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Environmental Crime Legal Framework In Lebanon

Although environmental issues have not yet been given the prominence they deserve in Lebanon, a collection of laws, decrees and ministerial decisions govern environmental management in Lebanon. What is needed is increased financial support to achieve goals in the environmental space, integrating conservation and sustainable development in the country’s national budgets. Specifically, investment is needed to address air pollution, solid waste and wastewater management, natural resource protection, and more.

Featured Legislation

1996: The Ministry of the Environment introduced Decision 52/1, covering the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Lebanon.

1997: The Decision of the Minister of Agriculture no. 1/385 was issued, stating that fishing activities are prohibited in all estuaries all year round. The protected area involved extends over 500 m on each side of the estuary, 500 m inside the river and two kilometres seawards. All human activities are banned except for those of scientists and the Coast Guard.

1999: The Decision of the Minister of Agriculture no. 125/1 banned the fishing of marine turtles, monk seals and whales as well as selling, use or trade of any derivatives from the men- tioned species.

2001: The Ministry of the Environment issued Decision 8/1 to address stack emissions and effluent discharge.

2002: Law no. 444/02 (Code of Environment) was created, outlining the protection, conservation and management of nature and biodiversity.

2004: Law no. 508/04 (hunting law) was drafted, regulating and controlling hunting in terms of season, type of protected birds forbidden for hunting, amount and type of game birds along with a permit system based on hunting testing.

2012: Decree no. 8213 was adopted, guiding the “Strategic Environmental Assessment for Proposed Policies and Plans and Programs in the Public Sector” or SEA decree.

2012: Decree no. 8633 was established, informing the “Fundamentals of Environmental Impact Assessment” or EIA decree. According to this decree, all major development, infrastructure and industrial projects are subject to EIA or IEE studies including their effects on biodiversity, in order to promote conservation activities and prevent the damage of the surrounding environment by these projects before receiving approval.

2013: The Ministry of the Environment launched its first phase of the Air Quality Monitoring Network (AQMN), providing real time air quality monitoring through five urban background air quality monitoring stations.

2015: The Lebanese National Forest Program was unveiled. It consists of eight Chapters, is a plan of actions that defines the government’s role in the forestry sector and ensures the coordination and cooperation mechanisms among all public and private sectors. The  present program represents the outcome of an intensive participatory process. Its content was built over different sectors taking into account the various priorities and interests. It draws on a long-term vision and mission as well as a set of the guiding principles tapping on international strategic goals in relation to forest and rangeland management and conservation, community participation exercises, and existing national policies and strategies. Based on the threats, pressure and priority actions to ensure the successful development of the forestry sector, the vision and mission were developed in close partnership with all stakeholders involved in the formulation of the NFP. These were finalized based on researchers and practitioners' insights. Its vision aims at sustainably managing forest resources, safeguarding ecological integrity, economic development and social prosperity for the benefit of present and future generations. Its mission is to ensure the restoration, development and resiliency of forest ecosystems, aiming at enhanced economic growth, poverty alleviation, and biodiversity conservation, while supporting innovative participatory approaches to heighten the well-being of Lebanese citizens.

2018: Law 78 (On the Protection of the Environment) was passed. The law comprises 34 articles related to air pollution, monitoring air pollutants, assessment of their levels in the atmosphere, prevention,  control and surveillance of the ambient air pollution resulting from human activities.

2020: The National Agriculture Strategy was tabled. It is a nationwide sectoral document aiming at developing the agri-food sector as well as achieving sustainable development, to respond to the challenges of the critical period faced by Lebanon due to the economic and financial crisis as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. The NAS's long-term vision is to make the agri-food sector a critical contributor to the achievement of food security and a key driver of resilience and transformation of the Lebanese economy into a productive economy. This can be achieved by following a twin-tracked approach that aims, on one side, at restoring the livelihoods and productive capacities of the farmers, producers, and all actors in the agri-food value chain, and, on the other side, at increasing the production and productivity to make agriculture a more profitable sector that contributes to reducing the import bill and enhancing the efficiency of the value chains and their competitiveness to increase agricultural exports, as well as ensuring sustainable management of natural resources and increasing the use of renewable energy to mitigate the impact of climate change. In order to pursue the NAS overall objective of transforming the Lebanese agri-food system making it more resilient, inclusive, competitive, and sustainable, the interventions are clustered around the following five pillars (1) restore the livelihoods and productive capacities of farmers and producers; (2) increase agricultural production and productivity; (3) enhance efficiency and competitiveness of agri-food value chains; (4) improve climate change adaptation, and sustainable management of agri-food systems and natural resources; and (5) strengthen the enabling institutional environment.

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

In 2019, The Minister of Interior and Municipalities Raya El Hassan expressed concern over the uptick in environmental crimes in Lebanon. Challenging clientelism and political patronage, Hassan argued that the Ministry of Interior has no authority to permit the operation of quarries. This authority is in the hands of the National Council for Quarries and Crushers and the Ministry of Environment and safeguards are needed to limit the construction of quarries to certain geographical areas that are generally distant from populated areas and groundwater, as well as impose certain procedures for digging, extracting rock, operating sand quarries, and rehabilitating the sites. Today, Administrative corruption has been identified in the upper echelons of government, exploiting influence to grant benefits to supporters or clients in contravention of the law. Such construction projects generate tremendous profits for those involved and Hassan is convinced that financial corruption is at play in the operation of illegal quarries via  monetary bribes or so-called “political money”. At present, there are approximately 150 operating quarries in Lebanon – one site for every 69 square kilometres. Companies undermining the environmental caveats and safeguards stipulated by law are protected by political forces and the very financial corruption Hassan  is trying to eliminate. This is a human security issue, Hassan argues, as most quarries located in the Koura region erode all components of the environment – from the water to the air, to the soil to the landscape, destroying production sectors. There are increases in the rate of lung disease and cancers that cause deaths, all without any accountability. Hassan’s first order of business is to shut down these quarries. This will be followed by ensuring accountability against former minister Nohad Machnouk, who permitted these quarries to continue operation, despite the ecological toll they are taking Lebanese soil.

References and Further Reading


Ministry of Environment: climatechange@moe.gov.lb