By Johanne Kalsaas – Dec 04,2018
AMMAN — Dozens gathered at the NOFA Creative Space on Saturday, on the occasion of the Open Source Circular Economy Days (OSCEdays).

The event takes place in over 100 cities worldwide with the aim of promoting a global ecosystem of circular economies through open-source practices.

Circular economy is a concept developed in contrast to the linear economic model, characterised by “take, make, dispose”. It refers to regenerative systems where resource input, waste, emission and leakage are minimised.

According to the OSCEdays’ own definition, systems in a circular economy are designed to provide growth for as many other systems (biological, social, technical, etc.) as possible. It is done through circular flows of resources, products and processes; fair and free environments for people to live and work; durability, compatibility, upgradability and adaptability of products and processes, as well as open source collaboration.

“For the very first time, the OSCEdays are also coming to Jordan”, project manager in Cewas Middle East, Aline Bussmann, told The Jordan Times. The Swiss NGO, which works to promote entrepreneurship in the water, sanitation and waste sector, organised the event in partnership with Dibeen Association for Environmental Development and Qutoof Professional Development Organisation.

“So far, the discussion on circular economies has been retained at the top levels. The OSCEdays, which are free and available to everyone, is a chance to involve people on the ground as well. We hope this event can be a trigger for making the concept of circular economy more practical and tangible for the population as a whole. The open-source mentality means that any solutions or ideas developed during the event here in Amman and all over the world will be shared,” Bussmann added.

While she praised the entrepreneurial spirit of Jordanians, Bussmann lamented the lack of supporting structures for circular economy initiatives in the Kingdom. “Entrepreneurs in this sector are fighting in the niches. Institutions that could provide the necessary support for circular economy initiatives in Jordan are weak on all levels — from universities to finance to the government. None of themhave understood what kind of potential lies here.”

Former minister of the environment Nayef Fayez agreed that the authorities have a long way to go when it comes to developing the circular economy in Jordan.

“The environment has been the least of our country’s priorities. There is no awareness about this issue”, he said in a speech to participants.

“A circular economy requires cooperation from all parties. There has to be a return on investment for circular economy initiatives to succeed. Look at AirBnB, for instance. This idea was not driven by environmental, but economical motives. The fact that AirBnB has resulted in the use of already available houses rather than building new ones, thus saving a huge amount of resources and emission, was a happy by-product,” Shada Sharif, director of Jordan Environment Fund, said.

While the OSCEdays is a global event brought to Jordan through efforts by international NGOs, organisers and participants emphasised the importance of conducting it in Arabic. “There is almost no Arabic content available on the topic of circular economy”, civil engineer and water management entrepreneur Oweis Hammad told The Jordan Times. He was in charge of the marketplace for circular economy products, services and initiatives from all over Jordan taking place during the OSCEdays.

“We have around 40 projects participating in the marketplace, representing a wide variety of sectors. Just to mention a few examples, we have one entrepreneur working to bring VR technology into environmental education, another developing a decentralised management system for wastewater and another who has created aquaponics to grow vegetables from compost. We believe that these initiatives can both help the planet and make a lot of money,” Hammad said.