BEIRUT: Jbeil Municipality launched a Resilience Office and appointed a resilience officer Thursday, after being selected to be one of 32 cities set to receive technical support and resources as a part of a global network focused on building resilience.
The 100 Resilient Cities Network is a global system of urban areas working on building resilience in the face of a range of pressures. By joining the project, Jbeil will be able to better prepare for and withstand shocks, stresses and other vulnerabilities.
“In this context, resilience is a broad term, it covers everything from architectural needs, infrastructural concerns, economic needs, unemployment, and many other issues” said Tony Sfeir, a member of the Jbeil Municipal Council who was appointed chief resilience officer responsible for overseeing the development of the city's resilience strategy.
The resilience office will serve as a link between the 100 Resilient Cities Network and the city of Jbeil, including its municipality, the private sector and public sector alongside NGOs and relevant stakeholders.
Sfeir said that the agreement with 100 RCN was for two years, with the first year dedicated to studies, evaluation and data collection.
“So by the second year, we should start seeing implementation and proposals going into action” he added.
Sfeir pointed out that one of the main concerns the project aimed to tackle was the preservation of Jbeil’s rich cultural heritage, especially the protection of its archeological sites.
“We our worried about our archeological remains, which are being damaged by storms and other weather conditions,” Sfeir said, arguing that because “the Culture Ministry has a low budget, we really need to work to preserve our archeological sites. We put this as a priority.”
The resilience officer also pointed to a traffic problem and a shortage of parking spaces, calling for a new traffic plan in the seaside city alongside underground parking, public transport and park meters.
The 100 RCN has a $100 million fund to be distributed to the 100 cities involved in the project.
Sfeir pointed out that funding does not necessarily entail financial contributions, clarifying that the project offers technical assistance with large companies that become partners in resilience work.
“They provide you with billion-dollar companies like ARUP, who become partners in technical assistance, infrastructure and urban development as well as landscape architecture,” Sfeir said, referring to a London-based independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, consultants and technical specialists offering a broad range of professional services.
Sfeir said there were plans to draw up a road map for the city for the coming 25 years, which the partner firms would assist with technical studies.
Sfeir clarified that financial assistance was offered alongside technical help, but the donors don’t commit themselves to a figure, it varies from city to city and it depends on the proposed project.
According to Sfeir, Jbeil was chosen as one of the first 32 inaugural cities involved in the project because of its global historic value, including the ancient port and old city of Byblos.
“It has survived for so long, which means it such a resilient city, we have been resilient in the past and we are resilient today," he said.
Jbeil was one of nearly 400 cities across six continents to apply for the 100 Resilient Cities Challenge, organized by the U.S.-based Rockefeller Foundation, an independent non-profit organization.
“This is an important development that will help us continue and develop our path towards reform,” Jbeil Mayor Ziad Hawwat said, adding that “the accomplishment is not for Byblos alone but for Lebanon as a whole because this is the resilient Lebanon that we want the world to see.”