The SDG 2030 Agenda represents an opportunity for Lebanon to rally efforts around a common set of globally defined goals and targets for sustainable development. However, success in this regard, even in partial form, will depend on early mobilization and catalyzing the necessary awareness, capacity building and partnerships among business, government, academia, and civil society actors in pursuit of sustainable development. It will also depend on an organizing focal point that integrates the efforts of all stakeholders.
The SDG Council will consist of SDG Council members, an SDG Advisory board, and SDG working groups/clusters. It will work closely with the Global Compact Network Lebanon, consisting of more than 120 private and civil society organizations today and that are committed to Sustainable Development in their organizations working with national and international experts.
The SDG Council will mobilize the private, civil society, government, and academic stakeholders through partnerships and innovations in order to make progress towards Sustainable Development in Lebanon.
The SDG Council aims at accelerating the pace of the adoption and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Lebanon. An integrated Center covering all aspects of the SDGs, the Council will serve as a vital link between the private sector, civil society, and the public and as an important focal point for capacity building, advocacy and coordination around the SDGs.
The SDG Council will be the foremost resource to turn to when looking for information on the SDGs in Lebanon. In addition to conducting research and mapping all initiatives that are taking place in the country in relation to the SDGs, the Council will also build awareness and capacity in mobilizing action towards the SDGs in Lebanon and in ensuring successful reporting.
The vision revolves around the establishment of an SDG Council at the American University of Beirut (AUB). The Council will provide the technical support, advice and expertise to national governments, private sector organizations and civil society around the 2030 Agenda and serve as an important focal point for capacity building, advocacy and coordination around the SDGs.
- Bring together private and public sector actors to create awareness, training, capacity building programs and partnerships for the SDGs
- Provide technical support, advice and expertise in relation to the SDGs that is relevant to national governments, private sector and civil society organizations
- Set realistic metrics, monitoring and evaluation techniques and put programs in action in specific ministries, leveraging the power of expertise and partnerships
- Mobilize and support inter-sector partnerships and innovations for successful progress and reporting on the 2030 Agenda
- Coordinate with UN agencies and Global Compact Networks worldwide in order to benefit from their experience and to get scholarly and expert support
In September 2015, all 193 Member States of the United Nations, including Lebanon, adopted a plan for achieving a better future for all – laying out a path over the next 15 years to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and protect our planet. At the heart of the “2030 Agenda” are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which clearly define the world we want – applying to all nations and leaving no one behind.
“The SDGs are a set of universally applicable goals that balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: environmental, social, and economic.”
The Case of Lebanon
Lebanon is recognized as an upper middle-income economy and one of the wealthiest economies in the South Mediterranean region with a GDP per capita exceeding $11,000 in 2015. However, Lebanon continues to face serious challenges in translating its relative financial wealth as a high Middle Income Country, into broad-based, socio-economic progress for its people, with significant regional disparities and pockets of extreme poverty remaining. We need to make concrete progress, particularly in relation to the people and planet segments of the SDGs as outlined below. We need to organize in order to achieve breakthroughs on poverty, quality education, gender equality, decent work and economic growth, and protecting the environment as outlined below.
In Lebanon, an estimated 27 % of the population live below the poverty line. Regional disparities in poverty are also very significant, with the highest poverty rates recorded in the North and the Bekaa. According to the Ministry of Social Affairs, and other private and civil actors and academic experts, the SDG Center will gather the needed reporting statistics and identify programs and actions to help the poorest and most vulnerable in Lebanon and lift them out of poverty.
In 2014, the adult literacy rate for Lebanon was 89%. Enrollment in secondary education stood at 72.3 % for males and 80.2 % for females. Compared to other countries, students’ achievement levels in Lebanon are relatively low.
Moreover, in 2012, Lebanon’s dropout rate reached 6.7% in the primary education level and 17.3% in intermediate education level. This shows that the dropout phenomenon is a serious challenge for Lebanon and the country’s educational system.
As such, the SDG Center will partner with the Ministry of Education and national and international experts to devise successful innovations and interventions that can improve the quality of education, particularly in public schools across Lebanon.
Discrimination against women in many aspects of public life remains a significant impediment to social and economic development. Women’s share of paid employment is far below men’s where only 23.5% of women are part of the labour market, whereas the proportion of men is 70.3%. Women’s political participation is also significantly low where women hold a mere 3% of national parliamentary seats. Working with the Ministry of Women Affairs, and other private and civil actors and academic experts, the SDG Center will gather the needed reporting statistics and identify programs and actions, to further integrate women as active partners in socio-economic development.
In the face of regional instability, Lebanon’s economy has struggled in recent years and growth rates have dropped, with the youth unemployment rate estimated at 21.6%. The Lebanese economy has been unable to generate sufficient jobs even in periods of growth, thus leading to high unemployment rates, especially for women and youth. This has also resulted in a significant braindrain and emigration of educated youth out of Lebanon.
By working with the Ministry of Labor, and key experts and researchers in this space from across AUB and Lebanon, the SDG Center will strive to promote economic growth through fostering innovative ideas that nurture social entrepreneurship and integration of Lebanese youth in productive and fruitful jobs.
Lebanon is faced with a wide range of inequalities spanning income, consumption as well as social – mainly between Beirut and rural areas. In fact, wealth inequality in Lebanon is one of the highest in the world with the richest 20% in Lebanon accounting for 40% of all consumption, five times more than the poorest 20%. These disparities are a call to action that require the adoption of sound policies to empower the bottom percentile of income earners and promote economic inclusion of all regardless of sex, race or ethnicity.
Lebanon’s coastal area is one of its most valuable assets with around 240 kilometers of coastline. However, today the lack of protection is negatively affecting these ecosystems as well as the species living in them. Around 30% of all fish caught off the coast of Lebanon had plastic in their stomach.
In 2010, 65% of total sewage in Lebanon ended up in coastal waters, threatening the sustainability of coastal and marine ecosystems.
The SDG Center has a big responsibility of protecting the national treasure of marine and coastal ecosystems and it will seek to do so by collaborating with the Ministry of the Environment in addition to key researchers and experts and the private sector to create effective management policies and monitoring programs.
It is now clearer than ever that the SDGs address issues that are highly relevant to Lebanon and its residents, including goals on equality, economic growth, governance and the environment. They are an opportunity for the country to develop an ambitious and shared vision of Lebanon fifteen years from now, The Lebanon We Want.