Established in 2001, the Environment and Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU) hosted at the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS) of the American University of Beirut (AUB), has served as a leading regional interdisciplinary research and development center specialized in community development and sustainable agriculture in the MENA region, providing capacity building trainings, services and consultations to support vulnerable communities.
ESDU has always championed a multidisciplinary and participatory approach to development, to help ensure that its research is grounded in the needs of local people. ESDU focuses on community development and capacity building through: 1) sharing knowledge, skills and experiences, 2) encouraging sustainable technologies and practices, 3) promoting sustainable rural livelihoods, 4) supporting smallholder famers and producers, 5) empowering women and youth in rural areas across Lebanon and 6) promoting the local food system.
ESDU works “ahead of the curve," by contextualizing emerging development trends and paradigms and making them accessible and relevant to the context of the MENA region. ESDU's developmental projects and activities engage with cooperatives, SMEs, community kitchens, small-scale producers and farmers, local communities, municipalities, local and international NGOs, CBOs, and the private sector.
Through the expertise of its dynamic team and the institutional partners it collaborates with, ESDU seeks to serve and promote marginalized communities by delivering research, education, training and outreach programs designed to ensure sustainable development and livelihoods.
ESDU places itself at the core of the sustainable livelihoods and sustainable development debate in the MENA region and seeks to continue fostering action-centered, policy-relevant and participatory research that is useful, actionable and empowering.
ESDU and its affiliated entities have achieved international recognition for their impactful work.
ESDU was awarded the “Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation" for the category “Pioneering Development and Productive Project", for the success achieved on the project “Climate-Smart Livelihoods Initiatives and Market Access Tailoring" (CLIMAT).
The Food Heritage Foundation (FHF) was among 16 other initiatives that were recognized by the Food Tank (16 Initiatives Redefining Food and Agriculture Across the Middle East).
Ardi Ardak National Food Security initiative was highlighted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), as Lebanon's best enabling agricultural innovation system for rural women and youth during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The International Development Research Center (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:
- The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
- The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
- The Near East Foundation (NEF)
- The RUAF Foundation (Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food Security)
- Several UN agencies such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
- The World Food Programme (WFP)
- The Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)
- As well as several U.S.- based agencies such as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) and many others.
- Lebanese League for Women in Business (LLWB).
- Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED).
- Cooperazione Per Lo Sviluppo Dei Paesi Emergenti (COSPE)
- Concern Worldwide (CWW)