Jordan seeks to engage civil society

1. Picture
Minister of Environment Muawieh Al-Radaideh meeting with members of the Environmental Associations Committee. (Photo: Facebook)

AMMAN — The Ministry of Environment is seeking to activate the role of civil society organizations in Jordan and fix any dents in regulations which may hamper the direct involvement of environmentalists in matters of concern.اضافة اعلان

Under the endeavor, Minister of Environment Muawieh Al-Radaideh met with members of the Environmental Associations Committee (EAC) last Tuesday, when the group spoke about hinderances which limit their active participation, primarily overlapping between various ministries.

The minister heard the opinions and suggestions made by the committee, which is comprised of 24 members and represents the 160 environmental organizations across Jordan, ministry spokesperson Ahmad Obeidat told Jordan News.

A ministry statement said the committee proposed to Radaideh to “institutionalize its duties to enable it to prepare and execute ministry plans in its capacity as an active strategic partner in a sustainable environmental protection system.”

 Obeidat said the minister presented an action plan in that regard, but did not provide details. He said, However, that the action plan will be implemented in partnership with EAC to activate its role in preparing programs and plans launched by the ministry and executing them.

Chairman of the Jordan Environmental Union (JEU) Omar Al-Shoshan said similar concerns were voiced in a union study conducted in the third part of last year.

Entitled “Assessment on Public Policy Development and Monitoring Environment in the Environment Sector in Jordan”, the assessmental is a component under the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development, commonly known as ACTED.

The group is a French humanitarian non-governmental organization. ACTED is committed to supporting people in urgent need and promoting inclusive and sustainable growth.

Shoshan said the EU-funded component under ACTED’s Jordan Guardians Project, was carried out by independent environmental experts, representatives of NGOs working in the targeted sectors, and decision-makers in the government institution.

According to the assessment, a copy of which was made available to Jordan News, public policy development in Jordan “follows a top-down approach with minimum engagement of civil society members and academics.”

Another challenge lies in the limitations imposed on organization, which restricts their participation in designing and implementing programs related to public policy-making in Jordan, according to the assessment.

Additionally, it noted, civil society institutions have insufficient technical capacities and skills related to policy development and monitoring. This includes how to approach authorities for policy monitoring, understanding of policy implementation mechanisms, and/or policy development processes, as well as networking and coordination skills with relevant stakeholders. 

“Environmental problems are not taken seriously in the plans of successive governments,” declared Shoshan, whose JEU is a national advocacy front of nine of Jordan’s most active environmental NGOs who cover all of Jordan’s environmental sectors and whose projects span the Kingdom. They promote environmental stewardship and conservation, as well as economic and social development.

“The issues are being generalized, this leads to a lack of continuity and sustainability of many efforts,” Shoshan added.

Chairman of Green Generation Foundation Dheaya Al-Rousan said NGOs are deprived of financial support, specifically from the environment ministry.

Rousan also pointed to what he said was a protracted process undertaken by the government to approve international funds to NGOs, which results in delaying their work and affecting the timeline for the implementation of scheduled plans under their obligations.

Obeidat, the ministry spokesperson, countered. He cited the Enviro-Fund established in 2009 to extend support for NGOs, saying that environmentalist groups can submit a funding proposal to a state technical committee for approval.

The spokesperson attributed the delay in approving international funds on the verification process for reasons, which include fighting terrorism. He said the process, from receipt of the money to releasing the funds, “doesn’t take longer than one month in most cases”.

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