After the 2006 July War, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) initiated its Country Programme in Lebanon, responding to emerging issues through housing reconstruction, shelter provision and upgrading basic services, while laying the foundation for long-term sustainable solutions by means of urban profiling (including neighbourhood profiling) and other research, as well as urban policy analyses.
UN-Habitat Lebanon has been working effectively with partners and urban planning actors at the community, national and international levels for the past 15 years to develop and implement programmes and interventions that contribute to the achievement of the targets of Goal 11 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
Out of the 13 established Regional Technical Offices (RTO) in Lebanon, a total of five are auto financed by unions of municipalities or municipalities and one RTO continues to operate through a co-financing scheme between the municipality and UN-Habitat. Three RTOs stopped operating after the end of the project with UN-Habitat. Four RTOs are still operating with full funding support made available by UN-Habitat in the municipalities of Bourj Hammoud and Tyre; and, unions of municipalities of Tyre and Al Fayhaa.
Based on an area-based approach, 29 multisectoral neighbourhood profiles and 3 city profiles: Beirut, Tripoli, Tyre have been published by the mid of 2021.
As part of UN-Habitat’s National Urban Policy (NUP) Programme, mainstreaming guides on housing and transport have been prepared to support local Lebanese government and policy makers to prioritize these sectors in any future NUPs.
Counting from 2017, our projects have thus far benefited more than 1,090,000 vulnerable people in Lebanon.
UN-Habitat estimates that the main cities of Beirut, Tripoli, Saida and Tyre host about 36 per cent of the Lebanese population, 57 per cent of Palestinian refugees and nearly 26 per cent of displaced Syrians.
Since late 2019, the Lebanese Lira has lost more than 90 per cent of its value, which has placed significant strain on the already overburdened urban infrastructure and provision of urban basic services.
Over the years Lebanon has faced a myriad of crises. Since 2011, 1.5 million refugees have arrived in Lebanon, inevitably adding pressure on already overstretched public services and resources, particularly affecting urban areas where the majority have settled. The COVID-19 outbreak in Lebanon, a severe and deepening economic depression and currency devaluation since 2019, and the effects of the Beirut Port explosions in mid-2020 have together driven an overwhelming 74 per cent of the population into income poverty in 2021, up from 25 per cent in 2019.
Additionally the late 2019 civil uprising and mass protests against economic stagnation and perceived government corruption erupted in cities across the country, with the onset at that time of what has since emerged as a banking system crisis and devastating local currency devaluation.
More than ever, there is an urgent need to address disparities in Lebanon – where nearly 90 per cent of its population lives in urban areas – and to uphold people’s human rights to housing, water, sanitation and other essential services and resources.
UN-Habitat Lebanon continuously adapts to the country’s situation by fostering inclusive and sustainable urban development, improving planning systems and frameworks as well as effective urban crises response - especially the Syrian refugee crisis and more recently socio-economic crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and the Beirut Port explosion.
According to Lebanon 2021 - 2023 Habitat Country Programme Document (HCPD) – to be updated by end 2022 to align with the upcoming United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) – UN-Habitat Lebanon’s current interlinked focus areas are the following:
- inclusive and sustainable urban development;
- improved planning systems and frameworks; and
- effective urban crisis response.
Our urban development projects
“Despite the fact that Saida attracts many tourists, we as citizens of Old Saida never felt that we are part of the touristic program in the city. The Cultural Heritage project will provide us with an opportunity to revive the tourism industry in Saida.”
Citizen in Old Saida
Donors and partners
Since 2006, UN-Habitat has established a large network of international, national and local partners – to ensure a nuanced and localized approach to its projects and interventions. UN-Habitat Lebanon’s donorship has and continues to enable the Country Programme to deliver. From projects on-the-ground that address the needs of residents, to research and analysis necessary to ensure targeted and impactful projects. The UN-Habitat Lebanon Country Programme’s activities cover both normative and operational work.
UN-Habitat works with local and national government; academia; civil society; local non-governmental organizations; and, UN sister agencies all to achieve UN-Habitat’s unified mission of achieving a better urban future for Lebanon.
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)