanon, this will involve not just highlighting what the main pollutants are, but about naming who is responsible for the violations, whether that be individuals, companies or government.

However, he added, “It’s not just about pointing the finger, and saying ‘you’re the bad guy.’ It’s about saying, ‘This is someone we can talk to and lobby and who has the capacity to change.’ It’s about encouraging people to change their attitudes, which is what Greenpeace is all about.”

Lebanon in 1995 signed the Barcelona Convention, a commitment between all countries sharing a Mediterranean coastline to reduce sea pollution levels, with help on developing the necessary infrastructure provided by the European Union. However, Makarem warned, “The way things are going, Lebanon is not going to be reaching any of its supposed targets,” set by the convention for 2020.

Another part of the campaign will see Greenpeace lobby government to implement proper standards for industry, and that “its commitment to clean up its act is seen and not just talked about,” Makarem added.

Part of the mission allows people to upload images or videos of any environmental violations they witness around Lebanon, and with the option of remaining anonymous.

This option of anonymity is very important for many, Leen Hashem, communications and media officer for Greenpeace Lebanon, said, as “people are often afraid of political corruption,” and this latter phenomenon is often very closely linked to the covering up of environmental violations in Lebanon, she added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 20, 2011, on page 3.

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(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

Greenpeace secret mission recruits 2,500 ‘agents’
December 19, 2011 01:06 AM
The Daily Star

BEIRUT: Over 2,500 people have signed up to join Greenpeace Lebanon’s “Secret Mission: Blue Shield 2011,” details of which will be released Monday.

The campaign, which was launched three weeks ago, has encouraged people to sign up, asking them “Can you keep a secret?” and urging “all Lebanese to get on board and save their country!”

The environmental nongovernmental organization has released two short videos as a preview of the campaign, one of which shows a Greenpeace member sampling coastal water.

As of Monday, “agents” who have signed up to the secret mission, details of which can be found at, will start receiving information on the campaign via email updates.

As part of the campaign, members of the public are also being encouraged to report any environmental violations that they witness to the NGO, via their Facebook page at Greenpeace Lebanon.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 19, 2011, on page 3.

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(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::