Cablegate: Jordan's Environmental Priorities: Environmental

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

221145Z Aug 05



State pass USAID
Interior for International/Washburn and for NPS/Krewson
USDA for Forest Service/International/Mezainis, Peterson
EPA for International/Medearis

E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Jordan's Environmental Priorities: Environmental
Economist, Park Rangers, Waste

Ref: A) Amman 5907 B) Amman 3358

1. Summary: Minister of Environment Khaled Irani renewed
his interest in hosting an EPA environmental economist under
the Science Fellows program. He also seeks National Park
Service assistance in creating a park ranger corps for
Jordan. An EU-sponsored capacity building project at the
Ministry will start soon. The EU's preliminary report on
the Ministry led to a reorganization along functional lines
that created units for policy, information and monitoring,
and inspection. End summary.

Priorities Have Been Set

2. A/DCM, ESTHOff and AIDOff paid a call on a typically
buoyant and positive Minister of Environment Khaled Irani on
August 16 to discuss bilateral and regional programs, and to
learn about the Ministry of Environment's (MOE) plans.
Irani's first priority has been creating a focus and a
mission for his ministry (ref B), and the structure to
support that mission. He said that an 18-month EU-sponsored
capacity building project at the MOE is now out for bids,
and that he expects a decision in October on the winner.

3. The EU project meshes nicely with Irani's arrival in
April 2005 as Minister. Irani said that he had recently had
a successful retreat for his top staff and department heads
to identify MOE priorities. Those priorities can be fed
into the EU project so that capacity is developed in
priority areas. Irani said that he is reorganizing the MOE
along functional lines, including new divisions for policy
development, information and monitoring systems, and

Science Fellows to Meet Key Needs in Finance, Waste
--------------------------------------------- ------

4. ESTHOff told Minister Irani that post's request for
Science Fellows to advise the MOE on environmental
economics, industrial waste management and solid waste
management (Ref A) was being processed in Washington by
State and EPA. Irani renewed his ministry's strong desire
for an environmental economist (Ref B). He also asked later
about American programs to tax or recycle plastic shopping
bags, a modern plague in Jordan.

5. Solid and hazardous waste management are two other
important areas for Jordan that (Ref A) Science Fellows will
assist in. ESTHOff mentioned the arrival on August 21 of a
Department of Energy team to evaluate physical security of
nuclear materials at Jordan's Swaqa hazardous waste site.
Irani responded by noting the importance of Jordan
developing a comprehensive plan, perhaps with the help of
the Science Fellows, for Swaqa and by extension for all of
Jordan's solid and hazardous waste. He mused that a Build-
Operate-Transfer project for Swaqa is the only practical
solution for Jordan's hazardous wastes; government "cannot
do it alone," he said.

Park Ranger Project - Close to His Heart

6. Irani, formerly head of the the Royal Society for the
Conservation of Nature, an NGO, moved to a subject close to
his heart, the development of a national park ranger corps.
Irani said he had met that morning with the head of the
Public Security Directorate (Jordan's police force) to
develop ideas for the rangers. Irani sees the rangers as
fulfilling multiple roles in Jordan's forests and parks:
enforcing natural resource laws on poaching, polluting,
littering and illegal tree-cutting; providing traditional
police services such as security and first aid; and acting
as interpretive guides.

7. Minister Irani said that the King is interested in and
supportive of the ranger program. Irani is well aware that
the mission for these rangers needs to be brought into
sharper focus. He said MOE will form a committee with the
Ministry of Agriculture (responsible for national forests),
the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (national
park managers) and with the Public Security Directorate
(police) to give shape to the park ranger program.
8. ESTHOff described the U.S. National Park Service's (NPS)
International Volunteers in Parks (IVIP) program to Minister
Irani, who was very interested. The IVIP program arranges
typically 2-4 month working visits by foreigners, including
students and government officials, to get a hands-on look at
operations in the U.S. National Park system. Visitors pay
their own way to the United States, and the hosting park
provides housing. Any salary would continue to be paid by
the sending country. ESTHOff also pointed out requirements
for insurance and a J-1 visa, and the fact that these are
working visits in sometimes difficult and remote areas.
Irani nodded in assent and joked that the program should be
arranged so that the participants "don't have any fun."

9. Irani was so taken with the program that he asked if it
would be possible to send three individuals from Jordan. He
expressed hopes that the experience would provide a
strategic overview of a ranger program that would include
administrative and legal aspects in addition to operations.
ESTHOff has contacted the International Office of the
National Park Service to discuss the possibilities further.

Peace Process Training Programs Planned

10. ESTHOff raised a planned workshop, organized under the
Multilateral Peace Process's Working Group on the
Environment, to discuss preventing pollution from gasoline
stations and petroleum storage devices. Irani was familiar
with the proposal and approved, noting that gasoline is part
of a larger constellation of hazardous chemicals that Jordan
will need to manage better. The workshop, tentatively
planned for Israel during the fourth quarter of 2005, will
include representatives from Israel, Jordan and the
Palestinian Authority.

11. Comment: Irani noted the fact that the fledgling
Ministry of Environment was created only in 2003. But with
a total staff that could comfortably fit in a Boeing 757,
swift change should not be impossible. With Irani settling
in at the controls, we're starting to see the Ministry take
off, finally.


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