The years 2015 & 2016 have, and will witness two major events: the endorsement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Sustainable Urban Development Conference - Habitat III. Both are expected to shortly achieve positive impacts on the lives of people worldwide, especially on poor and vulnerable groups.
On 25 September 2015, the 193 countries of the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Development Agenda titled ”Transforming our world”. 17 Sustainable Development Goals were adopted with a will that each government with its relevant partners and actors will be working on achieving the identified targets under each SDG.
Goal 11 of the SDGs states that cities and human settlements should become inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. The 10 targets set under this goal imply exceptional efforts and collective work in order to be achieved by 2030. This involves amongst others, ensuring access to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services, sustainable transport systems, road safety, enhancing inclusive and sustainable urbanization, protecting cultural and natural heritage, etc.
The Habitat III conference that will be organized by the United Nations in October 2016 in Quito – Ecuador, will endorse the “New Urban Agenda” which should be implemented by all governments in the coming 20 years.
UN-Habitat, globally, and at the regional and country levels, will be aligning its strategies, programmes and action plans to become consistent with the targets of SDG 11 and with the recommendations of the New Urban Agenda.
In Lebanon, with the absence of a national urban policy and urban planning actors, the Country Programme will have to devote enormous efforts to lobby, promote, and implement programs and interventions that will contribute to achieving the targets of Goal 11 and the New Urban Agenda.
The Country Programme Document that will be prepared shortly, and which will reflect the strategy and planning of UN-Habitat Lebanon for the coming 5 years, will clearly indicate the planned activities, the adopted approaches, and proposed strategies, and their link in achieving SDG 11 and the New Urban Agenda.
The Government of Finland
The Government of Netherlands
The Government of Cyprus
European Union (EU)
The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
United Nations Development Program (UNDP)
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)
Ministry of Social Affairs
Ministry of Public Health
Ministry of Energy and Water
Ministry of Education and High Education
Ministry of Interior
Municipality of Beirut
Union of Municipalities
National and International Organizations
Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR)
American University of Beirut (AUB)
Development for People and Nature Association (DPNA)
Makassed Philanthropic association
Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA)
Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee (LPDC)
UN-Habitat Lebanon’s current interlinked focus areas are the following:
1) Inclusive and Sustainable Urban Development, 2) Improved Planning Systems and Frameworks and, 3) Effective Urban Crisis Response.
Despite being predominantly urban, Lebanon has for long failed in addressing the root causes of rapid urbanization and managing the corresponding results. Historically, the Lebanese State demonstrated a laissez-faire approach in the urban domain. Except for land regulation, investments in infrastructure and formulation of building codes, the State has shied away from reforming this sector.
Today, cities and urban areas in Lebanon embody the typical globally-recognized features of a malfunctioning urban system, which include among others:
- Inadequate basic infrastructure and services, including, water, wastewater, electricity, transportation and solid waste management.
- Increased urban poverty, inequalities and disparities manifested in the proliferation of slums, informal settlements and poor urban neighborhoods.
- Poor access to affordable and adequate housing.
Also, the influx of more than one million Syrian displaced people to Lebanon in 2011 came to add more strain on Lebanon, in general, and Lebanon urban sector in specific.
“UN-Habitat has given life back to the cultural heritage site of Mogher. We have been granted an opportunity to get rid of this problem and alleviate the locals’ suffering, and we are absolutely grateful for that.”
Omar Solh, Vice President of the Municipality of Baalbek
Donors and partners
Since its presence in Lebanon, UN-Habitat was able to build a strong network of international, national and local partners. The coming three-year phase will focus on consolidating existing partnership frameworks while establishing new strategic partnerships with local, national and international stakeholders. At the level of the national government, MoUs are developed and signed with concerned parties framing the fields of collaboration. At the local level, UN-Habitat works directly and closely with municipalities and unions of municipalities. Moreover, the Programme has established strong exchange of knowledge with universities. With UN sister agencies, strategic partnerships involve UNDP, UNICEF, UNHCR, and UN-Women.