The vital role of NGOs in Lebanon’s oil and gas sector

Source: Now Media Website

Lebanon’s first licensing round for oil and gas exploration has been postponed four times in the last 18 months; a fifth postponement seems likely. Various stakeholders have been active in this sector, except for local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), even though they are an essential watchdog to for this complex industry. The Lebanese government and institutions do not have the best reputation for transparency, as the country’s Corruption Perception Index is 28 (ranked 127 out of 174 countries) . This is why NGOs are needed to implement oversight programs to ensure that none of the billions of dollars of revenues received by the government is unaccounted for.

NGOs also need to play an important role in environmental protection. A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) was conducted and stressed many possible adverse impacts on the environment from the oil and gas exploration activities; however, this assessment was never made public despite promises to do so. The Ministry of Environment has indicated that strict environmental measures will be taken to protect the environment. However, implementing protective measures without disclosing the SEA results makes it impossible for the public to know if the measures are indeed implemented and if they are effective. Environmental NGOs need to be lobby for environmental transparency and ensure that the proposed protective measures implemented are adequate.

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