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INCREASING OPPORTUNITIES FOR BUILDING A GREEN ECONOMY

The Government of Jordan is Setting Policies to help the Transition to a Green Economy

Jordan Green Economy National Workshop

Amman, Jordan

 28 July 2011

Jordan is one of the smallest economies in the Middle East, with a total GDP of US$ 27.5 billion and a population of 6 million, of which 13.3 per cent live below the poverty line. Unlike other neighbouring Arab countries, it is a non-oil-producing country with limited natural resources and minerals. The country faces chronic unemployment, in addition to a growing budget deficit and inflation.

Additionally, the nation is experiencing increased pressure on natural resources, widening income disparities and growing poverty mainly due to an increasing population. Access to freshwater represents the most pressing challenge - both in quantity and quality. This is followed by the relative scarcity of arable land and the acceleration of desertification, soil degradation and deforestation. Recent estimates place the cost of environmental degradation at 5 per cent of GDP. This translates to US$ 1.25 billion per year, which is greater than twice the amount of aid received by Jordan in 2009.

The government of Jordan is currently supporting various policies, initiatives and programmes aimed at achieving a green economy, which is considered a path to achieve sustainable development. In particular, the government’s 2010 Executive Programme highlights its pursuit of green economy development, by documenting the need to “launch a programme for green services and industries to meet the requirements for adhering to environmental standards and turning Jordan into a regional centre for green services and industries.” In this respect, Jordan is integrating green economy concepts and objectives into the national agenda 2011.

Moving forward

The Government of Jordan and UNEP developed a Scoping Study for a Green Economy in Jordan. This study reviews the current state of investments in the country and their implications for a transition towards a green economy, as well as the points to many promising opportunities in a variety of economic sectors. In total, investment in environmental conservation could generate an estimated 50,000 jobs, and over JD 1.3 billion in revenues over a period of 10 years. In order to achieve such benefits, an integrated and coordinated approach that involves all sections of the government, the private sector and civil society is needed.

To promote this transition to a green economy, members of the government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and business, participated on a workshop on green economy in Jordan on 27 July. The workshop stressed on Jordan’s challenges and opportunities of pursuing changes in different sectors, such as energy, transport, water, waste, agriculture, and tourism, which will help the transition towards a green economy. One of the key issues for discussion was about setting the right conditions for a green economy in Jordan using policies, regulations, fiscal reforms, financing schemes and institutional strengthening, all of which help set the environment for green investments in the different sectors.

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in Rio next year (also known as Rio+20) will set the stage for countries like Jordan to not only show their commitment to transitioning to a green economy, but also to receive international and regional support to enable this transition.  Therefore, one of the essential steps that the Jordanian government can take is to create a permanent multi-stakeholder task force and a sub-committee on sustainable development and the green economy. This could include introducing fiscal and employment policies to promote a green economy, mobilizing and catalyzing investments at scale in targeted sectors such as Food, Energy, water and waste, and establishing a monitoring system to track the value of Jordan’s natural assets in the environment.