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Media Interview with Eecoy magazine

Green Line: For a National Land Transportation to Reduce Pollution

Managing Lebanon’s land transport sector, reducing air pollution and improving green spaces are Green Line’s major concerns. Fadl Fakih, Green Line project campaigner, gives more details. When did Green Line’s mission start? Green Line is a non-governmental association, independent of any government, group, or individual. Green Line was founded in 1991, when a group of professionals from the American University of Beirut (AUB) and their friends decided to translate their concern about the post-war devastated cultural, human and natural environment into an organized action with the following objectives: Exposing environmental threat, popularizing environmental awareness and contributing towards a scientific framework for a sustainable environmental management policy. How do you help in protecting environment in Lebanon? Major hurdles? Is it through campaigns, programs…? Green Line is currently working on the Sustainable Land Transport Campaign. It have started a coalition dubbed the National Campaign for Sustainable Transportation (NCST) in September 2011 with more than 300 protestors, 200 of whom were on bikes. They were all demanding an effective whole plan for the transportation problem in Lebanon. Another project we are working on, is the Green Spaces in Lebanon generally, and Beirut particurlarly. We are only doing lobbying work with the Parks Department and Beirut Municipality. Some pressuring events would take palce to improve the Sanayeh garden and other gardens tremendously. Since early 2001, Green Line and other NGOs have been lobbying members of the Lebanese parliament to enforce laws directed towards managing the land transport sector and decreasing the air pollution caused by motorized vehicles. This has resulted in the declaration of the Law 341/2001 which aims at reducing pollution and traffic problems. The partial implementation of this law triggered the initiation of the Sustainable Land Transport Campaign at Green Line that aims at lobbying for a National Land Transport Strategy based on Transport Demand Management.

Through this project, Green Line hopes to reduce air pollution and other environmental and socio-economic problems caused by the land transport sector. Would you give us more details about this project? The Sustainable Land Transport project has two dimensions namely political lobbying and social awareness. As a result of lobbying efforts, the parliament set a new timetable for the implementation of the law and so far, two sections, banning of cars that works on diesel engines and the usage of up to 24-seated buses with diesel engines have been implemented. After several revisions, the contract was signed and the work plan for the first year (2002) was submitted to Novib. The work agenda for 2002 included: Writing, production and dissemination of a study of the land transport sector. Preparation and production of an informative kit. Preparation and production of promotional items such as stickers, T-shirts and posters. In August 2002, the report entitled “National Land Transport Strategy Options for Lebanon ” was finalized, reviewed by professionals at Green Line and the American University of Beirut and printed in English and Arabic. The study aims to put in place an integrated National Land Transport Management Strategy (NLTS). This strategy adopts the principle of Transport Demand Management, which aims at reducing the number of circulating private vehicles, thus reducing their negative environmental and socio economic impacts. This report is being disseminated to members of involved ministries, professionals in the field and interested individuals. What is Green Line’s major concern? And are you working with public institutions (for instance, Ministry of Environment) to alter or implement laws? The environmental awareness among politicians is a big problem in Lebanon, and we work on this, despite bureaucracy. We often hear about the short term financial benefits they get to cover people who are causing major threat to this country, such as the quarries issue. What were the major achievements in 2011? We worked on improving Public Gardens in Lebanon, in addition to the start-up of the NCST coalition including more than 15 NGOs/initiatives, and we are pushing together towards a whole plan for the land transport problem in Lebanon. What are the future plans mainly in 2012? We plan to push for an effective whole plan for the transport strategy in Lebanon and turn the Sanayeh garden upside down, being part of the cultural heritage in Beirut. It is more than 100 years old. It’s worth mentioning that the air pollution in Beirut is more than 300 percent recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), 80 percent of which is coming from cars and busses.

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