The Director General of the René MOAWAD Foundation, MP Michel MOAWAD, highlighted that the bet on local authorities as the basis of development constituted the best bet for a transparent and efficient development. It also proved that investing in local authorities was more effective and less costly than the development we are facing through the centralized state, and underlined the importance of tripartite partnership between international donor institutions, non-governmental organizations and local authorities.
MOAWAD gave a speech at the completion of the project entitled “Promotion of Rural Tourism and Sustainable Forest Management in Batloun – Chouf“, funded by USAID and implemented by the “René MOAWAD Foundation” in partnership with the municipality of Batloun and the Cedar of Chouf Association.
A parterre of personalities attended the event amongst whom the president of the democratic meeting, MP Timor JUMBLATT, represented by Dr. Omar GHANNAM, MP Farid BOUSTANI, represented by Mr. Nicolas AFTIMOS, the director of the Office of the USAID Local Development, Mr. Claude ZULU, President of the Union of Municipalities of Chouf Swaijani, Ing. Yehia ABOU KAROUM, the mayor of Batloun Marwan QAIS, mayors and mukhatars, the chairman of the Chouf Cedar Reserve Committee, Charles NJEIM, the director of the rehabilitation center, Dr. Wiam ABU HAMDAN, as well as representatives of spiritual, social, security and community organizations.
MOAWAD expressed his joy of being present in the mountain of coexistence and reconciliation. “We emphasize and confirm that this mountain remains one of reconciliation and coexistence, which supports and protects the values of pluralism, openness and freedom, in particular freedom of expression, the basis of the formation of Lebanon and the meaning of his message and his identity “.
He added: “We are opening a project to promote ecotourism and good sustainable forest management practices funded by USAID and the American people, as part of the USAID-funded Baladi program, launched in 2012 carried out by the René MOAWAD Foundation. This project is in partnership with 115 municipalities and 73 local NGOs in 17 districts of Lebanon, from Akkar to Nabatieh and from the coast to Arsal, and will be beneficial hundreds of thousands of Lebanese and Lebanese residents.
He clarified that “the Batloun project is not the only project carried out in the Chouf by the René MOAWAD Foundation. It is one of Chouf’s five projects aiming to promote sustainable tourism in Barouk – Fraydiss, the rehabilitation and equipping of a social room in Mazraet El Chouf, the creation of an ecological and tourist zone in Bchtifin, the improvement and rehabilitation of the irrigation water system in Maasser El Chouf. ”
MOAWAD noted that the Batloun project a USD 175,000 US-funded one aims to transform one of Lebanon’s main forests from a source of wood into a source of income ecotourism, and to end the conversion of Lebanese green forests into concrete forests.
He continued: “For Green Lebanon to remain a reality and not just the title of one of Mrs. Fairouz’s songs, we must work to promote sustainable development and sustainable ecotourism, just like the scope of this project ».
MOAWAD found that the Batloun project, through which the rehabilitation of a 20km hiking trail and its commercialization, was an opportunity to highlight the monuments of this historic region and its beauty and transform it into a tourism wealth that provides a local business cycle and employment opportunities for Batloun residents and a number of surrounding villages.
He stressed that this project could reaffirm the success of the bet on local authorities as a basis for transparent and effective development, as well as evidence that investment in local authorities is more efficient and less costly than development. Observed through the centralized state that they know the needs of their region the local economic cycle and job opportunities for young people in the city. ”
MOAWAD underscored the importance of the tripartite partnership between international donors, non-governmental organizations and local authorities, praising the cooperation that has taken place between the municipality of Batloun, which has played a central role in this project and the municipalities of the region. I thank the associations and municipalities that have cooperated to carry out this project because they have provided a pluralist model of Lebanon capable of cooperating for the common good, especially in these circumstances.
He also thanked the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the American people, who confirmed, day after day, through these projects, their concern for Lebanon, its stability, its legitimacy, its institutions and the development of the State as well as and the team of the René MOAWAD Foundation and the municipality of Batloun, and all the people who contributed to the completion of this project.
“The United States has long envisioned empowering communities to foster local economic development and address social challenges. That’s why USAID has been working closely with the Lebanese people for decades, “said Claude ZULU, Director of USAID’s Office of Local Development. It is time to create strong communities that improve livelihoods by increasing employment and improving the economy. We believe these projects are important for stimulating rural communities, attracting visitors and increasing the income of the population. ”
Batloun’s Mayor Marwan QAIS thanked everyone who contributed to the completion of this project. He said: “This project would not have been possible without the support of the René MOAWAD Foundation and the US Agency for International Development USAID, in cooperation with the Chouf cedar reserve. The map of Lebanon’s mountain trail will also be known by travel agents and travel clubs, as well as all rural and wilderness hiker clubs, and the area will be reactivated to create jobs for young people and the residents of the city.
Natasha MARAACHELIAN, Director of Baladi and ecotourism coordinator of the Chouf Biosphere Reserve, presented in detail the project and its importance. The ceremony was preceded by a field trip on the open path, followed by a lunch.