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Environment and Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU)
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Programs and Projects

ESDU serves as a regional interdisciplinary research center, provides training, services and consultancies and hosts several large community-development projects. These projects respond to special needs or opportunities that fall outside the conventional research frameworks of individual disciplines. Our strategic plan for 2011-2014 encompasses three regional initiatives:

1- Urban Agriculture and Food Security: Since 2006 ESDU serves as one of the 7 centers which constitute the RUAF Foundation (Resource Centers on Urban Agriculture and Food Security). We have been active partners in RUAF’s Cities Farming for the Future program (2007-2008) as well as the Seed to Table program (2009-2011) during which we operated 2 project offices in Amman (Jordan) and Sana’a (Yemen) in addition to our regional base in Beirut. Click here to access our public website on Urban Agriculture in MENA which has ample details about our projects and programmes.

ESDU also believes that one of the solutions to addressing the food security problem in MENA is to preserve the indigenous food traditions which are increasingly threatened by rampant globalization. Two ESDU-led initiatives have matured into self-funded initiatives that provide a hands-on interface on how we envisage Food Security in action:

a)      The Healthy Basket project which was initiated in 2001 to improve Lebanese farmers’ livelihood in rural areas, preserving the environment and protecting human health by adopting organic agriculture as a key strategy, through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) approach. Since 2007 the Healthy Basket operates as a self-sustaining responsible business venture. More information can be accessed here .

b)      The Food Heritage Foundation: which was launched in 2007 as an outcome of two R&D projects on diet diversity and wild edible plants and which aims at establishing an exhaustive inventory of the Lebanese traditional Food Heritage while encouraging rural and urban women to preserve this heritage, transmit it from one generation to another, and transform it into an income generating activity. The Foundation operates as an independent entity while keeping close scientific linkages with ESDU. More information about the Foundation can be accessed here.


        2- Advancing Development Evaluation Theory and Practice in the MENA region: In 2006, we started collaborating with the evaluation unit of IDRC on the Arabization of Outcome Mapping. The project catalyzed considerable interest from the evaluation community across the region and culminated by the project “Mainstreaming Evaluation Theory and Practice in MENA”. One of the major outputs of the project was the establishing the virtual MENA Evaluators platform which has been recognized by the IOCE (the International Organization for Cooperationin Evaluation) as the representative of the MENA region within the global evaluation community. More information about the project’s activities and outputs can be found here.

       3- Communication for Development: ESDU was the only representative from the MENA region in the World Congress on Communication for Development which was organized by the World Bank and FAO in Rome in 2006. Since then, ESDU has been partnering with FAO and IFAD on various initiatives aiming at advancing ComDev in the MENA region, most notably through establishing a bilingual portal on ComDev in English and Arabic, capacity building initiatives for ComDev practitioners and the translation and contextualization of various ComDev resources. More info on ComDev activities of ESDU can be found here.




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