LIMS continued its series of regional workshops with its third installment, held on August 26, 2023. Following successful gatherings in Beirut and Tripoli, this workshop convened participants hailing from North Lebanon’s 3rd district, encompassing the regions of Zgharta, Koura, Batroun, and Bcharee. The session served as a platform for discussions on the economic hurdles confronting the district, spotlighting the pivotal role of municipalities in reigniting prosperity.
Attendees exhibited a keen interest in topics central to their livelihoods, with agriculture taking center stage. Notably renowned for its bountiful olives, apples, and assorted produce, the local agricultural landscape is a cornerstone of the area’s identity. Concerns about air pollution emanating from coastal factories and the landscape’s degradation due to quarries supplying raw materials to these factories featured prominently. Equally vexing were issues tied to waste management and the provision of electricity.
As voices were heard and ideas exchanged, a set of recommendations emerged from the workshop: (1) Participants emphasized the need to foster collaboration among farmers by establishing a cooperative. This cooperative would serve as a conduit for partnership with specialized private entities that can offer their services to farmers and the municipality, driving innovation and best agricultural practices. (2) A call was made to advocate for the liberalization of the cement trade, aimed at dismantling monopolies of the current cement factories and incentivizing competition. By reducing rent-seeking behavior, this move could drastically improve the environment in this region. (3) Encouraging private sector investment in waste collection and management was deemed vital and could be done through allowing these companies to charge end-users for their services. (4) To tackle electricity woes, the workshop attendees proposed opening the door for private companies to establish solar energy farms. These entities could distribute electricity to households via existing generator networks or through their dedicated infrastructure, diversifying the energy landscape.
These recommendations, born from the collective wisdom of workshop participants, will undergo comprehensive scrutiny in upcoming sessions. The goal is to refine and bolster these ideas by leveraging additional insights and expertise. As LIMS continues its mission to drive change in Lebanon’s economic landscape, these regional workshops prove instrumental in sculpting a brighter future for all its citizens.