Democratization & Public Accountabillity

Promoting Public Consultation in Urban Policy



Background:

Urban projects have rarely been successful in Lebanon. The government's approach is mainly to be held responsible for this. Within an obsolete legal framework, the government has usually acted unilaterally, with little – if any - appeal to the population.

The ultimate arbiters of any urban projects are its long-term users. The true success of an initiative can only be measured retrospectively, proportionally to the level of public satisfaction it generates. It is therefore normal that the views and demands of the city inhabitants be considered as the most valuable input during the development and implementation of an urban project.

Participation in urban policies constitutes a principle that has been strongly embedded in the legal framework of many European countries and the US; and recently in several neighboring countries such as Algeria and Morocco. Inscribed within the larger context of sustainability and its new paradigms, participation in urban planning has a proven role to play in the making and management of cities.

Even though a national Lebanese master plan, re-asserting the role of planning, was produced in 2005, no special effort had been made to highlight the role of democratic practices such as participation, in endorsing and sustaining the planning regulations issued by central authorities.

Objectives:

MAJAL (The Academic Urban Observatory in Lebanon), in coordination with LTA, suggests a lobbying campaign, funded by USAID and managed by AMIDEAST under the Transparency and Accountability Grants (TAG) Project, for legislative reform to include the principle of public consultation in urban planning practices in Lebanon.

In this context, MAJAL and LTA are herby working on a research and lobbying project which aim to engage a legislative reform in Lebanon by examining how to insert the principle of public consultation in urban planning institutional practices.

Project’s progression:

1st phase: The project staff carried out an extensive desk research on public participation in urban planning processes. The main findings were documented in a report which highlights on the evolution of public participation methods supported by case studies.

Download the report (ArabicFrench)

2nd phase: MAJAL and LTA decided to move forward by including in the scope of their work the review of the Terms of Reference (TOR) which usually the Directorate General of Urbanism (DGU) concludes with private consultants (who are in charge of elaborating urban plans and regulations). Amending the TOR can be a direct and efficient way to include public consultation in urban planning practices.

Download the terms of Reference (TOR) (Arabic)

For the purpose of advocating the suggested reforms, the project staff developed a pamphlet which addresses the goals and objectives of the entire project in addition to detailed reform mechanisms.

Download the Pamphlet (Arabic - English)

3rd phase: MAJAL and LTA’s efforts will be focused on the lobbying campaign which basically consists of pushing for above mentioned reforms with key-decision makers and grassroots groups.