The IUCN National Committee launches its national plan

Under the patronage of the Minister of the Environment Dr. Nasser Yassin, the launching ceremony of the National Action Plan of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in the presence of the IUCN Director for Western Asia Dr. Hani Al-Shaer, Dr. Khaled Fayed, representing His Excellency the Minister of Education Dr. Abbas Al-Halabi, and a number of mayors, representatives of NGOs, members of the National IUCN Committee, representatives of the media, and social and cultural events, at SPNL’s Luc Hoffman Hima Home in the town of Kayfoun, Mount Lebanon.

At the beginning, the Chairman of the National Committee of the IUCN, Fadi Ghanem, welcomed the attendees and gave a speech about the history of the IUCN. He said: The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) was established in 1948, and is the largest and most diverse environmental network in the world, comprising more than 18,000 conservation experts and scientists and 1,400 members of environmental organizations.
It has permanent observer status in the United Nations General Assembly.

Ghanem continued: As for Lebanon, the National Committee of the International Union for Conservation of Nature was formed in 1996, and here I must thank everyone who succeeded in managing this committee for the efforts that were made to be what we are today.

Since we assumed responsibility, we have persevered in establishing environmental issues as a priority in Lebanon and in international forums, and will spare no effort to achieve the goals we have set.

The National Committee of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which includes some of the most active and important environmental NGOs in Lebanon, presents today its national plan based on the unified program approved by the union’s general conference in France last year.

He added: We, as experts in the environment, government, civil society, and local, national and regional authorities, must work together to face the challenges, stave off dangers, and remedy the losses that we face as a result of climate change.

Ghanem added: Your excellency’s presence is the best evidence of your personal interest and the interest of the Lebanese state in this matter, and in the hope that the Ministry of the Environment will return to being a member of the union. Ghanem thanked the Director of the West Asia Office, Dr. Hani Al-Shaer, for all the assistance and support he provides to the National Committee and to all members, especially with regard to the national plan.
Ghanem concluded by thanking each member of the committee, after which there was a presentation by the Director of the Reforestation Association in Lebanon, Maya Nehme, and the Director of the Chouf Cedar Reserve, Nizar Hani.

The presentation began with an explanation of the federation’s vision for the years 2020-2030, which is to protect; Land, water, oceans, and to combat climate change, and the main focus in all of this is the human being. The federation aims to push the largest possible segment of the people, officials and decision-makers to appreciate the importance of preserving the environment and biological diversity, and their importance in affecting our lives, our economy and our food security. They then explained the main lines of the national plan, which revolves around three main axes:

The first axis is networking amongst members, capacity building and networking with other members within the federation in the Arab region surrounding us, and in the rest of the world.
The second axis is documenting existing information on biological diversity, and putting it in a common and unified database with the Ministry of Environment and the National Council for Scientific Research, which has become a member of the Federation, and all concerned in this regard.

The third axis is securing the preparation and implementation of joint projects among members in Lebanon and the region, supporting the development of policies related to environmental protection and biodiversity, and supporting reserves and various scientific committees in the federation, for example the scientific committee on nature reserves and species, environmental policies, and others.

After that Al Chaer spoke, praising the efforts of the National Committee and saying: I confess to you that this is the first actual plan to be prepared and presented by a National Committee in the region.

Al-Shaer stressed the importance of capacity-building and cooperation between associations. Only cooperation produces important and implementable projects. Of course, this cooperation is very important for us as a federation, and it is important at the national and regional levels.
Al-Shaer concluded with best wishes to Lebanon and its people, stressing his readiness to support the projects presented, and the federation’s readiness to cooperate, especially with the presence of an Arab president this year, at the head of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Mrs. Razan Mubarak.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Minister Yassin spoke, praising the work of the National Committee and its members, and their efforts in drawing up this important national plan for Lebanon and the environment.

Yassin continued: I am interested in stressing the issue of networking, as this is an essential and necessary matter in environmental work, especially between members in Lebanon and with the International Federation, and I am working with the team in the Ministry, to address the gap that occurred in the absence of the Ministry of Environment from the IUCN, and we will return as soon as possible, because this matter is important and beneficial to Lebanon, and our presence in these international forums is an essential goal for us.

Yassin added: I consider that we are with the National Committee and all environmental NGOs as one team, and I am not authoritarian and consider that whoever works in the environment must be in this spirit of team and cooperation, and I stress that the scientific issue is essential in any work, especially environmental work. I hereby confirm our intention to cooperate with universities, especially the Lebanese University, and other universities such as Balamand and others.

Yassin thanked the International Federation and Dr. Al-Shaer Hali for their efforts and support for Lebanon.

The director general of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL), Asaad Serhal, held a luncheon for all the participants.

At the end of the ceremony, Ghanem and the members of the National Committee presented a copy of the national plan to Minister Yassin.

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