The Program

The Beirut Madinati Municipal Program is a plan to improve living conditions in Beirut.  It was developed by experts with decades of experience in research, consultancy, and advocacy work in urban affairs, and who have found that for many years their advocacy for people-centered urban development has fallen on deaf ears in Lebanon’s centers of power.  Realizing the futility of continuing to try to convince the Beirut Municipal Council to adopt the livability of the city as a core concern, this group has launched a campaign to elect qualified individuals whose primary objective is to make Beirut more livable: more affordable, more walkable, more green, more accessible, and, simply, more pleasant.


Our Vision of beirut

The Program recognizes Beirut as a cultural and economic center in the region, the heart of a metropolitan area, the capital city of Lebanon, and its main gateway to the outside world. It envisions Beirut as a vibrant, dynamic, and efficient city that:

  • values social inclusivity, accessibility, and diversity, and is forward-looking in its commitments to long-term sustainable development,
  • embraces its waterfront,
  • celebrates its rich heritage as an economic and cultural capital,
  • boasts an integrated network of green, socially inclusive public spaces,
  • offers a variety of housing options to respond to the multiple needs of its dwellers,
  • works with surrounding towns to respond to the imperatives of urban mobility and adequate shelter,
  • recognizes the need to live in harmony with its environment,
  • capitalizes on and benefits from entrepreneurship and innovation to sustain economic growth and job creation,
  • and upgrades its public services and amenities to improve the livelihoods and wellbeing of its citizens.

Beirut, in short, is the city where we want our children to grow and build their futures, where our parents can age gracefully, and where we aspire to live.


OUR VISION OF THE MUNICIPALITY

Beirut Madinati envisions the city’s municipality as the public agency that represents and responds to the needs of all city dwellers and derives its legitimacy by representing them rather than representing particular political parties. The municipality will be transparent in its planning and budgeting processes, and will provide numerous channels for those who live or work in Beirut to shape the municipality’s priorities and workings, and to request specific actions. The municipality will be aware of the best practices of municipalities world-wide, will employ those appropriate to Beirut, and will draw on the large, underutilized pool of technical experts available in Lebanon to implement innovative approaches for addressing our most pressing problems.


OUR PROGRAM IN 10 points

Beirut’s municipality has the powers and resources it needs to alleviate many of the problems that make living and working in Beirut ever more difficult. Beirut Madinati will marshal these to make Beirut a better place for all of us.  Below are 10 key promises of the Beirut Madinati campaign, drawn from a more detailed planning document that is available on the BM.com website.

1.Mobility

Improve urban mobility through an integrated strategy that makes soft options (i.e. walking, biking) more viable, enhances and organizes shared transportation systems (e.g. large buses, mini-vans, services, taxis) within the administrative city boundaries and beyond, and reduces air pollution.  This strategy will also address the commute within the Greater Beirut area by reorganizing, in partnership with public authorities and other municipalities, existing systems (e.g. buses, mini-buses, services, taxis), and establishing new, rapid bus lines with dedicated roads and parking facilities on the outskirts of the city.  In addition, we will introduce neighborhood-level public parks with underground parking facilities.  In addition to creating public gardens, storing cars underground will free space for wider sidewalks and bicycle lanes. Finally, we will improve traffic management in the city, in partnership with local traffic and the police force, in ways that enforce traffic regulations and improve driving behavior.

Today about 70% of trips in Beirut rely on the use of private cars. At peak hours, most of these cars move at the speed of a pedestrian walking at a normal pace. Only 3% of current trips are conducted by walking and/or biking. The rest relies on shared modes of transportation.

Within 6 years only 45% of trips will be conducted by private cars, and at least 15% will be by walking or biking. The remaining 40% will be through shared transportation.

2.GREENERY &
PUBLIC SPACE

Improve greenery and public space by incorporating the city’s shared spaces into a network of green passages and spaces that simultaneously act as pedestrian paths and as an array of meeting and play areas of multiple sizes and functions. We will upgrade the entire waterfront by improving its accessibility and views, and by strengthening its role as an attractive socially and economically active zone that can support livelihoods. We will increase the number of publically accessible green areas in the city. Every neighborhood will have at least one public garden that serves the local community.

Today Beirut offers less than 1m2/person of green open space while the World Health Organization recommends at least 9 m2/person.

Within 6 years we will increase that number to at least 5m2/capita.

3.HOUSING

Make housing more affordable for future homeowners and tenants. We will introduce incentives for developers to upgrade or replace deteriorating housing and propose new planning tools to revise the incentive and taxation structures that currently hinder production of affordable housing.  We will develop upgrading strategies for informal settlements and low-income neighborhoods where housing stocks have gravely deteriorated. Finally, by reducing the cost and inconvenience of commuting (point 1 above), families will find it easier to live outside the city’s administrative borders where housing is more affordable. We will also address the issue of the old rent regulation in a framework that recognizes both the rights of landlords to their assets and the tenants’ rights to live in the city.

Today the average price of an apartment is more than $570,000, or 1270 times the minimum monthly wage. At this rate, more than half of the children in Beirut today will not be able to secure a home in the city.

4.WASTE MANAGEMENT

Implement an integrated solid waste management strategy by providing incentives for businesses and households to reduce waste, sort at the source, and by implementing a system of secondary sorting, reuse and recycling. In addition, we will establish an Office of Solid Waste Management inside the Municipality of Beirut to ensure that we never again face a garbage crisis, and to work towards making Beirut a model zero waste city. The Office will work with regional and national agencies and authorities to establish and maintain sanitary landfills and dispose of toxic waste and to articulate and implement the long term waste reduction strategy. Finally, and in the event that the current waste crisis is not solved by the time the Campaign takes office in May, we will implement an emergency crisis measure to set in place a dismountable state of the art waste treatment facility within the municipal boundaries of the city.

Today Beirut produces 600 tons/day of solid waste. 90% of this waste is landfilled despite the fact that almost all of it recyclable.

Within 6 years Beirut will recycle at least 40% of its solid waste, and implement management methods that are in compliance with best practices world wide.

5.NATURAL HERITAGE

Protect and develop Beirut’s built and natural heritage, including its waterfront, as a cultural and economic resource that enhances character, enriches cultural life, plays a role in economic development, fosters cultural tourism and enhances competitiveness in business recruitment and retention.

Today the Beirut coastline is largely occupied by private complexes, restaurants, and other facilities that block access and view to the sea.

Within 6 years we will establish an interlinked network of public gardens, open spaces, a publicly accessible waterfront and natural and architectural heritage.

6.COMMUNITY SPACES
& SERVICES

Build community spaces and enhance services, in partnership with stakeholders and active NGOs.  We will equip the city with community centers, libraries, social support services, educational facilities, and other elements vital to the social life of the city.

Today Beirut has only three public libraries, built in partnership between the Municipality and an NGO, As-Sabeel. No new library has been built in the past 6 years. The city has no other public community centers.

Within 6 years we will double the number of public libraries and enhance the larger infrastructure of social services.

7.SOCIO-ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT

Integrate social justice, poverty alleviation, and socio-economic development as crosscutting goals to be addressed in all projects initiated by the municipality. The municipality will unfold initiatives and projects that revive local markets, stimulate entrepreneurship, and address unemployment and urban poverty. It will do so by actively connecting, partnering and bridging with both the private and the non-profit sectors. Furthermore, in its assessment of every municipal project, it will consider and integrate the social and economic impacts and benefits to the middle and lower income groups. The municipality will actively review the local taxation system, identify unfair and harmful elements to the livelihoods of Beirut’s inhabitants, and advocate actively for its transformation.

Today unemployment stands at double its 2011 level, and one in four job seekers, half of whom are youth, cannot find a job. Many of the poverty pockets are located within Beirut and the gap between rich and poor is widening. Businesses have difficulties growing and surviving while many households suffer from the rising cost of living.

Within 6 years the municipality will have installed local markets for small producers and buyers. It will contribute to an enabling environment for local entrepreneurship in sectors of relevance to the city’s economy and reduce entrepreneurs’ operational and infrastructural costs. The Municipality will attach a social clause to every public work contract that requires contractors to consider the social impacts of their implementation strategies.

8.ENVIRONMENTAL
SUSTAINABILITY

Integrate principles of environmental sustainability and stewardship across all regulatory and operational interventions of the municipality, particularly in relation to the building development sector.  We will introduce regulations and incentives for utilizing building design strategies that minimize energy use, and for reducing the negative environmental impacts of construction activities. We will introduce and lobby for the adoption of new local regulations and incentives for developers and builders to enhance biodiversity through the use of green roofs, greening vertical habitats, and the use of artificial nesting sites when applicable. Finally, we will lead in the effort towards green building by retrofitting municipal buildings with modern energy and resource conservation technologies and by introducing regulatory constraints and incentives to improve the short, medium, and long-term energy efficiency and environmental qualities of the city.

Within 6 years we will renovate municipal buildings to become exemplars of green buildings, and establish incentives and clear design guidelines for new construction projects.

9.HEALTH AND SAFETY

Prioritize the health and safety of all city dwellers by recognizing the municipality’s responsibility to monitor, lobby for, and intervene through incentives and projects that provide clean water, reduce air pollution by reducing traffic and electricity generators, resolve the current waste crisis, improve  sewage management, among others. We will also introduce an integrated lighting system that improves street safety and monitor crime rates and articulate neighborhood-based, community responses in areas where security conditions are deteriorating.

Today Beirut’s environment is a threat to everyday health because of poor air quality, poor levels of cleanliness, and the absence of monitoring of our air, water, and physical environment.

Within 6 years we will have clean city streets and will remove the large open-air waste bins that sit in our streets. To monitor water quality and set up a plan with the Beirut Water Authority to alleviate the water problems and their symptoms. To implement a city-wide lighting plan that improves night safety.

10.GOVERNANCE

Improve the organizational structure of the Municipality, train its staff, and address the main institutional challenges that have plagued the performance of councils for decades. We pledge to acknowledge, enhance, and sustain as the municipality’s main asset the wide network of active civil groups and NGOs that have invested in the well-being of the city. We further pledge to work towards an efficient working relationship with the governor of Beirut and work with the governor’s office to set up a human resources department, which will evaluate municipal employee performance, improve social security coverage, and address the municipal civil servants’ inclusion in the civil servants’ funds (ta’awuniyya).
We also pledge to appoint a City Planner, experienced in the organization and management of city affairs, and will charge him/her with forming a team of qualified professionals who will implement our vision. We will train municipal staff and introduce a performance-based system of evaluation that rewards loyalty to the city and its dwellers.
We will develop comprehensive Standard Operating Procedures to organize and govern the work and performance of all units and departments. We will train municipal police and Beirut’s guard in the standards of community policing, and provide them with incentives to improve road safety, mobility, cleanliness, and thus improve security in the city, in collaboration with other security services.
We will introduce performance-based budgeting to better serve the needs of its dwellers in transparent and accountable ways. We will create multiple participatory structures through which city dwellers will be informed about the municipality and the city’s affairs and be given the channels to participate actively in the important decisions of the city’s future and its daily management.