Category Archives: Jordan Green Building Council

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

gbc sdgs3gbc sdgs2GlobalGoalsRZaqaba sdgs2

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Environmental NGOs as a Trigger for Social Good – a Jordanian Perspective


My new Article published on EcoMENA http://www.ecomena.org/environmental-ngos-jordanian-perspective/

While growing in number and scope with each passing year, environmental NGOs in Jordan are striving to become a model in civil society participation, collaborative governance and social impact. They are demonstrating how green advocates can lead by example and become a role model for other development leaders. Those non-for-profits are challenged to not only be the watchdogs and outreach arms but also act as community organizers and change agents that our country and region aspire for.

In harmony with the overall awakening of social entrepreneurship and youth movement within MENA region, green startups and community-based initiatives are climbing to the top as platforms for youth to express their views and take action. Jordan might be an exception in that it specifically enjoys the presence of a large educated young population coupled with a huge pressure on infrastructure and resources magnified by the influx of refugees from neighboring countries.  Such circumstances while being a tremendous challenge also form an opportunity to advance innovation and entrepreneurship especially for urban water, energy and environmental solutions.

Recent statistics show that an average of 48 Jordanian NGOs is established each month mounting up to around 3800 in 2014. Out of those, ninety-two are already registered as environmental societies with over half of them located outside the capital Amman. Eight NGOs sharing common environmental goals formed together the first Federation for Environmental NGOs and hope to be more impactful when united. Whether all of this is enabled by the supportive legal and regulatory framework or powered by increased awareness among the population of the role of civil society in sustainable development; it is an evolution that calls for some reflection! Does this figure reflect a real grass-roots movement towards a sustainable way of living? Are these green NGOs a representation of a stronger public-private-community dialogue on environmental issues? And can we – as Jordanians and environmentalists – sense/measure the impact of real change on the ground?

While no one might have the evidence-based answer to all of those questions, there is no doubt that the green civil society experience in Jordan forms a unique model across the country and the MENA region. It is led mostly by Jordanian professionals and activists with shared inclination to making a difference. Younger generations are more conscious and action oriented when it comes to sustainable development. In and outside Amman, volunteerism and community-based activities are becoming more innovative and inclusive providing hope for a better future. Nevertheless, NGOs still struggle with their institutional and financial sustainability and mostly fall behind in finding innovative ways to survive the increased competition.

The Beginning and The Evolution

Back in the 60s, the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) was established as the first entity focusing on wildlife protection and nature management in Jordan, prior to the existence of any environmental authority. RSCN continues to perform its functions via a legal mandate and delegation from the Government of Jordan in the areas of hunting regulation and protected areas management forming an excellent partnership model with the public sector. Today, RSCN deploys sustainable development principles in the protected areas demonstrating job creation and community development in their good standards. Dana natural reserve is an international eco-tourism destination because of those successful partnerships. Nature protection is no longer a hurdle to development but rather a pillar to ensure its sustainability. Aiming to bridge the skill and knowledge gap in nature protection and eco-tourism, RSCN established the international-standard “Royal Academy for Nature Conservation”.

With the first environmental protection law that was issued in 1995 and the further institutional development through the establishment of the Ministry of Environment in 2003; it became inevitable for civil society organizations to be part of the evolution. Introducing environmental management tools such as environmental impact assessment (EIA) required public participation and consultation. Several NGOs were established and trained to take part in those consultations and ensure new projects take both the environment and society into consideration from as early as the planning stage.

Triggered by its scarce natural resources and commitment to international environmental treaties, Jordan went as far as integrating environment into its trade agreements. The US-Jordan Free Trade Agreement was the first to include an environmental chapter. Further bilateral and multilateral agreements such as the EU-Jordan Association Agreement included sustainability and environment as a pillar and as a cross-cutting issue that should safeguard cooperation in various development sectors. NGOs needed to cope with all of that and raise the bar for more synergy between environment, community and economic development.

The New Language

For a long time, the core focus of the environmental community has been on protection and conservation. Jordanians still recall the advocacy breakthrough of 2006 when the environmental NGOs exerted exceptional pressure on the legislative and executive bodies to prevent the approval of the Agriculture Law amendments that was foreseen to jeopardize the important forest areas by opening them for purchase by investors.

Today, Jordan is aggressively pursuing green economy targets as the first country in the Region to conduct a scoping study and prepare a strategy for green growth. The ninety-two environmental NGOs would need to be well prepared for a completely different argument. Away from green, the socio-economic dimension will be the winner with more demand for jobs, local economic development and innovation. Environmental mainstreaming into development sectors would be the new strategic planning tool to ensure sustainability. Concepts of smart cities and green infrastructure should start to show on pilot and large scales how quality investment is attracted and high paying jobs are created.

For the first time, green businesses are coming together to establish business associations that advocate for better enabling environment and fuel green economy. Such private sector led organizations work to provide needed platforms and tools to equip green labor force and organize dialogue with the public sector and international community. The progress made by the private sector to become more organized through business association should be leveraged and further expanded to incorporate more companies especially startups and SMEs.

The Leap

In May 2014 and as a marked step towards a stronger impact, eight environmental NGOs decided to formalize their partnership through establishing the “Jordanian Federation for Environmental NGOs”, commencing a new era of green social impact, policy advocacy and good governance. The eight founding NGOs are: Jordan Environment Society (JES), Royal Society for Conservation of Nature (RSCN), Jordan Royal Marine conservation Society (JREDS), Energy Conservation and Environmental Sustainability Society, Arab Group for the Protection of Nature, Jordan Society for Combating Desertification, Organic Farming Society, and the Jordan Green Building Council. They bring a mix of the old and new united by their shared concerns, passion and vision.

The federation’s internal bylaw stipulates the goals of the “Jordanian Federation for Environmental NGOs” to cover the following areas: policy and legal advocacy, awareness raising and capacity building, coordination and collaboration among members and across the sector, data and information dissemination, and members support. While many are unaware of the existence of the federation, it is only by action that it will prove vital for Jordan and sustainable development as a whole.

A Meaningful Impact

Throughout the years, the relationship between the green sector players had its ups and downs especially in how the public sector managed the engagement with the private sector and civil society. It is evident that this relationship has grown in the past few years triggered mainly by the need for stronger positions towards the huge challenges facing environment in Jordan and the realization of the important role that each party can play in achieving sustainable development goals. NGOs were the main advocate to stop a government decision to merge the Ministries of Environment and Municipal Affairs in 2012.

As mature as it would prove to be, the Federation for Environmental NGOs bears the responsibility of the whole sector’s maturity especially when it comes to improved dialogue and coordination. The visionary leaders who realized the value of uniting for a cause are those who need to cascade such vision to the other sectors. Shifting from reactive to proactive, NGOs are obliged to change mindset of their boards and staff to be able to change communities. The world is more convinced that the private sector holds the promise for green economy, green jobs and better future. However, very little synergy is found with the educational, research and innovation institutions which are crucial to develop the brains and change the mindset. Innovation in green is not kicking off as it should be in MENA. Research, science and technology continue to be disconnected from market needs. The NGOs and business associations need to step up as drivers for a well integrated change process that assures people as well as the green enterprises of their safe and flourishing future.

Let’s not wait and see but let’s join the movement and make it happen!

job fair

Photo credit goes to Jordan Green Building Council (www.jordangbc.org)

More from EPA!


One more oustanding team from US EPA Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery. Timothy Taylor and Sara Rasmussen. Frank Avvisato from Superfund Redevlopment Program. They gave an excellent overview of the site cleanup and reuse efforts.

Green remediation

Priorities on Natinal level and criteria for including a site

But what matters most is the PROCESS

Earth Policy Instiute – credibility along the way


One of the unique models for non-for-profit think tanks and research focused instiutes that has been managing to maintain its credibility and neutrality along the ‘tough’ way. Founded by Lester Brown, EPI is positioned as a key resource entity for fact-based advocacy. Matt Roney gave a comprehensive overview of the overarching principles and the main activities of EPI. We also discussed the future of food and agriculture – a subject being tackled by Lester these days. He indicated that EPI is reluctant to accept sponsorships that are not in line with its overarching direction. The list available at this link, http://www.earth-policy.org/about_epi/C91, shows the relative importance of our various funding sources: “…supported by financial contributions from foundations and individuals, along with income from publication sales, honoraria, and royalties.

 To me, this is a great model but only if maintained on the long-term through a business plan that would be linked with a corporate sustainability startegy.

One of the interesting initatives that EPI is taking on board is translation of some of its books and publications to some languages.

Takeaways: can we assist in sharing EPI rich resources with institutions and individuals in Jordan through our Jordan GBC database and my own list of contacts? can we help in translating some of the relevant resources to Arabic?

What is to learn by our research institutions from the EPI experience?

Willing to volunteer? let me know.

US EPA – great supporter for Jordan’s environmental protection efforts


As part of the US-Jordan environmental cooperation action plan, USEPA and in cooperation with USAID has contributed to addressing some of Jordan’s national environmental hotspots priorities as well as to compliance and enforcement training for the Ministry of Environment, Royal Environmental Rangers, RSCN and other stakeholders. The cooperation included support for the start-up of the ANECE (Arab Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement) in Amman.

It was a lovely meeting with lots of updates and discussions!

Takeaways: are we following up on all the previous work?

Jane Nishida, Jane Metcalfe, Davis Jones, Shereen Kandil.

Jordan’s Story to be shared!


 One of the best feelings is that of contentment. It was one of those meetings where all participants spoke a common language.

My meeting with Mr Gokhan Akinci and Ms Ifeyinwa Onugha from the joint IFC-WB Special Economic Zones program was very fruitful and insightful. We have enjoyed exchanging updates on what Jordan has been doing to develop its doing business climate and Development Zones regulatory framework as well as on how can IFC/WB SEZ program support our efforts.

Nothing I enjoy better than explaining and marketing our Environmental Sustainability framework that we lead at the Development and Free Zones Commission (DFZC). I presented the various elements and tools we developed to ensure environmental mainstreaming into the planning and management of Development Zones in Jordan starting from requesting Startegic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Starategic Environmental Management Plan (SEMP) on the Zone level. Such mainstreaming at an early stage of preparing the various plans for the Zone ensures more efficient and streamlined socio-economic development and reduces downstream regulatory burden on developers and on Regulators. The next level of environmental regulation is the environmental clearance process which is based on a risk-categorization system for economic activities to ensure that fast-track permits are granted to low-risk activities provided that they abide by a set of General Environmental Conditions, while more professional and technical  assessment would be needed through requesting Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for high risk activities and a for of Limited Scope EIA for medium risk activities. Such model enables the regulator to focus on key environmental priorities and alleviates unjustified regulatory burden from small and medium businesses. Having a set of pre-agreed upon environmental conditions enhances transparency with the private sector and sets the base for post inspection and monitoring.

I was happy to know that the SEZs program will provide the platform for us to present this model to other Countries as a pilot for regulatory reform. Takeaways, find the time to celebrate years of passion and persistence! Then go back to work.

www.dzc.jo

for more info, pls contact me on rubaalzoubi@gmail.com

Intellectual Chat with a Great Jordanian!


His recent paper of reform in Jordan has its supporters but he indeed served Jordan and continues to do so from his current position at Carnegie Endowment Center where he ‘enjoys the academic freedom’. I had the pleasure of meeting HE Dr Marwan Muasher and I enjoyed his remarkable insights on Jordan and the Region. While it was a friendly and spontanuous chat, his intellectual thoughts penetrated our discussion with some disappointments and lots of hope for a brighter future.

One thing made me happier during this trip to the US in the middle of the Arab Spring … that is how people here carry respect and hope for Jordan’s home-made reform agenda. They count a lot on the Moroccan and Jordanian models to make all the difference in the Region.