American University of Beirut

Environment Academy

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​WHY WAS EA CREATED?​​​

Lebanon has known environmental challenges throughout its modern history. Yet, this has been severely felt since 2019. Its economy has collapsed, leading to widespread distrust in the government's ability to meet basic needs. Public sector employees are abandoning their jobs, leaving residents to fend for themselves. This breakdown has also resulted in alarming levels of pollution in the air, water, and soil, leading to outbreaks of diseases like cholera and accelerating the onset of cancer and heart conditions by twelve years compared to global average age. This dire situation has created deep environmental injustice and has severely has s­everely affected public health. While certain foreign aid organizations provided assistance to local communities in addressing the crisis, their     eff­orts encountered challenges due to a top-down approach. Initiatives were executed without a thorough understanding of the unique needs and priorities of the communities, leading to unsustainable interventions, and undermining the effectiveness of the support. As scholar activists, believing in the power of the commons, we could not remain passive observers. Instead, we chose to leverage our expertise by collaborating closely with the community to devise solutions to the rapid deterioration of our environment.

In 2019, the Environment Academy (EA) was established as a program within the American University of Beirut (AUB) Nature Conservation Center (NCC) specifically in response to Lebanon's ongoing crisis. Its core mission is to foster collaboration between academia and the community, transcending university boundaries.

The EA serves as a platform for local communities to voice their environmental concerns, collaborate in designing and implementing solutions alongside the EA team and expert mentors from the diaspora, and in jointly seeking funding for sustainable initiatives ​to tackle their environmental challenges.


TRANSITION FROM NATIONWIDE ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS TO
LOCAL LEVEL SOLUTIONS

Addressing the needs of the communities at nation level, the EA has proactively embarked on localized initiatives. These e­fforts target specific community-level issues, aiming to enforce tangible improvements in areas where action is urgently required. By providing support to communities on a village-by-village basis, the EA endeavors to catalyze transformative change within these communities. 

This approach serves a dual purpose: firstly, it facilitates the resolution of immediate local challenges, demonstrating the potential for addressing basic needs at the grassroots level. Secondly, it empowers communities to evaluate and hold local authorities accountable for their actions or inaction.


OUR MISSION

Our mission is to cultivate transformative action among community members affected by environmental challenges through collaboration between academia and the community.

Employing design thinking methodologies, we promote innovation, mentorship, and ongoing engagement to assist communities in realizing a healthy, productive, and sustainable future for all.


OUR VISION​

Our vision is to catalyze transformative change through grassroots action aimed at prioritizing environmental restoration efforts to uphold the fundamental elements necessary for a healthy life.​








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