The Power of Local Communities & Sustainability

Considering the ups and downs of 2020, it wouldn't be a surprise if many counted their losses rather than their wins. Suddenly all that was unexpected, unpredicted, and unbelievable became our new norm and all that we knew before the pandemic was suddenly thrown out the window. Well, with all the good, the ugly, and in this case, the unprecedented...maybe it wasn't all too bad? Our partner's, the Environment Academy, reminded us that sometimes the glass truly is half full.  

The Environmental Academy (EA) was brought to life by the need to nurture the environment in Lebanon and as well as to protect Lebanese villages from further environmental disasters. The EA is a non-profit organisation founded by Dr. Najat Saliba, established with aims of co-creating solutions to environmental problems with the local communities directly impacted, in both rural and urban areas. The EA is a partnership between the AUB Nature Conservation Centre and MTV Sar el Wa2et, in collaboration with Impact Lebanon. This bottom-up initiative began tackling Lebanon's environmental problem by launching 10 different projects across the country: from creating a green space in Ashrafieh and providing clean water in Ain El Kharroube to reintroducing the native Kharroub tree in Bourjein and developing a solid waste management plan in Btebyet, it is safe to say that EA ambitiously tackles a wide variety of issues. Each local team was paired with a subject matter expert mentor from the diaspora. Curious to know more, we hopped on a call with one of the academy's mentors; Jad Habib, for a tell-all on one of EA's first implemented projects.  

Jad and the local team (composed of Justine, Marie, Marie-Christine, Akram and Marwan) are leading efforts to introduce sustainable waste management in Fanar. Currently no source separation takes place in the city and the waste goes directly to the Burj Hammoud landfill, which is rapidly approaching full capacity. Additionally, Fanar’s intermediate waste collection point and the surrounding greenery are littered with waste. To tackle this, the team developed a pilot programme for source separation and recycling, in partnership with the Fanar municipality and the NGO L’Ecoute that operates a nearby sorting centre. In November, 36 bins were distributed to 19 buildings in the Sainte Famille Neighbourhood, where the scheme has been running smoothly since. The operating model and partnerships in this project ensure effective collection and transport of the recyclables at minimal cost and maximal social and environmental benefit. Building on this, the Fanar team aims to progressively expand the operations to the rest of the city, hopefully turning Fanar into the first of many green success stories. 

Despite all odds being stacked against them, the Fanar team managed to deliver incredible work.  Achieving all that they did, they continue to work tirelessly to drive the community in Fanar towards a sustainable waste management system. So, here's a big thank you to the EA team for their incredible work in preserving Lebanon's rich environment and supporting local communities and villages despite all hurdles. Join us in applauding their outstanding dedication by checking out their Instagram, and Facebook. A little support can go a long way.