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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.