Words May M. El Ali

Global warming has become one of the main challenges that are faced by the world today. Climate change has been greatly intensified by human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels to produce energy.  Perhaps it’s just about time to steer the world towards renewable energy instead, which can help mitigate the adverse effects of climate change. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Lebanon has not only been working with leaders and decision-makers to raise awareness about this key global issue, but it has also been working with universities and schools throughout the country.

One project with which it has been proud to be involved is “Light Up A Village” (LUV), led by Students for Sustainable Energy for All (SSEA) at the American University of Beirut (AUB). The purpose of LUV is to promote and provide renewable energy solutions to underprivileged Lebanese communities that have had limited access to electricity until today. Launched in February 2016, LUV is actually a long-term project that seeks to reach out to all villages in need and that goes along with AUB’s green initiatives.

This year’s project, LUV1, is mostly sponsored by UNDP Lebanon and AUB (in addition to the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Tripoli, Byblos Bank, Bank Med, and Deloitte) and will be the first of the yearly LUV sequence.  It aims at setting up 21 photovoltaic solar light poles in Majdal village in Akkar.  Majdal will be this year’s site of implementation, 60 percent of which will be illuminated by November 2016, especially since SSEA has obtained the municipality’s support for such a project. Besides being solar-powered, the street lighting for which LUV aims also provides road safety, which is essential for drivers and pedestrians at night.

Civic engagement

What makes LUV unique is the civic engagement aspect, which encouraged the students to work together to provide better services to poorer communities. Students would go on site and take measurements, write down proposals, contact sponsors, implement a wide variety of fundraising strategies, and ultimately, have the chance to implement the project themselves. The change that LUV1 is bringing about has far-reaching effects. It’s lighting up skies not only at night, but also during the day, as it is mitigating CO2 emissions that almost reach the highest concentration in human history, mainly as a result of the burning of fossil fuels.