By Mohamad Al Mashnouk, Minister of Environment, Lebanon
This story goes back more than twenty years, specifically to 1995.
Back then, Lebanon was emerging slowly from a period of torment, where development was waging war on our natural resources rather than building on their sustainability. It all started with one grant, one project - “Strengthening of National Capacity and Grassroots In-Situ Conservation for Sustainable Biodiversity Protection”. Forty projects later - and with more than USD 25 million spent under the different thematic areas, excluding regional projects - the GEF has proved to be a major partner in achieving Sustainable Development, and a good friend to Lebanon.
Our collaboration is successful beyond any doubt. More than USD 13 Million has been allocated to addressing climate change and more than USD 5 Million to biodiversity conservation and other issues. These projects allow us to develop our policy framework and technical knowledge internally and to fulfil our commitments beyond our borders, in line with our international obligations: Lebanon was one of the very first countries to submit its First Biennial Update Reporting to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The GEF’s contribution goes beyond supporting such activity: it extends to years of support in introducing the concept of climate change, setting the enabling environment and creating a workforce which drives the momentum at the national and even at the international level and ensures mainstreaming among stakeholders.
And so the story goes for biodiversity, land degradation and other emerging priority thematic areas.
Experience has taught us that we cannot single-handedly achieve the results to which we aspire. With limited resources and great needs, we stand upon the cooperation with the GEF and call upon more coordination and cooperation as we acknowledge that building partnerships is key for implementing strategies, plans and projects - and ultimately for achieving sustainable development for Lebanon and for our planet.
Needless to say, the collaboration with GEF was and still is a challenging experience. But great deeds require great efforts and Lebanon is keen on being part of the solution.
On this 25th Anniversary, we would like to wish our GEF collaborators, and us all, a successful continuation, building on the previous track record of national and regional success stories.