Princess Basma urges balance between environmental protection and local development

(Photo: Petra)
AMMAN — HRH Princess Basma Bint Talal has emphasized the significance of balancing development needs with those of local communities in protected areas, taking into account their way of life and the efforts made to preserve, develop, and sustain these areas, according to the Jordan News Agency, Petra.اضافة اعلان

Princess Basma was speaking at the “Dana+20: Mobile Indigenous Peoples, Conservation, Sustainable Development, and Climate Change” conference which opened Wednesday at Wadi Dana Nature Reserve.

The Royal Society organizes the event for the Conservation of Nature in Jordan (RSCN) in cooperation with the Refugee Studies Centre from the Department of International Development at the University of Oxford, Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) – an international NGO.

She said initiatives to preserve the deeply ingrained cultural traditions and long-established ways of life of local communities must go hand in hand with the trend toward urbanization and development.

Her Highness commended the RSCN’s efforts in these Jordanian regions, particularly the Dana Reserve, which is known for its rare biological diversity and the habitats it provides for numerous species of mammals, birds, plants, and reptiles.

“The past twenty years have seen Dana go from strength to strength. The reserve is now home to 894 plant species, 215 bird species, 38 mammal species, and 36 reptile species, of which 25 are known to be endangered, including the Sand Cat, the Syrian Wolf, the Lesser Kestrel, and the Spiny Tailed Lizard,” she noted.

Princess Basma indicated that since 2002, the Dana Standing Committee has traveled the world, advocating for local communities from Morocco to Peru, Ethiopia to India, and Syria to Jordan.

“They have had some significant successes. Dana has been adopted into ‘soft’ international law – at the Durban accords in 2003, then again at the World Conservation Congresses in 2004 and 2008 and formally incorporated in the IUCN working principles for social development,” she said of the committee.

She indicated that climate change, rising temperatures, water shortages, and increasing desertification threaten reserves and natural areas in the world and Jordan, which requires checks and balances to protect natural habitats and ecosystems and help local communities adapt to these risks involve them in planning.

As the 20th anniversary of the Dana Declaration, which was signed in Wadi Dana in 2002, approaches, the event is expected to take stock of ecological, and technical developments of the past two decades and bring the implications for local communities to the attention of global forums. The Dana+20 workshop aspires to outline forward-moving ways in consultation with local community representatives, to improve engagement on the interrelated priorities of conservation, climate adaptation/resilience, habitat loss, and sustainable development.

The conference seeks to work with local communities as rights holders and change agents to reconfirm, direct and review ways to improve participation and maintain sustainability in the interrelated priorities of environmental conservation, climate change adaptation, and natural habitat protection.

Professor Dawn Chatty, a former director of the Center for Refugee Studies at Oxford University, said that the conference’s goal is to reassess the effects of the previous 20 years and convey them to specialized international conferences and forums, as well as decision-makers, through the “Dana+20,” so they can be taken into account when addressing environmental reserves and natural areas around the world.

Samir Bandak, member of the RSCN Board of Directors, noted that the Dana Declaration was the first international legal document recognizing people of local communities and acknowledging their significant contribution to biodiversity conservation and eco-preservation.

“We at the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature realize that the local communities are an integral part of its structure, and we are working closely with local communities in each protected area in Jordan to achieve our common goals. This conference’s framework strongly emphasizes collaboration and interaction with local communities,” he added.

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