Beirut, May 18, 2022 – A new US$10 million grant will help Lebanon mitigate the environmental and health impacts of the Port of Beirut explosion on neighboring population and support the development of a strategic plan for greening Beirut’s reconstruction.
The Beirut Critical Environment Recovery, Restoration and Waste Management Program, signed today between the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in the presence of HE Minister of Environment Nasser Yassine, is financed by the Lebanon Financing Facility (LFF), a multi-donor trust fund established in December 2020 following the launch of the Reform, Recovery and Reconstruction Framework (3RF) to pool grant resources and coordinate financing in support of the immediate socio-economic recovery of vulnerable people and businesses impacted by the Port of Beirut explosion on August 4, 2020.
According to the Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment prepared in response to the explosion, physical damages to the environment sector were assessed at US$20 to 25 million and recovery and reconstruction needs were estimated at US$75 to 100 million. The explosion caused severe environmental impacts from resulting huge quantities of waste streams, including hazardous and electronic waste and debris. It also caused significant damage to municipal solid waste management infrastructure; pollution of the marine ecosystem around the explosion site; loss of green cover/vegetation in Beirut City; and short term increase in dust levels (particulate matter) containing asbestos, during demolition, rehabilitation, and reconstruction of damaged buildings. The presence of hazardous waste material in various waste streams poses a direct and immediate threat to the population and the environment in Beirut.
“We are launching today the fourth LFF financed project, after three other projects that address the recovery needs of micro- and small-enterprises, the social recovery needs of affected population groups and housing reconstruction and rehabilitation of cultural and creative industries in damaged neighborhoods in the city,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank Mashreq Regional Director. “This project will implement environment recovery activities in the city of Beirut to mitigate risks of a solid waste crisis and other environmental impacts which resulted from the Port of Beirut explosion. The project will also strengthen the basis for environmental governance in Lebanon more broadly.”
The Beirut Critical Environment Recovery, Restoration and Waste Management Program will help manage and dispose of asbestos-contaminated demolition waste generated from the damaged buildings, rehabilitate damaged solid waste infrastructure and provide technical assistance for their sustainable operation. The project will rehabilitate two damaged solid waste treatment facilities – the Karantina solid waste sorting facility and Coral composting facility. It will also support the improvement of the overall waste management system in Beirut through the implementation of demonstration pilots on integrated solid wate management, including the sorting, collection, transportation and disposal of solid waste, in selected areas impacted by the explosion. Local communities will be engaged in the selection of these pilots, the design of treatement approaches and the evaluation of their performance.
Building on its technical expertise in the environmental and waste management sector, strong local presence, and environment project implementation experience, the project will be implemented by UNDP, in close coordination with the Ministry of Environment as well as relevant ministries and other stakehodlers.
“Addressing the impacts of the port explosion on the environment and people’s health is of the utmost importance,” said Melanie Hauenstein, UNDP Resident Representative. “The needs in this sector are growing more and more urgent every day, especially on solid waste management and other environmental issues. Our partnership with the World Bank ensures timely action for a sustainable environmental recovery for all of Beirut and beyond. Our approach puts the people of Lebanon at the center, to mitigate the impact of waste, pollution and environmental changes on people’s health and well-being.”
The project will adopt the principles of “Build Back Better, Greener, and Smarter” as identified in the 3RF and will employ elements of fit for purpose, right siting, climate change adaptation, climate smart practices, and greening of project investments. This will be done through the development of a strategic framework for greening Beirut’s reconstruction based on a consultative approach with stakeholders and technical assistance and laboratory analysis for adopting an evidence-based methodology for future environmental action.
The project will also prioritize citizen engagement activities through meaningful consultation and feedback mechanisms, participatory mechanisms, citizen-led mechanisms, and the potential for creation of green jobs, given that the waste sector is labor intensive. A Grievance Redress Mechanism will be set up to help close the feedback loop on citizens’ concerns and questions about project activities and ensure transparency.
About the Lebanon Financing Facility (LFF)
Established in December 2020 in the aftermath of the August 4 Port of Beirut explosion disaster and following the launch of the Reform, Recovery and Reconstruction Framework (3RF), the LFF is a 5 year multi-donor trust fund that will pool grant resources and strengthen the coherence and coordination of financing in support of the immediate socio-economic recovery of vulnerable people and businesses impacted by the explosion. To date, the LFF has received contributions and pledges from the governments of Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, and Norway and from the EU. Subject to the commitment of all Lebanese stakeholders to critical reforms, the LFF will build the foundation for medium-term recovery and the sustainable reconstruction of the Port of Beirut and affected neighborhoods. The LFF prioritizes three focus areas of interventions: 1) Socioeconomic and business recovery; 2) Preparing for reform and reconstruction; and 3) Strengthening coordination, monitoring, accountability and oversight of the 3RF. The LFF will benefit from the World Bank’s high fiduciary standards, through the application of its fiduciary framework for financial management, procurement, and environmental and social safeguards. The LLF will also ensure that programs promote gender equality and community engagement that target women, youth and vulnerable populations. Generous pledges and contributions to date from the governments of Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway and from the EU have totaled US$73.57 million.
Zeina El Khalil