i. Climate change context
According to the World Bank, Lebanon is a highly urbanized, middle-income country located in the eastern basin of the Mediterranean Sea, with a population of about 6.8 million. Lebanon is divided into eight provinces. Over 85% of Lebanon’s residents live in urban areas that are concentrated along a coastline vulnerable to sea-level rise, with damages projected to cost US$ 140 million in losses by 2040. Dominated by mountains, 67% of Lebanon’s total land is arable and 13% is forest. Saltwater intrusion into coastal aquifers is already occurring and will continue with rising seas. Reduced rainfall and increased temperature will decrease snow level, a vital water source. This will negatively impact Lebanon’s water supply, particularly during times of high demand.
The Global Carbon Atlas indicates that Lebanon is a medium-emitting country, with around 2.5 t CO2per person in 2020. The main contributor to greenhouse gas emissions is the energy sector (including transport), which produces 79% of Lebanon’s greenhouse gas emissions, followed by industrial processes (10%) and the waste sector (7%).
Lebanon is a Non-Annex I country under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),ratified in1994. Lebanon ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2006 and signed and ratified the Paris Agreement in 2016. The country has not yet accepted the Doha Amendment.
ii. Relevant government agencies
The Ministry of Environment oversees all climate change-related activities in Lebanon. The Ministry is responsible for coordinating, compiling, and submitting National Communications, Biennial Update Reports, and related greenhouse gas inventories. The National Council for the Environment, (NCE) chaired by the Ministry of Environment is responsible for providing environmental policy and planning. The Climate Change Coordination Unit (CCCU) is a technical advisory unit to the National Council. Lebanon’s UNFCCC focal point is in the Ministry of Environment, but there was no Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) focal point at the time of this review. The Ministry has several environment-related services and departments. The Service of Natural Resources mainly deals with ecosystem protection and the Service of Urban Environment focuses on environmental pollution control. The Ministry also releases publications and booklets to tackle climate change issues, such as A Citizen’s Guide to Climate Change (2002) and Protect the Ozone Layer (2003).
The Ministry of Energy and Water is responsible for water, electricity, oil, minerals, and mining. Specifically, environmental concerns such as climate change are projected to impact water resources negatively in managing the water sector. Consequently, the Ministry has a mission to achieve advanced climate change knowledge and its implications for the water sector through public awareness and education programs.
The Ministry of Agriculture also responds to climate change impacts through strategies and plans. The Agricultural Education and Extension Department provides educational activities for students 15 to 25 years old, for 10 to 60 days, on farming, planting, flower management, and animal production.
The Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation is the national energy agency for Lebanon. The Center is a not-for-profit organization within the Ministry of Energy and Water, with a financially and administratively independent status. The Center acts as the technical arm of the Lebanese government, specifically the Ministry of Energy and Water, in all issues related to energy efficiency and renewable energy.
The Lebanese Meteorological Department, under the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, collects meteorological, hydrological, and climatological data. It has a climatology division, which archives all measured data and ensures its continuity, analyzes saved data, and prepares climate-related reports.
Education and communication
The Ministry of Education and Higher Education is the lead ministry for formal education in Lebanon’s public and private sectors. It oversees pre-primary, primary, secondary, and higher education. The Ministry’s mission is to give environmental education an appropriate position in the curricula and academic applications.
The Center for Educational Research and Development (CERD) is linked directly to the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, conducting research and experiments in all educational organizations attached to the Ministry. The Center’s project entitled Education for Sustainable Development seeks to develop learning packages for each cycle of basic education with information, skills, and attitudes related to sustainable development. The Protecting Natural Resources project provides a set of educational and learning activities to students or groups of young people working together to build their skills and attitudes related to issues of preserving environmental resources, in a manner that serves sustainable development in its various dimensions.
The Ministry of Tourism is also aware of the impacts of climate change. The Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation Report (2011) indicates that higher temperatures and less precipitation might affect winter activities in high mountain areas by altering snow conditions. Climate change also affects the biodiversity of natural regions by increasing the risks of forest fires and changing plant, wildlife, and insect populations and their distribution, which may adversely impact nature-based tourism. In 2018, the Ministry of Tourism organized the National Stakeholder Workshop on Ecotourism, which explored ways to enhance equality of ecotourism services and institutional support and infrastructure and promote new marketing and communication strategies. The Ministry also publishes booklets, such as Experience Nature Reserves Differently (2020), highlighting the nature spots in Lebanon and how to preserve them, making reference to biodiversity.
The Lebanon Climate Act constitutes a space for businesses, municipalities, syndicates, hospitals, schools, universities, non-governmental organizations, and any other non-state actors with the ambition to act on climate change through concrete initiatives and multi-stakeholder approaches. Through this space, they can contribute sustainably and profitably to a strong and effective response to climate change. This is a platform for stakeholders to meet, not a legislative document.
iii. Relevant laws, policies, and plans
No major legislation directly addresses climate change action in Lebanon, nor is mainstreaming of climate change a legislative requirement. However, some regulations have addressed issues linked to climate change, and mainstreamed efforts by the Ministry of Environment have been successful in several key initiatives.
The Environmental Protection Law (law no. 444/2002) is Lebanon’s overarching legal instrument for environmental protection and management. This Law references climate change-related issues such as desertification, biodiversity, and greenhouse gas emissions. The Law revolves around 11 main environmental principles: precaution, prevention, polluter-pays principle, biodiversity conservation, prevention of natural resources degradation, public participation, cooperation between central government and local authorities and citizens, recognition of local mores and customs in rural areas, environmental monitoring, economic incentives to encourage compliance and pollution control, and environmental impact assessment.
The Minister of Environment’s decision 99/1 (April 2013) provides an incentive to the private sector (commercial, institutional, and industrial enterprises) to directly report their greenhouse gas emissions and related activity data to the Ministry. In exchange for their cooperation, reporting companies are awarded with a certificate signed by the Minister.
Law 78-2018 on the Protection of Air Quality includes references to climate change in general, but non related to climate change communication or education. The Law comprises 34 articles related to ambient air pollution, monitoring air pollutants, assessing pollutant levels in the Lebanese atmosphere, and prevention, control, and surveillance of the ambient air pollution resulting from human activities.
The National Action Programme to Mainstream Climate Change into Lebanon’s Development Agenda (2013–2014) was a pioneer program supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) that ended in 2015. The Programme aimed to support the Lebanese government in its efforts to move toward a low-carbon/low -emission economy. The Programme also provided a directive for national adaptation activities, leading to a coordinated national strategy for low-emission and climate-resilient development.
The National Biodiversity and Action Plan (2016) was developed by the Ministry of Environment. The Plan focuses, among other things, on climate change threats and impact on biodiversity, with the aim that “by 2030, vulnerable ecosystems to climate change are identified, and adaptation plans are developed and implemented” (p. 38).
The National Renewable Energy Plan 2016-2020 (2016) by the Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation committed to reaching a 12% share of renewable energy by 2020 and set individual targets for different renewable energy technologies needed to reach this target.
The Lebanon National Agriculture Strategy 2020-2025 (2020) developed by the Ministry of Environment does not refer to climate change communication and education. However, the Strategy comprises five strategic axes (pillars), structured in programmatic interventions. Pillar four, ‘Improving Climate Change Adaptation and Sustainable Management of Agrifood Systems and Natural Resources,’ calls for
increasing climate change adaptation and encouraging related private investment along the agrifood value chains; promoting sustainable use of natural resources (soil, pastures, forests, and fisheries); enhancing the efficient use of irrigation water and expand the supply of water resources for irrigation; encouraging and supporting the use of renewable energy in the agricultural sector. (p. 3)
The National Water Sector Strategy Update (2020) by the Ministry of Energy and Water tackles climate change issues, especially uncertainties in data on water availability and supply due to climate change. The Strategy emphasizes the need to refine climate change knowledge.
Lebanon’s 3rd National Communication (2016) reports that “the implementation of the proposed climate mitigation actions would require an integrated approach involving improved legislation and law enforcement, land use planning, education and awareness” (p. 101).
Education and communication
Although no Lebanese law, policy, or plan explicitly provides for implementation of climate change communication and education, Lebanon does focus on environmental education and education for sustainable development through the Environmental Protection Law (law no. 444/2002) (2002).
In 1994, Lebanon introduced an education plan that aimed to build an integrated educational system, based on a specific philosophy and objectives. In 2012, the Center for Educational Research and Development created the National Strategy for Environmental Education in Lebanon, in cooperation with the Association for Forests, Development and Conservation.
In 2002, the Ministry of Environment published A Citizen’s Guide to Climate Change. The 35-page publication, supported by the United Nations’ Development Program and the Global Environment Facility, aims to answer the questions “What is the climate system?” and “what is climate change?” (p. 2). The Guide explains how climate change works and why it is happening. In addition, is shows what the citizens of the Lebanon can do and how it affects the Lebanon in particular. It also explains the mechanism of international organizations, such as UNFCCC.
The National Educational Strategy in Lebanon (2006) is considered the national curriculum framework. The Strategy includes the visions and missions of education in Lebanon, based on equal opportunities, good quality, building a knowledge society, social integration, and economic development. The Strategy stresses that “curricula do not adequately cover global concerns and challenges such as natural disasters, pollution problems, and issues related to pollution” (p. 27). Schools and universities lack funding, product quality, and standards for environmental protection. However, the Strategy does not explicitly refer to climate change education.
The National Strategy for Women in Lebanon 2011-2021 tackled climate change in objective 9, ‘Enhancing the contribution of women to environmental protection,’ and objective 11, ‘Protecting girls and women in situations of emergency, armed conflict, war and natural disaster.’ The Strategy highlights the role of women in education of children for eco-friendly behaviors.
The Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age: Lebanon’s National Educational Technology Strategic Plan (2012), from the Strategic Planning Development Team of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, strongly emphasizes the need to shift toward greener design or environmentally sustainable design. This design technique systematically incorporates environmental considerations into the physical planning, construction, reconstruction, or renovation of buildings and interior spaces. Among other factors, green design includes accommodations for energy efficiency (for example, use of renewable energy sources such as wind, geothermal, and solar power; adoption of low-energy devices), and healthy indoor environments (for example, adequate ventilation, low ambient noise, natural lighting).
The Ministry of Education and Higher Education launched the education sector plan Reaching All Children with Education (RACE) with support from the international community. RACE I, launched in 2014, seeks to improve access to formal education for 460,000 Syrian refugee children and underprivileged children in Lebanon. RACE II (2017–2021), launched in 2016, seeks to build on RACE I, envisaging a more strategic approach to the education sector response on the premise of a stabilization and development agenda through key strategic shifts. Unfortunately, neither RACE I nor RACE II includes climate change communication and education.
The Teacher’s Guidebook on Climate Change for Schools in Lebanon (2015) was developed by the Ministry of Environment and the United Nations Development Program. The guide supports teachers in primary, middle, and secondary schools. Sea-level rise, ecosystem disruptions, extreme weather events, and water and food insecurities and shortages are the most pressing issues the Guidebook addresses.
The National Strategic Framework for Technical Vocational Education and Training in Lebanon 2018–2022, from the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, aims to promote a Technical Vocational Education and Training system that provides youth and workers with the competencies and skills required to access decent work and allows businesses to recruit the workforce they need for growth. The Framework requires that students be evaluated on skills they acquire in environmental protection. However, the Framework makes no other references to climate change communication and education.
iv. Terminology used for Climate Change Education and Communication
Most of Lebanon’s climate change-specific documents refer to environmental protection and preservation and sustainable development.
In education-specific materials, such as the National Education Strategic Directions for 2015 (2000) and Reaching All Children with Education RACE I and RACE II, references to climate change communication and education are absent. However, terms such as ‘environment,’ ‘sustainable development’, and ‘nature preservation’ are used in Science and Social Science subject materials.
The Teacher’s Guidebook on Climate Change for Schools in Lebanon (2015) states the purpose of climate change education:
to help build the values, understandings, skills and competencies which can enable young people to face climate change. Educating our students on climate change empowers them to become critical thinkers, informed decision-makers, active citizens and bold innovators who can lead our society to a more secure and sustainable future. (p. i)
The Environmental Protection Law (law no. 444/2002) made ‘environmental protection’ a key element. It asserted that “each person should contribute to protect the environment and report any danger that poses to it” (p. 3).
The National Biodiversity and Action Plan (2016) notes that climate change is among its priority areas and that “by 2030, vulnerable ecosystems to climate change are identified and adaptation plans are developed and implemented” (p.38). The Plan also uses ‘public awareness,’ following UNFCCC language. For example, “By 2030, 100% of school and university students and at least 60% of the public are aware of the importance of biodiversity, its values, and the need for its conservation and sustainable use.” (p. 38).
The updated Nationally Determined Contributions (2020) do use specific terms for climate change responses, such as ‘adaptation’ and ‘mitigation.’ To ensure public participation, the Contributions state that “it is therefore important to scale up the existing partnerships with non-state actors to enable their increased involvement in mitigation and adaptation actions, as well as climate advocacy.” (p. 3).
Lebanon’s 3rd National Communication (2016) refers to climate change communication in terms of ‘capacity building’ and ‘enhancing awareness, ’which are sometimes discussed in relation to ‘sustainable development and management. ’References to climate change education are absent. For example, the Communication says: “The government of Lebanon also recognized that the more sustainable its development path is, the easier it will be to build resilience to climate change impacts.” (p. 28).
Lebanon’s 3rd Biennial Update Report (2019) to the UNFCCC mentions that, as a way to achieve affordable and clean energy, investments in renewables generate modern and sustainable energy services that can increase energy security.
v. Budget for climate change education and communication
According to World Bank, Lebanon allocated 2.6% of its gross domestic product in 2019 to education. However, no information is publicly available on the specific national budget allocation for climate change communication and education.
The report on Economic Costs to Lebanon from Climate Change: A First Look (2015), developed by the Ministry of Environment, describes the potential economic costs that households, businesses, communities, and the Government of Lebanon might incur over the next several decades. If they and their counterparts around the world continue to behave in a business-as-usual manner, emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses would continue to grow at rates similar to those seen in recent years. However, the report does not include the budget allocated to climate change communication and education.
According to Lebanon’s 1st Biennial Update Report to the UNFCCC (2015), an estimated US$ 142 million has been invested in Lebanon for climate change-related activities, but only US$ 30 million has been spent on principal climate change projects. “Top donors include the European Union, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the [Global Environment Facility] (GEF) and most of the funding is directed to the government through specific ministries and governmental institutions” (p. xvi).
Lebanon’s 3rd Biennial Update Report (2019) states that from 2014 to 2015, support in the form of an estimated US$ 3 million in grants was channeled from Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries (France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway) to Lebanon for policy formulation, institutional organization, and education and awareness in forestry, energy, water supply, and sanitation. All these areas are directly and indirectly related to climate change.
Lebanon’s updated Nationally Determined Contributions (2020) mention that among the country’s climate action for sustainable development and a green economy is the development of plans and reform agendas to attract foreign investments and aid to put Lebanon on a long-term sustainable growth trajectory. Sources of plans and reform agendas include the CEDRE-CIP (Conference Economique pour le Développement par les Reformes avec les Entreprises – Capital Investment Program), the Lebanon Economic Vision, and the Government Financial Recovery Plan.
Other international donors for climate change projects in Lebanon include the World Bank, the European Union, the UNFCCC, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Global Environment Facility.
i. Climate change in pre-primary, primary, and secondary education
The education system in Lebanon is centralized, with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education regulating all educational institutes in the public sector. However, schools are not regulated directly. Regional education bureaus for each province monitor public schools and serve as liaisons between public schools and the directorates of education at the Ministry’s headquarters in Beirut.
Although climate change education is not always explicitly mentioned across laws and policies, many of them call for inclusion of environmental education, protection, and responsibility into formal education. Most prominently, the Environmental Protection Law (law no. 444/2002) (2002) calls for “promoting environmental education in the national education system” (p. 5374).
Environmentally related issues are included in many topics and activities with a strong focus on biodiversity. For example, the National Education and Civic Upbringing textbook for the 1st grade encourages “planting, animal caring, protecting public spaces and natural reserves” (p. 80). The Science Education textbook for 2nd grade includes an examination of plants and planting, how to protect private and public gardens, and the importance of biodiversity. Geography for the 6th grade touches on natural resources and water scarcity. Life and Earth Science for 10th grade looks more explicitly at air pollution, water treatment, and the agro-ecosystem. However, the National Educational Strategy in Lebanon (2006) does not refer to issues related to climate changes except pollution. A description of the types of climate change-related keywords discussed in the curricula may be found in the MECCE Project Monitoring section of this profile.
The Center for Educational Research and Development developed an environmental education curriculum for each of the first and second cycles of basic education and a knowledge guide that included concepts of environmental education and its techniques.
Beyond the curriculum, the General Directorate of Education provides primary school students across Lebanon with opportunities to engage in environmental learning through extracurricular activities. One example is the activity on public hygiene, school environment cleanliness, and waste management that was organized in 2019. This activity aims to educate students about the importance of a clean school environment, pollution, planting, and recycling. The Directorate also organizes visits to nature reserves to raise students’ environmental awareness. However, within this context, climate change terms are not referenced.
The Ministry of Education and Higher Education shared a call for applications by all secondary education school students to participate in the international environmental children’s drawing contest in Japan in April 2021. The competition aims to build students’ environmental awareness and encourage them to conceptualize and find solutions for environmental preservation. However, the Ministry does not mention climate change education in its mission, publications, or activities.
The Lebanese Organization for Green Schools came into existence in 2016 as a non-political, non-sectarian, independent and incorporated Lebanese non-governmental organization based in Beirut. Green Schools believes that school is the natural and ideal place to learn, raise environmental awareness, and build habits and citizenship values. The work undertaken uses a top-down approach, starting with training teachers, administrators, and staff on green practices. Training covers the major subjects of Languages, Mathematics, Sciences, and Humanities. Green Schools assists schools in establishing environment clubs to address some climate change-related issues, namely waste management, water, and pollution. They also conduct awareness sessions for students.
At the time of this report, 56 schools from the private and public sectors have become certified as Green Schools. This was achieved through the Green Schools Certification Program, which is led by e-EcoSolutions Sustainability Consultancy under the patronage of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and with the support of the Ministry of Environment in Lebanon and the Global Coalition for Green Schools – Lebanon Chapter. For schools to be accredited, they must score points based on a clear checklist of sustainability solutions within seven categories related to climate change issues: waste, green spaces, energy efficiency, water efficiency, health and safety, sustainability education, and innovation. The focus of this program is more on sustainability than on climate change.
In July 2020 the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon, through its Hima School (Children’s Education program), organized an educational day at Mount Lebanon Hima Centre for a group of boy scouts. They tailored an eco-educational day about the main environmental problems in Lebanon, with a focus on natural resources and solid waste management. The day’s schedule included a presentation about environmental issues such as climate change and bad solid waste management, two educational games, a craft that promotes the re-using concept for better solid waste management, and a guided hike to enjoy the nature of Kayfoun’s trail while the children played sensory games to build a stronger connection with nature.
According to a survey run by the Arab Foundation for Environment and Development (2019) “pollution, environmental health, nature and biological diversity” represent the most common topics in curricula in Arab countries. Other issues (including climate change) are being slowly incorporated over the last 20 years. The survey found that climate change was absent or not adequately discussed in 40% of the countries.
Significantly, neither the 3rd National Communication (2016) nor the updated Nationally Determined Contributions (2020) include climate change education in pre-primary, primary, or secondary education.
ii. Climate change in teacher training and teaching resources
While Lebanon offers some teaching support and resources on climate change-related issues, teacher training in climate change education is largely absent in Lebanon’s climate change policies and plans.
Lebanon’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2016) calls for National Action 12.4 for “further adopting and implementing the existing National Strategy for Environmental Education developed by Association for Forests, Development and Conservation and adopted by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. Implementation should be coupled with training and capacity building of school teachers.”(p. 49).
A Teacher’s Guidebook on Climate Change for Schools in Lebanon (2015) was developed by the Ministry of Environment to support teachers and educators in Lebanese schools, to help build the values, understandings, skills, and competencies that enable young people to face climate change. The Guidebook was developed to complement the existing academic curriculum and teaching subjects at primary, middle, and secondary levels in Lebanese schools. The Guidebook was designed to meet diverse educational approaches, strategies, and themes to guide teachers and educators in multiple disciplines. It covers themes and lesson plans such as Lebanon’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions, impact of climate change on people, adaptation, and mitigation strategies. The learning dimension most prevalent in this Guidebook is cognitive, based mainly on knowledge sharing and learning. It also guides teachers to use group work pedagogy with students in some activities.
Foundation Diane’s Chair in Education for Eco-Citizenship and Sustainable Development aims to be an interdisciplinary platform dedicated to environmental issues, with an integrative approach. As a place for reflection and training and a cornerstone of synergy for initiatives to shape the future, the Chair is dedicated to improving knowledge of socio-ecological issues. For example, as part of this project, the Chair provided teacher training for 30 public schools on the Lebanon Mountain Trail around eco-citizenship problems and sustainable development. However, the platform mentions nothing specifically about climate change education.
The Center for Lebanese Studies conducted a study in 2013 on the process and impact of implementing a whole-school approach to active and skills-based citizenship education. This involved a series of interventions, including providing professional development for teachers, reshaping school culture, and providing opportunities for more inclusive and active student engagement. The study was conducted in four secondary schools. However, the study did not include climate change education.
iii. Climate change in higher education
The Higher Education System in Lebanon National Report (2019) provides the roadmap for higher education in terms of degrees awarded, access and admission requirements, organization of the academic year, and accreditation and quality assurance. However, the report mentions neither climate change education nor environmental issues.
The Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut is active in climate research through its Climate Change and Environment Program (2008). The program’s strategic objective is to generate and influence policy related to climate change and environmental issues in Lebanon, the Middle East, and the North Africa region in a multidisciplinary approach. The program focuses on four main areas and their inter-linkages: climate change adaptation policy, climate change and security, climate change and vulnerability, and resilience building in urban settings.
The Beirut Arab University created the Research Center for Environment and Development in 2010 to provide research facilities for students enrolled in Master’s and PhD programs in environmental science. The Research Center aims to understand environmental threats and challenges. It strives for a leadership role in sustainable development through ecosystem approaches to protect the environment, conserve biodiversity, and improve community livelihood by sustainable use of natural resources. The Research Center publishes annual reports on activities undertaken. The 2018-2019 Report, for example, highlighted the activity ‘Plant conservation: a Rescue against Climate Change.’ In this activity, participants (students, faculty, staff members) discussed and shared the benefits of ecological and ethical principles of plant biodiversity conservation against threats, including deforestation, urbanization, and other climate change risks.
The Lebanese American University developed a Minor in Climate Change and Sustainability Policy, as a result of a funded project through a consortium agreement on implementation of the Tempus project. This minor curriculum is designed to provide undergraduate students from different majors with knowledge on climate change and to enrich their major field of study with professional skills in climate change adaptation policies and planning.
The University of Balamand provides Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs in environmental studies. Students are trained to understand the scientific basis of environmental crises and the social, economic, and political factors that affect ecological problems and solutions.
In 2021, the Islamic University of Lebanon organized a webinar on Climate Action in the Construction and Building Industry, in which experts on climate change, green urban planning, and construction materials discussed with university students the importance of addressing climate change and highlighted the role of climate-responsive policy frameworks at the national and city levels.
The Notre Dame University Louaze provides a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science, with learning outcomes related to respect and care for the environment through cultivating high moral and ethical standards and playing an active role in the community.
Several sustainable practice initiatives have been launched at the Saint Joseph University of Beirut to implement climate action plans. These practices focus on energy saving and greenhouse gas reduction by purchasing bicycles and making them available to students to travel between locations while reducing CO2 emissions for every kilometer traveled. The university has also equipped its campus with sorting bins as a waste management strategy (clean paper and cardboard, clean metals and glass, organic waste, and non-recyclable waste).
Lebanon’s 3rdNational Communication (2016) calls for developing research capacity and identifying in-depth research priorities on the impact of climate change on different sectors, mainly agriculture.
Lebanon’s updated Nationally Determined Contributions (2020) highlighted climate action enablers that are crucial to achieving the goals set in the Contributions. Climate action enabler#4, ‘Innovative Research and Development,’ aims to reduce carbon intensity through stimulating research, partnering with academic bodies to provide needed readiness for transformational change, and encouraging innovative labs.
iv. Climate change in training and adult learning
Lebanon’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2016) highlights key areas for capacity building, including continuous training of Department of Ecosystems staff in the Ministry of Environment. The training focuses on biodiversity conservation and management, how to perform studies on the economic valuation of biodiversity and ecosystems services, and how to build the capacity of municipalities to ensure and promote biodiversity conservation at a local level.
A report on Engaging the Private Sector to Enhance Climate Action in Lebanon (2019), developed by the Lebanon Climate Act (2016), stresses the importance of organizing events in the form of Business Knowledge Platforms, to raise awareness and build capacity. The report mentions that five Platforms involving almost 40 companies have been organized to date. Initial sessions focused on building the interest of private players by making them aware of the impact of climate change. Sessions also seek participants’ input to devise an assistive training manual for scaling up the initiative to other companies.
The Economic Costs to Lebanon from Climate Change: A First Look (2015) report developed by the Ministry of Environment highlighted some adaptive approaches to reduce the costs that climate change will impose, including promoting education and training programs with sections on risk management, strengthening human capital through building resilience skills, and improving individual skills for responding to climate-related stresses.
In 2020, Climate Tracker, an international non-profit organization, invited applications for a journalism workshop about climate change and renewable energy. Submissions were open to journalists from Lebanon, and four participants received grants to produce an article on the issue of climate change. However, the winning articles were not available online at the time of this review.
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon created the Homat Al Hima (defenders of the homeland) in 2014, a community-based approach to conserve sites, species, and habitats, mobilizing people to achieve the sustainable use of natural resources. Homat Al Hima supports the leadership of youth by training them in building capacity related to sustainable development and empowering their ability to make decisions on management of Himas (protected areas). For example, Homat Al Hima provided training in 2020 for 15 young people from different Lebanese villages on themes such as responsible hunting, sustainable agriculture, sustainable harvesting and grazing, sustainable water management, bird diversity, monitoring, and animal and plant diversity.
The Foundation Diane has a project within the framework of eco-sustainability called The Switchers Support Programme, which provides coaching activities for 40 green entrepreneurs to develop green business models from their ideas. The project also provides technical and business training modules for 20 entrepreneurs in the water, sanitation, and waste sectors. It connects green start-ups to potential investors and gathers 8 top-tier entrepreneurs, 10 investors, and 100 attendees. The project also offers workshops and debates for nearly 50 entrepreneurs on the challenges of green businesses in Lebanon. However, climate change is not referenced.
In Lebanon’s 3rd National Communication (2016), among the recommended actions and options for improvement of waste and waste management is “to organize capacity building campaigns and workshops for capacity development at both the national and the municipal level in the various technical and administrative sectors” (p. 111). The Communication also reports that the technical needs for enhanced compliance with United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change requirements include “conduct[ing] training for relevant institutions involved in planning, preparation, and analysis of greenhouse gas inventory” (p. 160).
i. Climate change and public awareness
Lebanon’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2016) reports that
education and public awareness are considered to be priority areas, given that all the threats to biodiversity could result from people’s lack of awareness and knowledge. People will develop a sense of responsibility once they learn the importance of biodiversity and ecosystem services and their influence on their well-being. (p. 49)
The guidebook How to Create Value from Climate Change (2017), intended for businesses in Lebanon, is a concrete outcome of the first year of the Lebanon Climate Act (2016). The guidebook, which is disseminated online, is designed to assist companies in kick starting their corporate climate action process, highlighting the importance of creating awareness for future climate champions, primarily through education. This guidebook was produced with the support of the ClimaSouth project, which supports climate change mitigation and adaptation in nine South Mediterranean countries: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, and Tunisia. The project was initiated in 2013 and implemented over 48 months with a total budget of more than US$ 5 million provided by the European Union.
The Society for the Protection of Nature of Lebanon is one of Lebanon’s oldest environmental civil society organizations. The Society has long experience in conducting and publishing scientific research focusing on birds and biodiversity (such as Monitoring of Biodiversity Indicators in the West Beqaa Landscape), creating children’s education and adult awareness programs, building capacity for conservation, delivering policy advocacy campaigns, and enabling community involvement in nature conservation. For example, the Connecting Children to Nature program is an initiative that contains a complete extracurricular education program with a clear framework and an eco-friendly vision, targeting children between 8 and 13 years old to build a greener future. This environmental education curriculum was developed to spread awareness, deliver environmental education and ecological knowledge, and promote eco-friendly behaviors while highlighting nature’s values.
The Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation, affiliated with the Ministry of Energy and Water, launched a project in 2019 named Energy Smart Mediterranean Schools Network. This project is part of the European Neighborhood Instrument Cross-Border-Cooperation Med Program. The project focuses on optimization of energy consumption in public schools through innovative, monitoring-based renewable energy and energy efficiency pilot actions. The project objectives are to increase civil society awareness and improve energy habits through cross-border engagement of students in the sustainable use of energy resources. It aims to reduce energy consumption in public school buildings by introducing cost-effective renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions tailored to buildings’ energy loads, type and use, and climatic zone.
The Lebanon Reforestation Initiative, a non-governmental organization funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the World Food Programme, aims to manage, expand, and protect Lebanon’s forests and landscapes through a community-based approach. The initiative builds communities resilient to environmental threats, increasing environmental awareness and education. The initiative offers programs that include Integrated Landscape Management; Climate Change Resilience; Environmental Education, Awareness, and Capacity Development; Environmental Advocacy and Lobbying; and Research and Development. For example, the Environmental Education, Awareness, and Capacity Development program aims to increase public knowledge to create a sense of responsibility. Their goal is to positively affect people’s attitudes and behaviors toward the forests specifically, and the environment more generally, through reforestation. The initiative also works with private sector companies to engage their employees and families in forestry days that serve the dual purpose of team building and engagement. The initiative organizes national public awareness campaigns twice per year to raise awareness on specific environmental and social topics.
ii. Climate change and public access to information
Law 28/2017 on the Right to Access Information tackles the right to access government-related information without an intermediary. It grants any person or entity the right to access administrative information and documents held by any government and municipal authority. Climate change information is available on the website of the Ministry of Environment.
Lebanon’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2016) introduces a communication and outreach plan. Improving public access to knowledge through sharing and clear data communication is integral to the Action Plan, but no mechanisms are included.
A Citizen’s Guide to Climate Change (2002) provides information on the causes of climate change and how it will affect the Lebanon as well as the rest of the world. It provides easy to understand information and helps citizens to see why climate change might be relevant to them and how they can act.
The Ministry of Environment hosts on its website Information and Environmental Guidance as well as statistical information. The website provides information on the ozone layer, waste management, and climate change in particular.
The Management and Information System for Climate Action interface is a platform developed with the support of the Ministry of Environment and the EU-ClimaSouth project to track progress on emissions and mitigation. A pilot phase includes an energy sector inventory and mitigation, because energy is the highest-emitting sector in Lebanon. Through this platform, Lebanese institutions will inform decision making on climate change and sustainable development and enhance reporting to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
The country’s 4th Biennial Update Report(2021) claims that through the Capacity Building for Improved Transparency project, Lebanon envisions establishing a Measurement, Reporting, and Verification Coordinating Entity (MRVCE). A network of partners would enhance the role and engagement of ministries and agencies in both preparing a greenhouse gas inventory and in collecting data and information for other sections of the Biennial Update Report.
Lebanon’s 3rd National Communication (2016) stresses the importance of regularly accessing information and collecting data. The Communication highlights certain financial and human resources limitations, saying that “due to the current institutional limitations of the Ministry of Environment, joining efforts with other ministries and benefiting from existing established reporting mechanisms become a necessity to guarantee the sustainability of Measuring, Reporting and Verifying arrangements.” (p. 26).
iii. Climate change and public participation
The Environmental Protection Law (law no. 444/2002) incorporates several environmental principles, including public participation to protect the environment based on cooperation between local authorities and citizens. Namely, it has the following three principles relevant for climate change communication and education:
- Public participation (free access to information and disclosure)
- Cooperation between central government, local authorities, and citizens
- Recognition of local mores and customs in rural areas (3rd National Communication (2016, p. 2)
The National Renewable Energy Action Plan for Lebanon 2016-2020 (2016) calls for “introducing permitting schemes for Renewable Energy technologies and setting platforms for fruitful collaboration between governmental entities, and with the private sector to reach national objectives” (p. 138).
How to Create Value from Climate Change: A Guide for Your Company (2017), developed under the Lebanon Climate Act, encourages businesses to participate in climate change reduction initiatives. The Guidebook calls for building strong partnerships based on the participation in climate change reduction initiatives of all stakeholders: policy institutions, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and civil society.
i. Country monitoring
Monitoring of climate change communication and education is not assigned to any specific ministry or agency in Lebanon. Lebanon’s 4th Biennial Update Report (2021) reports that currently no single entity is responsible for tracking and reporting on climate change projects and related expenditures. Information related to a project’s aims or outputs is in many cases only available through its title. This hinders identifying the specific project activities that are related to climate adaptation or mitigation and their nature.
The Ministry of Environment developed an online information system named Monitoring Information System of Climate Action (MISCA; n.d.) to facilitate the exchange of data between ministries and track the progress of implementation of Lebanon’s updated Nationally Determined Contributions (2020). The system targets the energy sector as a priority sector for the first phase to enhance data sharing between the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Energy and Water and to improve the preparation of the energy sector’s greenhouse gas emissions inventory and mitigation action reporting. The system is also designed to help ministries track progress and automatically calculate resulting CO2 reductions. However, no indicators were available at the time of this review.
The Central Administration of Statistics is a public administration within the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. Its mission is to collect, process, produce, and disseminate social and economic statistics at the national level and to provide all users with evidence-based information for decision making. The Administration publishes statistical reports, including those related to the environment. For example, the National Statistical Compendium on Environment Statistics in Lebanon (2006) addressed the environmental status and future projections, but did not include climate change monitoring and evaluation statistics.
The Environmental Resource Monitoring in Lebanon project (2011–2013) of the Ministry of Environment aimed to improve environmental monitoring in Lebanon in key sectors—coastal and marine resources and urban air quality—by implementing appropriate management programs and providing policy guidance.
The PISA 2015 National Report (2018), developed by the Center for Educational Research and Development, describes national and international testing in which Lebanon participated. The PISA assessment in 2015 focused on science literacy in primary and secondary schools. Science literacy was defined as the ability to engage with science-related issues, and with the ideas of science, as a reflective citizen, including topics related to climate change. Lebanon also participated in PISA 2018, which focused on global competency and student’s ability to interact with the wider world around them. Lebanon was among the countries with the largest discrepancy in climate change knowledge between students from different socio-economic backgrounds. National climate change communication and education assessments were not found by this review.
Lebanon’s Voluntary National Review of Sustainable Development Goals (2018) provides an overview of the current conditions related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It provides a baseline for the long-term process to fulfill Agenda 2030. The review describes the climate change context in Lebanon, but does not mention monitoring climate change.
Lebanon’s updated Nationally Determined Contributions (2020) call for more transparency and better monitoring of the country’s climate goals. Specifically, the document states:
Clarity and effectiveness of action can only be guaranteed through a robust monitoring and transparency framework, tackling climate and sustainable development action, as well as support. In order to enhance the impacts of policymaking, and to successfully participate in tracking the global progress of the climate fight, a transparency framework will be established to improve institutional arrangements, data availability and periodicity, as well as monitoring and evaluation of mitigation and adaptation projects. (p. 4)
ii. MECCE Project Monitoring
The Monitoring and Evaluating Climate Communication and Education (MECCE) Project examined Reaching all Children with Education RACE II (2017-2021), the National Educational Strategy in Lebanon (2006) for references to ‘climate change,’ ‘environment,’ ‘sustainability,’ and ‘biodiversity.’
The National Educational Strategy functions as Lebanon’s national curriculum framework. The strategy includes two instances of environmental,’ but do not explicitly reference ‘climate change,’ ‘sustainability,’ or biodiversity.’
Reaching All Children with Education RACE II, Lebanon’s education sector plan, does not mention climate change or reference the natural environment or biodiversity. Sustainability is mentioned once.
This section will be updated as the MECCE Project develops.