Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. When discussing the environment with other Lebanese one of the remarks I often hear is that it takes too much  money and effort to build functional infrastructure that caters to these needs. These remarks aren’t naive; it does cost money to build environmentally-friendly infrastructure and services. However, the assumption made is that environmental negiligence comes at no economic loss. It does. And a very large one at that.

According to a 2008 World Bank study, Lebanon loses an estimated at 565 million dollars a year in Lebanon because of environmental damage. That is a staggering amount of money to lose ANNUALLY…by not doing anything. Let’s look at how we are losing money by not taking care of our environment.

Much of our environmental problems (and the resulting financial loss) are due to failed government strategies to meet the challenges of providing us with solid, eco-friendly services. Indeed, 84% of solid waste ends up in municipal landfills, goes into the sea, or ends up as open trash. Wastewater treatment is also a major problem. Lebanon has 28 treatment plants with a capacity of 360 million cubic meters a year. However, only 66% of the population was connected to a sewage system in 2007. Moreover, some of these wastewater treatment plants only very recently became functional, while others are still yet not operational.  Outside of this, we have poor water resources management, poor urban planning, poor supervision of the use of our natural resources, a lack of investment in our environment, and more. There is a lack of enforced legislative and institutional reforms that take care of our environment. 

My fellow Lebanese, we need to push for stronger, more effective environmental policies. Think about it: as it is, we get sick because of environmental factors, lose money, and do not get to enjoy our once-beautiful country. For those who think that it is too expensive to repair these systems…think about how expensive it is not to!! The monetary cost alone is 565 million dollars, aside from our national health, environmental health, and in some ways economic independence (relying on foreign countries for our energy needs). So come on, my fellow Lebanese. Let’s advocate for the improvement of our nation. We can do it!!!

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