By: Batir Wardam
Jordan’s entrance to a knowledge economy depends not only on policies, legislation and regulations developed by the government or investments by the private sector. It is also based on qualified and well-trained human resources to deal with the challenges of the knowledge economy which in turn depend on effective systems of education and training that are linked with the creation of new jobs in the market.
One of the main sectors that can bring added value to Jordan in development and employment is a “green economy” which includes the sectors of renewable energy, desalination and water management, waste management and recycling and environmentally friendly construction, which are all dependent on the development of modern technology compatible with traditional knowledge.
The global trend towards the green economy was reiterated by the recent financial crisis which underscored the need to invest in a green economy that is based on sustainable resource management. Several countries in Europe as well as the United States have injected vast financial resources in the green sectors of the economy while some western countries have tried to mobilize international financial sources, especially from countries in the Arabian Gulf. After the financial crises British Prime Minister Gordon Brown toured the Gulf requesting Arab investments in alternative energy sectors and has succeeded in attracting investments from Qatar in particular for British companies working in the development of renewable energy!
Jordan may be a small market in size, but it has adequate human resources that can, with some additional education and systematic training provide great services to the region in sectors of green economy. It is important that some of the brightest students in Jordan be encouraged to study energy, water, environment, recycling and environmentally friendly engineering and management of natural resources. This requires that such disciplines be as attractive and lucrative as medicine and engineering and provides excellent career opportunities with high salaries in the national and the regional economies.
If the Renewable Energy Law in Jordan is adopted it will facilitate a flow of investments and technology in this sector. This should open the way for local job opportunities with added values. However, this transition requires the existence of the necessary human expertise. The human capital suitable for green economy can be developed through an effective and modern education and training systems that focuses on competency. One good example is the Jordan-German University that focuses on the practical themes of energy and water where students are exposed to the latest technologies and best knowledge that can be used for enhancing the practical skills suitable for market success.
The evolution towards a green economy will not be achieved solely by the state but through the combined impacts of private sector initiatives and innovative education. However, the State bears a responsibility to overcome all the policy and legislative barriers and develop an enabling environment that allows for all kinds of incentives that assist in the transfer and adaptation of technologies for all sectors of the green economy. The state and the private sector should also provide appropriate education for students to engage in these sectors as well as incentives for entrepreneurs to explore this path that is full of opportunities.
There are two conditions of extreme importance to encourage the green economy. The first is the Government’s introduction of the element of ” environmentally friendly performance” as a condition for all governmental procurements so that companies committed to environmental protection have more value added in the evaluation of their bids. The other step is to encourage banks to provide soft loans for small and medium-sized initiatives that encourage the introduction of environmentally friendly patterns in production and creation of new jobs.
With the current budget deficit it will be difficult for the government to provide subsidies to launch the green economy. What we can do is to provide legal incentives to the private sector to spearhead this transition and open up new opportunities