In celebration of the World Humanitarian Day and inspired by the UN global call for action #TheHumanRace against the climate crisis clock, the Jordan National NGOs Forum (JONAF) and the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) held a national forum “In the Race Against Climate Crisis: JONAF Will Always Be Present,” on Thursday, August 19, 2021. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Sawsan Al Majali, senior consultant at Durrat Al Manal for Development and Training, in the presence of humanitarian workers, representatives of local, national and international civil society organizations. The panelists at the event included Dr. Salma Al Nims, Secretary-General at The Jordanian National Commission for Women (JNCW); Prof. Odeh Al-Jayyousi, Professor of Innovation Policy at Arabian Gulf University; Dr. Yusuf Mansur, economist, and former Minister of State for Economic Affairs; Ms. Hala Murad, CEO of Dibeen for Environmental Development; and Ms. Shada El-Sharif, Climate Change Advisor at the Ministry of Planning and Founder of Sustain MENA.
The participants discussed the challenges posed by climate change at the local, regional, and international levels, and the extent to which Jordan is affected by its consequences. All panelists stressed the importance of humanitarian action and local actors’ capacity in limiting and addressing them. Al Nims pointed out that the challenges that Jordan and other developing countries are experiencing today due to climate change are caused by the major industrialized countries, and industrialization has led to devastating environmental impacts. She added that there is a lack of commitment by these countries to their responsibility towards the environment and there is not enough pressure on developed countries to review their policies towards the environment. Al Nims remarked, “This reality must be linked to the tenth goal of the Sustainable Development Goals, which is equality between countries. The effects of environmental disasters on marginalized communities are multiplying, in addition to the fact that the ability of these communities to deal with and find solutions to these disasters is still below what is required.”
In this regard, Murad spoke about the humanitarian burden that the people of the Arab region will bear as a result of the consequences of climate change. She pointed out that rich countries have achieved progress at the expense of the environment and poor countries, and stressed that rich countries have a moral responsibility to address the consequences of climate change. Murad raised the issue that “71% of the total national income of the countries of the Middle East and North Africa will decrease during the current century, 65% of the region’s population will reach levels below the poverty line, and the region is on the verge of a drought affecting 91% of its lands.”
Regarding his vision for the Arab world, and its preparedness to deal with crises resulting from climate change, Al-Jayyousi said that “in the past decades, Arab countries have built institutions, enacted laws, and established environmental programs. But there has been no real activation of these laws, programs, and the delivery of their outputs to the targeted groups, the most important of which are women, children, and refugees.”
As for the Jordanian government’s plans, Al-Sharif said, “We in Jordan are part of the human race in the face of climate change, and there is a higher goal that the environmental message of the Ministry of Planning aims at, which is to advance the Jordanian state in this field, and that these efforts are part of the development process in the Kingdom.” He explained that the Climate Change Unit was established by and under the umbrella of the Ministry of Environment in 2014, and Jordan was one of the first signatories to the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. Moreover, the National Coordination Committee’s action plan was launched to implement the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) measures, which address the pivotal sectors in Jordan, including the sectors of energy, transportation, water, and agriculture. According to Al-Sharif, the issue of climate change resistance is divided into two parts: adaptation and mitigation. In the past years, the focus has been on the mitigation part. Al-Sharif said that “Jordan does contribute much to the global emissions rate, as Jordan is not considered one of the oil-producing countries,” adding that Jordan is one of the first Arab countries to introduce renewable energy.
With regard to the developments in Jordan and the threats to which the Dana Reserve specifically is facing, Mansur stressed the importance of preserving environmental resources and not replacing them with quick profit schemes, saying: “The developing countries compromise their future for a material profit on the short run, but at the same time it is destructive in the long run. What happened in the Dana Reserve is the closest example of shortsightedness and sacrifice of the future. Copper mining does not justify sacrificing the environment, the nation’s future, and its generation’s future.” Mansur also stressed the importance of long-term participatory planning and the need to involve local communities and work through them, not just for them.
The forum highlighted the distinguished role of organizations that are run by women and their responses to humanitarian crises, and the effective role of women in maintaining the security of their communities. Al Majali emphasized that women are the best to deal with resources, and they are the ones who manage the family’s resources. Therefore, according to her, the coping mechanisms that women adopt in times of crisis are more innovative, enabling them to find positive solutions to crises. Al-Nims pointed out that Jordan’s National Action Plan (JONAP) for advancing the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security did not clearly place issues of natural disasters among its priorities in its first phase. She stressed that working with JONAF and local civil society institutions, especially those led by women, demonstrates the importance of women and women-led organizations and their role in crises, including the climate change crisis, and finding solutions to it.
On this occasion, JONAF released a statement stressing their member’s solidarity with the world’s most vulnerable people and their commitment to providing them with unconditional support. JONAF believes that the success of humanitarian responses in any country requires a cooperative effort based on the concerted efforts of governmental, parastatal, and non-governmental entities and their work in an organized manner, whether at the collective or individual level. The statement stresses the need to strengthen collective local capacities to respond to crises, include “localizing” the agendas of all reform actions at the global level, and the need to unify and unite efforts to confront the climate change crisis, in addition to urging governments to invest the time available to address disasters. Click here for the full statement