Uniting for development in Lebanon

Against a backdrop of political violence and increasing tension, Lebanese youth leaders from across the political divide are working together to ensure that development opportunities offered by the oil and gas sector are not missed.

Seismographic data indicates that there are large oil and gas deposits off Lebanon’s coast, yet volatility and a power vacuum at the highest levels of government are stalling decision-making on the issue. Public perceptions of corruption are also at an all-time high, raising doubts about the country’s ability to take advantage of exploration.

Echoing these concerns, youth leaders from across the political divide have come together to explore ways of securing the maximum impact of the oil and gas sector on social, economic and political development in Lebanon. With the country’s high levels of youth unemployment and emigration, it is an issue of particular concern for youth leaders and their constituencies.

With the support of International Alert, the representatives of 15 of the country’s most influential political parties have been meeting on a monthly basis to discuss options and build consensus on ways forward.

The parties have met with the heads of the Lebanon Petroleum Administration (LPA) to gain an up-to-date understanding of developments in exploration in the country, its anticipated commercial value, and the legislative and institutional arrangements in place to handle it. They have also met with civil society actors with expertise in transparency and good governance in the oil and gas sector.

A consensus was reached to work together to ensure that the resource wealth benefits the Lebanese people. Cross-party groups have been formed to draft recommendations on a range of issues, including institutionalising transparency and good governance in the sector, appropriate models for revenue management, and priority and specific development priorities.

In their next dialogue session, the parties will collectively decide on which stakeholders from the government, civil society and private sector they will engage to inform them of the group’s collective views.

This work is part of our project, Doing politics differently in Lebanon, funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You can find out more about our work in Lebanon here.