Lebanons cultural heritage largely survived recent bombing say UN experts

Most components of Lebanon’s cultural heritage were spared during the recent conflict, experts sent by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said today after visiting the country, but urgent measures are needed to protect the World Heritage List site of Byblos from the effects of an oil spill.At a press conference at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris following the six-day assessment visit by the experts, the mission’s leader Mounir Bouchenaki said the World Heritage List sites of Baalbek and Tyre sustained only minor damage.But Mr. Bouchenaki, who is also Director-General of the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, said the most serious damage occurred at Byblos, which contains the ruins of an important city of the Phoenician civilization.The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) bombed a coastal power plant at Jiyeh during its conflict with Hizbollah, causing an oil spill in the eastern Mediterranean sea that has reached Byblos.Mr. Bouchenaki said the stones at the base of two mediaeval towers and other seashore archaeological remains in the port have been affected by the oil spill. He estimated the clean-up operation will take up to 10 weeks, involve 25 people and cost about $100,000.In Tyre, while the Roman hippodrome and triumphal arch were undamaged, several frescoes in a Roman tomb on the site had come partly unstuck and needed restoration, Mr. Bouchenaki said.At Baalbek, the site was spared apart from the fall of one block of stone and suspected widening fissures on the lintels of the temples of Jupiter and Bacchus. In the nearby Old City of Baalbek, which is not part of the property inscribed on the World Heritage List, bombs damaged the souk and some old houses.The experts also visited the Old City of Saida and the nearby Temple of Echmoun – which the Lebanese Government is preparing to propose for inscription on the World Heritage List – and found them unscathed from the conflict.Stressing the importance that cultural heritage plays in demonstrating Lebanon’s diversity and tolerance, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture Françoise Rivière told today’s press conference that the World Heritage Fund could set aside $70,000 in emergency spending to help the country.Aside from Mr. Bouchenaki, the experts who took part in the mission were: Alain Bouineau, Honorary Professor at the Jean Monnet University of St. Etienne, France; Giorgio Croci, Professor at La Sapienza University, Rome; Véronique Dauge, head of the Arab States unit at UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre; Joseph Kreidi, culture project officer at UNESCO’s Beirut office; and Tamara Teneishivili, cultural programme specialist at UNESCO’s Beirut office. read more

SMMTs eleventh sustainability report shows positives for economy and environment

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Trader’s (SMMT) eleventh annual sustainability report today reveals that UK manufacturing has made significant progress in cutting CO2 emissions, waste and energy use despite the challenges of the recent economic crisis. While the 30% drop in vehicle production halted the per vehicle reduction, total energy use and CO2 emissions continued to fall in 2009 down 20% with average new car emissions falling to their lowest ever level of 149.5g/km, down 21.2% over the past 10 years.The report, which highlights progress in social, environmental and economic sectors of the motor industry through 2009, will demonstrate that despite challenging economic conditions, last year, automotive accounted for £23.8 billion of the UK’s total export values and still employs over 700,000 people. “The motor industry demonstrated its strength and resilience through the economic crisis and now has a major role to play in a rebalanced economy. The recent string of global investments in the UK-based development and production of low carbon technologies are indicative of the longer-term strength of the sector,” said SMMT chief executive, Paul Everitt. “Tomorrow’s Comprehensive Spending Review must support and incentivise private sector investment in R&D, skills and capital equipment to allow industry to fully exploit the global opportunities emerging from the new focus on manufacturing in the UK.”In particular, the report shows vehicle manufacturers continue to make significant reductions in the environmental impact of their products throughout the whole lifecycle of the vehicle, with 12 times more waste recycled than ending up in landfill and significant development in ELV (End of Life Vehicle) infrastructure to enable 95% recovery in 2015. Speaking at the parliamentary launch later today, keynote speaker, head of climate change strategy, Geoff Richards, will also outline how the work of the Automotive Council, a strategic partnership between industry and government is delivering progress in the transition towards ultra-low carbon vehicles, creating opportunities for the UK supply base. The eleventh annual report collected data from signatories representing 94% of vehicle production in the UK. The full report can be downloaded from the SMMT web site – 10th Sustainability Report   Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) read more