Your Excellency Minister of State for Administrative Reform, Dr Inaya Ezzeddine,
North Lebanon Governor, Judge Ramzi Nohra,
Head of the Municipality of Tripoli, Mr Ahmad Qamar el Din,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very happy to be here in Tripoli today and I would like to thank you all for hosting us in this beautiful city. Visiting Tripoli is always a pleasure for me, and whenever I come here I am reminded of the duty that we all have to preserve and protect this city. There are so many cultural, social and economic dimensions to the importance of Tripoli for Lebanon.
Our presence here today to inaugurate the solid waste treatment plant is one aspect of what the European Union is doing to stand with Tripoli and its people. Earlier today we visited new facilities at the Palace of Justice and the Kobbeh prison that have been refurbished with EU support, and last month EU Member States ambassadors toured Tripoli to say 'this city is vibrant, this city is safe, this city is open for business.'
This inauguration is a solid step in the face of the challenges that the whole country has been facing for some time now when it comes to solid waste management. The Tripoli plant will handle more than 400 tonnes of waste per day making it the largest treatment plant in the country combining sorting, recycling and composting. Facilities like this are essential. They bring concrete solutions to the challenge of treating the waste that has increased by 15% since the Syrian refugee crisis began, and which is starting to overload the controlled dumpsites of the city. They facilitate sorting, recycling and composting and prevent waste from being thrown into informal dumpsites and subsequently burned, thus becoming a health hazard.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This will not be the only project we do in this region of Lebanon. We will also support the construction of new sorting and composting facilities and sanitary landfills such as in Srar. Once operational, these sites will cover all the needs of the North Lebanon region.
In the rest of the country, 15 other sites will also receive our support, such as in Baalbek, Zahle or Jeb Janine. All in all, 540 municipalities will be assisted in implementing effective solid waste management.
This means eventually reaching a total treatment capacity of 2,400 tonnes per day, covering almost half of all the solid waste generated in Lebanon. On top of that, we expect that around 600 jobs will be created for the benefit of the local communities through these EU-funded initiatives.
The EU's investments in the Lebanese waste treatment sector are large. Expectations are that they will bear fruit and that existing facilities should be efficiently operational. In total, it is over €77 million that the EU has or will invest in Lebanon in the municipal waste sector.
Before closing, let me recall that these infrastructures should not replace all good efforts to limit household waste and promote sorting at the source. Every citizen has a responsibility to act so that one day - as soon as possible I hope - the goal of zero waste is reached. And, importantly, the need for clear Government policies in this area is crucial.
And we are ready to support the Government in this mission. We will look into a number of options, such as supporting the government's long-term strategic planning on solid waste; supporting decentralised municipal strategic and operational plans; engaging with the civil society organisations, as well as with the public and private sector; working on awareness campaigns and supporting the scrutiny of environmental governance and rule of law.
The site here in Tripoli is one important step on the way, but to reach our common goals, we still have a long way to go.
I would like to thank all our partners, especially OMSAR and of course the municipalities that are both the beneficiaries and custodians of these infrastructures.
Thank you for being here today and for your support to this project that now needs to operate and stay sustainable in the interest of all of Tripoli.