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.
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