Beirut, October 27, 2017 – The USAID-funded Lebanon Reforestation Initiative held an event entitled “Promoting Partnerships with the Private Sector for Environmental Activities” under the patronage of the Minister of Environment Mr. Tarek El Khatib. The event highlighted the importance of engaging private sector companies in various environmental activities in Lebanon, specifically in the North (extending from Horsh Ehden Reserve to Jaj Cedar Nature Reserve) and Rachaiya (extending from Rachaiya Al Wadi to Aanjar). In collaboration with the Federation of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Lebanon, the event was attended by the Minister of Environment, represented by his Advisor Mr. Joseph El Asmar, Mr. Walter Doetsch representing USAID/Lebanon, Mr. Raphael Debbane Head of Agriculture Committee, representing the FCCIAL Chairman Mr. Mohamad Choucair, and representatives from private sector companies, international donors, and heads of municipalities and municipal councils.
Composed of members of municipalities and communities, the Corridor Planning Committees of the North and Rachaya are working on implementing their recently developed strategic plans. These plans will fill corridor gaps, improve natural resource conservation and responsible rural tourism, and raise environmental awareness. Implementation will involve planting on barren lands, expanding forests, creating hiking trails, constructing and developing native tree nurseries, opening environmental friendly waste dumps, and among other activities. This event encourages the creation of new public-private partnerships and the building of a network of green companies that will play a major role in conserving Lebanon’s environment.
Mr. El Asmar highlighted the importance of building a national commitment to environmental conservation through the support of the public and private sector; a partnership that ensures continuity and sustainability of all environmental projects.
Mr. Doetsch emphasized USAID’s commitment to this environmental conservation initiative. “Since 2011, USAID, through LRI, has planted more than 700,000 native tree seedlings across Lebanon, creating 1,400 seasonal jobs, and engaging around 40 communities in various environmental activities.”
Dr. Maya Nehme, the Director of LRI, which is implemented by the United States Forest Service, indicated that the LRI project will continue to support the Corridor Planning Committees of both Rachaiya and the North in implementing their environmental strategic plans and emphasized the importance of joint efforts between the public and private sector to reach the common goal of a greener Lebanon.
Mr. Debbane, Head of Agriculture Committee at the FFCIAL, affirmed the importance of engaging private sector companies in environmental activities and encouraging them to develop their environmental Corporate Social Responsible initiatives to stimulate socio-economic development and environmental sustainability.