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‘Night of Ideas’ gathers environmental enthusiasts in Amman

By Maria Weldali - Feb 01,2020 - Last updated at Feb 01,2020

AMMAN — The topics of marine biodiversity in the Gulf of Aqaba and plastic waste management across the Kingdom took centre stage at the Night of Ideas conference in Amman, which was held on Thursday under the theme “Being Alive”.

The conference aimed to clarify Jordan’s steps to address environmental challenges in the Kingdom. It witnessed the participation of experts involved in biodiversity conservation and founders of green initiatives, as well as university professors and representatives of local and international NGOs.

Launched in 2016 in Paris by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Night of Ideas opened the ministry for one night, transforming it into a space for discussions and debates on contemporary issues by those of various perspectives and cultures. Thursday’s conference in Amman saw simultaneous conferences taking place in France and abroad. 

Executive Director of the Royal Marine Conservation Society of Jordan Diala Al Alami highlighted the society’s focus on the conservation of the Kingdom’s marine heritage and the wildlife along Aqaba’s coast.

“We need to promote marine conservation due to its importance for the globe,” she said. 

The executive director also shed light on a field guide published by the society in 2019 titled ‘The Hard Corals of Jordan’, which records 157 species of corals in the Gulf of Aqaba. 

Mohammad Wahsha, Associate Professor of Ecotoxicology and Marine Biology at the University of Jordan-Aqaba during the conference emphasised the role of the Marine Science Station in Aqaba, which deals with the marine environment, coral reef ecosystems and fisheries, with the support of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA).

Assistant Secretary General for Technical Affairs at the Ministry of Environment Mohammad Khashashneh called for “sound approaches” in tackling environmental issues and implementing waste hierarchy. 

He stressed the need to implement laws curbing plastic waste and to utilise environmentally friendly substitutes.

Khashashneh also shed light on the new Waste Management Law, which is scheduled to be implemented within the coming six months and tackles waste prevention, reduction, processing and recycling, among others.

To encourage society as well as tourists to participate in cleaning while hiking, Nader Manaseer founded Eco Hikers, an initiative which started out on social media platforms under the slogan “Let’s Clean as We Hike”.

The event also heard from Layth Mejbel, co-founder of C-Hub, a creative space which helps youth, particularly women, to enhance the entrepreneurial environment by creating zero-waste products made of recycled materials.

Another speaker, Muna Hindiyeh, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the German Jordanian University, touched on integrating the principles of sustainable development into all aspects of higher education.

She added that, in order to help the environment, there should be regional and global initiatives as well as sustainable campus initiatives.

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