Jordan is currently undergoing a process of deep political and economic change. For all people with positive thinking there is a hope that this transformation with result in a sustainable and effective system of economic and political governance. One of the major opportunities that are around the corner is the potential that Jordan may be able to make a paradigm shift towards green economy.
UNEP defines a green economy as one that results in “improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities” (UNEP 2011). A green economy aims to be low-carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive. Growth in income and job generation is driven by both the private and public sectors. This growth, however, is within a framework of reducing pollution, improving energy efficiency and preserving biodiversity through preventing damage to existing ecosystems. Such investments are supported through targeted public expenditures, underpinned, where needed, by policy reform and regulatory changes. Natural capital is considered a keystone in development, a critical asset to be used for public benefit. This is seen most strongly in poor, less developed and more rural areas, where livelihoods and security of family are largely dependent on nature.
The Green Economy is one of the major pillars of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio + 20) which will be held in Brazil 20-22 June 2012. It has been also one of the most effective tools used by many global governments to inject stimulus financial support for their own economies after the 2008 global economic crises. It is a concept that is taking shape, content and influencing global policy agenda.
Jordan has shown interest at the policy level for transition to green economy since 2010. The Ministry of Environment has commissioned UNEP to produce a Green Economy Scoping Study (GESS) that will act as a roadmap for greening the Jordanian economy and identification of highest potential sector the creation of jobs, fighting poverty and enhancement of resource use in Jordan. The GESS released and endorsed at the end of July 2011. The study indicates that investments in environmental conservation could generate a minimum of 50,000 jobs, and over JD 1.3 billion in revenues over a period of 10 years. In order to achieve such benefits, this study recommends an integrated and coordinated approach that involves all sections of the government for the benefit of the nation, starting with the production and adoption of the Green Economy Policy Paper.
The study provides challenges and opportunities in several sectors including energy, transport, water, waste, organic and regenerative farming and tourism. Following are glimpses of opportunities perceived
In the energy sector investment in energy efficiency in industry, which is estimated around 195 million JD annually for the coming 10 years, can save the nation one-fifth of its energy usage over the next 12 years. Methods to promote energy conservation include, for example, taxing excessive energy use, improved insulation and energy efficiency of homes, and incentivising the use of lower voltage bulbs and devices. Moreover, the national energy strategy is set to generate approximately 3,000 new jobs for the installation, maintenance and running if renewable energy facilities by 2020.
In the transport sector promoting cleaner fuel vehicles use can help save JD 60 per vehicle annually, and even more as gasoline prices rise further, which translates to JD 44 million per year saved across the nation. To support green transport in Jordan, the government could consider revising current customs policies on clean fuel vehicles, and streamlining public transportation with interchangeable tariffs and routes that best serve employment areas.
In the water sector the study provides some recommendations for the enhancement of economic productivity in water management including water demand management, estimation of value added per cubic meter of water in each economic sector and rehabilitation of wetlands.
In the waste sector recycling benefits are varied but energy savings have been shown to range from 24 to 95 per cent, and air pollution savings from 20 to 95 per cent. In the agriculture sector the study states that organic farming has the potential to significantly improve agricultural production and diminish associated costs in a number of ways. Among them is the fact that organic farming utilizes less water than conventional farming and replenishes the soil with vital nutrients, as opposed to simply depleting the soil and aggravating the aridity phenomena. Also, organic farming relies on water saving techniques that can increase the size of the irrigated land by a ratio of 6 in Jordan.
In addition, if 5 per cent of the total agricultural land is used as organic farmland, then this will lead to approximately JD 111 million in investments, 40.6 dunums in total land used and the creation of 1,700 jobs. Because green agriculture has more value added and requires higher skilled workers than traditional agriculture, where 21.6 per cent of all workers are non-Jordanian, new jobs would most likely be filled by Jordanian workers, as they pay more.
In the tourism sector the study estimates that if 5 per cent of all tourists used sustainable infrastructure, then approximately 3,900 jobs could be created annually based on past expenditure and employment ratios.
The roadmap is clear. We need the political willingness to move the necessary steps.