Jordan Shifting Towards a Green Economy

Safa Khasawneh Interviews Dr. Frank Rijsberman (Safa Khasawneh/IPS)

Jordan – In a wide-ranging interview with Inter Press Service (IPS), the Director-General of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) Dr Frank Rijsberman reiterated that Jordan is currently showing a solid commitment towards shifting to a green economy, and has achieved important milestones in implementing renewable energy solutions.

Dr Rijsberman was quoted by IPS saying that Jordan may be one of the smallest economies in the Middle East, but it has high ambitions for inclusive green growth and sustainable development despite the fact that it lies in the heart of a region that has been long plagued with wars and other troubles.

The influx of more than a million Syrian refugees has resulted in an increase in the demand for water and energy in Jordan.

In 2016, the government of Jordan worked with GGGI and launched its National Green Growth Plan (NGGP).  The Jordanian Ministry of Environment, working with contributions by line ministries and other stakeholders was more involved in the formulation of the NGGP.

GGGI helped Jordan launch its NGGP and develop a clear vision towards green growth strategy and policy framework in line with the country’s vision 2025. And Dr Rijsberman told IPS GGGI is ready to rally funds and investments to enable green growth in Jordan.

Jordan’s NGGP, has identified 24 projects in six main sectors, including water, agriculture, transport, energy, waste and tourism. The most urgent projects are in water and energy as Jordan currently has inadequate water and energy resources.

“In terms of water, our projects in Jordan aim to preserve the country’s efficiency of water distribution system, provide clean drinking water, maximize the use of treated wastewater for agricultural and industrial purposes and prevent pollution by cleaning some of the polluted rivers,” Dr Rijsberman told IPS.

Dr Rijsberman pointed out that Jordan imports 97 percent of its energy needs, and its electricity consumption is rising by 5 percent annually, and so GGGI is also looking at addressing the country’s energy challenges.

“In the energy sector, our primary focus is on the efficiency of this resource since Jordan has already made good progress in setting up solar energy plans, and the need lies on storing this energy,” Dr Rijsberman said.

IPS was told by Dr Rijsberman that he had talks with officials in the ministries of energy, environment and planning on ways to exploit solar energy for battery technology, another renewable technology that can store extra solar power for later use. This new technology, Dr Rijsberman explained, will provide Jordan with the opportunity to shift to renewable energy and reduce imports of fossil fuels.

IPS’ interview with Dr Rijsberman also reveals that Jordan has started to turn around the transport sector by introducing eco-friendly hybrid cars with greater fuel efficiency and lower carbon emissions.

The establishment of a Green Economy Directorate unit by Jordan’s Ministry of Environment has nudged the country closer to achieving a green economy. The unit is receiving full support from the Ministry of Planning, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Energy.

As Jordan faces new geopolitical challenges and an unprecedented influx of refugees, Dr Rijsberman revealed to IPS that GGGI is working with the Jordanian government on a Country Planning Framework (CPF), which is a five-year in-country delivery strategy that identifies and operationalizes the institute’s value additions to national development targets in partner countries. As a strategic and planning document, the CPF aims at delivering in-country development targets that are in alignment with the overarching GGGI Strategic Plan and Corporate Results Framework.

Dr Rijsberman applauded Jordan for the political will and determination to create green jobs, green businesses, a healthy environment, and secure an affordable supply of energy for all. However, he pointed out that the country lacks the capacity and technical skills as well as adequate financing mechanisms to encourage the private sector to implement green growth projects.

“So a big part of our job is capacity-building to come up with bankable projects that are green and sustainable, and as we know that the government can’t fund projects by itself, therefore it is very important to build partnerships between the private and public sector to reach this end,” Dr Rijsberman told IPS.

Dr Rijsberman stressed that although Jordan has made tremendous progress in its approach, there is still a long way to go and a lot of work to do.

The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) is a treaty-based inter-governmental organization dedicated to supporting and promoting strong, inclusive and sustainable economic growth in developing countries and emerging economies.

Established in 2012 at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, GGGI is accelerating the transition toward a new model of economic green growth founded on principles of social inclusivity and environmental sustainability.

With the support of strong leadership and the commitment of stakeholders, the GGGI has achieved impressive growth over the last several years and now includes 27 members with operations in 25 developing countries and emerging economies.