National Workshop on Review and Discussion of the Environmental and Socioeconomic Monitoring Results of the Jordanian Coast of the Gulf of Aqaba

In collaboration between the Regional Organization for Conservation of the Environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden PERSGA and the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority ASEZA, a two day national workshop has been organized on review and discussion of the environmental and socioeconomic monitoring results of the Jordanian coast of the Gulf of Aqaba. The workshop was hosted by Al Balqa Applied University - Aqaba University College between May 23rd and 24th 2016. It was attended by about thirty participants represent a wide range of relevant stakeholders e.g. ASEZA, Aqaba Fishermen Association, Aqaba Glass-bottom boats Association, Jordan Environment society, Royal Department for Environment Protection, Aqaba Diving Association and Jordan River Foundation. The workshop comes within the framework of implementing Component 3 activities of the SEM Project. The purpose of the workshop was to:
? update all concerned stakeholders including local authorities of the findings of the monitoring activities conducted up to May 2016.
? give all concerned stakeholders a chance to express their issues of concern with regard to the management of the coastal area in Aqaba, particularly with respect to monitoring activities.
? discuss the next step and plans to sustain the monitoring program as well as the potential for expanding/extending the current program.
? discuss the progress up to date and lessons learned
The Jordanian National Steering Committee of the SEM project has chosen International Research Centre for Water, Environment and Energy (IRCWEE) at Balqa Applied University to carry out monitoring activities in the targeted area on the Jordanian coast of the Gulf of Aqaba. The SEM Project monitoring program in Jordan includes monitoring of seawater quality, key habitats and species, as well as social and economic variables, with the emphasis on participation of stakeholders and local community members in monitoring activities. The workshop came out with a number of recommendations:
? it confirmed the need of sustaining the monitoring program along the Aqaba coastline to ensure proper protection of its resources.
? similar workshops and events to continue and be organized regularly to update the concerned stakeholders. A focus should be given -in addition to consultation events- to capacity building activities.
? the participants appreciated the scope of the SEM project which encourages the engagement of local stakeholders in monitoring activities.
? benefiting from best practices and success models in the region and get the local stakeholders in Aqaba exposed to such experiences.
? inclusion of some key terrestrial environment elements so as to ensure better management of the environmental resources given that the SEM project is concerned with ecosystem based management.
? inviting a representative from mega investment projects in Aqaba to join the National Steering Committee of the SEM project so as to have better representation of the private sector.