Ola Talal Nayef Al Haddid May 11, 2023

The World Economic Forum (2020) Global Risks Report recently ranked the water crisis fifth in terms of detrimental impact on global economic markets, social well-being and the natural environment. Water, the source of life, is a finite and irreplaceable resource, that functions as a prevailing  socioeconomic and environmental constraint, for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Around four billion people worldwide suffer from severe water scarcity, shortage and stress. Despite recent progress, access to clean and sanitary water remains unequal, impacting the most vulnerable and marginalised groups.

Water sustainability is a critical issue because of the increasing demand for water resources driven by population growth, natural resource depletion and industrialisation. This issue has increasing significance in Jordan, which is globally ranked as the fifth-largest phosphate extractor (8 million MT) and sixth-largest potash extractor (1.5 million MT). Whilst making a significant economic contribution, extractive organisations are simultaneously drawing on the limited water resources of the second most water-stressed country in the world.

At present, extractive organisations might be overlooking opportunities which might contribute towards water sustainability, including opportunities for participation, collaboration and engagement with a multiplicity of stakeholders that might enhance their ability to address problems that require “collective action”, such as water scarcity. Thereby, they might be hindering national efforts towards attaining SDG 6, concerning cleaner water and sanitation in Jordan.

By embracing the SDGs, extractive organisations have the potential to achieve real, sustainable and transformative change, which extends value-creation to address stakeholder issues, especially with respect to water issues. However, they should derive/reflect on their extractive-mining practices and their stakeholders — water-related practices, which enhance their positive impact by mitigating their negative impact on the cleanness and sanitation of water resources. These practices might directly support achieving SDG 6 targets. Amongst the specific SDG 6 targets, the achievement of SDG 6.6 on the ecosystem seems to be particularly important for realising the SDG 6 targets, such as water use and scarcity, wastewater and water quality and resource-management.

A sustainable future for water in Jordan is attainable, however, it requires extractive organisations to embrace a more collaborative and inclusive approach to water sustainability. This could involve engaging with multiple stakeholders, including municipalities and local communities, non-governmental organisations and government agencies and ministries, to develop water management practices that are both socioeconomic and environmentally responsible.

Extractive organisations should ‘also’ prioritise implementing sustainable extractive and mining practices that either enhance or mitigate water issues. By doing so, they could contribute towards achieving SDG 6 targets, thereby supporting national efforts towards water sustainability. 

In conclusion, the extractive industry has a crucial role to play in addressing the water crisis, and by taking proactive steps towards sustainability, they can create a better future for water in Jordan and beyond.