For an Environmental Jordan: Dibeen Association for Environmental Development
Jordan is home to approximately 129 active environmental societies. One of them is Dibeen Association, established in 2010 and registered under the Jordanian Associations Law of 2008, and is administratively affiliated to the Jordanian Associations Register and, technically, to the Ministry of Environment, with financial and administrative independence, as stipulated in the law. From the beginning, Dibeen has undertaken programs that consider society and the individual as the environment’s essential components, and value safeguarding everyone’s human rights as among the loftiest goals.
At the forefront of the Dibeen’s programs for more than 10 years is support for local communities to protect land and forests. This work has crystallized through numerous projects since 2016, including continuously raising the awareness and efficiency of communities to invest in, and achieve optimal interaction between the communities and the natural resources around them, while ensuring both the sustainability of those resources and the rights of the community.
Dibeen also exercises its monitoring role as a civil society institution specialized in environmental matters. This is carried out through systematic campaigns that encourage decision makers to recognize the role of society and individuals to participate actively in projects and decisions that affect the rights of local communities to lands, forests and natural resources. In 2018, Dibeen created a mechanism to activate the so-called “Forest Neighborhood Instructions” to gain usufruct rights to forests, and to guarantee an increase in tenure rights of local communities. These were approved in 2008, but without any procedural framework.
Today, Dibeen is still trying to activate such frameworks on the largest possible scale, as well as to contribute to the efforts of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO) to develop national forest policies and the related strategic plans, which still await the Prime Minister’s approval.
Since 2017, Dibeen has coordinated and managed an alliance of associations that attaches great importance to preserving land and forests from unsustainable investment and urban incursion. In this context, Dibeen has carried out an extensive campaign to halt a project that involved the collection and sorting of waste on forested lands without taking into account the environmental-impact assessment requirement stipulated in the Jordanian Environment Law and its amendments. That campaign continued for more than three years with the cooperation and mobilization of the local communities, which Dibeen and the Alliance supported. The campaign was ultimately successful, with the Prime Minister taking the decision to stop the project and preserve the forested lands.
This remarkable activity to preserve and protect natural resources aligned environmental and human rights goals, amid the growing number of environmental challenges and the looming dangerous weather extremes of climate change. In Jordan, the most prevalent impacts of climate change are floods and droughts, which have primarily affected, and will continue to affect the economic, social and political rights of local communities, as well as their habitat.
Also related to human rights issues, Dibeen is currently preparing various reports on grave environmental violations related to human rights mechanisms and conventions that Jordan has ratified. This includes holding consultations toward creating an environmental rights audit mechanism that can be adopted in the relevant ministries, in order to amend legislation, or implement activities that increase human rights sensitivity in environmental projects, taking into account the most-affected and marginalized social groups, namely women, people with disabilities and youth.
Of great importance is the culmination of the various projects that women undertake. Accordingly, Dibeen launched a special hashtag (#هي_للبيئة) [she is for the environment], in order to provide a space and voice with and for women in environmental work. This was part of an intensive media campaign lasting one month between February and March 2021, in which more than 400 volunteers participated through both traditional media and social-media platforms.
Dibeen has worked on presenting environmental human rights reports, the first of their kind in Jordan, through the Universal Periodic Review of the UN human rights mechanism. This coincides with the current concerted global effort to urge the Human Rights Council to recognize “the human right to a healthy environment” next September, which is especially pressing given the repercussions of the COVID-19 crisis that have greatly affected the lives of people, their livelihoods and their basic rights. The Alliance for the Right to a Healthy Environment has made great efforts since early March 2021, and Dibeen is striving for Jordan to officially join the countries calling for the recognition of this human right through direct and indirect communication with the Jordanian mission in Geneva, and through the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Office of the National Coordinator for Human Rights in the Prime Ministry.
At the local level, Dibeen advocates decentralization as a tool for good governance, and holds many activities directed at working with elected local councils, encouraging them to assume the pioneering environmental role expected of them. Decentralization is relatively recent in Jordan and requires experience and sensitivity to environmental issues. What is especially needed of these councils is the approval and implementation of action plans and local projects that directly affect infrastructure and, in turn, will affect and be affected by the environmental elements. This will also directly impact the surrounding community, particularly if measures are not taken to apply standards of environmental protection, environmental audits, impact assessments, and budgets sensitive to contemporary and deep-rooted environmental needs. Without these, policy efforts will be hit and miss, and the environmental file will not deliver the desired progress.
The people at Dibeen believe that working in the field of environment should be based on a participatory approach with local, national, regional and global alliances. For this reason, the Dibeen Association is a member in a several alliances at all levels, the most important of which are the International Union for the Protection of Nature, the Arab Network for Climate Change, and the Network of Civil Society Organizations of the Global Environment Facility. Dibeen considers its membership in Habitat International Convention (HIC) as one of the most important of these partnerships, as a strong alliance working for the land and the human rights of communities. We hope that, together, we will realize peoples’ rights to access, use, preserve and sustain their own natural resources, including land.
Dibeen Association for Environmental Development
Hala Subhi M. Murad, Executive Director
Tel: +962 (0)79 964–0111