Consultative workshop on the “Blue-Green” economy project held in Kayfoun and attended by Minister Makari

Under the patronage and presence of the Minister of Information in the caretaker government, Mr. Ziad Makari, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL) and the Lebanese Assembly for the Environment (LEF), in cooperation with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), organized a consultative workshop for the project “the Green and Blue Economy – Towards the Rehabilitation of Natural Resources to Limit Climate Change”.


The workshop was also attended by Member of Parliament Cesar Abi Khalil, Professor Tariq Al Timani who represented the Minister of Education in the caretaker government Abbas Al Halabi, and a number mayors of towns and representatives of various environmental NGOs from various regions of Lebanon.


The speakers were introduced by the Head of the Middle East Sustainable Hunting Center (MESHC) Mr. Adonis Khatib, who is also the field coordinator for responsible hunting at SPNL, and the Editor-in-Chief of Sayd Magazine.


The session began with a speech from Kayfoun mayor Mr. Wafik Saad, who emphasized the importance of establishing a Hima in the Mount Lebanon town of Kayfoun, stressing the importance of properly utilizing gardens and green spaces, promoting agriculture, afforestation, conserving the environment, preserving water resources, and emphasizing clean, sustainable, and renewable energy, as well as the importance of good management to ensure harmony between human needs and resource sustainability.


Dr. Adnan Melki the National Coordinator of The (GEF) stressed the importance of the corporate programme of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP), implemented by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) aligns its Operational Phase strategies with those of the GEF and co-financing partners, and provides a global portfolio of innovative, inclusive, and impactful projects that address global environmental and sustainable development issues.

Action at the local level by civil society and community-based organizations, including women groups, indigenous peoples, youth, and persons with disabilities is recognized essential to form multi-stakeholder alliances to deliver global environmental benefits and contribute to the GEF-7 Programming Directions, UNDP’s Strategic Plan 2018-2021, and national priorities to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals and other international commitments. Building on its over 26 years of successful operations in total over 133 countries, the 7th Operational Phase of the SGP aims “to promote and support innovative, inclusive and scalable initiatives, and foster multi stakeholder partnerships at the local level to tackle global environmental issues in priority landscapes and seascapes.”

Mr. Asaad Serhal, director general of SPNL, emphasized in his speech the importance of reviving the Hima system of nature conservation and the positive role of SPNL in reviving and  perpetuating this concept by declaring twenty-eight Hima zones in different regions of Lebanon. Serhal stressed the importance of the results of the international conference on biodiversity which concluded its work last week in Montreal, Canada, the headquarters of the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity.


Serhal noted that the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international agreement concerned with the conservation of nature, and sets guidelines for countries to protect biodiversity. The Conference of the Parties on Biological Diversity (COP15) is the fifteenth meeting of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, since its launch at the Earth Summit in 1992.


Serhal pointed out that under the agreement, each country participating agrees to achieve more than 20 environmental goals by the end of the decade, the main condition being the so-called 30 x 30 plan to protect at least 30 percent of land, inland waters and coastal areas by 2030, and that forms the basis for the agreement, which is similar to the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.


Serhal concluded by praising the partnership between SPNL and its national and international partners and praising the partnership with various ministries, especially the Ministry of Information, due to the positive and constructive role of media awareness in conserving nature and natural resources.


Mr. Malek Ghandour, head of the Lebanese Assembly for the Environment, pointed out in his speech the importance of holding the workshop, which represents an important initiative for various environmental NGOs in Lebanon to work together on the various projects that are being implemented, especially the Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas Network project, something that effectively contributes to preserving the Lebanese coastal environment that has lost many of its fine points, and which still contains many sites that need to be conserved and protected, something contributes to the promotion of ecotourism and the conservation of biodiversity.


In his speech, Mr. Abbas Zahreddin stressed, via videocall from Barcelona, the importance of “the him system that embraces science” and the concept of conflict resolution through hima, as well as the importance of hima to sustainable development and to the promotion of an approach based on the protection of human rights.


Zahreddine praised the approach of thinking globally and acting locally. He pointed out that a major problem is Lebanon’s excessive imports from abroad. He stressed the importance of adopting the basic hima approach and the importance of combating rural poverty and the loss of farmland. He concluded: “We yearn for this Levantine cooperation, which is an essential complement to ecological and agricultural tourism, and we hope that in 2023 we will work to achieve a roadmap for partnership between the various Mediterranean countries.


The speech of Ghadi News was delivered by retired Colonel Akram Siriwi, who stressed the importance of the work carried out by environmental NGOs, which is very important for the conservation of the environment. He pointed out that our battle to protect the environment is a battle of awareness. Media does not only mean publishing news, but specialized media, research, studies, and permanent follow-up for the protection of the environment. And he announced that the Ghadi News website was in its 20th year and has stood the test of time due to the insistence of its founder, Mr. Fadi Ghanem, and all the members.


The head of Lebanon’s national IUCN committee, Professor Fadi Ghanem, pointed out that

the committee works for green media. He stressed the importance of environmental media and the role of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Pointing out that the goal is developing global plans for countries and involving the state in environmental projects. He pointed to his efforts to restore the effective role of the National Committee. Ghanem noted the importance of the agreement that will be signed between Ghadi News website and the Ministry of Information, which is working on putting final notes on the agreement, for it to be signed as soon as possible.


The Minister of Information in the caretaker government, Mr. Ziad Makari, emphasized in his speech the importance of cooperation between the various ministries, especially the Ministry of Information and active environmental NGOs on the ground.


Makari: “I was born on the side of the river in Zgharta. My house is in Ehden on the mountain, and I lived among trees and birds. I learned from hunting to respect nature. I learned through birds and trees. When the Horj Ehden Nature Reserve was established, I participated in its establishment with the late Ricardo Habr. When hunting was banned, I stopped practicing this pastime. Today, respecting nature is my goal. In 2000, I ran for parliament and part of my electoral platform was about the environment. Al-Makari added: “If there is a will, there is a way”. The hima concept exists and you are pioneering it.


He noted the importance of the meeting held at the ministry with the NGOs concerned with the blue-green economy project, and said the ministry will sign the media protocol with the Ghadi News website after completing the legal procedures. He pointed out that specialized scientific media is important, and that investigative journalism is also important. Through documents and serious research, one reaches a level of credibility. He concluded: “We are working with the Minister of Environment in the caretaker government, Dr. Nasser Yassin, to launch a protocol for environmental information. The Ministry of Information is struggling like all state agencies, but it is will not be allowed to give up and there is a will to work.”


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