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Part 3 - The Peace Bag Partners, Projects, and Peacebuilders

Lebanon

Development Sans Frontieres (DSF) is a new organization founded by a group of committed young people to support local and national development initiatives with a special focus on environmental concern. It also promotes youth participation by showcasing their contributions toward achieving a sustainable society.

DSF considers natural protection and environmental sustainability a cornerstone in preventing conflict and promoting peace. DSF aspires to "promote sustainable development through empowering youth citizenship and participation in the society and engagement in nature". Accordingly, DSF intends to empower their capacities and connect them to regional and global network of youth.

More recently, DSF conducted the "Civic Advocacy Initiative in Northern Lebanon" project, in which groups of young people from both Akkar and Minieh/ Dannieh areas are trained on team building, conflict resolution, lobbying techniques and advocacy planning. In addition, DSF got involved, in partnership with Dannieh Municipalities' Union, in a project aimed at conserving forest ecosystem and promoting eco-tourism. Phase one of the project revolves around lobbying and building a case toward putting the forest area under study on the list of potential "Natural Protected Areas", aiming at declaring it legally.


Civic Advocacy: Fostering a Dialogue between Youth and Local Authorities

Youth participation, Advocacy, Lobbying in youth affairs

Youth Participation in the public arena is limited in Lebanon, despite high levels of engagement at the non-governmental level. The issue is aggravated the more we move out of the Central Beirut. The experience in the last 4 to 5 years clearly showed that Beirut can mobilize young people from all over Lebanon for a National cause! The challenge then is to build local capabilities to monitor and follow up on needs and advocate for rights, nurturing a constructive relationship between youth and local authorities so that they practice their democratic right rationally and consciously.

It is well documented in the various UN and MoSA publications and research that the North and Akkar of Lebanon exhibits some unique socio-economic and demographic features: the highest youth demographic fabric; the least developed and highly underserved regions (Akkar, Dannieh, Minieh and inner Tripoli); the highest rate of drop-outs; very low in women participation in the local public domain; way below average in terms of infrastructure (roads, water and wastewater systems and electricity); and the highest level of public servants, particularly in the Army. Despite all these facts (some attribute to historic neglect), young people feel alienated from the public discourse.

Given all the challenges, DSF recognizes the potential in the region; and understands the socio-economic and political backgrounds; and initiated a Civic Advocacy Program to bridge the gap, and create a dialogue among the key stakeholders. Its objectives are empowering youth participation at the municipal level; creating core groups of young advocates in the North and Akkar; facilitating forums to collectively raise civic rights; and showcasing public demand, following it up with concerned parties. The project brought in six groups of 15 young males and females in two phases; a training and coaching phase, followed by an outreach phase in which they conduct and run dialogues and meeting with decision-makers.


The country

Lebanon has emerged from a series of political instabilities, armed conflicts and wars. The last decade has witnessed the withdrawal of the Israeli army from South Lebanon after 20 years of occupation; and the departure of the Syrian army from the North and East Lebanon. Lebanese youth played a vital role in the withdrawals, aiding reconstruction efforts, and driving the reconciliation initiatives.

Young adults constitute 40% of Lebanon's population, and they are actively engaged in civil society, including: direct interventions, campaigning, and advocacy initiatives for health, environmental, social and political rights and issues. They worked for the organisation of a youth parliament for young people of different communities, as a venue and opportunity for open discussion of common issues.[51]

First established in the 1920s as the Grand Lebanon, Lebanon became the first independent Arab State. It has been a meeting place of cultures, religions and trade since ancient times. Its main city ports in Byblos, Tyr, Sidon and Tripoli hosted and influenced many of the Mediterranean civilizations.