May 16, 2013

BEIRUT: The creeping destruction of Lebanon’s natural resources is costing the country many millions of dollars, the Environment Ministry said Wednesday at an international conference, which addressed the environmental management of coastal areas and air quality issues in the Arab and Mediterranean regions.

“Lebanon suffers from environmental degradation that costs the country $800 million,” said caretaker Environment Minister Nazem Khoury. “This figure provides evidence that … indiscriminate urbanization and the increase in consumption and overconsumption patterns of natural resources has led to the loss of the agricultural lands, forests and public coastal areas.”

“The Environment Ministry is focusing on the rational management of our national resources to protect it and preserve its sustainability.”

Khoury said the resource management problem is a result of disorganization and lack of coordination between ministries and because “we don’t make public the outcome of studies, statistics and data.”

“All Arab countries struggle to manage their environmental resources in different degrees,” Iyad Abu Megalli, head of the regional United Nations Environment Program office, said during the conference.

Held in Ain al-Mreisseh, the conference was attended by six Arab countries and five European and African countries. The conference comes in line with the ongoing Environmental Resources Monitoring in Lebanon project spearheaded by the Environment Ministry and managed by UNEP and the U.N. Development Program.

UNEP has plenty of experience working in Lebanon and assessed the major environmental impacts of the July 2006 war with Israel.

During the conference, UNDP’s head in Lebanon, Luca Randa, highlighted Greece’s technical and financial assistance to help Lebanon implement key projects.

UNDP, in close coordination with UNEP, is currently supporting the Environment Ministry as it brings in the Air Quality Management component of the national ERML project. UNDP is responsible for procuring and installing new equipment and will also ensure on-the-ground monitoring and evaluation of activities related to the project.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 16, 2013, on page 4.

Read more:
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::