Open Letter to Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Rio +20 Summit

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Christ the Redeemer Statue, Carnival Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens, Copocabana Beach, Maracana Stadium, Protesters Tearing Up Negotiated Texts, Indigenous Peoples Screaming Angrily on Streets…yes, you read correctly, the last two “attractions” upper-cased deliberately, in a show of both heartache or maybe even heartburn for the difficulty it took me to digest the decisions, or lack thereof, taken at this years Rio summit.

It seems this year’s “Earth Summit” was nothing but a cover-up for rich nations to bully developing ones – pointing the finger at the likes of China,Brazil and India – all the while diverting attention from their lack of commitment to any stern environmental decisions. Leaders from developing nations also sharply criticized their counterparts from richer nations citing what they said is the historic responsibility industrialized nations have to clean up the globe.

Leaders from 193 nations descended on Brazil’s carnival capital for the largest conference the United Nations has organized for discussing hundreds of issues meant to get the world on a sustainable path. An upward of 50,000 senior officials joined in including our very own Prime Minister Najib Mikati.

“Lebanon sets an example for others to follow in regards to the balance between achieving sustainable development, security, peace and stability, especially in societies emerging from armed conflict.” –PM Mikati from Rio +20

Mr. Prime Minister, excuse me while I chuckle. Let’s read that again, shall we? Lebanon sets an example for others to follow – something something something – sustainable development. Somehow the words sustainable development and Lebanon in the same sentence overload into “something” I cannot fathom.

It may be due to years of carelessness, negligence, complete and deliberate mass eradication of our very own environment which has led to my blind and blatant sense of cynicism.

Please Mr Prime Minister, give the common Lebanese folk, one example of sustainable development our nation has witnessed in the past couple of years, nay in the past decade(s).

What say you to the list upon list of environmental tragedies that Lebanon faces on a daily basis? What say you to mountains upon mountains of toxic waste on public beaches, looming water shortages, roads polluted with deadly levels of micro-particles, unfiltered factories emitting CO2 at irreparable levels.

And finally the question, why are none of these issues ever brought up in Lebanon’s national talks?

Many of the country’s myriad environmental problems were caused by conflicts in the unsettled region. They include civil war era dumps of toxic chemicals and Israeli-caused oil spills along the coastline.

The country is now nearing its annual forest fire season which can cause serious environmental damage, burning swaths of forests and displacing hundreds.

Meanwhile Mr Prime Minister, you sign off 7,700 hectares of forest land to foreign ownership.

Meanwhile Mr Prime Minister the country’s green heritage is bought by the power of the green dollar.

Meanwhile Mr Prime Minister our country hangs by a thread.

You say that sustainable development cannot be achieved without a just and lasting peace for all people, reiterating Lebanon’s support to the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and right to return to their homeland. In this regard, you stress your rejection of the settlement of Palestinians in host countries including Lebanon.

But please Mr Prime Minister, be aware that you are making those statements from Brazil, a country which is now displacing hundreds of native tribes people who live along the Xingu river because Mme Dilma Vanna Roussef, this years sustainable charade host, gave the green light to build the third largest dam in the world in the heart of the Amazon rain forest.

The Belo Monte Dam is expected to inundate an estimated 400,000 hectares of forest, expelling 40,000 indigenous and local populations, and destroying habitat valuable for many species. If Belo Monte goes ahead there are plans to build 60 other monster dams across the Amazon rain forest.

Mr Prime Minister, the draft and probably final declaration released today is 283 paragraphs of fluff. It suggests that the 190 governments have in effect, given up on multilateralism, given up on the world and given up on us. The declaration is remarkable for its absence of figures, dates and targets. I duly apologize Mr Prime Minister, but the draft sounds awfully “Lebanese” to me.

You addressed Lebanese immigrants in Brazil, reassuring them that Lebanon is safe and awaiting their return, but do you realize that the green forests imprinted in their subconscious from oversold postcards no longer exist?

I urge you Mr. Prime Minister, to please let go of false promises and sugar-coated statements. Lebanon is not exemplary of sustainable development nor of conservation – whether we have emerged from conflicts or not.

Our country has lost in the battle against mass corruption, where ministers use their immunity as a shield to bury toxic wastes underneath virgin woodlands, as their foreign bank accounts swell overnight. Where politicians, abuse their authority to grant political “wasta” for sand and stone quarries in the most beautiful of Lebanese mountains. Where toxic materials are disposed of in the most pure of rivers.

Excuse me Mr Prime Minister, et al. but in my final words, I wish only for your safe return to Lebanon, lest a fragment of a fragment of your promises made today at the Rio+20 summit bear some truth on the ground.

Nadine Mazloum is currently the editor for LBCI Online English News. She received her Honors in Communication Arts (Media Production) from The University of Western Sydney in 2008.

For a link of the environmental video petition Ms Mazloum created, please click on this link

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  1. Lizzie Cornish says:

    Well said, Nadine!
    Come on, Lebanon, DEMAND your ‘Leaders’ start to LEAD! To lead the way back to Caring for Mother Earth, away from Greed, Corruption and Insanity!

    For those who know nothing of the Belo Monte Dam, here is the excellent video Nadine made which has reached the eyes and ears of Norte Energia, one of the main companies building this wretched Dam, the first of 59 planned for the Amazon Rainforest and the third largest on the planet..It will bring Global Climate Catastrophe, along with Genocide to the Indigenous Tribes of the Rainforest…

    ‘Citizens of the World Against Belo Monte’

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