Home Uncategorized The secret of the seventh Roadmap: meet ERMI


The secret of the seventh Roadmap: meet ERMI

by Executive Editors

The Executive Roadmap is a dynamic, consultative and collaborative undertaking that documents solutions and bundles of measures which are seen as answers to Lebanon’s economic and structural woes by committed residents from many walks of life. To the best of the editors’ knowledge, the Roadmap is the longest-running, often relayed on or copied, and most crowd-sourced economic plan under publication in Lebanon. It also is distinct in its origins and character from rescue plans that were conceived in public sector, business community and civil society contexts of the country’s acute economic crisis in the past four years. As such, the Roadmap is a testimony to the will of the people beyond any political affiliations. It is a permanent draft that is in its seventh annual iteration, thus in its pdf iteration marked as Draft 7.0.

At the same time, Draft 7 marks the entry into Executive Roadmap’s third phase of iteration and development. This new phase is externally determined on one hand by the national circumstances that entail more severe external threats and internal dangers – but also new economic and social impulses that highlight the potential for restructuring and rebooting what Executive codifies as economic democracy. On the other hand, the new phase of RM iteration represents a significant editorial effort of making the Roadmap Drafts more accessible, visual, and indeed inviting to new stakeholders aspiring to share in the shaping of Lebanon’s fortunes.

To this end, the Executive Roadmap is now garbed in fancy digital attire. The visual representation and navigation have been redesigned from scratch. Its 390 recommendations have been condensed and aligned in style to be sharper, under the intent of serving as content platform in workshops, roundtables, and new interaction formats where Executive will in this year and henceforth be inviting contributions and debate. When compared side by side with the 7.0 pdf version, the Executive Economic RoadMap Interactive, or ERMI, are one in spirit and fully aligned in content but distinct in appearance and nuance.  

Three phases of Roadmap evolution

Induced by years of observing and analyzing administrative and political deficiencies that have been widening instead of being resolved, and of social and economic pathways that were directed at walls and cliffs instead of sustainable solutions and stairways to greater prosperity, the Executive Roadmap to save Lebanon was first prepared in the second half of 2018 and published in December of that year as a substantive plea for implementation of reforms and creation of efficiencies. 

In the earliest iteration, direct consultations with stakeholders as well as the archive of Executive informed Draft 1.0’s formation with analysis pieces, industry reports, business features, interviews, expert comments, by-invitation op-eds, and editorials. Extracted from a loose list and organized into four pillars (Build & Reform; Strategize; Combat; and Develop), the aggregate of the magazine’s stakeholder contributions and insights was translated into an actionable document of 16 Policy Priorities laid out on 48 pages. Three internal and twelve external stakeholders were listed on the masthead of Draft 1.0. 

The mindset of Executive editors at this moment in time, expressed in the Facts & Figures 2017-18 end-of-year issue, was deeply concerned, but still hopeful. The issue’s Economy & Policy overview piece warned “The Lebanese state has no plan for where to take the country economically in 2018 and beyond.”

It can thus in hindsight be said that the first steps of the structured Roadmap process, while yielding Draft 1.0, were embedded in an increasingly uneasy calm, the relative peace of the status quo ante that lulled Lebanon in the entire post-conflict reconstruction and development period of the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s. In the months following publication of Draft 1.0, the country was still engulfed in deceptive calm (while the July 2019 issue of Executive was titled “Breaking Point” and argued that, if Lebanon were a corporation “its management would need to be fired and fired fast”, editors continued to emphasize the great value of the financial system and called upon banks “to make every effort they can to be absolutely trustworthy”).

But in editors’ anticipation of likely deepening social and economic chasms and breakages in the country’s integrity, Executive’s Roadmap was, in a parallel effort to the regular coverage, materially reviewed and substantially expanded through consultative meetings held with diverse civil society organizations and stakeholder groups (that in some cases did not even consider themselves being prima facie economic stakeholders). Because of these interactive, on-the-ground consultations, the number of credited Roadmap contributors multiplied more than sixfold; Draft 2.0, published as a standalone document in spring 2019, introduced 268 newly proposed measures.

A first for Executive in the preparation of Roadmap 3 was an intense cluster of five economic and financial roundtables organized in a downtown Beirut hotel just ahead of national day 2019. Stepping out of the conference venue and walking less than 50 steps after the successful conclusion of the last roundtable session meant that participants and conveners of the gathering were immersed in one of the most vibrant and enthusiastic Martyrs’ Square convocations of civil demands for change. Draft 3.0 was thus informed by the civil thawra at the end of 2019, but was still in many ways an effort of finding ways to avert the tsunami of despair that had been looming higher and higher in the preceding months. The number of credited contributors and stakeholders in the project again rose, almost doubling from Draft 2.0.

Aspirations of rescue in dire straits 

As the liquidity and banking crisis merged into the structural economic meltdown, the Roadmap process entered its second phase of iteration and became a crisis response and rescue tool. Draft 4.0 sought to help chart the way through the crisis by highlighting proposed emergency measures while attempting to “complement the emerging political will, doctrine, and resolve, which centers Lebanon’s well-being.” Draft 4.0 was presented in print in the “Fight for Hope” December 2020 – January 2021 issue of Executive. 

As the immensity of the Lebanese political, economic, and social crisis was building up in 2020, the crisis turned into a mega- and meta-crisis of the Lebanese convivial model. Executive’s Roadmap Drafts went in search of new perspectives and ways forward. 

In this overwhelming crisis context it is important to acknowledge that the work on RM Drafts 5.0 and 6.0 was marked by many financial and personnel impediments because of the—in national memory unprecedented, and, also by Executive in its magnitude wholly unexpected—mega-crisis with its exacerbation of the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions on residents’ lives that were initiated by a surprisingly proactive state to curb the spread of “corona.” The other exacerbating factor of the national pain in the first and biggest crisis year was of course the Beirut Port explosion of August 4, 2020 unleashed by human failure and criminal political negligence.

Under the impact of the mega-crisis of 2020 to 2022, RM Drafts 5.0 and 6.0 saw addition of measures urging fast action on issues such as negotiations for an agreement with the International Monetary Fund and provision of vaccines. A most noteworthy effort of opening new perspectives for economic recovery on basis of private sector productivity and focus was the addition of the Enable pillar, documented in Draft 5.0. This pillar emerged out of consultative roundtable work with international agencies and private sector industry leaders in March 2021.

The Enable pillar consequently covers seven sectors of promise in manufacturing and services. These seven sectors – manufacturing; agro-industry; media and content development; hospitality; knowledge enterprises; specialized chemicals (with utility for health and beauty); and renewable energy – were judged by consulting experts as best positioned for new growth. The recommendations in this pillar present strategic recommendations and proposed practical measures, directly and primarily addressing private sector decision makers. The number of credited contributors in Draft 5.0 reached more than 180 and the number of proposed measures culminated at over 360. Draft 6.0 at the start of 2023 reiterated the content of Draft 5.0, adding new accents and shifting emphases. 

Due to financial restraints, Drafts 5.0 and 6.0 were disseminated solely in electronic format. Ideation of ERMI started in mid-2023. In the iteration’s design and collation phase, Executive agreed on parallel production of a mindfully shortened, more visually appealing and intuitively interactive ERMI and the reference Draft 7.0 that combines revised introductions for each Policy Priority with annotations that record edits and streamlining of proposed measures versus Draft 6.0.  

Through the looking glass(es) of many innovative minds 

As the crisis landscape has ceased economic and social escalation and shifted in 2023 to a wider need for integrated regional development and stabilization, Executive deems that the third phase of our Economic Roadmap iterations is upon us in form of ERMI, whose abridged proposed measures content-wise mirror pdf Draft 7.0 as the comprehensive summation of the Roadmap process’s phase one and two. 

In preparation for the day after regional instability – or more precisely the day after the day after – the start of phase three in the Executive Roadmap denotes the time of joint striving for a new sovereignty that is realistic, modular and interdependent rather than indivisible and implemented in antagonism to and isolation from Lebanon’s direct neighbors. Executive has worked on the first iteration of the third phase by empowering ERMI while in parallel providing Draft 7.0 as final pdf iteration and reference document containing the longer-form Policy Priority descriptions and proposed measures.  

Digitized but not yet fully digital, ERMI offers the experience of an abridged Roadmap version that encourages more debates by condensing lengthy proposed measures into shorter versions and omits some proposed measures, mostly such measures which overlap and have been included in earlier drafts in more than one pillar and Policy Priority. We also condensed the introductions for each theme and designations of Policy Priorities for easier interaction in ERMI.  

The editorial condensing of measures notwithstanding, ERMI is even more committed than Drafts 1.0 to 7.0 to the stakeholder diversity and consultative approach that is the governing mindset of the Executive Roadmap process since day 1. The editorial commitment to continuity of this process is evident in the structure of five verticals (pillars) and 26 topics or Policy Priorities with a total of 52 sub-categories that are denoted in both RM7 versions by the numerated entries 1.1 to 26.1. 

The affiliated measures are denoted in the second decimal layer, from 1.1.1 to 26.1.24. The integrity of the Roadmap numbering system has been retained, even where individual measures have been retired from ERMI for reasons of redundancy or inappropriateness in the 2024 timeframe. In short, numerical identifiers of Policy Priorities and proposed measures in reference Draft 7.0 and EMRI are 100 percent the same.   

For complete elucidation of the roadmap numbering scheme, it is additionally to note that the subdivisions of Policy Priorities in Roadmap pillars 1 to 4 number between 10 and 12 per pillar. This grouping is numerically set off against the Policy Priorities in the industry-addressing fifth “Enable” pillar that covers seven industrial sectors (policy priorities 19 – 26) with no further subdivisions. 

In terms of intended priority audiences, pillars one and two have been compiled with the primary target of serving and inspiring public stakeholders, pillars two and three are designed to appeal civil stakeholders, pillar four and even more so pillar five aim to reverberate with private sector stakeholders. All five pillars, however – and this is the raison d’etre of moving the Executive Economic Roadmap into expanding interactivity with more and more digital functionalities envisioned for future EMRI iterations – seek to unleash innovative thinking and garner input and debate from all types of mindful stakeholders.

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Executive Editors

Executive Editors represents the voice of the magazine.
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