“Equality through sustainability,” a motto worthy of embracing, made Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU) alumnus Wadih Mahfoud’s (BArch’20) project “ARTICKLE” stand out amongst 2055 Lebanese competitors in the selection process of the Youth Leadership Programme (YLP), an initiative organized by the United Nations Development Programme Lebanon (UNDP Lebanon).
Mahfoud began his academic journey at the Ramez G. Chagoury Faculty of Architecture, Arts, and Design (FAAD) in 2017. During this time, he was coached in the matters of sustainable development and the methodology of implementing them through design, which inspired the early drafts of his project, ARTICKLE.
Designed to combat social inequalities through architecture, ARTICKLE targets Lebanese regions that do not receive the necessary governmental support for their prosperity, such as Akkar. Mahfoud and his team’s project aimed to answer one question: “Why should we leave Akkar to study and work, while architecture through ARTICKLE can offer us what we need to stay?” A sentiment that resonated with the citizens of Akkar, Mahfoud designed his project to integrate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), namely:
- Quality education (SDG 4)
- Gender equality (SDG 5)
- Industry, innovation, and infrastructure (SDG 9)
- Reduced inequalities (SDG 10)
- Climate action (SDG 13)
- Life below water (SDG 14)
- Life on land (SDG 15)
With these goals in mind, ARTICKLE was conceived in response to the differing social events that marked Lebanon’s turbulent years, from 2019 to present. The project aims to spread awareness and is dedicated to the preservation of ecological, archeological, and urban sites, such as the Al Aazer forest, the Arqaa Fortress, and the Beino village. The most pressing threats targeting these areas include annual fires, uncontrollable droughts, and rising waste pollution. To this end, Mahfoud and his team proposed the construction of a pillar, a structure with a steel base and an alarm, which would detonate when the temperature rises. The pillar would in turn collect water, filter it, and then release it into the sites, thus sparing the designated areas from fires and droughts.
While the early conception of the project was met with skepticism, Mahfoud remained steadfast in his ambitions, which culminated in his selection for the YLP training. On his motivation, Mahfoud commented: “I made it for me, for the team, and for those who underestimated ARTICKLE for more than three years.” In this case, Mahfoud was selected for the ninth iteration of the training program (YLP9), which would help him develop his skill sets and his project concurrently.
Aiming to empower innovators, the YLP equips the youth of Lebanon with the proper training and tools to address social problems through sustainable solutions. In the February of every year, the YLP launches an open call for participants, aged 19 to 29, who are then selected for their innovative solutions targeting at least one of the SDGs. Once chosen, the participants undergo a wide range of trainings, from technical workshops to hands-on activities, that will guide them through the development of their projects. The YLP then nominates select participants to attend regional workshops to broaden their network and take their projects to the next level.
After completing the YLP9 training, Mahfoud plans to implement ARTICKLE in Akkar, before spreading the project across Lebanon. Despite the hardship brought upon by extraneous circumstances, Mahfoud voiced his faith in the country’s reformation: “I will not leave. I will stay and make the change. Here we go, Lebanon!”
Congratulations to Mahfoud and may his ambitions be met with support and success.