The Red Sea is a wonder of the world.
Comparing to the Great Barrier Reef in terms of coral diversity and beauty, lack of environmental awareness in the Middle East (in Jordan, Israel and the countries below them), are causing the demise of coral and other marine life.
Now, a new global program that recognizes hotels and beaches meeting eco-standards is being adopted in Jordan, according to the Jordan Times.
They say it’s a first for the Middle East, but is Jordan really an obvious green leader?
Several enterprises in the port city Aqaba are taking on the challenge of earning the The Green Key and Blue Flag initiatives, two programs started by the international Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) programmes. A recent member of the FEE, Jordan marine authorities are keen on implementing eco-friendly programs in Jordan. It’s good for tourism, the authority realizes: Fadi Sharaiha an executive from the Jordan authorities says that encouraging eco-friendly standards at both hotels and beaches, is an important part of the developing tourism industry in Aqaba.
“It makes good business for them and promotes tourism while also protecting the environment from the increasing investments here,” he said.
Award criteria focus on environmental management, technical demands, and the involvement of guests, staff and suppliers, and cover fields such as water, waste, energy, environmental management, use of chemicals and open spaces, and food and beverages, reports the Jordan Times, noting that is the first time the programme has been introduced in the Middle East.
Three Hotels On Board
Three hotels in Aqaba are interested in participating. “Their applications are in the process of being audited and hopefully by springtime we are going to announce the first two or three hotels awarded the Green Key eco-label in Jordan,” said Sharaiha.
Major hotel chains in Israel have already adopted some of the requirements needed to earn the FEE seal of approval, such as giving guests the option of re-using bath towels, using thermal solar panels to heat water and asking guests to conserve water.
I personally laud Jordan for taking on this new eco-challenge (one blogger tells Green Prophet that garbage in Aqaba is blowing right out of the lidless bins into the sea), but one shouldn’t ignore the magnanimous efforts the Israelis on the other side of the beach have already done – flag or no flag.
Flag and key all efforts
While Jordan beaches may be the first in the Middle East to earn a flag or green key, Israel authorities are still generations ahead of any country in the Middle East in terms of monitoring water pollution, coral health, global warming effects on the Red Sea and marine research in general. Not that environmental awareness is a competition or something…Many Jordanian scientists come to Israel to learn from the IUI scientists in Eilat, for example, but none give Israel credit or mention for what they learn. If they do it’s in a whisper. Why? Because in the Jordanian world, to learn from Israel is akin to collaborating with the enemy.
I look forward to a time when people can give credit where credit is due, and step out of line once and while for the environment’s sake. Still, hats off to Jordan for getting involved in environmental awareness. And hats off to the The Middle East Environmental Network for continuing to find excellent environment news kicking around the Middle East.