During the last three decades, sustainability became a hot topic in reform agendas and strategic management plans. The picture is not always optimistic where poverty, climate change and wars to name but a few of the continuous burdens, yet, some results have been successfully reaped.
In a small country like the Kingdome of Jordan, surrounded by many challenges in terms of political unrest, water scarcity, high oil prices and a recipient for one of the largest refugees’ crises in the world, hopes are still high to create better-living conditions for everyone in the country.
This article will provide a reflection on the sustainable development in Jordan during the past two decades.
What is Sustainable Development?
Mahatma Gandhi once said:
“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need but not every man’s greed” Gandhi
The debate about the balance between the natural resources’ consumption and the regeneration is not new. During the last three decades, different scholars, policymakers, and organizations sat definitions and guidelines for a sustainable development (Redclift 2009; United Nations 2012; United Nations 2013; The United Nations Development Programme 2015; Baker 2016).
Sustainable Development: Definition
One of the classical endeavors in the sustainable development field was the United Nations (UN) report in 1987 under the name of “Our Common Future”. The report provided an official understanding for the global challenges and shad the light on the importance of bringing the environmental concerns to the table alongside with other global concerns (Redclift 2009; Baker 2016, p.7). The report provided a simple definition of sustainable development as
“Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” United Nations.
Within this context, sustainability has three dimensions, namely: social, economic and ecological (Ekins 2000, p.70).
Sustainable Development: Goals
In order to provide some measurable objectives, leaders from 189 countries sat together in 2000 and agreed on a set of “Millennium Development Goals”. These goals are mandatory to drive the journey over a time span of 15 years from 2000 to 2015. These goals were (United Nations 2012):
- Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- Achieve universal primary education
- Promote gender equality
- Reduce child mortality
- Improve maternal health
- Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
- Ensure environmental sustainability
- Develop a global partnership for development
During the 15 years- journey of implementation, the global action proofed that it can make a difference and generate positive results, therefore, a new set of targets were created under the name of “Sustainable Development Goals”. The purpose was to set boundaries for the required change by the end of 2030. These goals are (The United Nations Development Programme 2015):
- No poverty
- Zero hunger
- Ensure Good health and well being
- Ensure quality education
- Achieve gender equality
- Ensure clean water and sanitation
- Provide affordable and clean energy
- Provide decent work and economic growth
- Industry innovation and infrastructure
- Reduced inequalities
- Sustainable cities and communities
- Responsible consumption and production
- Take urgent action to combat Climate change
- Conserve life below water
- Protect, restore and promote the life on land
- Promote peace and justice
- Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
It is important to mention that this effort by the UN has been criticized due to different reasons. The way of including and excluding some of the goals can be controlled by certain members of the UN and the questionable power that the United State of America (USA) has when deciding to fund certain projects in certain countries. Additionally, the UN governance has been criticized due to the lack of clear separation between politics and sustainability agenda. The funds from developed countries might be postponed due to political concerns and even blocked for certain projects if these projects are against their political views. Finally, focusing on the end results and the numbers only might ignore the importance of changing people’s behaviors and core values which are more important to achieve sustainable results (Baker 2016, pp.161–163).
The detailed analysis for the sustainable development in Jordan is available in this case study.
Baker, S., 2016. Sustainable development 2nd ed., New York: Routledge.
Ekins, P., 2000. Economic Growth and Environmental Sustainability: The Prospects for Green Growth 1st ed., New York: Routledge.
Redclift, M., 2009. The Environment and Carbon Dependence: Landscapes of Sustainability and Materiality. Current Sociology, 57(3), pp.369–387.
The United Nations Development Programme, 2015. Sustainable Development Goals, Available at: http: //www.undp.org/content/dam/undp/library/corporate/brochure/SDGs_Booklet_Web_En.pdf.
United Nations, 2013. Post-2015 Development Agenda National Consultations in Jordan, Amman. Available at: http: //un.org.jo/uploaded/publications_book/1458651355.pdf.
United Nations, 2012. The Millennium Development Goals Report, Available at: http: //mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Resources/Static/Data/2011 Stat Annex.pdf\nhttp://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Resources/Static/Products/Progress2009/MDG_Report_2009_En.pdf.