Published on Arab Voices

An inclusive approach to defining mitigation activities: Jordan shows a way forward

ImageJordan has been looking for ways to transition to a low carbon economy. It recently took a novel approach toward identifying strategies relevant to its unique circumstances. To determine what would be compatible with the country’s current development context, an extensive consultation with all national stakeholders was undertaken. This bottom-up approach to designing and establishing low emission growth paths not only delivered concrete results, but could serve as an effective example for both the region and developing countries.

There is a term for what Jordan is doing, and it’s a mouthful: Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions. Better known by its acronym, NAMAs, the concept was coined by climate negotiators some years ago. Even though there was no international consensus on their precise definition, the Copenhagen Accord invited countries to submit NAMAs to demonstrate their commitment to combating climate change, and to build a list of proposed mitigating options that were seeking external support. Several countries complied, and while it was a sign of positive thinking and initiative, in the absence of internationally agreed upon guidelines and review mechanisms, the first round was met with an apparent lack of enthusiasm on the part of the international community.

ImagePast submissions are now being studied as a way of providing a coherent understanding of NAMAs in all their variety. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is designing a registry that will serve to match NAMAs with potential sources of financial and technological support. Yet there is only very limited, practical experience of how NAMAs function within specific country contexts. Jordan will provide an invaluable case study with its recent initiative.

One important way forward is through testing, piloting, and leading by example. This is what the Government of Jordan set out to do when requesting assistance from the World Bank to develop their new generation of NAMAs through a bottom-up, interactive approach. In response the Bank drew on its extensive resources, which involved an alliance between MNSSD and SDN/ENV joining forces with PPIAF (Public Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility) and World Bank Institute (WBI) to launch a ten-month project. It began with a systematic search to identify representatives of all national stakeholders. This was followed up with an extensive consultation process during which a wide cross section of Jordanians put forward a list of potential NAMAs. This inclusive process also revealed a shared understanding on the part of ministries, national and municipal institutions and the private sector on the value of transitioning to a low carbon economy. There was widespread interest in the development and commercialization of new technologies, ways of reducing the exposure to volatile fossil fuel prices, and the deployment of cleaner, cheaper and smarter forms of physical infrastructure and basic service provision.

The list of proposed NAMAs was then evaluated and subject to a specific set of criteria to identify which might be suitable for implementation. The goal of this stage was to whittle the list down to a set of initiatives that would demonstrate a) Clear potential for significant reduction of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, b) Strong ownership by national authorities and sponsors, c) Suitability for effective public-private partnerships, and d) Attractiveness for co-financing by different sources of climate funds.

ImageAt the conclusion of the ten-month project, a regional workshop was held in Amman to discuss its results, and share its methods. Representatives from Morocco, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Yemen, Kuwait, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq and Algeria joined us to share their views on low carbon planning. There was almost unanimous consent on the attraction of NAMAs, and the need to implement them, but they each faced a number of barriers related to their respective social and economic environments, financing and institutional capacities. A variety of possible solutions were also discussed. One proposal involved a combination of traditional and innovative climate finance, based on public, private, grant and commercial sources, ‘soft’ technical assistance and ‘hard’ infrastructure investment. This composite structure provides a model for including the private sector, and drawing on its innovation and creativity while compensating for the lack of any technical and financial capacity with strong public partnerships. It is a strategy for drawing in a broad range of social actors in a shared commitment to protecting the global environment.

The Amman regional workshop confirmed the Middle East and North Africa region’s need for support in their effort to chart a low emissions growth path. The World Bank will have an important role in assisting its clients to develop and implement NAMAs as a way of reducing the risk of high-carbon lock-in and in building consensus for a national approach toward climate change mitigation. The experience gained in Jordan could serve as a useful basis for tailoring such programs throughout the region and perhaps beyond.


Lia Sieghart

Practice Manager, World Bank

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