Category Archives: environmental mainstreaming

A Semester of My Life


While never mindfully planned, my decision to enter the teaching domain was an easy one to make. Tempted by the flexibility to design my own course to teach at my preferred time, I embarked into an experiment that turned out to be a transformational one.

It has been over 15 years since I decided that teaching is not what I was meant to do. Whether one may call this ignorance or reason, I still believe I’m more of a practitioner than an academic. Nevertheless, the issue of education has and will always be at the heart of my passion which is ‘development’. Interacting with public and private sectors as well as with youth and community organizations proves day after day that education is where it all starts and ends. The disconnect between what we teach/learn at school and what graduates are required to know as active players in their communities is undoubtedly alarming.

The recent trends in promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in various sectors especially energy, water and environment dictates a new way of educating. The Arab region and Jordan in particular face humongous development challenges that could only be overcome through bottom local solutions coupled with customized technology; things most of our youth still struggle to associate with.  The “Social and Green Innovation in the Arab Word” course was a dream coming true. To be able to design and teach a course I wish I had the chance to take brought me a sense of obligation and amusement that I’ve never experienced before. Here are some of my takeaways after completing the semester with  a few amazing students and professional academic staff:

  1. A trainer and practitioner has a lot to offer from the hands on experience that may actually be more valuable to students than ever thought.
  2. People to people interaction is an essential part of development studies. listening to stories and sharing lessons learned are the best educator.
  3. There are very few references on sustainable development and green innovation in the Arab World. Even those that exist are outdated and/or produced through foreign aid.
  4. The references on social and green development in the Arab world are mostly focused on problems rather than solutions. There is little documentation of success stories and/or attempts to change things on the ground.
  5. Written exams might not be the best measure of learning. Creative tools that trigger thinking and debate around critical issues add more value to the learning process.
  6. A classroom may suppress learning abilities – nature and people are the best inspiration.
  7. Challenge your students and unlock their potential, then, you need to catch up!

I’m so proud of my students who I believe know more than most Jordanians about green economy and environmental governance. Their final essays say a lot about how one course can make a difference. This whole semester changed my perception of education and teaching ever after.

Thank you – to all those who made this unique experience possible.

 

 

 

 

Paris Agreement: Role of Effective Climate Governance Framework


IMG_4326My article on EcoMENA:

Paris Agreement: Role of Effective Climate Governance Framework

It has been a while since 195 countries agreed to the Paris Agreement resulting from the UNFCCC COP21. In a few weeks, countries are expected to adopt the Agreement which will be open for signature until April 2017. While many consider that history was made as industrialized and developing countries jointly agreed on the same climate policy framework for the first time ever; others alert that the Paris Agreement is only as good as its implementation plans and review mechanisms. Nevertheless, the Paris Agreement and the process around it demonstrate an exemplary model for global governance and policy advocacy. The question now is whether such international governance breakthrough could trickle down to the national and local levels across the globe. Countries and regions are challenged to move forward with the implementation leveraging the high momentum and mobilizing the diverse resources available in the market.

Paris Climate Deal: A Bottom-up Approach

The Paris Agreement encourages a bottom-up pledge and review approach through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). National climate action targets are recognized by the agreement but are not legally binding. Countries have a legally binding obligation to put together domestic targets and prepare policies to achieve these; but the targets themselves are in a “public registry” separate from the Agreement.

NDCs represent a tremendous opportunity to link climate change and development with a view to pursuing sustainable climate-resilient and low-carbon development pathways. The Post-Paris process is not about reinventing the wheel, but about reinforcing existing efforts, mainstreaming the NDC process and about incentivizing additional action. The NDCs build on already existing climate change policies and measures and one of the main challenges is the integration and anchoring of the NDCs into sectoral programmes (policy coherence) and future strategies (i.e. Green Growth Strategies). Until February 2016, a total of 161 INDCs representing 188 countries were submitted to the UNFCCC covering around 98.7 % of global emissions.

Review Mechanism

The Paris Agreement established a periodic process for the submission of information on all Parties’ efforts to tackle climate change, according to guidance to be adopted by the COP serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement. The review of Parties’ action will take place at the individual level and at the aggregate level. Implementation of the Agreement will be assisted by an expert-based, facilitative compliance mechanism. Therefore, not only does the Paris Agreement provide an obligation for all to make efforts to reduce their emissions, it also sets the basis for a common process to review action, and enhance it when needed. The details of these review and compliance processes, however, remain to be determined by the body entrusted to prepare for the entry into force of the Paris Agreement.

Accountability and Transparency

For governments, accountability on NDCs would be established through the UNFCCC and associated mechanisms. For businesses, accountability is rather scattered, yet no less powerful. Companies should expect to be held accountable not only to the government authorities in their host countries, but by civil society organizations; and increasingly aware customers, employees and investors. The Agreement also subjects the implementation of developed Parties’ obligations concerning the provision of finance to a review process for the first time.

One of the most important conceptual changes made in the Paris agreement is the shift from blaming one another for failure to comply with a legal obligation, to trying to outdo one another in addressing a shared challenge. The transparency mechanism supports this shift by allowing journalists, activists, scientists, concerned citizens, and eco-businesses to: engage in debates, publicize successes and failures, solicit help and advice, and offer support to other countries.

Climate Finance

Finance lies at the heart of the new agreement, with its own objective, and commitments to provide scaled up financial resources and capacity building to support country-driven strategies.  Paris is already being heralded by private investors as a game-changer in terms of mobilizing low-carbon investment. Their role and that of carbon pricing will be vital in funding national projects and programmes.  The Agreement established two forms of carbon trading; the detailed rules for these will have to be spelled out over the next five years.

It is worth mentioning the global climate finance has increased by 18% in 2014 mounting up to $391 billion. Of that, $9 billion was invested in the MENA region with around 44% ($2 billion) utilized by the private sector. While renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable transport consumed the majority of mitigation finance, water and wastewater management took over the bulk of adaptation finance.

Examples of climate financing funds include: The Green Climate Fund, Adaptation Fund, Clean Technology Fund, GEF, NAMA facility as well as several bilateral funds. It is, moreover, anticipated that most of the climate investment would come from the private sector. National fund in Jordan include the Jordan Renewable Energy and Energy efficiency Fund under the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources as well as a number of green financing instruments implemented by commercial banks and MFIs.

Role of Non-State Actors

Non-state actors include mainly Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), cities and regions, as well as companies. The Paris Agreement is seen as a major turning point when it comes to the emphasizing the role and leadership of non-state actors, especially the private sector, side by side with governments. It calls upon ‘non-Party’ stakeholders to scale up their efforts and to demonstrate them via the UNFCCC website, and it also recognizes that tools such as domestic policies and carbon trading are important. Already 11,000 commitments from 4,000 companies and local authorities have been registered on the UNFCCC website, and that number is expected to grow in the coming years. http://climateaction.unfccc.int/

The Agreement contains clear messages to business community to join the climate action and implement short and long term projects to reduce their emissions. Climate leadership has a cascaded impact throughout the value chain: as emissions are reduced, money is saved, stakeholders are engaged and business reputation is enhanced.

 

Disclaimer: Some of the information contained in this article has been based on content developed by the writer during an assignment with GIZ Jordan on the comparative analysis of Jordan’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) that was conducted in February 2016 in partnership with the Ministry of Environment

Jordan is discussing the new Sustainable Development Goals الأردن يناقش الأهداف العالمية للتنمية المستدامة


It is exciting for me to witness the growing interest from Jordanians around the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) especially from civil society organizations.

In the past weeks, I was honored to meet dozens of community leaders and professionals from various sectors and governorates in Jordan through three sessions organized by GEF/Small Grants Program (SGP) and another by Jordan Green Building Council (Jordan GBC). The interest and deep discussion showed in all of those sessions reflect genuine commitment by Jordanians to sustainable development principles and concepts. While the level of awareness and knowledge varies from one location/entity/sector to the other, we all share the worries and concerns as well as the hopes of development locally and globally.

I hope that those who participate in the awareness sessions would carry on the mission and spread the word to many others in their communities and circles and hopefully we will take this to another level of action very soon.

I’m proudly volunteering to provide such support as a Plus Social Good Connector and a global citizen. Contact me if you are interested in hosting a session.

Here is a special presentation SDGs Arabic Session for GBC linking SDGs to Jordan’s sustainable development path and triggering some questions on how we can be part of the movement.

تشرفت خلال الاسابيع الماضية بلقاء مجموعة رائعة من مؤسسات المجتمع المدني وقادة العمل المجتمعي والبيئي من خلال اريعة جلسات توعوية حول الأهداف الجديدة للتنمية المستدامة. عقدت ثلاثة من هذه الجلسات بالتعاون مع برنامج المنح الصغيرة والرابعة مع المجلس الأردني للأبنية الخضراء. ‘لى الرغم من تفاوت الوعي والمعرفة بتفاصيل الأهداف الا اننا في الأردن نعكس اهتماما اصيلا بمبادئ التنمية المستدامة وأتمنى أن ننتقل الى مرحلة العمل على الأهداف من خلال مؤسساتنا وفي القطاعات والمحافظات المختلفة.

يشرفني ان اقدم مثل هذه الجلسات التوعوية لمن يرغب من الجهات المهتمة بالتنمية المستدامة بدون مقابل كجزء من عضويتي في شبكة العطاء الاجتماعي وكمواطنة عالمية.

SDGs Arabic Session for GBC

Photos credit goes to SGP and Jordan GBC

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#InspireMENA – A story telling series to support on the ground successful project in MENA


Glad to announce on behalf of +SocialGood and EcoMENA the launch of #InspireMENA a Story Telling Series to support Successful on the ground projects in #Sustainable #Development in #MENA #Arabic #English #French – share your story or help us share others’ stories!
http://www.ecomena.org/inspire-mena/

Over 350 million people live in MENA and share Arabic as a common language. To date, there is very little literature in Arabic about sustainable development in general and specifically on the United Nation’s new global goals and the associated agencies and initiatives. More than half of that population is below 25 and is currently going through a lot in terms of political, economic, and social change. Despite all of this, those young people are innovating and making positive change in their communities. It is of utmost importance to support such impact with credible information, more visibility for success stories, and better communication tools.

Today we are excited to announce a special partnership between EcoMENA, a volunteer-driven organization working to raise environmental awareness and foster sustainable development in MENA, and +SocialGood, an international community where digital innovators, thought leaders, social entrepreneurs, change makers, and global citizens come together to share world-changing ideas and catalyze action.

The #InspireMENA Initiative will work to raise awareness and magnify impact on sustainable development issues and projects throughout the MENA region. Each #InspireMENA story will be shared in both English and Arabic on both platforms. Professionals, volunteers and writers are invited through both networks to contribute to identifying stories, writing and translating articles.

What we’re looking for in an #InspireMENA Story

Describe the outputs/outcomes from your story (qualitative and quantitative).
What makes this a real success story? What change have you contributed to?
To which Global Goal(s) would you link the impact(s) of this story?
What resources did you use and where did they come from?
Who were your partners in implementation? Who was the Champion?
What would you do differently if you can go back in time (lessons learned)?
Does your story trigger similar stories within your community/country/globe?
Sustainable Development is about justice and inclusiveness. How do you tell your story in light of this?
How do you measure your impact now and in the future?
Give us a ‘Call for Action’ statement to show how relevant this is to the reader.
How #Inspire MENA started

As two entities committed to supporting sustainable development, empowering youth, sharing knowledge and promoting success stories and role models; EcoMENA and +SocialGood are coming together to collaborate on ‘Story Telling for Sustainable Development’. This was initiated by the +SocialGood Connector in Jordan, Ruba Al-Zu’bi, after her participation in the +SocialGood Connectors and Advisors gathering in Washington D.C. – July 2015. Through this partnership, Ruba and Salman Zafar, Founder of EcoMENA, hope to mobilize a story telling campaign in Jordan and the MENA region around impactful and innovative projects and initiatives that advance sustainable development.

To get engaged and share a story, please contact:

Salman Zafar: salman@ecomena.org /salman@cleantechloops.com or

Ruba Al-Zu’bi: rubaalzoubi@gmail.com

Jordanian Women are Shaping the Clean Technology Future – Start by Telling Your Story!


CWEEL Group Pic

I must admit that I’m still learning and triggering thought on Jordan’s knowledge economy potential especially when it comes to the role of women. I also need to state clearly that I’m not a feminist and I believe in Jordanian women’s natural ability to take their part in development shoulder to shoulder with Jordanian men. Every day I encounter a new section of a story that is just beginning. Last week, I had the honor of being the guest speaker in the 2nd meeting for the CWEEL network in Jordan. CWEEL is the Council on Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership and Jordan is initiating its chapter through a few active men and women from the energy and environment sectors.

While I had a presentation ready, I navigated through the eyes of the amazing women attending the event and I suddenly decided to speak from the heart to the heart. Telling my humble story was the gate through which we all entered into an honest discussion that was as inspiring to me as it was to the group. For years, we tend to immerse ourselves in the world of work and lose many opportunities for human interaction.. more importantly for listening to another person’s story. In a personalized story, one can find moments and aspirations that could be life-changing.

My theory of the Clean Tech Sector in Jordan is that it will be shaped by its Women. They are rising like stars in various organizations starting from key business associations and NGOs (EDAMA, Jordan Green Building Council, Architects & Engineers Business Council, etc); Regulatory bodies (Jordan Standards and Metrology Organization), Utility Companies, Research and Academia and Financing Institutions. It is still quite rare to find women business owners or CEOs but this is changing soon, I believe. Getting those women connected and sharing stories together will ensure the sector’s success and growth.

Unlock your potential by sharing your story with another woman. I’m grateful for all the stories that added a special flavor to my life!

 

Green Careers – what are we missing in the educational system?


I was lucky enough to join the Green Careers booth at the International Youth Day celebrations in Irbid organised by USAID. The experience was rich as it made me realise how little environmentalists are doing to empower each other and to give hope to the new green generations. Young Engineering students already had pre expectations that the main challenge in their career is going to be unequal employment opportunities. I had to listen and try to change that perception while inside my head wondered what if that is really the case. After overcoming that first point, we started real talk about:
– the right attitude… What impression am I giving.
– how can I stay up to date with sector development and priorities (energy, environment and water).
– with over 112000 registered engineers in Jordan, how can I build my competitive edge.
– in the CV and during interview, how can I show my added value to the company.
– what would an employer like to see in my CV as a fresh graduate.
– does voluntary work count.

I know I wanted to keep doing this… And reach out to all those feeling its a curse to study green … If I can’t… We all can try though.

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Engineering for Development – sharing takeaways from my session at TAQETNA


Another inspiring session with young Jordanian Engineers. I gladly responded to TAQETNA second invitation to speak in its Project Management training course… actually I was waiting to be there again!

I spoke in general about Environmental Management tools and focused a bit on SEA as a planning and mainstreaming tool.

My takeaways:

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1. Life gets better the longer I connect with young Jordanians.

2. We have no mainstreaming within and between various engineering (and probably other) disciplines. Each specialty needs to find links and synergies with other fields… that’s how real development goals     and creative solutions are achieved.

3. If we want to instill a culture of environmental consciousness, Jordanians need to hear about environmental management way before graduating from college!

4. Innovation by Youth is going to solve our environmental problems one day… not only that but will also provide integrated solutions for economic and social development… dreaming about “Engineering for Development”, I remain!

5. Even if it is one single session in a long course, take that opportunity to convey a message and trigger a spark in a sharp young mind.. results would be amazing!

Thanks Mahmoud Shattel for starting these courses. Thanks Samer Zawaydeh for your great spirit.

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