AMMAN – The Ministry of Environment seeks to activate the role of civil society organizations in Jordan and address loopholes in regulations that may hinder the direct involvement of environmentalists in issues of concern.
As part of this initiative, Environment Minister Muawieh Al-Radaideh met with members of the Environmental Associations Committee (EAC) last Tuesday, when the group discussed the barriers that limit their active participation, mostly overlapping between various ministries.
The minister heard the opinions and suggestions of the committee, which is made up of 24 members and represents the 160 environmental organizations across Jordan, ministry spokesman Ahmad Obeidat told Jordan News.
A statement from the ministry said the committee offered Radaideh “to institutionalize his functions to enable him to prepare and execute the ministry’s plans as an active strategic partner in a sustainable environment protection system.”
Obeidat said the minister presented an action plan in this regard, but did not provide details. He indicated, however, that the action plan will be implemented in partnership with the EAC to activate its role in the preparation of the programs and plans launched by the ministry and their execution.
President of the Jordanian Environment Union (JEU), Omar Al-Shoshan, said similar concerns were expressed in a union study conducted in the third half of last year.
Titled “Assessment of Public Policy Making and Environmental Monitoring in the Environment Sector in Jordan,” the assessment is a component of the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development, commonly referred to as ACTED.
The group is a French humanitarian non-governmental organization. ACTED is committed to supporting people in 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, NGO representatives working in the targeted sectors and decision makers from the government institution.
According to the assessment, a copy of which was made available to Jordan News, public policy-making in Jordan “follows a top-down approach with minimal engagement from members of civil society and academia.”
Another challenge is the limitations imposed on organizations, which limit their participation in the design and implementation of programs related to public policy making in Jordan, according to the evaluation.
Furthermore, he noted that civil society institutions lack sufficient technical capacity and skills related to policy development and monitoring. This includes how to approach authorities for policy monitoring, understanding policy implementation mechanisms and/or policy-making processes, and networking and coordination skills with stakeholders concerned stakeholders.
“Environmental issues are not taken seriously in the plans of successive governments,” said Shoshan, whose JEU is a national advocacy front of nine of Jordan’s most active environmental NGOs that cover all environmental sectors in Jordan. and whose projects cover the whole Kingdom. They promote environmental stewardship and conservation, as well as economic and social development.
“The problems are becoming widespread, leading to a lack of continuity and sustainability of many efforts,” Shoshan added.
Green Generation Foundation chairman Dheaya Al-Rousan said NGOs are starved of financial support, especially 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 has the effect of delaying their work and affecting the timeline for the implementation of plans under the framework of their obligations.
Obeidat, the ministry spokesman, replied. He cited the Enviro-Fund created in 2009 to expand support for NGOs, saying environmental groups can submit a funding proposal to a state technical committee for approval.
The spokesperson attributed the delay in approving international funds to the verification process for reasons including the fight against terrorism. He said the process from receiving the money to releasing the funds “doesn’t take more than a month in most cases.”
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