Mediterranean pollution “hot spots” under control by 2020?

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04/27/2010


Following an initiative from the European Union, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Mediterranean Hot Spot Investment Programme (MeHISP) was implemented to reduce sources of pollution. Lebanon is particularly challenged in this regard.


Diala Gemayel - Beirut, Eurojar

According to a UNEP report published in the year 2003, there was no particular plan in Lebanon for treating sewer waters; instead, this water pours directly in the Mediterranean. This reality shows how much this country, partner of the European Neighborhood Policy, is in dire need of a programme such as MeHSIP. In fact, this programme aims at helping EU Mediterranean partners to implement projects that reduce pollution. MeHSIP helps prepare the adequate plans that allow Lebanon to ask for loans from the European Investment Bank, in order to execute projects fighting pollution with no delay. Eventually, the EIB intends to develop a series of projects under MeHSIP programme aiming at reinforcing cooperation in the Mediterranean. It also encourages the funding of large scale projects. In fact, the EIB is looking for active investors in the region with whom it can collaborate in the near future and help in the realization of Horizon 2020 objectives.

Furthermore, Lebanon is exposed to a wide variety of pollution problems in quality and in quantity. The country has to deal with waste water problems, solid waste discharges, and air pollution. The MeHSIP report published in January 2008 outlined that four main regions in Lebanon succeeded in reducing their polluting factors. In fact, in the north of the country, four sewerages that were pouring their waters in the sea, were stopped (El Abdeh, Tripoli, Chekka, Batroun); the use of fertilizers was reduced; and in Tripoli, coastal discharge activities were seized. The same efforts were exerted in Beirut with the closing of maritime sewerages and the reduction of pollution resulting from slaughterhouses. In Mount-Lebanon and in the south of the country, wastewater treatment facilities are being installed, especially in industrial regions, and less toxic technologies are being introduced.

Lack of funding
Nevertheless, pollution in Lebanon is clearly becoming endemic with a weakness central State decision making: coastal discharge areas are uncontrolled and heavy metals constitute a real threat to the maritime ecosystem. Moreover, the presence of discharges in almost all municipalities is alarming, due to conflict on the sites to be chosen for controlled discharges, and due to lack of agreement on the type of solid waste elimination to be adopted (pyrolisis or other).

In summary, MeHSIP plays the role of a technical coordinator for the elaboration of Horizon 2020, a programme that works on de-polluting the Mediterranean by the year 2020. The umbrella initiative calls for the mobilization of financial resources and the provision of technical support to facilitate the execution of this programme, introduced in November 2005, at the summit to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Euro-Mediterranean process. Today, the 131 pollution “hot spots” of the Mediterranean should catalyze their efforts and national and regional actions to reduce major Mediterranean pollution problems. It is indeed a tough challenge as described by George Akl, MeHSIP operational consultant: “Most North Mediterranean countries have succeeded in finding a solution to their acute pollution problems. Yet, the south of the Mediterranean is still behind for lack of funding. A special fund has been created by the EU and the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) for this purpose, and endeavors will remain at least until the year 2013.”






Your reactions
Boutros Mouawad | 05-08-2010, 09.10h

I have read this article with cautious and i was not happy of the approaches being written due i guess to lack of real understanding of current environmental issues we are facing. The problem of pollution will not be tackled only through fundings bec most of the money used is not appropriately used and if ever used we seek the traditional methods the old fashion way. We need to look at alternatives , less costs , better and more sustainable output. Waste problems are derived from mass consumerism and lack of understanding of what our lives should mean to us as far as human values and choices we should take in life. Building waste water treatment is needed but what is more needed is eduation and awereness and return to ethics and values. We can keep dumping money on projects but who would assure me that our resources are being well taken care of and not depleted in a fast way? Where is the concept of sustainibility?