The Rise and Decline of Environmentalism in Lebanon

Karim Makdisi

in Water on Sand

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199768677
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979608 | DOI:
The Rise and Decline of Environmentalism in Lebanon

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This chapter explores the evolution of environmentalism in Lebanon in the period since its independence in 1943. It contends that two main strands of environmentalism, challenging various aspects of the state and state policy, emerged prior to Lebanon's long civil war in response to inherent contradictions within the Lebanese state itself and the nature of its post-independence socioeconomic and political development. The first strand was a pioneer environmentalism rooted in liberal civil society that began to coalesce in the 1960s and represented elite concerns about the disappearance of nature but which ultimately took a more technical rather than political approach to environmental problem-solving. The second was a broad social movement largely embedded within the disenfranchised southern Lebanese and Beqa'a Valley Shi'a community that advocated for the more equitable redistribution of natural resources and state services in Lebanon. There was also a third—perhaps less-pronounced, but no less important—strand of environmentalism that emerged in Lebanon during its civil war to confront emergency situations and that served in an ad hoc and temporary manner to overcome the inability of the Lebanese state to protect particular communities in times of war or perceived local environmental catastrophe.

Keywords: Lebanon; environmentalism; Shi'a; sectarianism; pollution; Musa Al-Sadr; cedar; pioneer environmentalism; environmentalism of the poor; emergency environmentalism

Chapter.  9596 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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