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Context

Lebanon is in an existential crisis. This is reflected in the collapse of its economy, major social and demographic upheavals and a questioning of the power system in place since the end of the war. This power system is based in particular on a politico-financial oligarchy with communitarian and militia components. It has monopolized the institutions of the state to the point where Lebanon now ranks, a hundred years after its creation, in the unenviable category of failed states, with all the risks entailed.

Rebuilding the state is a priority. Unstructured popular movements and citizens in search of renewal are looking for ways to embark on this path. This also implies mobilizing the tools of non-partisan thinking and public action.

The project to create our Foundation is born from this priority. The Foundation will serve as an instrument of strategic thinking and influence for the various actors on the Lebanese scene, whether local or international. The Foundation, while promoting citizenry, will provide a range of public policies options, create the debate and serve as a catalyst for the implementation of specific public policies. Its vocation will be to accompany Lebanon beyond the end of the crisis to preempt the challenges and essential choices of the future, and mobilize its population and its youth to support optimal choices and push toward their implementation.

Common thread

Unlike what happens in politically developed countries where think-tanks contribute to the formulation of public policies in full recognition of their role, Lebanon is not in this configuration. The challenge is to bring about changes of a systemic nature through the promotion of ideas, projects, recommendations, and public policies’ choices.

The stake is to contribute to the evolution of the power system and governance despite the limitations of the institutional and political game, and the inherent resistance to the modernization of institutions.

The choice of themes is therefore dictated by a common thread: that of their transformative and systemic nature.

There are many, given the current configuration of relation modes at the economic, social, and institutional levels in the Lebanese system. Currently, essential elements such as justice, the media, education, the health system, basic infrastructure, public administration, the armed forces – to name but a few examples – respond to the double logic of communitarian distribution of power and of economic and social rents perpetuated for the benefit of identified groups / families.

On the other hand, essential issues such as the ecological transition and the digital transformation are completely overlooked, whereas they should be addressed given the size of the opportunity cost involved.

Other critical options are taboo, in particular when it comes to rationalizing the relations between Lebanon and Syria on solid ground, or when striving to optimize governance under a communitarian system.

Legal status

A non-profit organization, the Foundation is a “société civile”, registered in Lebanon and authorized by

the relevant authorities.

Partnership

The Foundation is forging institutional partnerships with world class quality reference institutes (in France, the UK and the USA as of today).

 

The objective of these partnerships is to benefit from a transfer of skills, but also from access to a well- established network.

 

In turn, the partner will be able to strengthen its positioning on themes of interest to it in the Middle East.

Funding

The Foundation strives to diversify its funding sources, none of which should represent more than 33% of its overall budget.

 

Donors are institutional, private or public

Financing modalities

Contributions will be in the form of support to the Foundation, or funding for studies and projects, or core funding.

 

The possibility of setting up an endowment fund will be investigated to guarantee the financial autonomy of the Foundation over time.

Our Mission

The Citizen Foundation is a platform for strategic thinking and influence. It is a high-quality reference in the production of public policy options, as well as studies and analyses focusing on Arab countries, and also on middle-eastern relations with the world. The Citizen Foundation is also proactive in managing the debate on those various options. Combining the functions of a “think tank” and a “do  tank”,the Foundation deals with subjects upstream with the parties concerned, then proposes clear and structuring choices in the short, medium and long terms, to finally create and organize the debate downstream.It is always mindful of bringing the youth into the process. Established in Lebanon and intended to support the challenges in this country, its action covers the Arab world, and extends to relations with Europe and its institutions. The Citizen Foundation offers optimal public policy choices, makes them explicit to the driving forces in one country, gathers support around them, and then pushes toward their implementation

Project summary

A Foundation for the re-founding of Lebanon whose vocation is to think about the overhaul of the State and its public policies. In particular, it provides a set of policy options and will act as an enabler in various areas that are of high importance to stabilize the country, put it on a sustainable development path, and facilitate and accelerate its recovery. The Foundation is engaged in a permanent dialogue with the various parties involved on the Lebanese scene, be they local, civil society, or international, bilateral or multilateral. It relies on a wide network of high-quality collaborators, and ensures the monitoring and lobbying necessary to promote the choices resulting from its work. It also relies locally on quality staff who have extensive experience in Lebanese institutions and hands-on management. Supported by high-level non-partisan figures, well-recognized for their independent minds and impressive international expertise, the Foundation ensures its autonomy through diversified sources of funding. The Foundation seeks to propose options and ideas, and to disseminate them in a logic of influence, and to accompany the process until targets are met. A network of driving forces for change is being constituted, bringing together intellectuals, private players, associations, youth, universities, and others. The Citizen Foundation chooses its topics based on their transformative nature. The main focus of the Foundation is Lebanon, with right on target subjects, but it also provides expertise to Arab countries, especially when the same topics addressed for Lebanon are of relevance to others. The Foundation is also providing a southern look at policies promoted by the northern part of the Mediterranean.

Logo’s Rationale

The logo has been created after a thorough type analysis that focused on the letter “C” (citizen)

  • Edges have been rounded in order to emulate inclusivity and tolerance, 2 important aspects that our current society doesn’t really value as it should.
  • We decided to flip it and reflect it to show transparency in proactivity and create the spearhead shape to represent a powerful thrust that can’t be stopped. The arrow is pointed downwards in an effort to highlight and pin point with accuracy the errors and swiftly “attack and intervene” to solve them as a consolidated entity carrying an entire squad of people, real people, that truly and deeply want to create a change.

 

Edges have been rounded in order to emulate inclusivity and tolerance,
2 important aspects that our current society doesn’t really value as it should.
We decided to flip it and reflect it to show transparency in proactivity and create
the spearhead shape to represent a powerful thrust that can’t be stopped. The arrow
is pointed downwards in an effort to highlight and pin point with accuracy the errors
and swiftly “attack and intervene” to solve them as a consolidated entity carrying an
entire squad of people, real people, that truly and deeply want to create a change.

Priority themes

Priority themes cover adjustment policies, providing the country (and/or the region) with long-term goals for sustainable welfare. There will be a dual focus on macro and sectors, since both are central legs of a reform agenda. On the macro, how to fix the state is important, as well as major options such as bank restructuring, sustainable development and civil rights. Also, inclusive growth opens studies on business climate, SMEs, new industries and green industries.

Other studies will focus on short and medium-term infrastructure and sectoral issues. Many topics are identified (see below) and are subject to strategic and operational validation. Some items are related to the expected reinitiating of the sectoral and infrastructure agenda supported by international financing, and in all cases, topics are selected to highlight credible alternatives to unsuccessful public policies and poor governance.

The Foundation complements its research and studies with wide awareness campaigns to mobilize citizens’ and organized groups’ support on the relevant topics. Building support through networking with the civil society, youth movements and other organizations will always be key.

 

Wide Spectrum

Short to medium term objectives

Type of production

One or two in-depth studies on the chosen theme which will result in the regular publication of concise notes outlining the diagnostic, the issues and possible solutions in the meantime.

In parallel, short and well-focused sectoral or system-improving studies will be issued in line with the context of the moment.

Formats suitable for social media will be produced. Podcasts and media will also be used.

The Strategic Orientation Board’s members:

The management team​

Its role is to implement the Foundation’s missions, namely the definition of public policy recommendations and their dissemination. It will also have to ensure the administrative management of the Foundation. The recruitment of the director is carried out by the president and approved by the General Assembly. The Foundation will rely on a small dynamic team and a solid network of renowned collaborators. It will offer internships to university students interested in research. And given the critical role of the financial sector in Lebanon, the Foundation will eventually integrate a permanent financial team. It will also analyze the macro situation on a recurring basis.

The governance of the Foundation reflects its objective of serving as a credible, long-term public policy tool. Needless to say, the Citizen Foundation applies the best practices and transparency standards. Governance is structured around five functions:

President

The president represents the Citizen Foundation and defines its image, strategy and funding. He / she is the spokesperson for the Foundation with third parties, whether it is general public communication or lobbying. Her / his term of office is three years, renewal or replacement carried out by vote of the General Assembly. Alain Bifani is the present president of the Citizen Foundation.

General Assembly

It is composed of all associate members of the Foundation. It elects the President, makes suggestions, approves the financial accounts and has the power of changing the statutes of the Foundation. The General Assembly’s members are presently Riad Solh, Toni Haddad and Alain Bifani.

Strategic orientation board

Its role is to define the main orientations and suggest avenues for the work stream. The strategic council must bring its expertise on given themes. It is made of 7 members, including the representatives of the main contributors, for a renewable two-year term. (See the members below). Its recruitment is carried out by the president.

Advisory board

Its role is to provide its expertise on the orientations of the Foundation and on the given themes. It advises the president and proposes themes to the strategic orientation board. Its members also help promote the public policy choices adopted by the Foundation. It is made up of 5 to 7 members, for a renewable period of three years. Its recruitment is carried out by the president after consultation with the strategic orientation board.

Executive team

Its role is to implement the Foundation’s missions, namely the definition of public policy recommendations and their dissemination. It will also have to ensure the administrative management of the Foundation. The recruitment of the director is carried out by the president and approved by General Assembly. The Foundation is based on a small dynamic team and a solid network of renowned collaborators. It will also develop young potential by providing internships to university students interested in research.

Alain Bifani is a known public figure in economics, finance and good governance,
with a 20-year track record with international financial institutions, funds, central
bank and governments. He managed the ministry of Finance and private
institutions, led cultural change and mastered enhancing transparency. He has a
wide experience in debt restructuring, governments, development finance, banking,
capital markets, and business transformation. Alain achieved Lebanon’s recovery
plan, reconstructed the country’s financial accounts over 28 years, against all odds,
to open the door for checks and balances, and led the tax transparency and
exchange of information program, which aims for better compliance and the tracing
of ill-gotten assets. He produced the refugee crisis economic and financial response
plan and introduced many laws such as the capital markets’ watchdog, VAT,
petroleum management, and insider trading.
Alain served three times as Chairman of the G24 and was the alternate governor to
the World Bank. Holder of Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales (HEC Paris)
diploma, Engineer (physicist) from Institut d’Optique Graduate School, he studied
“Mathematiques Superieures et Speciales” at Louis le Grand, and attended Leading
Change and Organizational Renewal (Harvard Business School). The author of
“Destructuring”, he published many studies and articles.
Alain is Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (France) and Commandeur de l’Ordre du
Cèdre (Lebanon). Named by Magazine for combatting corruption, he is the winner of
the United Nations’ Public Service Award for Improving Transparency. Married to
Sandra Habchi, they have two children: Paolo and Clara.

Lydia Assouad is a PhD Candidate in Economics at the Paris School of Economics and was a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley, the London School of Economics and Harvard University. She is also a research fellow at the World Inequality Lab and was the El-Erian Fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Center – Middle Eastern Office of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  Her research focuses on the political economy of Lebanon and the Middle East, with a particular interest in income and wealth inequality and state building. Lydia is the author of the articles “Rethinking the Lebanese Economic Miracle: The Extreme Concentration of Income and Wealth in Lebanon 2005-2014”, “Measuring inequality in the Middle East 1990-2016: The World’s Most Unequal Region?” with Facundo Alvaredo and Thomas Piketty.  Her research has been featured in various  media  outlets  such  as  the Washington Post, the New York Times or Le Monde

 

Michael Bauer has been the head of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung’s Lebanon office since August 2021. Previously, he served as a policy advisor in the Berlin Middle East and North Africa Team of KAS. In previous professional positions, Michael Bauer worked as a freelance consultant for the German and international clients such as GIZ and the Bertelsmann Foundation in the MENA region. In addition, he was responsible for project management for a humanitarian aid organization in Syria’s neighboring countries and headed the Middle East section at a university-based think-tank in Munich.

Laurent Bigorgne is the Director of Institut Montaigne. In this role, he wishes to promote the dialogue with France’s European partners and to contribute to the public debate by proposing practical recommendations to reform French public policy. Laurent has personally supervised the publication of reports and other policy papers on education. He has encouraged various innovative initiatives for Institut Montaigne, such as the budgetary analysis of candidates’ programs for the regional elections (2015), municipal elections (2014), and the last two presidential elections (2012, 2017), a citizen’s conference held in 2012 on France’s healthcare system, a testing on religious discrimination in hiring, as well as multiple investigations on suburbs in France. Passionate about education, he used to be a teacher before working at Sciences Po between 2000 and 2008, first as Dean of studies, later as Vice President. He also spent a year in London on secondment at the London School of Economics, in 2009.

Laurent is President of two non-profit organizations working in the field of education, Agir pour l’Ecole and Le Choix de l’École, and he is member of the Board of Directors of the Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill in London. Laurent is also co-author of

the book ‘Macron, et en  même  temps…’  (Plon 2017) with Alice Baudry and Olivier Duhamel. Laurent Bigorgne graduated from Sciences Po Paris and holds an “Agrégation” in History.

Ishac Diwan is Professor of Economics, at Paris Sciences et Lettres (a consortium of Parisian universities) where he holds the chair of the Economy of the Arab World.  He is also currently a Professor of Economics at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris. He has held recent teaching positions at Columbia University, School for International Public Affairs, and at the Harvard Kennedy School. He directs the Political Economy program of the Economic Research Forum, where he runs two projects on the study of crony capitalism, and the analysis of opinion surveys.

Ishac current research interests focus on the political economy of the Middle East, in saddition to broader development issues. His recent books include A Political Economy of the Middle East (co-authored with Melani Cammett, Westview Press 2015);  and  Crony Capitalism  in  the  Middle  East  (co-edited  with  Adeel  Malik  and  Izak  Atiyas,  Oxford University Press, 2019). He is widely published in top journals on issues of global finance, macroeconomic and development strategies, and Middle East political economy Ishac is a frequent consultant with governments and international organizations, working recently on policy issues in Sudan, Algeria, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt. Previously, Ishac was at the World Bank where he worked in the Research Complex, the World Bank Institute, and in Operations. He lived in Addis Abeba (2002-07) and Accra (2007-11), as the World Bank’s Country Director in East and then in West Africa.

Sylvain de Forges began his professional career at the Treasury Department in 1981. During his career, he held several positions within the IMF, the Treasury Department and Veolia, eventually becoming Deputy Managing Director at AG2R in 2010. As such, he contributes to the definition of the group’s financial policy, its financial communication policy, and its socially responsible investment policy. Sylvain held the post of Minister Counselor for Financial Affairs at the French Embassy in London and Administrator for France on the Board of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), in 1998

Kristin Fabbe is the Jakurski  Family  Associate  Professor  of  Business  Administration at Harvard Business School and part of the School’s Business, Government and International Economy (BGIE) unit. Her research is in comparative politics, with a regional focus on the greater Mediterranean region. Her first book is Disciples of the State: Religion and State- Building in the Former Ottoman World (Cambridge University Press, 2019). She is currently researching a second major project on social cohesion and crises, particularly economic shocks, severe austerity measures, and large demographic changes. Kristin is a faculty affiliate at the Middle East Initiative at the John F. Kennedy School of Government’s Belfer Center and the Harvard Center for European Studies. She sits on the steering committee of Harvard’s Center for Middle East Studies and the AlWaleed Islamic Studies Program. She holds a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Ibrahim Warde is Adjunct Professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. His books include The Price of Fear: The Truth behind the Financial War on Terror (University  of  California  Press  2008),  which  has  been  translated  into  French, Japanese, Italian and Czech, and Islamic Finance in the Global Economy (Edinburgh University Press 2000 and 2010). He is also a writer for Le Monde diplomatique. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley, and is a graduate of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales.