By Rand Dalgamouni

AMMAN – Environmental thinking leads to political maturity, according to Minister of Environment Hazem Malhas.

During a seminar on environmental challenges in Jordan held by Al Rai Centre for Research on Saturday, he urged Jordanians to vote for parliamentary candidates who take the environment into consideration in their political agenda.

Malhas presented some of the ministry’s projects for sustaining the environment, including the Jordan Environment Fund, which will provide companies and institutions with financial incentives and support to ensure their commitment to environment-friendly standards.

In his presentation, the minister also referred to the solid waste management law, which will regulate the process of solid waste disposal in the Kingdom, and highlighted the importance of inspecting local factories and establishments to ensure their commitment to sustaining the environment.

He noted that the aim is not to expand the ministry, but to turn other ministries into “green ministries”, adding that the implementation of some projects needs some “tough love” from the ministry in order to ensure actual application.

During the discussion, Ayoub Abu Dayyeh, president of the Energy Conservation and Sustainable Environment E-Case Society, highlighted the need to provide students with proper environmental education.

“Those who don’t like the environment don’t like their country,” he said.

Another participant, University of Jordan Professor Hala Hourani, also stressed the importance of raising awareness on environmental issues, noting that the ministry should contribute to developing the field of scientific research and cooperate with academia, an observation reiterated by several speakers.

Other participants such as Ayman Maaytah of Mutah University referred to success stories that resulted from government procedures, citing the lifting of customs and sales tax on solar-powered water heaters, which he said resulted in a 344 per cent increase in their use by Jordanians.

He recommended the implementation of similar encouraging procedures to promote environment-friendly attitudes.

Concluding the discussion, Malhas stressed the need to have one authority in charge of the Zarqa River, pointing out the wide rift between theory and practice.

“We have been busy organising workshops in Amman with all their chocolate chip cookies and their coffee breaks, and we forgot what’s going on in the Jordan Valley,” he said.