The UN House hosted the workshop "Rio+20, National Policy-Making and Sustainable Development Policies in Conflict-Affected Countries: the Case of Lebanon," a collaboration between the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) in the context of the project "I-ROA 105 Strengthening national capacity for the integration of sustainable development principles into development strategies in countries emerging from conflict". The workshop was delivered through an effective collaboration between ESCWA's Emerging and Conflict Related Issues and Sustainable Development and Productivity Divisions.
This project builds on conflict-sensitive and National Sustainable Development Strategy (NSDS) guidelines proposed by DESA, that seek to address the interconnected challenges of sustainable development and peacebuilding in conflict afflicted countries. Three pilot countries- Liberia, Zimbabwe and Lebanon.- were selected for the first phase of the project.
Indeed, the ESCWA region is witnessing major changes in both its governance and developmental paradigms. The Arab uprisings have brought forth a set of imminent priorities that can no longer be ignored. These priorities include equitable growth, generation of employment, meaningful participation, especially for youth and women, and sustainable development for a prosperous and peaceful future. Furthermore, the world is getting ready for a global conversation around sustainable development and the future of our planet in the context of the UN Sustainable Development Conference in Rio de Janeiro next month. The pilot project constitutes an effective and timely effort as it complements ESCWA and DESA's mutual objective to promote sustainable development goals in Lebanon.
Twenty-five participants attended the workshop, representing the Ministries of Agriculture, Education & Higher Education (MEHE), Health, Environment, Finance, State for Administrative Reform, Planning (Council for Development & Reconstruction) and the Central Bank. Representatives from various NGOs, and partners from UNDP and the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon also attended. Mr. Ziad Mikati from the Presidency of the Council of Ministries and Mr. Seif Abbaro, Country Director from UNDP, offered the opening remarks with an overview of the current challenges to sustainable development faced in the Lebanese context.
The first session built on the opening remarks with a discussion on Lebanon’s progress towards sustainable development in the context of the principles recommended by DESA’s Guidance Notes, “Developing National Sustainable Development Strategies in Post-Conflict Countries” (developed to help governments address the interlinked challenges of peacebuilding and sustainable development). Facilitated interactive discussions were used to explore practical hands-on recommendations for the implementation of sustainable development planning.
The second session served as an introduction to the upcoming Rio+20 conference and its expected outcome document, as well as sustainable development efforts in the region. In guiding stakeholders though the preparation process towards the Conference, special attention was given to Green Economy principles and the institutional framework required for sustainable development efforts to succeed in the Lebanese context.
The workshop concluded with a discussion of possible action steps for Lebanon in advance of Rio+20 and following the Conference's completion. Participants were noticeably engaged and provided meaningful recommendations for Lebanon's participation in the Rio+20 process and for the implementation of sustainable development principles in Lebanon. Recommendations included the creation of the "Rio+20 Task-Force" to coordinate Lebanon's approach to the conference and unify its overall message.