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Could the environmental burnouts in Lebanon catalyze social cohesion?

Could the environmental burnouts in Lebanon catalyze social cohesion?
Chekka residents say yes.
Chekka is a North Lebanon coastal town, long known for its golden sandy beaches as well as the abundance of marine flora[1], and olive and fig trees.

At the same time, Chekka is home to some of the largest cement and paper factories in the eastern Mediterranean, that are at the origin of massive discharge of toxins all year round[2] and to a polluted environmental reputation.

Local actors are working to change the stereotypes around their town and to push the environmental work to the frontline through the Mechanisms for Social Stability (MSS).

UNDP Lebanon is supporting, training and hosting capacity building workshops with local actors from Chekka and 37 other villages around Lebanon to design Mechanisms for Social Stability (MSS). The MSS aim at addressing and overcoming local-specific conflicts and challenges, which are environmental in the case of Chekka.

The MSS process in Chekka is led by the UNDP under its “Lebanon Host Communities Support Programme - LHSP” through the “Peace Building in Lebanon” project in partnership with the Ministry of Social Affairs, with the generous funds of UK DFID.

Environmental stresses can have an impact on all phases of conflict, from increasing the spread of violence to discouraging peace initiatives.[1] This is the reason for which the local actors in Chekka organized an environmental week with the support of local scouts and youth groups and launched it on September 2nd 2018. The launch was an opportunity to announce the activation and expansion of the municipal environmental committee in presence of representatives from UNDP, MoSA’ s Social Development Centers, municipalities of surrounding villages in addition to the residents.

“Throughout this week, we intend to motivate you to help us revive the agriculture and forestation of our town and bring back the green Chekka we used to know before the environmental changes”, said the mayor of Chekka, Mr. Farjallah Kfoury.

In addition to conducting a beach cleanup by local actors, environmental enthusiasts and clubs, NGOs and residents, the week featured as well a public awareness campaign on recycling and waste sorting at source, reforestation plans for the town, and sustainable fishing methods.

Dr. Adib Kfoury, from the environmental committee at the municipality of Chekka explained, “Chekka is suffering from pollution like many other Lebanese cities. We invite local businesses, authorities and actors to work together to protect the environment in order to enhance the socio-ecological situation.”

He added, “we hope that the collaborative management of our environment will provide social stability and economic growth opportunities which our town can benefit from.”

Now that the local actors from Chekka are equipped to face their challenges together in cooperation with local authorities, what will be their next step?


[1] Projects in Lebanon: International Development Research Centre Archived December 13, 2007, at the Wayback Machine


[3] From Conflict to Peacebuilding: The Role of Natural Resources and the Environment