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Case Study: Beirut's RiverLESS Forest

Planting urban forests across Beirut

D&AD Future Impact recognises and supports initiatives and products with the potential to drive positive change in the world. In 2019, we chose 11 winning ideas to receive a 12-month programme of support. This included a two-day accelerator with talks and mentoring sessions, hosted at the McCann offices in New York, with the aim of helping these ideas improve, evolve and continue to make an impact in the world.

Here we take a closer look at one of these ideas: Beirut’s RiverLESS Forest - an initiative that’s planting urban forests across Beirut, to create new public space and raise awareness of the city’s polluted river. 

Beirut has some of the lowest rates of green space per capita in the world. While the World Health Organization recommends at least nine square metres per person, in Beirut the figure is 0.8. Public space in general is in serious short supply, with the Beirut River - which at one point performed an important social, environmental and cultural role - channeled into concrete in 1968. Since then, it’s become a kind of no man’s land, disconnecting communities from each other and turning into a dumping ground for waste, sewage and other industrial pollution. Sustainable architecture consultancy The Other Dada has been studying the effects of this since 2013, to understand how it could address the river’s loss and create new green space for Beirut’s inhabitants. The answer? Planting pockets of forest in the city.

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