With its Resilience Strategy, Byblos aims to honor its past and adapt to the future, dynamically embracing its heritage with innovation and building on its diversity to become a pioneer city in the Mediterranean.
Byblos is a coastal city vulnerable to numerous shocks and stresses – physical, environmental, economic, societal and political. From growing population and aging infrastructure to changing climate and coastline, regional unrest and environmental damage to economic diversification, the city’s strategy recognizes that it must engage local champions and stakeholders in order to preserve its heritage while adapting for the future.
Building resilience so that Byblos, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, can prosper for another 7,000 years, requires a hard look at where our city is weak and strong, how we can build connectivity and inclusiveness in the face of fragmentation, the right paths to address a changing environment, and how we can embrace and preserve our multifaceted culture.
We will build a more integrated and cohesive city.
A Resilient Byblos requires multidisciplinary and integrated urban strategies that promote innovative, responsive, and sustainable interventions in our city. Everyone has a role to play in what the city suffers today. We need to move toward a more integrated and cohesive urban form. We need improved data about the city and its growth to inform better urban management. We need to build a blue-green network throughout the city. And we need to curb the ongoing urban sprawl
Our work on urban development is integrated with our other goals. Through the way we plan and manage our built environment, we will seek to progress toward better management of our natural environment, more cohesive communities, protected
and enhanced cultural heritage, and a more holistic approach to economic growth.
To build innovative and inclusive urban solutions, we have identified three goals:
- Build our digital infrastructure
- Connect our city’s neighborhoods and limit urban sprawl
- Design our blue-green network
Our city suffers from a lack of data about the people and assets we have, and how we are changing. We are in the digital age, where data is crucial in informing decision making and building more sustainable and resilient cities. We want to improve our city’s measurement capability, in order to improve our management.
One of the major issues in all the coastal Lebanese cities is that we have four parts of the city, divided by major north-south and east-west roads—these parts of the city converge in a major vehicular roundabout at the geographic center of the city. We want to improve connectivity across our neighborhoods and curb unregulated development, which is expanding our city into the hills, leading to traffic, obstruction of major view corridors, and development of the remaining natural landscape.
Urban sprawl, unregulated development, drought and other shocks and stresses have caused our open spaces, agricultural land, private gardens, woodlands, rivers and other water courses to be marginalized or removed. We want to bring these natural assets back to create a greener, cleaner and healthier urban environment.
We will promote environmental stewardship and invest in efficient and renewable energy.
We are looking for synergies in approaches to address our priority issues for Byblos’ natural environment and ecosystems. This includes trying to limit anthropogenic pollution, protect natural habitats, and encourage sustainable local practices of resource use.
Environmental stresses that are within our control include the difficulties of managing our solid waste, air quality issues that stem from reliance on back-up diesel generators for reliable energy supply, and our own citizen’s impact on and responsibility toward the natural environment.
Our work to preserve our environment is intrinsically linked to our practices of urban development, and should be considered in tandem with the goals outlined in Strategic Pillar 1. Our view is that a unified approach to sustainable behaviors by all of our citizens will generate social cohesion and a sense of wellbeing (Strategic Pillar 4), and new environmental management practices could be a catalyst for economic diversification (Strategic Pillar 5).
We will engage citizens and build strong community networks.
With rapid population growth, internal migration and an influx of refugees from Syria, maintenance of social cohesion is a growing challenge. The wider region is also threatened by armed conflicts resulting from injustice, oppression, lack of freedom, radical ideologies, violent autocratic governments and religious extremism. These initiatives aim to ensure ongoing changes in the city do not jeopardize social cohesion or affect the peacefulness and tolerance that have characterized it for so long.
Inclusivity is another key priority for Byblos. We are acutely conscious of the vulnerable groups that reside within the city, including those who are elderly, physically or mentally challenged, and socially or economically disadvantaged. This goal seeks to ensure these groups have a voice and their needs are adequately addressed. It further promotes the integration of vulnerable groups in all aspects of the city’s social, cultural and economic life. These principles are closely aligned with Goal 5, since by embracing the diversity of our people we can turn our unique city characteristics into a catalyst for diverse economic development.
Building inclusivity and peacefulness requires improving communication and engagement between citizens and local authorities, particularly outside of election times. This goal focuses on improving ongoing relations with our citizens and caza communities to minimize the risk of instability, especially during volatile or strained periods. This will lead to improved governance for the city through actively engaged and empowered community.
We will protect our history and promote local identity.
Our cultural heritage, customs, and traditions are a source of pride for our people, contributing to the distinctiveness of our city. They need to be revived and celebrated. Byblos’ history can be traced back to the development of the modern day alphabet; Myths of the death and birth of Adonis, Byblos’ main God, made the city a famous pilgrimage site.
Celebration of culture will be a catalyst for economic development, community engagement, participation, and social cohesion, thus supporting Goals 3 and 5. Some of our oldest traditional sectors have suffered from negligence, shifting economies, regional instability, and youth migration to larger cities. Traditional economies are an asset to our city that need to be incorporated in our strategy for a resilient Byblos. These include crafts, agriculture, fishing and others. Thus, we will protect the city’s historic assets and coastal heritage through innovative management solutions for man-made and natural resources, and establish local markets to cherish and protect local identity and traditional businesses.
We will promote innovative enterprise and lift quality of life for our citizens.
Promoting and maintaining the diversity of Byblos’ economy is a critical requirement to ensure resilience, especially by expanding the city’s role as a hub for banking, retail, education and artistic and cultural activities, as well as an advanced medical center for the region north of Beirut and north Lebanon. Byblos is characterized by a vibrant and diverse economy, which places the city in a strong economic position compared with other Lebanese cities. Historically, the main economic activities of the city centered around trade and agriculture.
The city hosts 12 main industries, spanning health, education, finance, hospitality, tourism, commerce, law, and construction. By creating economic opportunities and enabling sustainable livelihoods, the city can support its population into the future and generate the financial resources needed to secure its survival.
Diversification is an integral outcome from each of our other resilience goals; by transforming our approach to urban development, environmental management, social cohesion and cultural heritage, we intend to generate new economic opportunities that build upon our historic assets to create a forward-looking city.