Lebanon Sustainable Low-Emission Transport Systems


The “Lebanon Sustainable Low-Emission Transport Systems” project aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the quality of life in Lebanon by transitioning towards sustainable mobility. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded project will address policy, institutional, and technical barriers to the adoption of electric vehicles, green public transport, and sustainable end-of-life vehicle management practices. The project is implemented by UNDP and is structured into 4 components: institutional and policy support, short-term barrier removal through demonstrations, capacity building and stakeholder engagement, and monitoring, reporting, and evaluation. The project will provide guidelines for voluntary agreements in the transport sector, a national e-mobility strategy, and a roadmap for end-of-life vehicle management. The project demonstrations will involve certified green public transport services, green fleet management, and improved walking and cycling accessibility. The project will also build capacity and engage stakeholders, and monitor and report progress.


Lebanon's transportation sector, relying almost exclusively on gasoline/diesel, is the 2nd biggest energy consumer and generates 23% of GHG emissions. It is responsible for over 60% of NOx/NMVOC emissions, 99% of CO emissions, 5% of SO2 emissions and other pollutants (PM10, PM2.5, VOC, copper, zinc, lead). The car fleet is old and fuel-hungry, with 54% built prior to 2001. 58.4% of transport GHG emissions come from passenger cars while LDV, HDV, and motorbikes contribute 17.46%, 23.81%, and 0.35% respectively. 
The cost of air pollution on human health is 1% of GDP, largely from transportation. Inefficient cars alone cause $200 million in economic loss/year due to health issues and congestion adds another 8% of GDP/year from increased travel time.
Transportation in Lebanon is on an increasingly unsustainable path, with a variety of consequences: environmental (increased GHG emissions and deteriorating air quality), economic (decreased productivity and rising mobility costs in terms of time and money), social (long travel times and poor quality conditions, particularly for vulnerable social groups), basic human rights (e.g. women's personal security), and spatial (cars claiming an ever growing share of public spaces, making streets unsafe for pedestrians and residents and damaging the urban ecosystem and landscape). As a result of Lebanon's deep economic, political, and social crisis, the government's capacity for action is severely limited. The period of economic growth (2000-2015) was accompanied by chronic fiscal deficits and increasing difficulties for the government in undertaking much-needed public infrastructure improvements in the transportation sector. Since the summer of 2019, political unrest, a severe economic slowdown, and a fiscal deficit have resulted in currency exchange depreciation and volatility, capital controls, and a severe economic crisis, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and the devastating explosion on August 4th, 2020 at the port of Beirut, which has resulted in an even bigger burden on the economy, further limiting the budget assigned for transportation.
The population increased by nearly 500,000 between 2006 and 2016, with an influx of displaced Syrians since 2011, and is increasingly concentrated in the Greater Beirut Area (GBA), reaching 2.2 million inhabitants in 2016. Jobs remain concentrated in cities, particularly Beirut, but the high cost of living in cities forces many to live in overcrowded suburbs. As a result, transportation in the three main radial access points to Beirut (northern, eastern, and southern corridors) becomes critical for the living conditions of Lebanon's growing population. 
When paired with high population density in metropolitan areas, reliance on motor vehicles adds to high rates of traffic congestion during extended times of the day, beyond the typical peak periods. This is true in all of Lebanon's main cities, but especially in the GBA, where more than 40% of the population resides (UNDP and IPTEC, 2016). The GBA is also Lebanon's economic centre, with an estimated 5 million daily passenger trips by private vehicles in 2015, and an estimated yearly traffic growth rate of 3% from 2016 to 2020 (World Bank, 2016). 
Poor transportation conditions are especially harmful for women and other vulnerable groups, who cannot always afford the most convenient mode of transportation. Furthermore, women are more vulnerable to street harassment and harassment on public transportation, limiting their mobility freedom and access to social and economic opportunities. Air quality is a critical public health issue in cities, and GHG mitigation measures in urban transportation can help to improve it. The mitigation potential in urban mobility is greater than in other transportation subsectors, as is the potential for positive gender, social, and environmental impacts.

Project outcome:

The project is structured under four components, each of which delivers a specific outcome. 

COMPONENT 1: Institutional and policy support for the promotion of sustainable low emissions transport systems This component addresses the institutional barriers, providing a strengthened policy environment to support the promotion of sustainable low-emission transport systems and modal shift. The promotion of sustainable low-emission transport systems in Lebanon requires a supportive institutional and social environment. The project builds up such environment through a combination of top-down initiatives to inform the national government’s future policy (to be enshrined in a national e-mobility strategy) and bottom-up actions empowering key private and public stakeholders (such as bus operators, and institutions and companies managing large car fleets) to adopt sustainable mobility practices, including electrification options.

COMPONENT 2: Short-term barrier removal through e-mobility and other low-carbon demonstrations This component addresses the existing technical, financial and environmental barriers through the demonstrations to provide evidence to scale-up low-emission mobility and to encourage modal shift in the northern corridor. The project demonstrations will cover the areas of public transport services (working with bus operators), car fleet management (working with the national police department (Internal Security Forces, ISF)) and facilitation door-to-door travel through improved intermodality between non-motorized modes and public transport (working with the municipality of Jbeil). The public transport demonstration is based on the voluntary implementation of the Certified Green Public Transport concept by a few interested bus operators in some of their services in the northern corridor, and their access to the temporal (3 -6 months, depending on the number of participating bus operators) use of one electric bus. The selection of the bus operators participating in the demonstration will be established through an open and competitive procedure, based on their technical capacities and experience. Two electric buses will be procured by UNDP, lent to each participating bus operator in the framework of a contract establishing responsibilities and monitoring commitments, and transferred to the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities (MoIM) at the end of the project. The car fleet demonstration is based on the voluntary implementation by the partner entity (ISF) of the Green Fleet Management concept, including issues such as effective and timely car maintenance procedures, prioritization of cleaner and low-carbon vehicles (including EVs) in procurement and fleet renewal plans, staff behavior (e.g. eco-driving), and the inclusion of sustainability indicators (e.g. GHG emissions) in the fleet monitoring dashboard. As a way to gain direct access and know-how on EV technology, the project will transfer up to 4 electric cars to ISF, which will be regularly monitored together with the whole GFM system, during the whole demonstration. The demonstration on sustainable door-to-door travel will be based on the previous development of a technical study in Jbeil (benefiting with the on-going work in progress for the preparation of the Urban Master Plan) to establish a comprehensive roadmap for the improvement of walking and cycling accessibility to key bus stops. Subsequently a number (2 to 4) of bus stops will be selected to take part in the demonstration. Detailed construction projects will be prepared for these bus stops through a participatory co-creation process, and a monitoring plan will be implemented including number of passengers using the bus stops, the public’s awareness, acceptance and satisfaction, safety and security or universal accessibility, among others. 

COMPONENT 3: Knowledge management, capacity development and awareness raising This component addresses the cultural barriers and provide the necessary support to up-scale the demonstrations results and to build up the framework for the sustainability of the project results, so that sustainable low-emission transport programs receive wide support and, consequently, substantial changes in mobility practices and modal shift materialize. 

COMPONENT 4: Monitoring & Evaluation Under this component, all the project’s monitoring and evaluation activities are undertaken. Results from monitoring and evaluation activities will be regularly shared with the E-mobility Global Programme to support knowledge management activities at the global and regional levels.

GESI Component (Gender Equality and Social Inclusion)
  • In addition to reducing GHG emissions and the mobility gaps among the targeted population, the project will contribute to increase the participation of women’s and other underrepresented groups in the economic and social development by making transportation accessible for all and thus to improve their living conditions. It will also include the increase of gender balance amongst the Internal Security Forces department involved in the pilot project.

    This will be possible through the involvement of women at all levels of the policy making process; capacity building in order for them to actively participate in decisions related to climate change mitigation at local and national levels; raising their awareness on e-mobility; collecting sex-disaggregated data (and data disaggregated by age, place of residence, nationality) to understand the needs, behaviors and perceptions to support an inclusive transport system; promoting women’s participation in networking, access to job and trainings related to e-mobility including as users, in bus companies, car fleet businesses and at institutional level. 

    To ensure a supportive institutional and social environment to promote sustainable low-emission transport systems in Lebanon, the project will put a particular focus on women participation, making sure they are fully involved in the e-mobility strategy design, implementation and monitoring, and that their needs are fully considered when planning, monitoring and evaluating the project impact and realizations. 

    In particular, the following aspects will be emphasized during the project design and implementation: 

    Gender issues are integrated throughout the project via a comprehensive gender analysis of urban transport in Lebanon, accompanied with a gender action plan that addresses gender discriminations and promote gender equality. 
  • The collection of disaggregated data during project implementation will support the understanding of needs, behaviors and perceptions related to e-mobility and transportation of all users and provide a legacy to better tailor future transport policies in to the specific needs of women.
  • The consideration of all transport users’ needs and their response to improvement of quality will ensure a well-designed bus system services (it includes a focus on security, time, coverage and comfort). 
  • The inclusion of underrepresented groups in capacity building and trainings will promote a full participation of women and other marginalized groups in the project. 
  • The access to job and opportunities for women and economically marginalized groups. 

    This includes capacity building and inclusion of women in specific activities and jobs as well as their active participation in the decision-making process and policy making process.

    The gender action plan will be implemented using the following resources: 
    One project gender specialist.
    Training sessions (project staff and stakeholders).
    Follow up sessions of trainees.
    Evaluation of trainings’ impact.