The Environment and Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU) is an inter-disciplinary research and development center specialized in community development and sustainable agriculture hosted at the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS) of the American University of Beirut (AUB).
Established in 2001, ESDU aims at promoting collaboration for sustainable development and acts as an interdisciplinary R&D center specialized in community development and sustainable agriculture. ESDU seeks to break away from the traditional compartmentalization of research and to put current understanding from research into the hands of the user and policy-maker communities.
Lately, FAFS offered an interdepartmental Graduate Program, which is hosted by ESDU, leading to a Graduate degree of Master of Science (MS) in Rural Community Development (RCODE).
Your browsing journey will also take you to the websites of five ESDU-led initiatives which we also encourage you to explore while going through the contents of this page.
ESDU has always championed a multidisciplinary and participatory approach to development, which helps ensuring that research is grounded in the needs of local people. We always work “ahead of the curve” and focus on contextualizing emerging development trends and paradigms, making them utilization-driven and most importantly relevant to the local development context in MENA, starting from the sustainable livelihoods framework back in 2001 to appreciative approaches to development evaluation in 2011.
It would be difficult for a single website to capture everything we have done over the last 15 years, we advise ESDU “first timers” to check these two resources featured on this website:
From introducing a dynamic new research approach for managing natural resources in the Arsaal district, to the creation of Lebanon’s Environment and Sustainable Development Unit, the legacy of that initial project is being carried out by a new generation of researchers. The article “Lebanon’s ESDU: Championing Research for Development” (French version) covers the work of ESDU from 2005 onwards; and The book “Research for Development in the Dry Arab Region: The Cactus Flower” (Arabic version) captures the early experience of ESDU from 1996 when core ESDU founders started working on multi-disciplinary research in post-war Lebanon, to the formalization of the unit all the way to 2005 when the book was first published
It is no coincidence that both resources were made possible with the support of the International Development and Research Center (IDRC) since IDRC has been a privileged intellectual partner and its support acted as a major catalyst for establishing ESDU. Our list of institutional partners also includes FAO, IFAD, RUAF, several UN agencies (UNDP) as well as several US based agencies such as USAID, USDA and many others.