|Air pollution, environmental damage costs Lebanon $565 million a year (Daily Star)
|World Bank calls for private sector participation to reduce degradation
Air pollution and environmental damage to coastlines and natural resources in Lebanon are costing the country around $565 million a year, between 2.8 percent and 4 percent of GDP, according to a recent report by the World Bank.
In a survey published in Bank Audi-Saradar's weekly report, the World Bank called for remedial action and private-sector participation to reduce environmental degradation that is costing Lebanon one and a half times more than high-income countries.
Lebanon had the highest cost of coastal degradation among six Arab countries surveyed, the second highest cost in terms of water pollution, third highest in air pollution, and the fourth highest in terms of land degradation. The report noted that the cost to the global environment is estimated at about $90 million, or 0.5 percent of GDP a year, leading to a total cost of $655 million or 3.9 percent of GDP. The World Bank said Lebanon has suffered severe coastal and natural resource degradation in the past 30 years due in particular to uncontrolled construction. The annual cost of coastal zone degradation is at $110 million, degradation of land resources and wildlife at $100 million yearly, and damage costs associated with solid waste management at $10 million. The report also indicated that the cost of inadequate potable water, sanitation and hygiene is assessed at $175 million a year, followed by air pollution at $170 million. Some 62 percent of the total damage cost is from damage to health and quality of life, and 38 percent from natural resource degradation, as the cost to health and quality of life is about 2.1 percent of GDP and the cost for natural resources is at 1.3 percent of GDP. The survey said the most negative impacts on health are caused by urban pollution in Greater Beirut and in the city of Tripoli, costing an estimated 0.8 percent of GDP a year. The cost of natural resource degradation is predominantly from losses in recreational, touristic, ecological and nonuse values associated with coast-zone degradation at between 0.6 percent and 0.75 percent of GDP a year. The report added that there is very limited potential for international beach tourism due to several decades of coastal degradation. To reduce such degradation and protect the environment, the World Bank suggested the implementation of strict enforcement by the state of environmental legislation, creating public-private partnerships, and raising environmental awareness and local participation. The World Bank encouraged the private sector to bear the cost of remedying the pollution and degradation it causes.
The report estimated the overall remediation cost of indoor and outdoor pollution at 0.31percent of GDP, while the necessary improvement in potable water quality would cost $0.2 per cubic meter, equivalent to an annual cost of 0.28 percent of GDP. The report added that the cost of wastewater treatment and agricultural land rehabilitation would amount to 0.2 percent of GDP for each. The report was not totally negative however, noting Lebanon's accomplishments in environment management and protection in the past decade, such as establishing an Environment Ministry in 1993, enacting an Environment Code in 2002, banning the use of light diesel vehicles, and improving solid-waste collection and disposal.
The Daily Star