Story of its Initiation
The Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) program in Jordan was initiated in 2007, by the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) after a consultation effort to introduce an international eco-labeling certificate for tourism to market Aqaba as green destination in Jordan. Therefore, FEE was recommended as they are one of the most well-known organizations worldwide for sustainable development through education.
Accordingly, the Royal Marine Conservation Society of Jordan (JREDS) was selected to represent Jordan as a focal entity with FEE, due to JREDS history, reputation and professional background in sustainable development. JREDS managed to implement three programs of FEE, Green Key, Blue Flag and Eco-schools, after generous support by ASEZA for three successive years.
1- Blue Flag program
The Blue Flag program is a voluntary eco-label for beaches and marinas that serves as a symbol of high quality in the areas of environmental management, water quality, safety and health, environmental awareness and information that is easily recognized by tourists and tour operators. The program aims to contribute to conservation of natural resources by promoting sustainable management and encourages the local community as well as visitors to respect beaches and their surrounding areas. The Blue Flag program was started in France in 1985 and has been operating in Europe since 1987, with the purpose of encouraging beaches to comply with the EU bathing water directive, and in areas outside of Europe since 2001, initiated by the participation of South Africa .
Jordan applied for the program in 2009, with one public beach. This effort was followed by the inclusion of Aqaba private beaches when three private beaches were certified with the Blue Flag. They were considered the first recognized beaches in Jordan and the MENA region: Mövenpick Resort & Residences of Aqaba, Mövenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay and Intercontinental Aqaba Resort.
2- Green Key Program
The Green Key program was started in 1994 in Denmark as a need to create a balance between business and environmental protection. In 2002, the program was approved by FEE, and then spread outside European countries. The Green Key program has been made available to all 58 countries in the FEE network.
It is one of five environmental education programs that has been activated and endorsed by FEE. The Green Key is an eco-label for tourism facilities that aims to contribute to the prevention of climate change and support sustainable tourism by awarding and promoting good initiatives. The Green Key aims to change the practices and behavior of tourism stakeholders including enterprises, authorities, guests, local communities, and to involve them in increasing their responsibility towards their own environment.
Green Key criteria has been developed for the following establishments: hotels and hostels, campsites and holiday parks, small accommodations, conference centres, attractions and restaurants. For each establishment, there are 13 criterion covering different parts of the establishment, including environmental management, staff involvement, guest information, water, energy, washing and cleaning, waste and more. All imperative requirements should be achieved to obtain the certification. The criteria can be divided into two main categories: technical and educational, which are considered as the keys for the desired change.
The Green Key was initiated in Aqaba, Jordan in 2009 with the participation of five hotels. The first awarded hotel in Jordan, and in the region, was the Mövenpick Resort & Residences of Aqaba in 2009. Today, Jordan has 23 establishments registered and 21 have been awarded with the Green Key international award. Moreover, this award is renewed on an annual basis after a comprehensive audit conducted by the JREDS and a national jury.
In 2013, JREDS expanded the Green Key program to include a new dimension related to the Desert Campsites of Wadi Rum and Petra regions. This project was implemented successfully and the first national criteria for the campsites were developed and adopted at the international level by the Foundation for Environmental Education.
Eco-Schools is an international program for environmental education and management. It aims to raise students' awareness of sustainable development issues through classroom study as well as school and community action. With the emphasis placed on a democratic and participatory approach, the program encourages children and youth from all backgrounds, classes and areas in Jordan, whether in public or private schools, to take an active role in how their school can be run for the benefit of the environment – highlighting the importance of civic values.
The Eco-Schools program is based on the ISO14001:2004 which specifies requirements for an environmental management system that will enable an organization to develop and implement policies and objectives which take into account legal requirements and other requirements to which the organization subscribes, and information about significant environmental aspects.
The Eco-Schools methodology encompasses seven steps that any school can adopt. The process involves a wide range of stakeholders, in which pupils play a central role. After a period of participation, an evaluation of these initiatives and the methodology is undertaken, and the whole Eco-Schools program for each school is assessed. Successful Eco-Schools are awarded the Green Flag, an internationally acknowledged symbol for environmental excellence.
The Eco-Schools program started in Amman and Aqaba in 2009, with 15 candidate schools which received the award at the end of year 2009/2010. Today, JREDS is working with 108 schools from Amman, Aqaba and Zarqa vicinities, and recently the program was expanded to include new areas in northern Jordan such as Irbid, Mafraq, Ramtha and North Shouna as well as the Disi in the southern part of Jordan.
JREDS initiated the young reporters program in 2013, in Amman, Aqaba and Zarqa vicinities after a fund from the USAID/PAP, where a total of 60 eco-schools were targeted. The project, which lasted for 18 months, yielded 30 scientific reports and videos that highlight water issue in Jordan. These efforts were continued in 2015 with the implementation of the "Young Climate Leaders Autumn School" project in Amman after a fund from the government of Germany through GIZ. The project aimed to develop youth leaders in climate change, capable of interpretation of information related to climate change, its consequences in Jordan and to develop visible solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change. Capacity building for students were offered over three days by experts in the field of climate change science, impacts of climate change on Jordan and responding to climate change challenges locally and globally. Concepts, videos, interactive games and open discussion were available for attendees to gain and deliver climate change knowledge and related affects, observations and solutions.