Jerash Workshop, on Land, Forests amid Climate Change
The Debein Association for Environmental Development, a member of the Habitat International Alliance, and in partnership with the Housing and Land Rights Network, organized a workshop on forest and land management and climate change, and the interrelationship between them, which was held over three days from 17-19 February 2022, in Jerash Governorate, Jordan. The workshop dealt with the global policy frameworks for land, forests and climate change, in the geographical scope of Jordan and the Palestinian Territories, identifying the main actors, revealing the most prominent contradictions between global political agendas and local policies, and identifying and analyzing legislative and policy gaps in relation to climate change.
More than 15 participants, from Palestine and Jordan, experts, activists and academics, concerned with land and environmental issues and the effects of climate change and its impact on local communities` enjoyment of their rights to manage land and forests, identify ways of resilience and recovery, and search for ways to establish values Social and environmental justice, and how to support and advocate through community participation in the decision-making process in order to ensure equitable and sustainable management of land and forests.
The workshop dealt with three main axes, first, reviewing global frameworks on land management and climate change, second, identifying contradictions between global policy agendas, and between local policies, in relation to forest management and climate change, and third, identifying local needs, including those of women. and youth in the context of land and forest tenure, governance and the impact of climate change.
During the opening session, Mr. Nabil Assaf, Director of the FAO office in Jordan, presented the vision and program of the FAO regarding the formulation of policies related to the preservation and sustainability of forests, and its management through coordination with the concerned Jordanian authorities, including the Ministry of Environment, in light of the effects of climate change we are witnessing, as well as The exposure of forests to clearing for land use in construction or agriculture.
During the first session, Mr. Joseph Shukla, coordinator of the Land and Housing Rights Network, emphasized that protecting forests is a sacred goal, in order to assume responsibility towards land and people, and reviewed the normative framework for forest and land management, and the legal nature of the international obligations and commitments of the State of Jordan and the Palestinian government, in relation to international instruments Concerned with the human right to land, and how the land is a universal human need to preserve human life, in addition to being the main component for achieving all sustainable development goals, as well as reviewing the principles of international law that dealt with the human right to land and the normative content of the human right to land.
Shkla also reviewed the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, the commitments of both Jordan and Palestine to the implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, as well as reviewing the sustainable development goals that are mainly based on land management in achieving those goals, and the role of the social and environmental function of the land stipulated in it. In the New Urban Agenda 2016. He also reviewed emerging concepts and terminology related to the relationship of land and forest management to climate change, including resilience versus sustainable development, social/climate justice in the context of climate change, common areas, green transformation, and ecocide.
Ahmed Mansour reviewed the legal framework for the principle of the right to land in the principles of international human rights law, whether they dealt with it directly or indirectly, and that the right to land as a general principle is a public good that all members of society need for a decent life, and they have the right to manage it. and their use according to the social and cultural context of each society. Mansour also reviewed the concept of state obligations in the context of the human right to land, and the relationship between state institutions, stakeholders, and third parties in implementing those obligations.
After completing the theoretical framework and reviewing global frameworks on land and forest management, Hala Murad reviewed, in an in-depth and technical discussion, the contradictions between global policy agendas, and domestic policies, in relation to forest management and climate change, and stressed during her review that working within The regional and national framework contributes significantly to filling the gaps at the local level, and encouraging the relevant local authorities to take effective decisions in order to preserve the sustainability of lands and forests, through the participation of local communities of women and youth to be partners in relevant decision making.
During the three days of the workshop, the participants presented a diagnosis, within the scope of their experiences and activities, about the conditions of land and forest management in Jordan and Palestine. The rights of citizens in lands and forests, and mentioned the mechanisms of land division in Palestine and land ownership in the West Bank, the problem of registering newly entered lands (the Tabu project) and the methods practiced by the occupation to pressure the Palestinians to leave their lands, and the use of the military character to facilitate the confiscation of lands, by allocating large areas as reserves normal. The participants from Palestine also noted the absence of much information about the agreements signed between the financiers and the Israeli occupation, and who governs the relationship in the financing process, including, for example, the European Union, which is one of the largest financiers that support investment in Area C. Occupation razing agricultural lands, uprooting trees and demolishing water wells.
While the participants from Jordan explained that the forestry law still has a strong impact on preserving forests, but the advocates of investment are trying to reduce the power of the forestry law in order to reach the forest lands. But we always try to achieve financial and administrative independence for the forest management, and the aim of this is to remove the forestry directorate from the circle of industry, the decision not to succumb to the pressures of other ministries, and therefore if the administration becomes independent or an independent body, no one can influence its decisions, and the government`s desire to preserve Forests are not enough. Therefore, a stronger role for civil society institutions is needed in clarifying the economic and environmental role of forests.
The participants emphasized that land use policies (changing the character from one use to another) happen to serve the goals of individual interests without referring to the affected parties, and among these practices is the floating of ownership as a result of unstudied laws and policies, and there are also no public policies or law to determine land uses, and that Moving away from old traditional customs and practices has led to a lack of affiliation with regard to the mismanagement of woodland and forests. They also emphasized that there are general principles that should govern the issue of governance of land and forest management, namely that land is a public good, that land ownership must remain a permanent national ownership that cannot be compromised, and that the concept of private ownership must be replaced by the concept of secure tenure, which is A human right, just as states and governments regulate the management of public lands for the benefit of their people, but they do not own them as property that they dispose of with absolute powers, and that the small secure agricultural holdings of farmers are a basis for food security and a basis for sustainable development, and the rights of small holdings may not be confiscated from food-producing farmers.
At the end of the workshop on the third day, the participants came up with a set of recommendations that included economic, social, political, legislative, technical and academic aspects related to the environmental status of lands and forests and climate change.
Photo: . Source: Dibeen Association for Environmental Development.