Building Peace in Eastern Libya

June 30, 2023

The East of Libya has suffered from economic and development marginalization and the consequences of the decade of conflict and prolonged transition, including extensive destruction and displacement. Municipalities like Benghazi and Derna continue to face shortcomings in providing critical services and decent employment opportunities. 

Since 2019, UNDP has invested in rehabilitating vital infrastructure in the region, including schools, hospitals, and water supply systems which had been damaged or destroyed by conflict, to provide a measure of stability to citizens. This infrastructure revitalization improves the quality of life for the region's residents but also establishes the groundwork for sustainable development and economic growth. 

On this basis, UNDP's new Peacebuilding and Resilience initiative of the East focuses on three priority municipalities: Benghazi, Derna and Ajdabya. The program builds on our previous engagement, building trust among citizens and institutions while fostering unity within the community. This will be achieved by empowering local institutions, supporting the delivery of essential services, promoting economic recovery, and creating sustainable jobs, particularly for women and youth. The program aims to actively involve local authorities, civil society actors, and the private sector in peacebuilding and development efforts, benefiting over one million people in the targeted areas.

The success of the program depends on the engagement of key stakeholders. Local municipalities, government officials, and civil society organizations will play pivotal roles in jointly prioritizing and designing training modules that promote their active participation in peacebuilding and civic engagement initiatives. The private sector is a vital catalyst for change. UNDP will support local businesses, especially women and youth-owned businesses, to create jobs and foster economic development. A thriving city can encourage innovation, attract talent, and contribute to a positive national and international image by attracting private investments and improving the business climate.

We were very proud to support the launch by the Municipality and the Benghazi and Derna Construction Fund (BCDF) of the Master Plan for Benghazi. A well-defined master plan will guide both public and private investments, define the public interest, and save a significant amount of money in the long run. The plan outlines a transformative vision for the city's future. It strongly emphasizes creating public spaces and revitalizing lakes and rivers, effectively reorienting the city towards the sea. Such an approach is critical for enhancing the livability and sustainability of Benghazi. 

The Master Plan for Benghazi aligns with the objectives of the Local Peacebuilding and Resilience program, as both initiatives aim to empower local institutions, support economic recovery, and create sustainable jobs, particularly for women and youth. The Master Plan, focusing on public spaces, economic development, and environmental sustainability, complements the program's overall goals by restoring trust, fostering resilience, and improving the community's well-being. The plan is accompanied by an agreement between all stakeholders on the priority buildings which will be renovated or rebuilt according to their original design. We applaud the efforts of all the stakeholders in coming together on this important agreement. 

In Benghazi, UNDP's Local Peacebuilding and Resilience program will focus on rehabilitating critical historic buildings and carrying out the key investments in sanitation. This, of course, is in addition to continuing our work in support of economic diversification through the creation of jobs by the business sector. In close collaboration with the BCDF, we are pleased to announce the launch of the tendering process for the rehabilitation of the iconic Al-Manar Palace, which will serve as a historic civic space for the city. 

Our efforts in the East are also a great example of how UNDP can pool resources from international partners and the Government of Libya while fostering new partnerships with International Financial Institutions, like the Africa Development Bank or with Berenice University in Benghazi. 

Critically, the rebuilding process is not only about infrastructure but is a reconciliation process, where society and authorities come together for a new vision for the city. UNDP is committed to supporting the BCDF and the Municipality in engaging with citizens and ensuring high transparency in the reconstruction process.