SPNL recently participated in a conference on climate change that was held on March 11, 2013 at the Phoenicia Intercontinental Hotel, Beirut.
The Ministry of Environment in partnership with the United National Development Programme launched a new series of climate change projects as part of the “Achievements and progress of climate change projects at the Ministry of Environment” event at the Phoenicia Intercontinental Hotel.
The projects launching was graced by H.E. Mr. Nazem EL Khoury, Minister of Environment and H.E. Mr. Robert Watkins, UNDP Resident Representative in the presence of, ambassadors, high ranking government representatives,, and representatives of international organizations and NGOs.
Mr. Watkins opened the ceremony by emphasizing on the work of UNDP with the Government of Lebanon to “promote integrated policy making linking economic growth, environmental management and social equity as functions of each other”, adding that UNDP’s partnership with the Ministry of Environment dates to more than a decade, with climate change in particular being a priority.
In his opening remark, Minister Khoury emphasized that “The Ministry of Environment has been very active during the last years dealing with climate change, not only at a national level but also at the regional and global level”, adding “We have indeed been pioneers in implementing unique projects in the region, and Beirut is being designated as the headquarters for many regional projects related climate change”.
The main role of the Ministry of Environment in the implementation of climate change projects is the “mainstreaming of the results, action plans and recommendations of studies to all ministries and concerned parties to make sure that climate change is indeed taken into account in their planning process”, as explained by Ms. Rola El-Sheikh, the Head of the Service of Environmental Technology at the Ministry of Environment and the climate change focal point. Ms. El-Sheikh also emphasized on the importance of the role of the newly established National Council for the Environment in complementing the work of the Ministry and in bringing a multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary dimension to climate change.
The event encompassed the launch of three new projects to “complement other implemented projects at UNDP and the Ministry of Environment and sustain the national momentum of climate change, as introduced Mr. Vahakn Kabakian, the UNDP Climate Change portfolio manager at the Ministry of Environment.
The “Lebanon’s Low Emission Capacity Building project”, funded by the European Comission and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) through UNDP headquarters, will guide decision-makers on the most suitable options that simultaneously reduce carbon emissions while ensuring economic growth and will move forward the Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) programme in Lebanon.
The “Third National Communication to the UNFCCC”, funded by the Global Environment Facility will meet Lebanon’s commitment to the UN Framework Convention on Climate change as it will update Lebanon’s greenhouse gas emission inventory and its vulnerability adverse impacts of climate change and will propose appropriate mitigation and adaptation measures.
The “National Action Programme to Mainstream Climate Change into Lebanon’s Development Agenda”, funded by the Spanish Government through Lebanon Recovery Fund will establish the long awaited Climate Change Coordination Unit to strengthen the communication and cooperation between the different ministries, institutions, the private sector, academia and grassroot organisations on climate change.
These projects will “set the baseline in terms of emissions and vulnerability for all climate change initiatives undertaken in Lebanon” said Minister Khoury, adding that they will create “the first national platform to efficiently coordinate, support the work of sister ministries, governmental institutions, private sector and NGOs in climate change”.
In addition, the event included the dissemination of the results of the Technology Needs Assessment project, which was implemented by the Ministry of environment, in cooperation with UNDP, the UNEP Risoe Center and the Global Environment Facility. The project, which is the only initiative of its kind in the region, highlighted the economic and social benefits of reducing emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change by identifying priority technologies and proposing detailed and concrete actions plans for expanding the market for clean technologies.
The Technology Needs Assessment report clearly showed that an increase in the share of renewable energy in the Lebanese energy mix can “reduce 1,720 Million tons of CO2 eq or 10% of our national emissions and save up to 601 Million USD from the national budget” as explained by Mrs. Lea Kai Aboujaoude, the project’s coordinator, further elaborating that using fuel efficient vehicles, hybrid cars and public buses can reduce up to 80% of the CO2 emissions caused from transport and cost 30 to 80% less on both the passenger and the Government.
The study also revealed that adapting Lebanon’s environmental, social and economic systems to the potential risks of climate change can not only increase the national resilience in the face of extreme events but can also preserve livelihoods of vulnerable communities, increase water availability, improve the management of natural resources and increase agricultural revenues by up to 123 million USD per year.
The conference highlighted the launching of three new projects related to climate change that will be implemented over the next three years between the Ministry of Environment and UNDP. Attending the conference, werethe Minister of Environment Nazem El-Khoury, UNDP resident representative Robert Watkins, Denmark’s ambassador to Lebanon, representative from the World Food Organization as well as representatives from international organizations and non-governmental organizations.
The conference also witnessed the dissemination of the Technology Needs Assessment (TNA) report. This report emphasizes on the social and economic benefits that are key to address within the most vulnerable sectors to the impacts of climate change such as agriculture and water sectors.