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National stakeholders in Jordan propose solutions, call for more support of green and social entrepreneurs to build a green economy

AMMAN —More than 100 stakeholders gathered on 27 April for the SwitchMed Synergy Workshop devoted to “Green entrepreneurs and grassroots ecological and social innovations: agents of change towards a green economy in Jordan”, organized jointly by Jordan’s Ministry of Environment and the UN Environment/MAP Regional Activity Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP/RAC).
Published on May 24, 2017

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National stakeholders in Jordan propose solutions, call for more support of green and social entrepreneurs to build a green economy

The seriousness of discussions and enthusiasm of the young entrepreneurs that led the working groups were key to the success of the Jordan Synergy Workshop

The event provided a platform for relevant stakeholders to exchange and identify recommendations on how to promote green growth in Jordan by further empowering green entrepreneurs, grassroots initiatives and the organizations that support them. Participants included distinguished green entrepreneurs, representatives of leading grassroots initiatives that incorporate ecological and social innovations, public institutions including the newly established Green Economy Unit at the Jordan Ministry of Environment, as well as prominent supporting organizations that provide training and incubation support (Business Development Center of Jordan, Federation of Environmental Associations, Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, …)  and leading financial actors in this domain (Association of Banks in Jordan, Endeavor Jordan, Bank al Etihad, Jordan Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Fund, Jordan’s Environment Protection Fund, …). 

 

                                             Participants of the SwitchMed Synergy Workshop in Jordan on 27 April identify recommendations

                                                       to overcome challenges faced by green startups and grassroots civil society initiatives

 

Setting the scene: perspectives from Jordan and the Mediterranean region
The context of the day’s debates was set through interventions from the Ministry of Environment, the European Union and SCP/RAC and its local experts. The Minister of Environment, H.E. Dr Yaseen Khayyat, welcomed participants and reaffirmed Jordan’s commitment to green growth and its central role in Jordan’s overall development strategy.  Mr Omar Abu-Eid, of the Delegation of the European Union to Jordan complemented this vision with regional perspectives on green growth and entrepreneurial development in the Mediterranean. An update on progress of SwitchMed in Jordan was provided by Matthew Lagod, one of the SCP/RAC representatives. Mr Mohamad Afana of the Ministry of Environment outlined Jordan’s progress in developing a supporting policy framework for green and social entrepreneurship, through a national action plan for sustainable consumption and production, as well as national pilot projects to implement key actions from this plan.  Dr Jihad Alsawair, also of the Ministry of Environment, spoke about Jordan’s Green Growth Strategy and how this would yield significant economic and environmental benefits for the country. Finally, Dr Ahmad Abdel-Fattah, the technical expert from Jordan supporting SCP/RAC for the workshop and its outputs, provided an overview of the preliminary results of the stakeholder interviews being conducted in parallel with and as a complement to the Synergy Workshop.

Green and social entrepreneurs rise to environmental challenges in Jordan, thanks to the support of SwitchMed

The workshop began in earnest with a panel discussion during which four young people from Jordan shared their experience with the training and incubation services of the SwitchMed Programme.  Their initiatives – which included installation of green roofs, sustainable construction, renewable energy as well as the production of beverages from organic wheat grass – represent innovative solutions to some of Jordan’s most pressing challenges, including the need to reduce energy consumption, increase development of renewable energy and promote food security through expansion of domestic organic agriculture. The young people credited the SwitchMed Programme as a key ingredient in the success of their ventures, especially the tools that enabled them to develop a sound business plan, and effective communication and marketing strategies. 

From challenges to recommendations: participants debate solutions to empower local and national actors

With the context effectively set, participants broke out into three clustered working groups to debate the challenges encountered in Jordan when starting a green business or grassroots initiative.  Discussions were moderated by a group of enthusiastic local green entrepreneurs.  Identified challenges included lack of access to finance, low awareness about administrative procedures for startups, limited access to platforms that bring together knowledge tools from the public sector and supporting organisations, and shortage of expertise for preparation of feasibility studies and financial and managerial plans.  Next, moderators asked participants to articulate a limited number of recommendations to overcome these challenges.  Participants suggested the creation of a central platform with access to all existing information resources related to administrative procedures, financing opportunities, best practices; increased support for incubation of startups; improved partnerships between green entrepreneurs and financing institutions; and simplification of administrative procedures, amongst others.

In the afternoon, a panel discussion with representatives from the finance sector shed light on the challenges these actors encounter in their efforts to support green and social initiatives in Jordan.  Panelists reflected on two main points: the lack of awareness in the finance sector about green investment opportunities and the often inadequate financial propositions prepared by individuals seeking funding for their green initiatives. 

The Jordan Synergy Workshop was applauded by Jordan’s Minister of Environment who

patronaged the event and reaffirmed Jordan’s commitment to fostering green economic growth

 

 

What did we achieve? What’s next?

The main accomplishment of the Synergy Workshop was the establishment of a set of key recommendations developed by the stakeholders in Jordan contributing to the development of a green economy, including entrepreneurs, civil society initiatives, public sector, supporting organisations and the financial sector.  These recommendations will serve to support calls for increased attention to green and social enterprises and their contributions to sustainable development goals, in Jordan and the Mediterranean region.  Another outcome of the workshop will be a White Paper that captures the recommendations articulated by stakeholders during the event and that will also integrate the results of 31 in-depth stakeholder interviews that were conducted prior to the workshop.  Finally, SCP/RAC, the SwitchMed implementing partner for activities related to green entrepreneurship and civil society initiatives, will prepare a regional report that summarizes the common trends identified during the Synergy Workshops conducted in all eight of the SwitchMed participating countries.  This regional report will provide evidence of the identified needs of countries for sustained support of capacity building and technical support to foster green and social enterprises in the Mediterranean.

SwitchMed (www.switchmed.eu) is a regional initiative financed by the European Union that aims to facilitate the shift towards sustainable consumption and production in the Southern Mediterranean. The SwitchMed Programme is implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), the United Nations Environment Programme’s Mediterranean Action Plan (UN Environment/MAP), SCP/RAC and UN Environment´s Economy Division.