By Taylor Luck

AMMAN – Consumerism, rapid development and climate change are forcing people and governments to turn to alternative approaches to energy and water use, experts said on Sunday.

At the opening of the International Conference on Energy, Water and Environment (ICEWE) 2010 yesterday, researchers from several fields of academia discussed potential green solutions to water management, energy conservation and pollution reduction in the region.

Inaugurating the conference, Hashemite University President Rowaida Maaitah highlighted the importance of strengthening cooperation between Jordanian and international scholars in order to confront global challenges.

She stressed the need for proper management of energy and water resources in Jordan, which is classified among the four water poorest countries in the world and imports 96 per cent of its energy needs.

Delivering the keynote address, International Union for the Conservation of Nature Regional Director Odeh Al Jayyousi stressed that the market-focused global economy has led people to overlook the “natural capital” which underpins social and economic development.

“If we continue with the same trends, it’s a recipe for the destruction of our ecosystems,” he said, calling for a balance in economic development and maintaining sustainable natural resources.

Jayyousi said a major obstacle facing environmentally conscious developments in the Arab world is a transfer of knowledge. Many academicians and researchers educated abroad find few avenues to apply their new skills and initiatives in the region, which he claimed is still driven by consumerist-oriented policies.

Also during the opening session, Maaitah announced that the Hashemite University is to embark on a EU Delegation-supported initiative to assist researchers in the integration of water and energy solutions.

On the opening day, conference participants discussed potential ways to boost green building practices to boost energy efficiency in air conditioned buildings, the first wind farms in Kosovo, Turkey’s Southeastern Anatolia Project, microalgae biodiesel, green building in Jordan and energy saving construction guidelines.

Today, participants are expected to discuss grid-tied solar panels for residential buildings, renewable energy in Nigeria, and solid waste practices in Saudi Arabia, among other green technology experiences.

The ICEWE, which is organised by the International Association for Sharing Knowledge and Sustainability and the Hashemite University, concludes on Friday.