Transforming Ajloun In To The Environmental Governorate


Written By: Al-Dinawari

Recently, the small northern town of Al-Wahadneh made the local news as it’s set to become the Kingdom’s first “model eco-village”.

Both the Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development (JOHUD) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have signed an MOU to turn Al-Wahadneh in to an eco-village, where it will essentially pursue various environmentally-sound and sustainable economic solutions, in line with the fundamentals of ecosystem management. This includes home garden units, grey-water treatment, and the establishment of green houses.

Without a doubt, it is a noble pursuit and a significant piece of news in the local environment circle. Only a few years ago, the Ajloun governorate was making news for a completely different reason. Environmentalists went nuts over plans by Jordan Dubai Capital (JDC) to build a large-scale, five-star resort in the Dibbin area, taking a large chunk of its forest – one of the few left in the Kingdom – in the process. Environmentalists managed to win that battle and JDC ended up remodeling their plans to create eco-lodges situated at a safe distance from the forest. During the changes, JDC announced that it had “listened” to the people, but that this decision would sadly create less job opportunities than their original plan.

But when it comes to economic activity, we should constantly be asking: what kind of job opportunities are being created?

The green and mountainous Ajloun governorate has been positioning itself as the country’s eco-governorate, which will allow it to stand out and capitalize economically on a vital niche in the Kingdom that few other areas can claim due to geographic realities. It is a significant digression from the monochromatic development models in Jordan that attempt to create economic sustainability and growth through various basic opportunities such as retail districts, service industries or manufacturing factories. Ajloun instead is hopefully realizing that not only cannot it not compete in these fields, but that it shouldn’t even bother making the attempt in light of its ability to capitalize on its own assets.

The Ajloun governorate faces one of the highest levels of unemployment and population density in the Kingdom, making it one of the poorest regions in Jordan. It is a So naturally, when it comes to taking control of its economic destiny, the focus on the types of jobs it creates vis a vis the type of economy it can capitalize on, is expected. Tapping in to the potential of developing an environmentally-based economy is huge, and ranges from eco-tourism projects that generate significant tourism activity for the Kingdom, to eco-manufacturing, all of which create jobs and income. The RSCN has already developed its the Ajloun Forest Reserve but imagine Ajloun becoming Jordan’s center for eco-technology, with research centers being established to rally the regional and international environmental-science community. Imagine the govornorate being fueled by wind and solar energy. Imagine an annual environment-related festival or a factory that manufacturers environment products that can be sold in the general market or to hotels for their use, including those reusable shopping bags Carrefour has been selling in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment. Maybe even the world’s second, carbon-neutral clothes factory. Given its relatively small size, imagine it being the perfect model for all these initiatives.

As recent moves to decentralize the central government begin, giving control back to the governorates, we can only hope that Ajloun will continue down this path and become a model eco-governorate for the rest of Jordan, and perhaps the region.




  • Deena

    sounds very promising. But it is very unclear who will be managing this transition? JOHUD or the local authority (Ajlun governorate)? Any chance you have additional details on who is responsible for management and implementation?

    I also hope that the transition to eco-town will bring with it green politics to Ajlun’s citizens. Green parties are known for advocating active town halls, a democratic tradition dependant on deliberation rather than parliamentary representation (only).

  • Deena

    sounds very promising. But it is very unclear who will be managing this transition? JOHUD or the local authority (Ajlun governorate)? Any chance you have additional details on who is responsible for management and implementation?

    I also hope that the transition to eco-town will bring with it green politics to Ajlun’s citizens. Green parties are known for advocating active town halls, a democratic tradition dependant on deliberation rather than parliamentary representation (only).

  • http://www.alidahmash.blogspot.com/ Ali

    I think what we really need in Jordan is real hotels and cafes and restaurants in nice green places we have across the country. How come I have to drive to the Deadsea to get scamed to have a decent meal. What about real clean 5 start restaurants in Jerash, Ajloun, Debeen, Zay, Salt? Why we don’t have resorts, inns, motels in these beautiful areas? Such investment will bring money to the local community

  • http://www.alidahmash.blogspot.com Ali

    I think what we really need in Jordan is real hotels and cafes and restaurants in nice green places we have across the country. How come I have to drive to the Deadsea to get scamed to have a decent meal. What about real clean 5 start restaurants in Jerash, Ajloun, Debeen, Zay, Salt? Why we don’t have resorts, inns, motels in these beautiful areas? Such investment will bring money to the local community

  • http://www.black-iris.com/ Naseem Tarawnah

    I’d also be interested in the answers to the questions deena asked. But I’m guessing this kind of news enters the local media sphere as more of a press release as opposed to any investigative journalism that would attempt to ask such obvious questions.

    @Ali: I wonder, given our society’s bad environmental record, what would happen if we opened 5 star restaurants, hotels and resorts near anything green in the country.

    I wonder how long they’d stay green :-D

  • http://www.black-iris.com Naseem Tarawnah

    I’d also be interested in the answers to the questions deena asked. But I’m guessing this kind of news enters the local media sphere as more of a press release as opposed to any investigative journalism that would attempt to ask such obvious questions.

    @Ali: I wonder, given our society’s bad environmental record, what would happen if we opened 5 star restaurants, hotels and resorts near anything green in the country.

    I wonder how long they’d stay green :-D

  • Khaled Irani

    many thanks for raising Ajloun issue. At the ministry of Environment, we have been working on a master plan to both, ensure protecting Ajloun area and encourage certain kinds of eco-investments. A one million dunum master plan will be finalized by April 30th. It has already suggested resort villages outside haraj areas with sensitive concept plans and promoted the protection of haraj. in other areas, promoted eco-lodges. we have already secured some funding to build a rangers’ academy with RSCN at a quarry near the reserve so as to rehabilitate it and turn the problem into an opportunity. We will be launching the plan once it is finalized.

  • Khaled Irani

    many thanks for raising Ajloun issue. At the ministry of Environment, we have been working on a master plan to both, ensure protecting Ajloun area and encourage certain kinds of eco-investments. A one million dunum master plan will be finalized by April 30th. It has already suggested resort villages outside haraj areas with sensitive concept plans and promoted the protection of haraj. in other areas, promoted eco-lodges. we have already secured some funding to build a rangers’ academy with RSCN at a quarry near the reserve so as to rehabilitate it and turn the problem into an opportunity. We will be launching the plan once it is finalized.

  • http://www.7iber.com/ ramsey

    @Khaled Irani

    Thanks for your comment.

    Does the ministry of environment work with recycling? Why are we building things to save the planet, when we also need to be reducing our waste and recycling the waste we are creating?

    One of the main challenges from what I understand is that plastics and most of the waste we create cannot be sold. Maybe we could create a market for PET plastics and use them to build park benches? or bumpers? Build things out of our own trash!

  • http://www.7iber.com ramsey

    @Khaled Irani

    Thanks for your comment.

    Does the ministry of environment work with recycling? Why are we building things to save the planet, when we also need to be reducing our waste and recycling the waste we are creating?

    One of the main challenges from what I understand is that plastics and most of the waste we create cannot be sold. Maybe we could create a market for PET plastics and use them to build park benches? or bumpers? Build things out of our own trash!

  • http://tholun.wordpress.com/ Thomas Lund-Sørensen

    @Ramsey

    I think there can be a market for everything – inparticular waste. In some of the European economies – including my country – waste has become a raw material for producing energy. Plastic can be recycled or burnt – it is produced from oil – and it definetly have no place out in the nature as we see much to often (read: always) in Jordan. I would be interested in knowing more about the actual or potential initiatives in Jordan in order to create markets for waste products.

    As another blogger said: we don’t want to see the black plastic bag to become the national flower of Jordan

  • http://tholun.wordpress.com Thomas Lund-Sørensen

    @Ramsey

    I think there can be a market for everything – inparticular waste. In some of the European economies – including my country – waste has become a raw material for producing energy. Plastic can be recycled or burnt – it is produced from oil – and it definetly have no place out in the nature as we see much to often (read: always) in Jordan. I would be interested in knowing more about the actual or potential initiatives in Jordan in order to create markets for waste products.

    As another blogger said: we don’t want to see the black plastic bag to become the national flower of Jordan

  • http://www.kinziblogs.wordpress.com/ kinzi

    Amb Sorenson, it’s already the national bird. :)

  • http://www.kinziblogs.wordpress.com kinzi

    Amb Sorenson, it’s already the national bird. :)