American University of Beirut

Climate Change and Environment



    ​The Climate Change and Environment program (CC&E) was originally launched in 2008 as "The Research and Policy Forum on Climate Change and Environment in the Arab World, as part of the IFI’s strategy to use academics technical expertise to answer socially driven questions on climate change and environment in order to fill policy gaps in Lebanon and the Arab World.

    The program’s strategic objective is to generate, and influence policy related to climate change and environmental issues in Lebanon and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, in a multidisciplinary approach. The program aims to reach its objective through:

    1. Impactful policy-relevant research; 
    2. ​Harnessing academic research and translating and linking it to policy,​
    3. Promoting and facilitating the  engagement and dialogue between various stakeholders such as national public institutions, local public institutions, researchers, civil society, funding agencies and international institutions etc.
    4. Developing and realizing capacity building programs on topics of interest and relevance to the program’s objectives. 

    The program continuously revises and refines the areas of focus based on experience and arising priorities in the region and to further mainstream projects towards set objectives to ensure desired impact. Currently the program focuses on three main research areas that are of critical importance to Lebanon and the region 

    1) Climate Change Adaptation Po​licy Development and Action Planning in Lebanon and the WANA, 

    2) Climate Change Vulnerability and Resilience Building in Urban Settings, and  

    3) Climate Change and Security. ​

    Areas of Focus 

    The program focuses on three main areas and their interlinkages:​

    1- Climate Change Adaptation Policy Development and Action Planning in Lebanon and WANA  

    Even though the WANA region is generally not considered a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions; studies have shown that it is one of the most vulnerable regions to the impacts of climate change. As such, the future of the countries of the region will greatly depend on their ability to adapt to climate change impacts. Policies informed by research, from and for the region, will be instrumental in leading adaptation that prioritizes fundamental and sensitive sectors, resources, regions and population groups.  

    The following themes are given special attention owing to their importance and relevance to the region and Lebanon as well as due to the substantial gaps in related research:  

    • ​Water – Energy – Food Nexus:  

    Central to the Arab world’s future and its pursuit of sustainable development is its ability to deal with a three-fold challenge represented by:  

    a) the need for an efficient response to water scarcity, b) an enhanced management of energy given the restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions being put forward by international agreements such as the Paris Agreement, and c) ensuring that the rapidly growing Arab population enjoys the benefits of food security. This Water – Energy – Food (WEF) nexus is critical to the Arab world and for the development of policies in face of the challenges to the sustainable development of the region.  


    • Water Security 

    The water sector problems in Lebanon and most other countries of the region are mainly related to poor governance along with mismanagement and lack of integrity in the sector’s practices. The existing weak institutions and outdated or deficient policies in the water sector in the region are major challenges in ensuring water security. This is of special concern given the accelerating impacts of climate change.  


    • Energy 

    The WANA region is both a major producer and consumer of fossil fuels. Emissions from the region are not as high, in total, as in developed countries; however, the per capita emissions are amongst the highest in the world (below North America and higher than Europe). Further, energy is critical in making water available to the residents of one of the most water scarce regions in the world. Reducing emissions without affecting the region’s energy security and continued development is a major challenge. 


    • Assessment of Vulnerability to Climate Change:  

    The WANA region is considered one of the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change; however, data and studies pertaining to the specifics of the “how, what and where” that are essential for informing policy making and planning on a national level are not well developed and often times poorly targeted.  


    2- Climate Change Vulnerability and Resilience Building in Urban Settings  


    Lebanon and the Arab World are experiencing very rapid urbanization with more than 55% of the population of the Arab world currently living in cities, with that percentage projected to reach 66% by 2020. In some countries in the Arab World, nearly 90% of the population are urban dwellers. Cities play a very important role in current economies; they produce, on average, 80% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) while only using up to 3.5% of the earth’s total surface. Their downside is their ecological footprint, key example of which is the high CO2 emissions (constituting 75% of total global emissions) mostly from transportation and energy use (60% to 80% energy consumption). At the same time, cities are very vulnerable to floods, water scarcity, and other climate change related risks. Therefore, the need to think of cities in a more sustainable context is important not only for the cities’ continuity but also to reduce their impacts on the environment. ​

    Areas of focus within this theme are : 

    • Vulnerability of cities to climate change:  

    The understanding of the vulnerabilities to climate change of urban settings in the WANA countries is limited. Increased vulnerability of populations in urban settings to climate change increases risk of conflict and of migration. Thus, a better and in-depth knowledge of vulnerability to climate change is vital for enabling cities and city actors to adapt to climate change, reduce associated risks and build up their resilience. 


    • Resilience to climate change in cities:  

    In an urban setting, resilient systems encompass socio-economic aspects, governance, physical infrastructure, and natural systems. Accordingly, resilience is reached through adaptive planning that helps in reducing risks. It is important to ask WHO is adapting and to WHAT. ​

    3- Climate Change and Security

    Climate change is increasingly seen as a multiplier of security threats as well as social and economic problems such as poverty and political instability. Many of the impacts of climate change will disproportionately affect the poor and the vulnerable, and thus will continue to exacerbate social and economic vulnerabilities. Further, under certain circumstances, climate-induced impacts are likely to contribute to political instability and conflict. For instance, in many fragile states and communities with a history of conflict, water shortages were found to exacerbate existing social and political tensions. Understanding the role that climate change plays as a threat multiplier to conflict at both national and regional levels is important to create policies that would reduce its significance within this interplay of other factors.  ​ ​​

    ​​​Partnerships and Associations​

    ​​The program has associated and/or partnered with a variety of institutions including governmental, non-governmental, academic, municipal, etc. The below list reflects the most recent interactions: 

    Governmental Entities: 

    • Ministry of Environment 
    • Ministry of Energy and Water 
      • Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation (LCEC) 
      • Electricite du Liban (EDL) 
    • Ministry of Agriculture 
      • Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI) 
      • Green Plan 
    • Ministry of Industry 
    • Prime Minister's Office  
    • Disaster Risk Management Unit  
    • National Council for Scientific Research (CNRS)​

    UN Organizations 

    • UNDP 
    • UNEP 
    • WFP 
    • UNESCWA 
    • UNICEF 
    • UNESCO 
    • UNIFIL ​

    International NGOs 

    • CEWAS 
    • Friedrich Ebert Stiftung  
    • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) 
    • Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung 
    • Oxfam 
    • SIWI 
    • WANA 
    • IUCN 

    Regional and Local NGOs 

    • BeryTech 
    • Na7nou ​


    • Academic and Research Institutions and Think Tanks 
    • Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona 
    • Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) 
    • Clingendael Institute 
    • Geneva University – Geneva Water Hub 
    • Sao Paolo University – NEREUS 
    • Swedish International Peace Research Institute 
    • University of Oslo 

    International Donors: 

    • AFD 
    • EU 
    • Netherlands Government - Envoy for Climate and Energy Security 
    • SIDA 
    • Swiss ICD 
    • USAID 
    • World Bank ​​

    ​​Main Contacts​


    ​Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for the Lebanese Coastal Cities of Batroun and Tyre​

    Water-Energy Nexus of Water and Wastew​at​er Service in Lebanon​​​

    ​The PHEMAC Project Consortium​​​​

    ​​Enabling Environment for Innovation in Cleantech​

    NEXUS-Driven Open Labs for Competitive and Inclusive Growth in the Mediterranean (NEX-LABs)​

    ​On-going IFI-Research/Projects​

    2014 – 2017:
    Capacity Building Programme on Water Integrity in the Middle East and North Africa 
    The Climate Change and Environment in the Arab World Program, IFI, AUB is the Lebanese National Partner to the “Capacity ​Building Programme on Water Integrity in the Middle East and North Africa” which is implemented by The Stockholm International Water Institute and partners with the financial support of the Swedish government.

    Impact of Population Growth and Climate Change in Lebanon and Egypt on Water Scarcity, Agricultural Output and Food Security
    Columbia University Middle East Research Center (CUMERC), the Institute for Sustainable Development Practice (ISDP), the Desert Development Center (DDC) at the American University in Cairo (AUC), and American University of Beirut’s (AUB) Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS) and the Climate Change and the Environment in the Arab World Program of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI). Read more

    Lebanon’s Water-Energy-Food Nexus: Policy and Institutional Analysis
    Nadim Farajalla, Patricia Haydamous, Silva Kerkezian and Rana El Hajj
    Climate Change and Environment in the Arab World, IFI, AUB
    Public Presentations and Panel Discussion – The Nexus Approach: The Road to Water, Energy and Food Security in the Arab World? 

    The Issam Fares Institute commissioned 5 research papers within the 2013 call for proposals on “Sustainable Transportation in the Arab World”

    Economic Impacts of Adopting a Sustainable Transport System in Beirut
    Mazen Omran, Johnny Ojeil, Youssef Fawaz
    Inching Forward: The case for Sustainable Transportation in the Arab World
    Bassam Aoun, Meryl Haddad
    Motorists’ Willingness to Switch to Clean-Fuel Vehicles and the Implications for Public and Environmental Health: The Case of Greater Beirut
    Ali Chalak, Alexandra Irani - American University of Beirut
    Sustainable transportation and mega sport events in Arab countries – the case of Qatar
    Danyel Reiche - American University of Beirut
    Sustainable Transportation in the Arab World: International Benchmarking on Sustainable Transport Policies and their Impacts
    Issam Kaysi, Farid Chaaban - American University of Beirut

    The Economics of Adaptation to Climate change in the Agriculture sector in Lebanon
    The University of Sao Paulo Regional and Urban Economics Lab – NEREUS 
    The Climate Change and Environment in the Arab World, IFI, AUB.
    Lecture and Panel Discussion – Impact of Climate Change on the Arab World.

    Commuters’ Behavior towards Upgraded Bus Services in Greater Beirut: Role of Itinerary and Environmental Information Provision and Implications to Climate Change Policy 
    Ali Chalak, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences, American University of Beirut, 
    Maya Abou Zeid, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, AUB

    Completed IFI-Research/Projects​

    ​Country-specific Studies on Climate Change and the Policy-making Process in the Levant
    The Issam Fares Institute commissioned 5 country/region-specific papers on the various issues and stakeholders involved in climate change for the Levant countries (Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria) and North Africa. Regional experts each delivered a short publication and presented their work at a closed seminar on August 4, 2009, at the American University of Beirut, AUB. 

    The Association Between Women's Self-Rated Health and Satisfaction with Environmental Services in an Underserved Community in Lebanon 
    Rima R. Habib PhD MPH MOHS , Kareem Elzein MPH & Safa Hojeij MSc (2013). 
    Women & Health, 53:5, 451-467, DOI: 10.1080/03630242.2013.806387 ​

    Climate Change in the MENA Region: What Health Consequences and Costs?
    ​Iman Nuwayhid, Professor and Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, AUB
    Rima Habib, Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Health, AUB

    National Economic, Environment and Development Studies (NEEDS) Project 
    The Lebanese government, through its Ministry of Environment, approached IFI for the first time to study the cost of Climate Change adaptation and mitigation on the Energy and Agriculture sectors in Lebanon. This inter-disciplinary project brought in four AUB faculty members to prepare the study: Leila Dagher, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Nadim Farajalla, Assistant Professor of Hydrology and Water Resources, Marcus Marktanner, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, and Philippe Zgheib, Senior Lecturer, Management, School of Business.
    The NEEDS Lebanon Country Brief was submitted and presented by Dr. Nadim Farajalla at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP15) Copenhagen world summit, December 2009. Lebanon is one of 10 countries selected by UNFCCC to prepare and submit this NEEDS report for the Copenhagen conference. 
    Read / Download NEEDS Lebanon Country Brief 
    Final Report Arabic ||| Final Report English

    Effect of Distributed Electric Power Generation on Household Exposure to Airborne Carcinogens:
    Unintended Consequences of Supply-Side Power Reduction Measures in Poorly Regulated Environments
    Alan Shihadeh, Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, AUB
    Najat Saliba, Associate Professor, Analytical Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, AUB
    Read the Research Report


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