Reports December 05, 2012
Analysis of the Institutional and Legal Frameworks of Monitoring and Management of Air Quality in Lebanon

One of the major achievements of the Ministry of Environment in attempting to reduce air pollution is the completion of the Clean Air Act (CAA) draft law.  CAA was approved under Council of Ministers (CoM) Decision 34 on January 10th, 2012.  Subsequently, it was forwarded to the parliament through CoM Decree No 8075 dated 5 May 2012 for discussions in the relevant parliamentary committees.  

To assess the needs to develop proper institutional and legal systems that address provisions of the CAA, the Consultants examined other legal and institutional frameworks related to environmental policies of countries similarly situated in the Mediterranean Basin.  Identifying the common features interlinking the different countries’ systems helped determining the gaps within Lebanon’s environmental legal system.  Subsequently, these gaps are translated into the minimum basic needs required for Lebanon to successfully establish a concrete and well defined system.  Interlocked relationship appear to exist between three (3) key ingredients, namely (i) the need for a dynamic clean air act, (ii) the presence of external influence, and (iii) the operation of an efficient air quality monitoring network.  Theses factors are interdependent and appear to be pre-requisites to successful air quality management strategies as analyzed below: 

The draft CAA, as developed, is a detailed and comprehensive document that discusses for the first time the initiation of monitoring, management, and law enforcement among bodies concerned with the regulation of air quality management and air pollution sources in Lebanon.  The implementation of the CAA would address and regulate major issues pertaining to local stationary and mobile sources of air pollution.  Furthermore, the CAA defines objectives such as the revision of the Lebanese Air Quality Standards, the responsibilities of people and organization involved in assuring the compliance with the standards and measures pertaining to issuing permits and preventing air pollution.  As currently proposed, the CAA would need a series of application decrees to be fully implemented.  This suggests that the implementation of this framework CAA is a medium-term process but most importantly, that this process would allow for updates and/or changes based on the evolving environmental context and new scientific knowledge about air quality.  Whether this feature reflects a dynamic nature of the Clean Air Act or not, it remains a matter of time – for implementation and for the issuance of the relevant legislation- to be able to evaluate the CAA and areas for its improvement.

Additionally, the ultimate need and critical step to improving the Lebanese environmental legal framework is to improve understanding of air quality management objectives and enriching the scientific basis, which is highly dependent on the continuous measurements of air pollutants produced by a comprehensive air quality monitoring system.  Without an efficient air monitoring system, no trends, or direct correlations can be established between health adverse effects and air pollution.  Collaboration with external partners (consultancies, research and academic institutions, etc.) for the operation and management of the air quality monitoring network would significantly strengthen the capabilities of the MOE in understanding, monitoring and managing air quality in Lebanon, and this is until the MOE is capable of internalizing the process.  The CAA does call for the set-up of a national air quality monitoring system for point, ambient, mobile and stationary sources that would incur in a considerable financial burden on the MOE.  However, considering the investments and operation costs involved, the deployment of monitoring equipment by MoE will be done gradually, starting mid-2013, a step further towards improved air quality monitoring and management.

Looking at applied external pressure on Lebanon’s environmental arena, Lebanon is a party to a number of international agreements that bind the Government to specific reporting requirements, amongst others.  It is undeniable that MOE responds very well to the objectives of international conventions and protocols such as the Vienna Convention for the Protection of Ozone Layer, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Kyoto Protocol, and Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants. These conventions and protocols are successfully implemented and reporting requirements are met for each of the mentioned international agreements, knowing that some are on voluntary basis and yet are attended to.  Furthermore, Lebanon is represented by the MOE in several regional bodies dealing with the environment; however no efficient pan Arab initiative concretized a common vision of problems and collaborative efforts to deal with the question of the environment. The Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for Environment (CAMRE) established the Center for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE) in 1992 that addresses matters of strategic concern for the Arab League members. However, such bodies did not yet yield a common vision of regional and/or international agreements reducing air pollution or controlling long range trans-boundary air pollution, which delays the development and concretization of supporting plans and programmes that actively drive the implementation of an effective national air quality strategy and the subsequent allocation of resources for its implementation. 

Finally, a successful monitoring and reporting program greatly relies on a collective effort that must actively involve all stakeholders from private and public sectors that closely work together to combat air pollution, making this a major need to advance environmental policies. In addition, this multi-endeavor must involve greater public participation. Due to the deficit in awareness about the extent and severity of air pollution particularly in urban hot spots, Lebanon witnesses a lack of public participation in combatting air pollution campaigns, which can be enhanced through improved Public-Private cooperation and increased awareness.



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