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Jordan, US sign environment cooperation programme

By Hana Namrouqa - Sep 08,2014 - Last updated at Sep 08,2014

AMMAN — Jordan and the US on Monday signed the 2014-2017 technical environment cooperation work programme to protect the Kingdom’s environment and sustain its natural resources.

Environment Minister Taher Shakhshir and Daniel Reifsnyder, deputy assistant secretary for environment at the Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science, signed the work programme, which is part of the 2000 Jordan-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

During the signing ceremony, Shakhshir noted that Jordan is one of few countries that incorporated an environment component in the FTA.

The growing economic and environmental challenges due to an increasing number of Syrian refugees have been “intense”, Shakhshir said, adding that water supply, treatment of wastewater effluents, solid waste, shelter, bread, energy, health and education have been severely affected, all of which are heavily subsidised by the government.

“The environmental and natural resources are under threat of being compromised as a result. This is our situation and this is why your support and technical assistance is so important,” the minister said.

Reifsnyder described the US-Jordan FTA as historic for his country as well, because it was the first time that the United States expressly committed to cooperate, preserve and protect the environment with a non-neighbouring FTA partner, highlighting that similar agreements have only been signed with Mexico and Canada.

The work programme will lay out goals for bilateral cooperation for the next three years, identify priority areas and list specific activities, he noted.

Since the FTA was signed in 2000, the Environment Ministry and US experts have implemented several initiatives to protect and sustain the Kingdom’s environment and natural resources, including a wastewater treatment project, a capacity building-project under which the ministry prepared its 2014-2016 strategy; prepared the draft environmental protection law; launched  the Environmental Inspection and Audit Policy; and initiated plans to rehabilitate the phosphate hills in Ruseifa.

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