Outcome of the SDG Research

On September 17, 2019 the American University of Beirut (AUB) hosted in collaboration with the Global Compact Network Lebanon (GCNL) the conclusory phase of a two-year ongoing program which is the development of research projects focused on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The first year revolved around analyzing several proposals from AUB Faculty Members to choose the winning teams eligible for the generous financial sponsorship provided by GCNL, all in favor of mobilizing action-oriented research.

In the second year, the designated teams invested in comprehensive and elaborate research to support the manifestation of SDG projects that have practical and tangible applications.

And then again on September 17th, the teams proudly presented the findings of their valuable research in a celebratory and informative event held at AUB.
Dr. Dima Jamali thanking the research teams for their hard-work and commendable projects!

The following is an overview of the research projects, some of which have already been launched on the ground.

Project 1: Turning our office paper waste into nutrients for plants

Abstract This proposal is an action-oriented research that will set the ground for the development of a low-cost method to replace plastic materials used in agriculture by waste paper from our office bins. In particular, we will assess the possibility of using waste paper to help solve the problems of the immense use of plastics in agriculture and its negative environmental impact. Farmers and gardeners use mulching as a method to improve the condition of agriculture by covering the cultivated soil surface with different kinds of materials. The mulch (or covering) contributes to better plant production. However, mulch is now the largest use of plastics in agriculture which created the problem of plastic disposal and the negative impact that it has on the environment. Here we propose to collect waste paper from FAFS offices and later on from other AUB offices, to shred them and apply them in replacement for plastic mulch in agriculture. The shredded paper will be topped with compost to keep it in place. An experiment will determine the efficiency of the shredded paper mulch to protect crops from weeds, provide organic nutrients to the plants, and keep the moisture and temperature of the soil in which the plants are produced. Confirming the benefits of the shredded paper mulch will set the stage to a large scale operation where collected waste paper from offices are gathered and recycled into a new product, an organic mulch to be used in agriculture, landscape and gardens. Credits: Dr. Mirella Aoun

Project 2: Solar Heated Poultry House, PRO-Shield

Abstract The cost of heating a poultry house is majorly increasing the cost of food production; farmers tend to use fuel and electrical heaters for the purpose of maintaining the appropriate temperature for the poultry house. Solar heated poultry house is an innovative heating plan for the poultry where solar water heaters are used as an alternative green energy source, considering that the solar system can provide the required temperature for the various poultry growth stages. This plan uses solar water heaters and equips them with an innovative product (PRO – Shield) which is mounted on any solar water heater to solve the worldwide problem of overheating it face. Furthermore, introducing PRO – Shield will ensure the solar water heaters efficiency, turning this plan to a long run plan with negligible maintenance and operation costs, transforming Lebanon into an industrial country with a leading innovative mentality and enhanced economic cycle through reducing the Lebanese poultry’s cost. Credits: Dr. Haytham Dbouk

Project 3: Sustaining the landscape of cemeteries: Enhancing religious institutions’ contribution to sustainable cities and communities in Beirut

Abstract While religion has influences on several of the Lebanese community’s social, political and economic activities, little is known about religion institutions’ impacts on the environmental conditions of our cities. This study will shed light on the potential of religion, and more specifically religious institutions, in promoting and advancing sustainable cities and communities (Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11), through the management of the scared landscapes of urban cemeteries in Beirut. This study will investigate how religious institutions (both Christian and Muslim) view these sacred sites, their approach to the management, design and planning of cemeteries in general as well as how these align with the concept of sustainability of these urban landscapes. By conducting in-depth interviews with the different religious institutions and leaders who own/manage cemeteries in Beirut, as well as through site observations, we aim to (1) present new empirical insights from the Lebanese multi-religious context in relation to how religious institutions influence the protection and safeguard of natural and cultural heritage sites such as cemeteries as well as affect the availability, accessibility and sustainability of such green spaces in the city and (2) present recommendations and design guidelines that could enhance their contribution to SDG 11. Credits: Dr. Nayla Al Akl

Project 4: Towards Sustainable Business Models of Waste Management in Lebanon

Abstract Lebanon was affected deeply by the waste management crisis in 2015. This crisis had negative impact on the economy, health, and the environment. In response to this crisis, we have seen the emergence of several recycling initiatives led by different stakeholders such as NGOs, private sector, and even local public authorities. The objective of this project is to look at the different business models of recycling initiatives in Lebanon. Knowing that recycling as an activity is seldom economically viable, we aim to find how sustainability is achieved, and the types of value co-creation generated by the different business models. In order to answer the research questions, we will undertake a study with the objective of surveying different organizations in the ecosystem. Anchored in the SDGs, and in particular SDG 12, we hope to have a clear image of the factors enabling/jeopardizing the development and scaling of sustainable business models tackling recycling in Lebanon. From a theoretical perspective, this will contribute to research on sustainability and business models. From a practical perspective, this project will contribute to understanding recycling in Lebanon and inform policy makers and stakeholders on best practice. Credits: Drs. Alain Daou & Randa Salamoun

Project 5: Towards an organized colorectal cancer screening program: An action-oriented research

Abstract In this proposed project, AUB faculty members and graduate students, SAID NGO representing the civil society and with the support from the Ministry of Public Health through the Department of Primary Health Care will be working together to address an often overlooked but fatal non-communicable disease, the colorectal cancer (CRC). The proposed project is an action-oriented study. In line with implementation research framework [15], we propose to implement a systematic invitation approach using text messages for registered individuals receiving care in four primary health care systems in four different geographic regions of Lebanon. This intervention will be coupled with a social marketing campaign and capacity building training sessions for health care providers. The implementation will occur between October and December 2018, preceding the proposed date for launching the National Awareness Campaign in March 2019. The implementation will take place after ethical approval from the AUB Institutional Review Board. Credits: Dr. Gladys Honein

Project 6: Sustainable Is The New Healthy: The Healthy Lebanese Mediterranean diet: Is it Sustainable?

Abstract The overall goal of the proposed study is to pave the way towards the formulation of evidence-based recommendations towards not only healthy but also sustainable diets, recommendations that are at the core of the water, food, energy, and health nexus. The specific objectives are 1) to evaluate and compare the environmental footprints (EFP) of existing dietary patterns in Lebanon, including the ‘healthy’ LMD and 2) to examine and compare the economic cost associated with consumption of these dietary patterns. The results of this study will provide the evidence-base for the development of interventions to promote balanced and sustainable diets that have a positive impact on health as well as on the environmental and economic aspects of sustainability, hence contributing to the commitment of the country to achieving the SDGs. This project will provide the first country-specific evidence for sustainable and balanced diets to combat NCDs in Lebanon. As such the proposed work addresses SDG 3: ‘Ensure healthy lives and promote well- being for all at all ages’ and SDG 12 ‘Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns’. In addition, the proposed study tackles the sustainability of the Lebanese traditional diet. The latter was presented as a variant of the Mediterranean diet in a study featured in the European Journal of Nutrition [10]. Mediterranean diets were recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in November 2010. Therefore, this study relates to SDG 11, more specifically 11.4 ‘Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage’. Credits: Dr. Farah Naja

Project 7: Earth construction in the East Mediterranean region

Abstract The aim of acquiring this fund is to develop research and practice concerning the construction methods of rammed earth. The study would include the examination of possible mixes, actual full-scale applications and providing a comprehensive rammed earth building guidebook. The research is tailored to the needs and capacities of Lebanon and the Mediterranean region and aims to introduce this method as a viable option in the construction market. The grant will be needed to purchase essential local material and minor equipment, transportation to sites of intervention in Lebanon, and to support a Master’s thesis graduate student and undergraduate research assistants. Credits: Dr. Aram Yeretzian


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