A Green Party Grows in Lebanon

philippe-skaffThe newly formed Green Party of Lebanon (GPL) is planning its debut with the May 2010 municipal elections. The Daily Star reports that the GPL is a secular, environmental, human-rights oriented party bent on slashing corruption and recovering burnt forests.

GPL President Philippe Skaff (left) told the Star that focusing only on the immediate political crises inside Lebanon and the region is the wrong strategy:

“This is ignorance and shortsightedness because the repercussions of our long-term lack of focus on the degradation of our [environment], resources, and our cultural heritage … cannot be undone. There’s no winner and loser in this scenario – everybody loses forever.”

The GPL motto of “Earth Has No Sect” embodies that philosophy. The slick party Web site shows the reasons for the party’s rise. Only 1 percent of Lebanese homes have solar panels. Fifty-seven percent of the country’s sewage reaches the sea untreated.  Forest cover has plummeted from 35 percent of the state in 1960 to 13 percent today.

Skaff has long been involved in Lebanon’s sensitive forests, which took a serious hit in last year’s fire season. He and the Akhdar Dayem (Green Forever) organization collected money for equipment to rehabilitate the forest, and the GPL also formed a 20-year plan to recover 8 percent of the forest that was lost. He’s not the only one working on the issue; in September we reported on a new “Smokey the Bear” style campaign launched by the Lebanese Association for Forests, Development and Conservation.

To reach the tricky balance a green party must attain between maintaining ideas about sustainability without coming off as a vegetarian, organic-eating yuppie. The GPL is planning a 100-city tour in the coming months to spread the word beyond Beirut.

So far, the GPL has 900 members, according to the Star, half of whom are women. Students are also major supporters, and the American University of Beirut voted in several GPL candidates in the recent student government elections.

(Photo from The Daily Star)

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