Rafic Hariri donates environmental magazine and books to 500 schools 
and outlines a comprehensive environmental policy

Beirut, 29.12.1999 

          Mr. Rafic Hariri called for an environmental emergency plan-of-action and outlined his vision for a comprehensive environmental policy in Lebanon. In a letter to Environment & Development magazine (Al Biaa Wa Tanmia) published in its January issue to be distributed Thursday, Hariri pledged to place environment on top of his agenda at the outset of the new millenium.

          Moved by the editorial of the December issue of the magazine, Hariri announced in his message that he was donating annual subscriptions of Environment & Development and the series of environmental education books it recently published, to the libraries of 500 Lebanese schools "to help promote sound environmental attitudes among the younger generation".

          The magazine, which is published in Beirut and distributed all over the Arab countries, is active in schools and is popular among the young. It organizes student environmental activities and teacher training, and has sponsored some 300 school environment clubs.

          In his message, Hariri criticized the shortcomings of traditional development policies, which neglected the environment in favor of short-term gains. While this approach was meant to satisfy immediate needs and aspirations of people, it failed in securing sustainable results. Environmental concerns have to be an integral part of any modern development policy, he said. He called for a plan-of-action which sets environmental priorities, starting by ending all activities causing irreparable damage to nature and resources, and a long-term plan which develops natural resources and protects the environment in a sustainable manner.

          In a statement he made during an Iftar he hosted on Wednesday, Hariri reiterated a similar theme, and called for the establishment of a National Environment Agency, entrusted with carrying out scientific research and setting standards, to "ensure that environmental policies are based on reliable data and not amateurish guessing and witch-hunts". 

          He said that the implementation of sound environmental policies cannot be achieved through restrictions and taxes only, but also through incentives which would reward sound environmental practices. He also stressed the role of public awareness in shaping constructive attitudes towards the environment among ordinary citizens, politicians and decision-makers alike.