Faeq Abu Alia, Online Volunteer with UNDP Lebanon.
Faeq Abu Alia, Online Volunteer with UNDP Lebanon.

Step it up for the environment

Nine Online Volunteers contributed to STEPping up Nature Reserves Capacity — STEP4Nature project for environmental preservation in Lebanon. From sustainable design to Artificial Intelligence (AI), these Online Volunteers came up with innovative ways for the sustainable management of Lebanon’s nature reserves.

Augustus Rivers Brightman is from the United States of America and has a background in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies. His passion for design and environmental conservation led him to become an Online Volunteer.

With his motivation — to serve others and save the planet, Augustus designed packaging for mushroom kits launched by Nature Reserves in Lebanon. He created a detailed informational map for Lebanon’s Protected Areas as part of his Online Volunteer assignment with UNDP. His impactful designs are now used to promote sustainable practices and are a means to generate income for local communities.



With a background in architecture and landscaping, another Online Volunteer, Josiane Aouad is interested in solutions for sustainable waste management in her home country, Lebanon. For this purpose, Josiane collaborated with other Online Volunteers in the UNDP team on the design of eco-friendly bins especially tailored for the Nature Reserves.

The bins were designed to blend with the natural scenery and be an example of eco-friendly design. “Being a volunteer helps you to know the needs of other countries and populations. It keeps you connected to the problems the world is facing today and changes the way you think about the world,” Josiane reflects on her volunteer assignment.   

Meanwhile, Francesco Grugni, an Online Volunteer from Italy, had a challenge to win. He was tasked to design observation towers that maintained artistic integrity and at the same time avoided the use of methods that could damage the reserves.

Francesco not only succeeded in creating sustainable and visually appealing towers that seamlessly integrated with the natural surroundings but he also designed stone benches with reduced weight for easier transportation through the reserves and optimized them to accommodate more visitors.



Francesco went beyond design, taking on the ambitious task of developing an AI-based tool for the project. He gathers relevant data from social media platforms for the AI analysis tool to serve as a decision support system. 

Faeq Abu Alia is an Online Volunteer from the State of Palestine and has experience in architectural visualization and 3D design. He designed the plans for Wild Pollinator Hotels for Lebanon’s nature reserves. While doing so, he conducted research on pollinator-friendly designs, created detailed architectural plans, and produced 3D visualizations. 

"My conviction in the capacity of architecture to effectuate constructive change is strengthened through this Online Volunteer assignment. I am profoundly appreciative of the chance to create a positive impact by contributing to the preservation of Lebanon's natural heritage,” says Faeq.

Dominique Choueiter from UNDP lauded the Online Volunteers’ invaluable contribution. He found UNV’s Online Volunteering solution, offered through the Unified Volunteer Platform, to be an exceptionally user-friendly and efficient means of recruiting volunteers with a wide range of expertise who want to contribute to the development context with a click of technology. 

Online Volunteers go beyond simply completing tasks; they actively engage in project activities, sharing ideas and experiences to significantly contribute to conservation efforts for Lebanon's natural heritage”. Dominique Choueiter, Project Officer, UNDP's STEP4Nature.

STEPping up Nature Reserves Capacity — STEP4Nature project aims at conserving Lebanon’s natural capital and strengthening capacities to plan and sustainably manage protected areas and nature reserves. It is funded by the Italian Government and implemented by UNDP in partnership with the Ministry of Environment of the Government of Lebanon.

In 2023, more than 14,000 requests were posted for Online Volunteers by UN entities, governments and civil society organizations worldwide. To find out more about Online Volunteers, please click here