Menjez: The tiny Lebanese Municipality that’s racing to resilience

By Jarita Kassen, ICLEI - Local Government's for Sustainability: Africa Secretariat | October 26, 2021

Menjez Municipality is located in the far northern side of Lebanon, at the border of Syria. Despite the daily challenges related to its socio-economic and political context, the tiny municipality has shown ambitious climate leadership, paving the way for other small towns, cities and municipalities to follow suit.

Since 2012, Menjez has been part of a number of projects to make the municipality greener and more resilient. Acknowledging that cities are at the forefront of increasing climate disasters, and also the first responders to crises, Menjez Municipality Mayor Georges Youssef says the municipality joined the Cities Race to Resilience because the world is facing an urgent situation:

“We only have one planet, there is no planet B. We need to join forces and innovate to combat climate change. It is very important to transform and give future generations a liveable planet.”

As a largely rural community, Menjez’s agricultural sector is particularly vulnerable to climate change which has already affected production due to increased pests and diseases. Water security is another major concern for the Menjez population.

In an effort to build a more climate resilient city, Menjez municipality has been a signatory to the Global Covenant of Mayors through the Clima-Med programme since 2014. Through this initiative the municipality completed its Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) which focused on reducing CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020. During this time the municipality implemented a number of actions:

  • Converted existing street lighting to LED lights.
  • Constructed a photovoltaic power plant to complement existing power generation.
  • Embarked on a reforestation project to plant 25,000 trees.
  • In collaboration with the Green Plan and financing by IFAD, the Municipality of Menjez begn the installation of a 50,000 cubic metre rainwater harvesting facility to irrigate agricultural fields and to diversify the tourism offer for the Municipality.
  • Installed a unit to transform agriculture and forest waste into briquettes for heating, as currently most households use wood for heating.

Menjez municipality is now developing its Sustainable Energy Access and Climate Action Plan (SEACAP) to outline targets and actions for 2030.

By joining the Cities Race to Resilience, the Menjez Municipality has also committed to numerous resilience based actions across prioritised sectors, including:

  • Investing in decentralized renewable energy sources to enhance access to clean sustainable energy, address energy security, and reduce energy poverty while improving climate resilience.
  • Investing in and planning for protecting, restoring, and sustainably managing inner, nearby, and faraway forests.
  • Identifying, monitoring, and planning accordingly to anticipate acute shocks and to adapt for addressing chronic stresses.
  • Considering proximity and complementary between urban and rural areas in regional strategies, for example natural services, food supply, and cultural activities.

Mayor Youssef calls on other leaders to join the Cities Race to Resilience and use this as an opportunity to build capacity, share best practices and build networks.

We, as cities, need to go further, faster, and deliver on the goals of the Paris Agreement in full. Working collaboratively, we can win the Race to Resilience. Join the global Race to Resilience campaign, run by the COP26 Presidency and High-Level Climate Champions and pledge your commitment in being part of the most decisive year in climate action history:  https://citiesracetoresilience.org.

This article was written and edited by: Jarita Kassen, ICLEI – Local Government’s for Sustainability: Africa Secretariat & Dania Petrik, Global co-lead, Cities Race to Resilience, ICLEI – Local Government’s for Sustainability: Africa Secretariat.

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