BEIRUT: Lebanon’s National Council for Scientific Research (CNRS) launched a two-year project Tuesday to protect the marine environments of Beirut and Tyre, the most polluted and most biodiverse coastal cities in the country, respectively.
The multidisciplinary project, funded by the European Union and the CNRS, intends to study the effect of climate change and pollution on the two areas.
In doing so, it will rely on the communities within each municipality to collect data just as much as the research center’s own experts.
“By the end of this project, we’re hoping to have two models of best practices in how to deal with issues of pollution and community awareness,” Mouin Hamze, secretary-general of the CRNS, told The Daily Star.
“From there, we’ll be able to use these models in our work on other coastal areas Jbeil, Jounieh, Batroun, Sidon and so on.”
Currently, the CRNS is the only Lebanese institution with a research vessel equipped to conduct tests along the coast.
Known as the CANA-CNRS, the boat is integral to the center’s advancements in research, according to Hamze, and is where the CNRS chose to hold the project’s launch ceremony.
Donated by Italy nearly a decade ago, the vessel has facilitated the CNRS in a number of its projects, including a report released earlier this year on the levels of pollution along Lebanon’s coastline.
“This boat is a symbol of the Italian aid agency’s attachment to the CNRS,” Italian Ambassador to Lebanon Massimo Marotti said in a speech aboard the CANA at the Port of Beirut’s Naval Base, detailing the long-standing link between his country and the research institution.
Youssef Jundi, head of the Lebanese Diving Center, also commended the project.
“As a diving center, we cooperate with all related ministries when it comes to preserving Tyre’s coast.
“We have a really close relationship with [the CNRS] and look forward to helping them,” he told The Daily Star.
Jundi, who explores Tyre’s waters almost on a daily basis, has unique expertise on the daily changes of Lebanon’s southern seas and, as a result, will play an important role in the CNRS project. Director of the CRNS Marine Research Center Milad Fakhri underscored integrating community actors like Jundi was an essential aspect to the project.
Also aboard at the launch was EU Ambassador Christina Lassen. “We’re here because we believe in the work that the [CNRS] does, in protecting Lebanon’s precious marine diversity,” she said in a speech.
“[Our support] goes to show how precious we believe the Mediterranean Sea is for Lebanon, for this region, and also of course for Europe,” Lassen added.