The ongoing political, financial, and economic turmoil in Lebanon is affecting the ability of the domestic industry to produce, export, and generate the much-needed income. Hiking prices for energy and raw materials and disruptions in the export and supply chain cause high costs for companies, making it challenging to generate the much-needed income for Lebanon.
In 2021, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), supported by the Ministry of Industry (MOI) and in close collaboration with the Association of Lebanese Industrialists (ALI), the Association of North Metn Industrialist (ANMI), has assessed the situation of several sectors. The assessment confirms that adopting more resource-efficient production practices could immediately support companies in meeting the imperative need for cost savings and strategically re-position their resilience in resource consumption to face current challenges and meet future demands. The food sector and chemical sector were spotted as a priority.
In December 2021, kick-off meetings in six companies oriented to food products, plastic, printing and packaging launched the SwitchMed/MED TEST III technical assistance programme carried out during the first quarter of 2022 by locally trained experts. In parallel, UNIDO and local partners will seek to extend the number of participating companies from the priority sectors in industrial areas such as the Bekaa region, in the Litani river basin, and Mount Lebanon region.
“Resource-efficient production means competitiveness. It enables businesses to lower their production costs besides reducing their environmental footprint. In Lebanon, the unprecedented socio-economic and financial crises affecting the country have made gains from resource efficiency increasingly important to industrialists. In such difficult times where every penny saved counts, companies see resource efficiency as an important resilience tool. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with UNIDO in this domain,” says Mr. Talal Hijazi, General Manager of the Association of the Lebanese Industrialists.
Experience from the EU-funded SwitchMed/MED TEST II project shows that industries with solid incorporation of RECP in the business system achieve important cost-saving targets that improve profitability and investment opportunities, compliance with regulation, access to new market niches, but also as a strategy incorporated into a continuous improvement and innovation cycle for products and processes.
In parallel to the technical assistance on resource-efficient production to companies from key sectors, the SwitchMed/MED TEST III project will also undertake a policy gap assessment of the Lebanese policy framework concerning Industrial Zones. The objective is to identify gaps and opportunities leading to increased capacities to mainstream and monitor Resource-Efficient and Cleaner Production (RECP) strategies and incorporate principles of the Eco-Industrial Park International Framework in the development process of Industrial Zones.
“As expressed by the Ministry of Industry in its “Strategic Plan for Development of Industrial Zones (2018-2030), industrial zones have the high potential to contribute effectively to the implementation of the sustainable development goals in Lebanon despite all challenges. In this context, the alignment of the policy framework and stakeholders to pursue this objective is still a task in progress, for which UNIDO’s support bringing lessons from the Eco-industrial park concept will make it more effective,” says. Ms. Chantal Akl, Head of the Industrial Zones Bureau, Ministry of Industry.
Although the ongoing crisis has strongly hit SMEs located in industrial zones, the industrial zones are still seen as potential centers to promote more sustainable production models. The preliminary evaluation of two selected industrial zones suggested by the MOI, shed light on the limited enabling environment to take advantage of industrial zones’ natural pros in terms of clustering, alliance, monitoring and management. The policy assessment anticipates identifying the opportunities to close those gaps. It proposes a roadmap of direct actions that can improve the ability of industrial zones to monitor and mainstream sustainable principles of RECP in industries located in these areas.
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