21 Apr 2021
Beirut, Lebanon
Communication for sustainability

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” Charles Dickens famously wrote about the uncertain leadup to the French Revolution. Similar ambivalence swirled around the establishment of Circular Hub, a Lebanese social enterprise offering eco-friendly education courses. Circular Hub was launched in September 2019, mere weeks before Lebanon entered its tumultuous 17 October Revolution.

Nationwide protests raised several issues, including the country’s poor environmental track record. At the same time, a massive economic crisis has robbed many Lebanese of the capacity to pay tuition for training courses and continuous education. Now Circular Hub must strike a balance between running a self-sustaining business and making eco-friendly education available to all.


Circular Hub is the brainchild of Maya Karkour, who is already a Switcher through EcoConsulting, her thriving green building consultancy firm. With her team, Karkour has now created Circular Hub to spread a wider message of sustainability. Circular Hub aims to share knowledge on topics beyond eco-friendly construction and Lebanon’s garbage crisis, another prominent topic amongst Lebanese.

“We realised how bad environmental education was for issues like climate change and other challenges, aside from the obvious ones like waste,” explained Karkour. “Often, environmental knowledge is superficial and disconnected. We wanted to provide more in-depth understanding of a variety of topics, including the emerging circular economy.”

Circular Hub aims to fill this gap by informing professionals and the general public about diverse environmental topics and their connections to everyday life in Lebanon. The social enterprise offers four educational tracks: Green Buildings & Sustainable Neighbourhoods, The Circular Economy & Eco-Design, Eco & Social Entrepreneurship, and Sustainability, Climate Change & Environmental Knowledge.

Participants pay on a per unit basis, with several units combining to form a track. Circular Hub delivers workshops, seminars, and activities through in-house professionals and by partnering with specialised consultants. Upon completing a track, attendees receive certificates that can be used as evidence of the learning outcomes achieved.

According to Karkour, obtaining a certificates makes Circular Hub different from other online courses, which have proliferated since the COVID-19 pandemic’s outbreak. To date, many participants have been students and young professionals, who would like to bolster their CVs and job prospects with additional training. Already, Circular Hub has held specialised training courses at the request of the Lebanese American University and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Throughout its short history, Circular Hub has adapted to fit the strange times in which Lebanese live. In summer 2019, Karkour’s team refurbished a physical space for Circular Hub’s activities, using best practice principles of circular economy design. Then the revolution erupted nearby, reducing access to the site, before COVID-19 restrictions forced the hub to close fully.

At present, Circular Hub delivers its training courses online, which brings advantages and disadvantages. “Teaching online is more accessible than at the hub, especially for those living outside Beirut and even Lebanon,” Karkour pointed out.

On the other hand, distance learning limits opportunities for networking between staff and students — a key benefit of the physical space. “If we want to create an impact, we need to engage people,” Karkour said. “And if our participants become part of a network of like-minded people, then they are more likely to do something tangible and get to know each other.”

For Circular Hub, the way forward will be to calibrate a hybrid service. Online content will continue to reach a wider audience, while in-person activities will resume for those who can physically attend.

And while Karkour acknowledges the potential of online education, she is clearly excited for Circular Hub to return to face-to-face interaction when the situation will permit. Circular Hub’s office will host environmental movie nights and eco-friendly board games events, and another collaboration with Recycle Lebanon on creating beeswax food wrap seems on the cards too.

“The activity was hands on, we had an iron for melting the wax, and 20 people attended,” Karkour recalled. “It was so nice!”


Learn more about Circular Hub through the website, Facebook, and Instagram.

Photos courtesy of Circular Hub

David Wood is a freelance writer and researcher based in Beirut. He previously worked in Cairo.David Wood
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