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UNESCO Beirut and Hariri Foundation conclude the project “Lebanon as State of Knowledge”

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27 June 2019
UNESCO Beirut and Hariri Foundation conclude the project “Lebanon as State of Knowledge” UNESCO
On 27 June 2019, UNESCO Beirut hosted the closing ceremony of its two-year project “Lebanon as State of Knowledge”, in presence of MP and President of the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development (HFSHD) Mrs Bahia al Hariri. The project, funded by HFSHD and implemented by UNESCO within its programme “Management of Social Transformations” (MOST), aimed at fostering research-policy linkage, and supporting the capacity of young researchers and professionals in research on emerging development issues.
Through 4 MOST schools and workshops, young researchers, civil activists and policy stakeholders, built their capacities in key issues and fields, including gender equality, urban inclusion, civic engagement, and prevention of violent extremism. They acquired key skills to further consolidate their research and engage in the decision-making process. A number of universities contributed to the project, including the Lebanese University, the Beirut Arab University (BAU), and the American University in Beirut (AUB).

Speaking at the closing ceremony, UNESCO Beirut director Dr Hamed Al Hamami said: ““Leaving no one behind” by 2030, 11 years from now, this bold vision demands creative approaches, beyond the typical linear and sectoral ones that most countries have been used to in recent decades. Over the 18 months-long project “Lebanon as State of Knowledge”, our collaboration with HFSHD aimed to anchor a culture of evidence-based policymaking as to achieve this vision. The project aimed at building the capacity of youth stakeholders in policy research and dialogue, on the one hand, and at fostering closer inter-university collaboration in policy research, on the other”. Al Hamami highlighted the key achievements of the project: “A group of 115 young researchers, civil activists, and students were trained; 16 research papers were published, and 25 policy briefs; and various SDGs were tackled including SDG 5 on Gender equality, SDG 10 on Reducing inequalities, SDG 11 on Sustainable cities, and SDG 16 on Social cohesion and peace building”.

In her turn, Mrs Bahia al Hariri expressed her satisfaction and pride with the fruitful cooperation with UNESCO Beirut on this project. Hariri highlighted that : “This project is a unique and pioneer one in the Middle East region, proving that Lebanon acts as a model and leader in the realm of science and knowledge production”. She said: “Through creating bridges and positive synergies between research and policymaking, we ensure that policies are better informed, thus more efficient”, adding that: “This generation of youth is very capable and creative, hence the necessity to engage it in the decision-making process”.

Three panels were then organized to present the achievements and the lessons learnt from the project. The first panel, on “Research and actions to achieve SDGs, was moderated by Secretary General of the Lebanese National Commission for UNESCO Dr Tala Zein, and featured presentations by Professor Marleine Najjar, Dean of the Institute for Social Sciences at the Lebanese University, and Professor Ibtihal Elbastawissi, Dean of the Faculty of Architecture at BAU. The second panel revolved around “Policy, Research, and Actions for the Prevention of Violent Extremism”. It was chaired by Dr Seiko Sugita, UNESCO Beirut’s Programme Specialist for Social & Human Sciences, and included presentations by Dr Laure Abi Khalil (Lebanese University), and Ms Aline Germani and Maryam Saadeh (AUB). The third panel dealt with “Challenges and Opportunities in Social & Human Science Research”. It was chaired by Mr Mohamed Agati, Director of the Arab Forum for Alternatives, and included presentations by Dr Maha Kayal and Dr Lubna Tarabey (Lebanese University).

Students who published policy briefs and research papers in the framework of the project presented their findings and offered testimonials about this experience.