- Community Empowerment
Jordan, along with several other Arab nations, is increasingly weaving the tenets of sustainable practices into day-to-day business.
That means taking greater account of the economic, social, and environmental impact of our decisions. From farms in the Jordan Valley producing organic crops to Jordanian corporations publishing sustainability reports, step by step we are adopting a new outlook on life and a new approach to doing business.
In today’s tough economic times, these efforts are even more critical. Issues like unemployment, climate change, and access to education don’t vanish but are exacerbated during a downturn.
Meanwhile, our region faces substantial hurdles to development: chronic water shortages… the highest unemployment rate in the world… a burgeoning and youthful population… the untapped potential of women… and, a school system not attuned to the demands of today’s job market.
By addressing these issues now we can spur growth as well as tackle long-term challenges. That is a fundamental truth in an age where our economic, social, and environmental systems are so interconnected.
So we must abandon harmful and self-interested practices for business methods that maximize the bottom lines of both company and community. In other words, we need greater transparency, more accountability, and better governance.
That is why Jordan is embracing sustainability practices, because we believe we can create sustainable products and jobs without compromising the country’s prospects or profits.
For example, the Jordan River Foundation (JRF) was the first NGO in the region to issue a sustainability report. JRF strives to make all its projects community and climate conscious, partnering with villages like Rasoun to transform them into models of sustainable development. The tourism sector, exemplified by the award-winning Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN), is on a track to transform itself into a sustainable industry, building eco-friendly accommodation, advising communities how to protect their resources, and establishing wildlife and nature sanctuaries.
We are also proud of the Arab Sustainability Leadership Group (ASLG), the foremost regional network of businesses, government agencies, and NGOs dedicated to this holistic and humane work ethic.
Formed in Jordan in 2008, ASLG is committed to the highest standards of sustainability practices and – encouragingly – growing in strength. As leading practitioners in sustainability, members are setting the pace of business and proving that the Arab world can respond to global challenges. When it comes to sustainability, ASLG is the regional standard bearer.
To encourage broader adoption of 21st Century business practices, ASLG launched in 2009 the first Arab Responsible Competitiveness Index (ARCI). ARCI is an invaluable indicator for the Middle East on the status of industries and services, guiding governments and CEOs alike on how they can successfully combine conscience and competitiveness.
Others are following as they recognize Responsible Competitiveness for its value. National level initiatives are sprouting in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. And, the Arab world can now look with pride to efforts, such as Masdar in Abu Dhabi, or Sekem Group in Egypt.
While other countries move into the field of sustainability, Jordan will continue to innovate, solidifying its position as a leading regional economy, society, and role model. Jordan’s first national responsible competitiveness report is part of this strategy, helping us recast Jordan businesses to compete.
Of course, we are all stakeholders in this process. The public, private, and non-profit sectors have their roles to play, as do communities locally and countries globally. If we each take on this new, sustainable outlook we can fashion a society that puts people above poverty and the planet under protection.