Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Jordan. Challenges and Obstacles

An Analysis Inspired by Grounded Theory

Master's Thesis, 2015

91 Pages, Grade: 2,0



List of Figures and Abbreviations


A Climate Change-Induced Risks for Ecological and Human Systems – An Overview

B Environmental NGOs in Jordan: Challenges and Obstacles. An Analysis Inspired by Grounded Theory
B.I Relevance
B.I.1 Environmental Situation in the Middle East
B.I.1.a) Water Scarcity
B.I.1.b) Land Degradation
B.I.1.c) Marine and Coastal Degradation
B.I.1.d) Air Pollution
B.I.2 General Challenges for the Levant
B.I.3 Filling a Research Gap
B.II Selecting the Case – From Macro to Micro
B.II.1 Selecting Environmental NGOs in Jordan
B.II.2 Macro Level
B.II.3 Meso Level
B.II.4 Micro Level
B.II.5 Purpose and Possible Critique of the Case Selection
B.III Creating the Basis for a Grounded Theory
B.III.1 Introducing and Integrating Grounded Theory
B.III.2 Framework for Generating a Grounded Theory
B.III.3 Describing the Interview Questionnaire
B.III.4 Initial Coding
B.III.5 Sampling and Advancement of Initial Codes
B.III.6 Focused Coding
B.III.7 Sampling and Advancement of Focused Codes
B.IV Correlating the Results with the Hypotheses
B.V Generating the Theory for this Analysis
B.VI Limitations of the Analysis and Theory
B.VII Conclusion

C Recommendations for Future Research


Online Sources

Interview Questionnaire Summary

List of Figures

Fig.1: Cubic meter of renewable internal freshwater per capita per year

Fig.2: Cubic meter of water per capita per year versus withdrawal of water per capita per year

Fig.3: Average level of air pollution in pm10 in 2013

Fig.4: Actual and expected population growth in million for the Levant

Fig.5: Energy imports in percent of national energy use for 2000 and 2011

Fig.6: Framework for generating a grounded theory

Fig.7: Results of the initial coding

Fig.8: Results of the focused coding


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The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is characterized by a high vulnerability regarding climate change-induced effects and environmental developments. As governmental bodies seem to fail the task of preserving the human habitat, environmental NGOs are already filling a gap. Likewise, the cooperation with international organizations is also an important factor for the work of national NGOs. This raises the question, if and how the government of Jordan and international organization create obstacles for environmental NGOs. After conducting an analysis inspired by grounded theory, including a two step coding process of primary data, it becomes obvious that environmental NGOs in Jordan are facing several challenges. Firstly, they are adopting governmental tasks. Secondly, NGOs are challenged by a high level of competition. Thirdly, they are confronted with difficulties created by international organizations and the government. Furthermore, those actors are in need of gaining financial security and to improve international cooperation within the Levant to diminish climate change-induced effects, negative environmental developments, and to contribute to a sustainable environment.

Keywords: Jordan; Grounded Theory; Climate Change; NGOs; Qualitative Research

A Climate Change-Induced Risks for Ecological and Human Systems – An Overview

“Climate change will amplify existing risks and create new risks for natural and human systems. Risks are unevenly distributed and are generally greater for disadvantaged people and communities in countries at all levels of development”[1] . This sentences from one of the most recent publications by the ipcc displays several general aspects of present and future environmental developments. Climate change will intensify already occurring extreme weather events, such as heat waves, droughts, heavy precipitations, and sudden changes in temperatures. “There is evidence that some extremes have changed as a result of anthropogenic influences, including increases in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases”[2] . The generation of new threats for humans and ecosystems is not just a result of climate change – the danger has its source in the combination of environmental switches, the level of vulnerability, and a lack of adaptation capacities. “Exposure and vulnerability are dynamic, varying across temporal and spatial scales, and depend on economic, social, geographic, demographic, cultural, institutional, governance, and environmental factors”[3]. Thus, the term “new” can be misunderstood in this case. It is not expected that extreme weather events occur in an area, where they did not appear before. The new risk is mainly based on an increase in their severity in accordance with several other factors. Nevertheless, the ipcc emphasizes another important factor, which has to be taken into account, when focusing on the environment and climate change-induced developments. “Developing countries are the most vulnerable to climate change impacts because they have fewer resources to adapt”[4] . Although climate change is a global phenomenon, its effects and consequences differ regionally, putting some countries under more pressure than others. This in special affects states, which are characterized by a high vulnerability, a low level of democratic mechanisms, a lack of economic stability, high rates of urbanization, and a constant population growth.

The MENA region is concerned with all of those aspects. Especially the Middle East is a highly sensitive region, regarding the political and socio-economic stability. “Given the ongoing and largely unpredicted domestic, transnational and regional turbulences that have been shaking the Middle East since the beginning of 2011”[5], political predictions are almost not possible. The Middle East, in this case understood as the countries of the Levant, is going to face severe challenges within the next years, determining the future of the region. Despite of sectarian and political tensions, there is also the rising threat of climate change-induced effects on the respective systems. A rise of environmental awareness is facing, among others, two fundamental obstacles in this region. First of all, climate change does not receive broad media coverage, due to its stealthy and barely visible progress. The different forms of the media are mainly relying on special footage and unique events; on the one hand to gain viewer´s attention and on the other hand to be able to select among the enormous mass of available information[6]. Second of all, working against climate change seems to require a privileged position, either of a country or of people within a society. Privileged in this sense means that a country was able in the past to create a solid basis for all its tasks. Everything from education to waste management is stable and secured for the future, so that the general circumstances give the possibilities to take care of other issues and problems. Countries in the Levant are still relatively low in their economic performance – financial investments in climate change adaptation and mitigation measures are difficult to justify to the public[7]. Thus, privileged people or companies within a lower middle or higher middle income society may be the main drivers of development, providing some of their financial surplus to environmental projects. This can be motivated by different reasons, for example by an honest sense for the nature or for improving the own corporate environmental and social responsibility.

Thus, as a first conclusion, the Middle East is already facing severe problems and difficulties. This emphasizes a fortiori the necessity to realize the dangers of climate change, particular combined with an ongoing pollution and destruction of the environment. The future general risks for the Levant are showing that the potential for conflicts - transnational and domestic - is expected to rise. “In a region already considered the world´s most water-scarce and where, in many places, demand for water already outstrips supply, climate models are predicting a hotter, drier and less predictable climate”[8] . A decrease in precipitation of about 25% during the summer months, in accordance with an increase in average temperatures of about 2.5°C is expected for the Middle East[9]. Those changes will have many effects on the populations and the environment. Water scarcity, desertification, a loss of biodiversity, and an increase of vector breeding sites are just a few to be mentioned. It is necessary to emphasize that not just climate change-induced effects alone are a threat – the danger originates out of a combination of several different aspects. New vector breeding sites are a result of increasing temperatures, but also of an insufficient municipal solid waste management. Likewise, water scarcity becomes more severe if a country fails to allocate water properly, and if it does not use sustainable waste water treatment facilities[10]. The unep realized the connections and categorized more than twenty matters within five main “emerging issues”[11] . These five issues are namely “Cross-cutting issues (…) Food, biodiversity and land issues (…) Freshwater and marine issues (…) Climate change issues (…) [and] Energy, Technology, and waste issues”[12].

To draw the relationship between different environmental aspects, just as to show that effects have to be seen combined, becomes more and more necessary to understand the future situation in the Middle East. Organizations like the unep or the ipcc are contributing a lot to a better understanding of regional climate change effects and environmental developments. Nevertheless, their own entitlement is to work globally – thus their influence becomes weaker as deeper it goes into a country. To compensate this, some regional operating organizations, like sweep, have been established during the last decades. They are much closer at the bottom-line concerns of a state, but very often limited to just one or a few topics. Thus, this raises the idea of national non-governmental organizations, being the forefront for a sustainable and healthy environment in the Levant. What are their challenges and obstacles? How do they interact with other organizations and how can a sustainable future be achieved?

B Environmental NGOs in Jordan: Challenges and Obstacles. An Analysis Inspired by Grounded Theory

The main part of this thesis is divided into several components. Firstly, there will be a description about the relevance of this work. For this it seems necessary to take a closer look at the environmental situation in the Middle East, in special the Levant - to identify the challenges and to display a certain research gap. Although some environmental issues have been mentioned before, this topic is much more complex and in need of a more precise illustration. Secondly, the reasons for selecting Jordan and its environmental NGOs as the case of research will be following. This is conducted step-by-step, from the macro via the meso to the micro level, emphasizing the assortment of this topic. As a third step, an analysis inspired by grounded theory will be undertaken, aiming on the generation of a micro theory about environmental nongovernmental organizations in Jordan. This mainly includes a two step coding process of written interviews, the integration of additional data during theoretical sampling, and the connection of the different concepts, categories, and theoretical results, representing the technical level for conducting this research work. Fourthly, all the findings will be combined in order to present a generated grounded theory about the challenges and obstacles of environmental NGOs in Jordan. After concluding the analysis of this work, some aspects about the limitations of the theory will be discussed. At the very end, some thoughts about possible future research approaches will be displayed, completing this work. Overall, this analysis is driven by the main research question, combining several parts of different methodologies and styles.

“The researcher does not approach reality as a tabula rasa. He must have a perspective that will help him see relevant data and abstract significant categories from his scrutiny of the data”[13]. Regarding the mass of available publications, online and printed, this quotation becomes more relevant. To find important, suitable, and trustworthy data it is essential to ascertain many different institutions, distinct types of written works, and to try to gain first-hand data. Furthermore, to achieve a better and solid understanding of the environment, climate change and its implications for societies, it is a matter of necessity to combine the results from different field of studies, like environmental science, environmental engineering, economics, political sciences, and social sciences. Thus, the secondary references for this thesis are manifold, and from several organizations and experts. Regarding the environmental and climate aspects, publications and studies from the ipcc, who, and miscellaneous bodies of the united nations are of vital importance. For the theoretical part, works from glaser, strauss, corbin, struebing, and especially charmaz will be considered primarily. As a direct source for the theoretical generation, written interviews, which have been carried-out during the summer 2014, will be used[14]. Those interviews consisted out of eight questions, aiming to receive a more specific and comprehensive understanding about the work, challenges, and obstacles of environmental organizations. Due to organizational difficulties, the interviews were carried out via electronic mail. A blank questionnaire was sent to several stake-holders – the answers will be used anonymously. A detailed description about the different points of the interview questionnaire will be presented before the beginning of the coding processes. Additionally, an anonymous summary of all answers will be attached after the plain text.

Thus, the main aim of this work is to receive an answer for the question, if and how international organizations and the government create obstacles for environmental NGOs in Jordan. To generate comprehensible results for this main research question, there are a few hypotheses, which will be considered during this work. Firstly, Jordan is highly vulnerable to environmental changes. Secondly, environmental NGOs can contribute to the development of a sustainable environment. Thirdly, an insufficient preparation for environmental changes can become a factor of future conflicts in the Middle East. Those three hypotheses are the basic idea of this analysis and will be connected with the overall research question within the final summary section.

B.I Relevance

To consider and emphasize the relevance for an analysis about the environmental development of the Middle East, it is useful to explicate three aspects. First of all, the environmental situation in the region of interest, especially the Levant is in need of a more detailed description. Although some important points were mentioned before, the complexity of this issue requires an elaborated presentation. Second of all, some of the main challenges for the Middle East will be illustrated, laying the foundation for a better understanding of the different factors and connections at the end. As the third point for underlining the relevance, the certain research gap this approach is addressing will be pointed out. The combination of those three aspects is supposed to confirm and to emphasize the relevance of selecting this topic and the Middle East as the area of focus.

B.I.1 Environmental Situation in the Middle East

“The major environmental challenges that the region faces are water scarcity, land degradation (incl. desertification), coastal and marine environment degradation, air pollution and climate change”[15]. The focus of this illustration will be put on the Levant, including Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Territories. Due to the ongoing war and a lack of actual data, Syria is excluded in this case. Nevertheless, those four areas are already offering a lot of different aspects for a description about the environmental situation. Thus, in the following part, the main difficulties for the human habitat in the Levant are under consideration.

B.I.1.a) Water Scarcity

Water scarcity has to be regarded as one of the most severe problems for many countries and regions in the world. The idea of water scarcity covers “three main dimensions (…) scarcity in availability (…) scarcity due to the lack of adequate infrastructure (…) scarcity in access to water services”[16]. Availability can be understood in a sense of physical presence or absence of fresh, adequate, and usable water resources[17]. The lack of suitable infrastructure is almost self-explanatory; even if enough water resources are existent, a deficient water transportation and treatment can lead to scarcity[18]. The third aspect describes the possibilities of people to get easily access to water[19]. This includes concrete ways of receiving water, either by infrastructures or by going on foot to sources. Besides a physical, it also refers to an equal access for everyone to fresh water resources without any governmental, social, or economical restrictions. Thus, it becomes visible that the issue of water scarcity itself is very complex. A concrete measurement, including all three main aspects is hardly possible. An analysis of the last two points for a certain country requires a lot of research and a deep understanding of domestic mechanisms and connections. As a result, the main efforts of categorizing and measuring the water level of countries are focusing on the first aspect of availability. In general, the availability of water is determined in cubic-meter per capita per year[20]. If the population of a country receives less than 1700 cubic-meters of water for a person in a year, it has to be considered water stressed[21]. If the level is below 500 cubic-meters, a state is characterized absolute or severe water scarce[22]. This numbers are mostly generated by determining the renewable water resources in a country, allowing a simple categorization of water stressed states. Nevertheless, it is just a basic and superficial measurement, which might be useful to gain a first and general overview. “Because the concept of water scarcity is a social construct or, put in other terms, a matter of political and economic perception, it may be more useful to describe water scarcity as particular mix of availability and demand”[23]. Those difficulties and differences in measuring the level of a country´s water scarcity result in the existence of various data. The main measurements are the “Falkenmark indicator (…), [a measure by the] International Water Management Institute (…), [and the] Water Poverty Index”[24]. The outcomes depend on several factors of water availability – internal water resources, imported water, and general usage of water. Although, several different data are existent, there are two aspects, which justify their usage. First of all, the various descriptions of the level of water scarcity tend to be similar. Second of all, the most frequently and most commonly used factor of water scarcity is the amount of internal, renewable freshwater resources. The Falkenmark indicator is mainly basing on this aspect and used by the world bank, which describes internal water resources as “internal river flows and groundwater from rainfall”[25]. Regarding the complexity of water resources and water generation – from river flows, transnational aquifers up to wastewater treatment – a suitable and comprehensible overview about the level of water scarcity can be achieved by using the Falkenmark indicator and the data of the world bank.

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Fig.1: Cubic meter of renewable internal freshwater per capita per year, data from the World Bank Online (2014), Cf. gloss 25, own illustration.

As figure 1 indicates, there are two severe problems for the countries in the Levant. Firstly, the level of renewable internal freshwater resources is already lower than the threshold for absolute water scarcity. Secondly, the resources also declined continually during the last two decades, resulting out of several different factors. Thus, those countries, except of Lebanon, are under high pressure to provide, secure, and also maintain enough water resources for their populations. Furthermore, the constant and growing overuse of water will cause more disputes and difficulties in the future.

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Fig. 2: Cubic meter of water per capita per year versus withdrawal of water per capita per year, data from the World Bank and Aquastat (2014), Cf. gloss[26], own illustration.

Figure 2 is presenting the proportion of available water and water withdrawal per capita per year. Although, those numbers are offering a general comprehension about the water situation, it is necessary to be aware of the measurement problems, mentioned before. Aspects, like the usage of wastewater or the existence of desalination plants are not taken into account. Likewise, political and social constraints have to be considered. Despite the fact that there is no negative relation between water resources and water withdrawal in the West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinian population is suffering of water shortages and insufficient water availability. “Each Israeli, including West Bank settlers, enjoys a per capita availability of fresh water resources over four times that of a Palestinian”[27]. Without expanding this example, the water situation in those four countries of the Middle East became clear. Except for Lebanon, there is a severe lack of adequate, sufficient, and stable freshwater resources, intensifying and generating other problems.

B.I.1.b) Land Degradation

“Land degradation occurs both due to natural and man-made causes. Land degradation shows up chiefly in the form of water erosion, followed by wind erosion, biophysical, and chemical deterioration”[28]. Land degradation is best to be described as a decline in productive capacities of the environment, just as the reduction of arable land, increasing deforestation, or rising desertification[29]. This phenomenon can be a result of several different factors, which in general occur combined. “The impact of climate change on soils needs to be considered in parallel with impacts caused by unsustainable land-management practices. (…) It is impossible to separate the effects of these impacts; often they interact, leading to a greater cumulative effect”[30]. Thus, land degradation is a result of climate change-induced effects combined with insufficient protection and preservation of country´s natural resources. But, regarding the general global character of climate change, it is necessary to realize that those effects occur in different forms. For example, in temperate climate zones a decline in soil capacities can be a result of heavy precipitation in accordance with floods. In arid or semi-arid climate zones, land degradation can be an outcome of a lack of precipitation in combination with a rising desertification.

Therefore, it is worth to describe the reasons for this development in the Levant in special. The main natural, climate change-induced causes include wind erosion, soil fertility decline, salinization of water resources, and the lowering of the water table[31]. Although, there are some more factors existent, those are the main contributors to land degradation in the Middle East. Regarding those four aspects, there is one severe problem – the lack of suitable and comprehensible data. Despite the fact that land degradation and desertification are a threat to the stabilities of countries, actual and forecasting research results are not yet published for Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and the West Bank and Gaza. By comparing the official publications of the different national ministries of environment, this deficiency of awareness about degradation and desertification becomes even more visible. Those environmental developments are not among the primary objectives in Israel and the Palestinian areas[32], whereas Lebanon and Jordan put these issues on their national environmental agendas[33]. Among those four countries, Jordan is the most active, probably due to the fact that more than 75% of the country´s territory is already characterized as desert[34]. Nevertheless, it is possible to gain a general overview about particular trends, by comparing and connecting different data from several sources. The most useful data are collected by the world bank, the united nations convention to combat desertification, and the u.s. department of agriculture. Especially the department from the United States offers a wide range of various, global maps, which visualize specific details for the Middle East[35]. There are three maps which are relevant for the issue of land degradation – desertification, water erosion, and wind erosion. Within those maps, the Levant is characterized by a high or even very high vulnerability[36].

As a conclusion for the aspect of land degradation and desertification, climate change is definitely intensifying those phenomena in the Middle East. But it is important to realize again that natural and anthropogenic causes have to be considered together – “the (…) drivers (…) have been identified as being of two types: proximate and underlying. Proximate causes include biophysical factors (topography, climate conditions and change, natural hazards) and unsustainable land management practices. Underlying causes indirectly affect proximate causes, e.g. (…) land shortage, poverty, migration and economic pressures”[37]. The socio-economic impacts of land degradation and desertification are of great importance in the Levant. They will lead to a decline in agricultural capacities, a rising urbanization, a higher demand for food imports, and a decrease in biodiversity and environmental sustainability.

B.I.1.c) Marine and Coastal Degradation

Despite water scarcity and land degradation, there is also a growing problem about marine and coastal environment degradation. Like the developments mentioned before, this is also a result of climate change and other human-induced causes. “The major drivers of change, degradation, or loss of marine and coastal ecosystems are mainly (…) population growth, land use change and habitat loss, overfishing and destructive fishing methods, illegal fishing, invasive species, climate change, (…) [and] pollution”[38]. Thus, marine and coastal degradation is basically understood as the decrease in biodiversity and sea water quality. In addition to various interdependencies, a rise in average temperatures is considered as the main climate change-induced threat to marine environment. This is mainly a result of increasing greenhouse gas emissions, which are in special assimilated by the seas and oceans. “The ocean is shielding us from the worst effects of accelerating climate change by absorbing excess CO2 and heat from the atmosphere”[39]. The impacts of climate change and especially a rise in temperatures will lead to overarching challenges and problems – this might be the only aspect about the global phenomenon of climate change, which affects almost every region in the world equally. This development is expected to cause a rise in sea level, 20-30% biodiversity loss, 30% coastal wetland lost, coastal erosion and flooding, coral bleaching, algal blooms, and sea acidification[40].

Additionally, several human-induced effects exacerbate the already difficult object of marine and coastal degradation. Three aspects of human activities contribute the most to an increase in marine and coastal degradation. The usage of the resource sea, for example for fishery, the destruction of coastal environments by steeply rising house constructions, and, the immense pollution by disposing all kinds of waste into the maritime environment[41]. Although the unep identified this challenge for the global environment more than two decades ago, there is still a strong imbalance between natural capacities and human exploitation. International awareness could be raised, by implementing the convention on biological diversity, which has been ratified by most of the countries, including the states in the Levant[42]. Like other international treaties and documents, the cbd has to be considered as a guideline or draft for national actions. The main objectives are formulated in a general manner, enabling the entire community of states to accept the same framework. Overall, those aims include the preservation of global biodiversity, by fostering a sustainable and conscious usage of the environment and its natural resources[43]. Awareness could be raised; nevertheless it is lacking some specific measures for addressing climate change and the environmental development. Likewise, the general formulation of objectives puts the countries in the position, to create their own agendas for a healthy ecosystem. Herein it becomes obvious that working against marine and coastal degradation might be even more challenging than other aspects. Aggravated by climate change and caused by human behavior, it affects the entire world, thus it requires international cooperation and coordination more than any other environmental issue. As history displays, the arena of international politics is often influenced and determined by other topics and national interests. To overcome this problem, regional mechanisms and norms have to be implemented. ospar is one adequate example for this – “OSPAR is the mechanism by which fifteen Governments of the western coasts and catchments of Europe, together with the European Union, cooperate to protect the marine environment of the North-East-Atlantic”[44]. Creating regional bodies for cooperation and the exchange of knowledge can be regarded as a path for a better environment.

Regarding the Middle East and the Levant, implementing transnational organizations to combat the regional environmental changes seems much more difficult. This results out of political conflicts and disparities, and out of a lack of sense for responsibility. In comparison with other countries, the states in the Levant account together for just 560 kilometer of coastline[45]. Thus, their influence on the maritime environment is little by way of comparison; nevertheless the countries in the Levant are contributing to a degradation of the sea – by inadequate waste management, by disposing waste water to the sea, and by continuing building developments at the beaches. As a conclusion for this issue, it might become obvious that the problem about marine and environmental degradation is not as important for those countries as it is supposed to be. The regional consequences are not severe so far, which explains a lack of actual and reliable data. Likewise, their sense of responsibility is limited, generating the need of more efforts at persuasion for environmental activists.

B.I.1.d) Air Pollution

“It was realized that local anthropogenic air pollution implies inefficiency of energy utilization and economic losses and that energy over-consumption exacerbates these losses.(…) Air pollution is responsible for many aspects of human health, inefficiency and loss of environmental productivity”[46]. Air pollution is one of the aspects, which is strongly interrelated with climate change. On the one hand, especially a reduction in outdoor air quality exacerbates the environmental changes; on the other hand, climate change intensifies the impacts on humans and ecosystems. Besides several impacts on air quality – natural, or human-induced – primary air pollutants are the most harmful contributing factors to air pollution. “Primary air pollutants are those that are emitted into the atmosphere from a source such as a factory chimney or exhaust pipe”[47]. Those air pollutants primarily consist out of greenhouse gases, which are the main factors of global warming. A certain amount of greenhouse gases can be absorbed by environmental mechanisms, for example by plants converting CO2 via photosynthesis[48]. “Adding more of a greenhouse gas (…) to the atmosphere intensifies the greenhouse effect, thus warming Earth´s climate”[49]. Although this entire process is much more complex, this displays already the necessity of reducing air pollution. As the air quality decreases, so do negative impacts increase. The ecosystem diversity will decline, human diseases will occur more often and more intense, and the loss of a certain condition of living will lead to a higher, general dissatisfaction.

The causes of air pollution are manifold and in need of a more detailed description, supporting a better understanding of climate change and environmental developments in the Levant. At this juncture, the focus of interest will be on outdoor air pollution, as this issue is contributing most to climate change. The main contributors to air pollution are industrial facilities, power plants, and power-driven vehicles, which are all mainly powered by the combustion of fossil fuels. The exact consistence of greenhouse gases is not of big relevance in this context – the result is the effect that matters. The effect, that in special in developing countries, the domestic focus is mostly slanted towards economic growth. The economies are growing, without taking the exploitation and pollution of the environment adequate into account. Likewise, the populations in the Middle East are expanding constantly, which creates a higher demand for energy, just as for consumer goods, and transportation capacities. “Projections indicate that potentially large increases in emission may occur during the next twenty to fifty years if current development patterns persist”[50]. Regarding the future predictions, the quality of air is expected to become worse. Despite the threat for the particular national ecosystems, this development will also put some additional pressure on the state-run structures. A constant low quality of air might, for example, cause a higher rate of respiratory diseases among the population, resulting in more costs for public health systems and a lower economic efficiency[51]. Those impacts are expected to create difficult obstacles for economic progress, in particular for the two least developed countries in the Levant, Jordan and the Palestinian territories. The level of air pollution in all measured countries has passed the threshold of 20 pm10 (particulate matter), which is recommended by the who.

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Fig. 3: Average level of air pollution in pm10 in 2013, data from the World Health Organization (2014), no data available for the West Bank and Gaza, own illustration[52].

When comparing the level of air pollution for different countries, by using the data from the world health organization, one aspect becomes obvious. The more advanced a country´s development, the lower the level of air pollution[53]. Protecting the environment – the human habitat – is usually not a primary point on national agendas of developing countries.

Concluding this illustration, the main aspects of the environmental situation in the Middle East, in particular in the Levant could be described in detail. It is always necessary to consider all those issues as interrelated – they condition each other and are influenced and intensified by other aspects, like an inadequate and unsustainable waste management. Furthermore, it is indispensable to connect the danger of environmental developments to the particular, national circumstances. Israel and the Palestinian Territories are in constant direct or indirect conflict, Lebanon is under high pressure by an enormous amount of refugees from Syria, and Jordan is in danger of becoming a target for extremist groups, since the Hashemite Kingdom joined the forces against the Islamic State. Besides those present problems, there are of course others like the increasing energy demands, declining economies, and increasing populations. The overall picture of the Levant, combined with the environmental situation, justifies the relevance of this work.

B.I.2 General Challenges for the Levant

“The challenges that climate change poses for the countries of MENA are complex; but there are encouraging signs that efforts to invest in solutions are increasing”[54]. The vulnerability and the relevance of an analysis about the Levant could be justified before. Nevertheless, it is necessary to generate a more detailed description about the consequences of those mentioned environmental problems and climate change-induced impacts. Despite of rising natural difficulties, there are some factors which intensify the dangers. As the domestic problems of all four countries are very complex, the focus will be put on main aspects, which are more or less directly connected to the environment. There is a steady population growth, a rising demand for energy and resources, an economical decline, international tensions, and obstacles regarding the establishment of regional bodies for cooperation.

As figure 4 shows, there is a constant population growth in all four countries, which is expected to rise even more. Regarding the calculations, the people in Jordan are predicted to double almost within the next fifteen years. For Lebanon and Jordan, the present populations are supposed to be even higher, due to the fact that the large number of refugees from Syria and Iraq is not completely included.

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Fig. 4: Actual and expected population growth in million for the Levant, data from the League of Arab States and the UN World Population Prospects, own illustration[55].

Actual data by the unhcr, the refugee agency of the United Nations, show that Lebanon and Jordan overall offer shelter to around 1.7 million refugees[56]. In comparison with the number of their natives, this development puts additional pressure on the national structures, the environment, and the demand for all kind of resources. Although all countries in the Levant are expected to grow significantly, Israel is supposed to be able to manage this challenge. Israel is a highly developed state, which enables more possibilities and capacities to adopt to a rising population and to an increasing demand. It has the financial instruments to invest in advanced technologies and to foster a sustainable environment. The authorities also realized that the environment is a limited resource and started to implement countermeasures. “In its early years, authorities in Israel were mainly concerned with means of defense and physical security. (…) Consequence of these policies was irreversible damage to open space continuity and harm to the local biodiversity”[57]. Thus, the greatest challenges will arise for the less developed nations, in special for Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. Population growth, economic progress, and environmental decline are linked together. As the number of people and their standard of living increases. A fortiori the demand for goods and resources grows, the governments become responsible to fulfill those expectations as fast as possible, without considering the environmental consequences. “What is too frequently overlooked is how today´s apparent socio-economic advances can become tomorrow´s disasters when their environmental impact is not taken into account”[58]. Thus, this is the main environmental challenge for the Levant, which results out of population growth – saving the particular ecosystems in accordance with the development of healthy and prosperous societies.

The rising demand for energy and resources in general should be considered as a separate challenge. Although, this problem is connected to population growth, it generates particular difficulties for the states. There is a strong imbalance between energy consumption and production, creating high dependencies on imports. Climate change in accordance with growing other challenges will increase the need of energy, for example for air conditioning and other cooling mechanisms.

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Fig. 5: Energy imports in percent of national energy use for 2000 and 2011, data by the World Bank, own illustration[59].

As figure 5 illustrates, Jordan even had to increase its energy imports to keep the energy supply stable and secured. Lebanon stayed on the same level producing almost no own electricity. Just Israel was able to reduce its imports. Again, this state is in the position to address problems, which require a certain amount of different capacities. In addition, the awareness of energy dependency grew during the last decades within the Israeli authorities, leading to the implementation of different energy efficiency programs[60]. For example, since 1980 it is mandatory for new buildings in Israel to install solar water heaters on every roof – “as a result, Israel is now the world leader in the use of solar energy per capita”[61].

Thus, the dependency on energy imports - which is expected to increase in accordance with population growth – will also lead to certain instabilities of financial capacities. The costs for energy imports are mainly depending on global market prices, on general demand and supply. If the market prices rise, the national expenditures on energy will increase, reducing the financial resources and the investments in other sectors. Likewise, the population will have to spend more money on their domestic power usage, decreasing the consumption and the economic growth. “Factors having significant negative effect on economic growth in the MENA region include previous growth rate, exchange rate, government consumption expenditure and government burden, initial per capita GDP, inflation, and primary education”[62]. The constant conflicts in the Levant are also influencing the economic development in those countries. On the one hand, international organizations and companies are intensifying their efforts especially in Lebanon and Jordan; on the other hand, the amount of refugees and the decline in trade possibilities with Syria and Iraq have to be balanced. Various spill-over effects of the regional wars, just as financial deficits and economical difficulties complicate the regional challenges.

Other important factors for the environmental difficulties in the Levant are the constant tensions between the different states and the resulting inability for sustainable cooperation. The relationships between Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories are distinguished by several direct and indirect conflicts, obviating almost all attempts for regional stability. Although, Israel and Jordan were able to implement a peace treaty in 1994, they are still lacking comprehensive cooperation and coordination[63]. What is noteworthy about this bilateral agreement is that both states included a part, which was mainly emphasizing the importance of protecting the environment. “Jordan and Israel acknowledge the importance of the ecology of the region, its high environmental sensitivity and the need to protect the environment and prevent danger and risks for the health and well-being of the region´s population”[64]. At this time, this was a progressive step towards a sustainable and healthy environment – the transformation of the different aspects needs to be developed further.

Hence, the general challenges for the Levant are in different ways interconnected and interrelated, intensifying each other. Besides the mentioned difficulties, there are various domestic and other international problems, which aggravate these issues. From climate change to population growth, from water scarcity to international tensions – all should be considered together, as they are all affecting the human habitat. Regarding the environmental situation and the challenges for these countries, two aspects become more obvious. Firstly, the particular governments are limited in their ability and their capacities to put more efforts in environmental protection. Secondly, there is a certain necessity for other, nongovernmental actors to become more active and to fill the gap.

B.I.3 Filling a Research Gap

The description about the environmental situation and the challenges for the Levant emphasized the relevance of an analysis about environmental NGOs. As a third main point, it is necessary to display the presence of a certain research gap, regarding this topic. This work is in need of being justified, referring “to the rationale for the research, or the reason why the research [was] conducted”[65]. A research gap – understood as a lack of scientific contributions about a certain topic – is hard to be identified. The immense number of available published, written and digital materials makes it almost impossible for a researcher to confirm the existence of a research gap surely. For achieving this, every work in every language regarding this topic is in need of being considered adequately. Nevertheless, there are two main aspects, which emphasize the analysis of this work.

First of all, an insufficient amount of publications and results for a certain topic becomes obvious, when a researcher tries to get into more detail about a specific issue. Regarding environmental, nongovernmental organizations in the Levant, little articles and books can be found. The state of research in this field is not as advanced as in others for the MENA region. Although a lot of work had been done about environmental problems and climate change-induced developments, approaches about NGOs as a possible key player for a sustainable future in those countries seem to be missing. Of course, this work is not able to fill an entire research gap, but it can be seen as an attempt to intensify the research on new actors in this region.

Second of all, by addressing the “Four Criteria for Trustworthiness, (…) internal validity (…) external validity, generalizability, (…) reliability, (…) [and] objectivity”[66] a researcher confirms and emphasizes the eligibility of an analysis. The selection of a topic is also a result of personal interest, but in combination with expert knowledge and scientific methods, the relevance of a work can be stated. By taking those four points into account, this analysis about environmental NGOs, their challenges and obstacles becomes more useful and inevitable.


[1] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Climate Change 2014. Synthesis Report. Approved Summary for Policymakers, Geneva 2014, p.11.

[2] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation, Geneva 2012, p.9.

[3] Ib., p.7.

[4] United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: Climate Change: Impacts, Vulnerabilities and Adaptation in Developing Countries, Bonn 2007, p.5.

[5] Perthes, Volker: The Dynamics of Disorder. Power Shifts and Geopolitics in the Middle East, Berlin 2013, p.24.

[6] Cf. Habib, Lukas: Migration und Klimawandel im Nahen Osten und Nordafrika. Wasserverknappung als sicherheitspolitische Herausforderung, Munich 2013, p.14.

[7] Cf. The World Bank: World Development Indicators, Washington D.C. 2014, p.3.

[8] Brown, Oli/Crawford, Alec: Rising Temperatures, Rising Tensions. Climate change and the risk of violent conflict in the Middle East, Winnipeg 2009, p.2.

[9] Cf. Trondalen, Jon Martin: Climate Changes, Water Security and Possible Remedies for the Middle East, Paris 2009, p.9f.

[10] Cf. World Health Organization: WHO Guidelines for the Safe Use of Wastewater, Excreta and Greywater. Volume I: Policy and Regulatory Aspects, Geneva 2006, p.1.

[11] United Nations Environment Programme: 21 Issues for the 21st Century. Results of the UNEP Foresight Process on Emerging Environmental Issues, Nairobi 2012, p.4.

[12] Ib.

[13] Glaser, Barney G./Strauss, Anselm L.: The Discovery of Grounded Theory. Strategies for qualitative research, Piscataway Township 20127, p.17.

[14] Author´s note: Those interviews were conducted during a two-month internship at the Jordan Environment Society in Amman, Jordan, 2014. A Summary of the answers in anonymous form will be attached after the plain text.

[15] Wingqvist, Gunilla Ölund/Drakenberg, Olof: Environmental and Climate Change Policy Brief – MENA, Gothenburg 2010, p.2.

[16] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Coping with water scarcity: an action framework for agriculture and food security, Rome 2012, p.7.

[17] Cf. Ib.

[18] Cf. Ib.

[19] Cf. Ib.

[20] Cf. Ib.

[21] Cf. Ib.

[22] Cf. Ib.

[23] Article: „Water Scarcity“, at: The Water Page. Water Policy International, http://www.africanwater.org/drought_water_scarcity.htm (Date of Access: 12.11.2014).

[24] White, Chris: Understanding Water Scarcity: Definitions and Measurements, in: Vorosmarty, C.J., et al.: Global Threats to Human Water Security and River Biodiversity.

[25] Article: „Renewable internal freshwater resources per capita (cubic meters)”, at: The World Bank. Data, http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/ER.H2O.INTR.PC (Date of Access: 17.11.2014).

[26] Cf. Gloss 25 and cf. Article: “Countries and Regions”, at: Aquastat. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, http://www.fao.org/nr/water/aquastat/countries_regions/PSE/index.stm (Date of Access: 18.11.2014).

[27] The World Bank: West Bank and Gaza. Assessment of Restrictions on Palestinian Water Sector Development, Washington D.C. 2009, p.4.

[28] Saravanan, K. et al.: Principles of Environmental Science and Technology, New Delhi 2005, p.60.

[29] Cf. Article: “Chapter 2 – Types of Land Degradation”, at: FAO Corporate Document Repository, http://www.fao.org/docrep/v4360e/V4360E03.htm (Date of Access: 27.11.2014).

[30] Bullock, Peter/Houérou, Henri: Land Degradation and Desertification, Geneva 2009, p.3.

[31] Cf. Article: “Chapter 2 – Types of Land Degradation”, at: FAO Corporate Document Repository, http://www.fao.org/docrep/v4360e/V4360E03.htm (Date of Access: 27.11.2014).

[32] Cf. Article: “Goals and Objectives”, at: Israel Ministry of Environment, http://www.sviva.gov.il/English/AboutUs/Pages/VisionAndGoals.aspx#GovXParagraphTitle1 (Date of Access: 04.12.2014), and: Article: “About MEnA”, at: The Palestinian Environmental Authority, http://www.mena.gov.ps/about/index.htm (Date of Access: 04.12.2014).

[33] Cf. Article: “Land”, at: Republic of Lebanon. Ministry of Environment, http://www.moe.gov.lb/Sectors/Land.aspx (Date of Access: 04.12.2014), and: Article: “Information and Studies”, Ministry of Environment Israel, http://www.moenv.gov.jo/En/EnvImpactAssessmentStudies/Pages/default.aspx (Date of Access: 04.12.2014).

[34] Cf. Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung: Sustainable Energy Mix and Policy Framework for Jordan, Amman 2012, p.13.

[35] Cf. Article: “World Soil Resources Map Index”, at: USDA. Natural Resources Conservation Service. Soils, http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/soils/use/maps/?cid=nrcs142p2_054010 (Date of Access: 27.11.2014).

[36] Ib.

[37] United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification: White Paper I. Economic and Social Impacts of Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought, Bonn 2013, p.24.

[38] United Nations Environmental Programme: In Dead Water. Merging climate change with pollution, over-harvest, and infestations in the world´s fishing grounds, Nairobi 2006, p.2.

[39] International Union for Conservation of Nature: The State of the Ocean 2013: Perils, Prognoses and Proposals, Gland 2013, p.1.

[40] Cf. Siew-Moi, Phang: Marine Algae and Climate Change: Adaptation and Mitigation, Kuala Lumpur 2008, p.3.

[41] Cf. Hens, Luc/Boon, Emmanuel K.: Causes of Biodiversity Loss: A Human Ecological Analysis, Brussels 2003, p.10.

[42] Cf. Article: “List of Parties“, at: Convention on Biological Diversity, http://www.cbd.int/information/parties.shtml (Date of Access: 05.12.2014).

[43] Cf. Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity: Global Biodiversity Outlook 4. A mid-term assessment of progress towards the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, Montreal 2014, pp.12-16.

[44] Article: “About OSPAR“, at: OSPAR Commission. Protecting and conserving the North-East Atlantic and its resources, http://www.ospar.org/content/content.asp?menu=00010100000000_000000_000000 (Date of Access: 05.12.2014).

[45] Cf. Article: “Field Listing: Coastline“, at: The CIA World Fact Book, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2060.html#is (Date of Access: 05.12.2014).

[46] El-Raey, Mohamed: Air Quality and Atmospheric Pollution in the Arab Region, Nairobi 2006, p.6.

[47] World Health Organization: Air Quality Guideline. Global Update 2005. Particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen, dioxide and sulfur dioxide, Copenhagen 2006, p.10.

[48] Cf. Article: “What is the Greenhouse Effect?”, at: IPCC. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/faq-1-3.html (Date of Access: 08.12.2014).

[49] Ib.

[50] El-Raey, Mohamed: Air Quality and Atmospheric Pollution in the Arab Region, Nairobi 2006, p.5.

[51] Cf. Ministry of Health Jordan: National Climate Change Health Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action of Jordan, Amman 2012, pp.17.

[52] Cf. Article: “Ambient (outdoor) air quality and health”, at: World Health Organization. Media Centre, http://www.who.int/topics/air_pollution/en/ (Date of Access: 09.12.2014).

[53] Cf. Article: “Ambient (outdoor) air pollution in cities database 2014”, at: World Health Organization. Public health, environmental and social determinants of health (PHE), http://www.who.int/phe/health_topics/outdoorair/databases/cities/en/ (Date of Access: 09.12.2014).

[54] Nakhooda, Smita/Caravani, Alice/Seth, Prachi: Climate Finance for the Middle East and North Africa. Confronting the challenges of climate change, Washington D.C. 2012, p.13.

[55] Cf. Article: “Statistical Reports“, at: League of Arab States, http://www.lasportal.org/wps/portal/las_en (Date of Access: 11.12.2014), and Article: “World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision”, at: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Population Division, Population Estimates and Projections Section, http://esa.un.org/wpp/unpp/panel_population.htm (Date of Access: 11.12.2014).

[56] Cf. Article: “Syria Regional Refugee Response”, at: UNHCR. The UN Refugee Agency, http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php (Date of Access: 12.12.2014).

[57] Central Bureau of Statistics Israel: Environment Data Compendium 2006, Jerusalem 2006, pp.12.

[58] United Nations Environmental Programme: Capacity Building for sustainable development. An overview of UNEP environmental capacity development activities, Nairobi 2002, pp.10.

[59] Cf. Article: “Energy imports, net (% of energy use)”, at: The World Bank. Data, http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EG.IMP.CONS.ZS/countries (Date of Access: 12.12.2014).

[60] Cf. Article: “Energy Conservation Projects“, at: Ministry of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources Israel, http://energy.gov.il/English/Subjects/EnergyConservation/Projects/Pages/Projects.aspx (Date of Access: 15.12.2014).

[61] Cariou, Jean: Solar Water Heater, San Diego 2010, p.27.

[62] Ncube, Mthuli/Anyanwu, John/Hausken, Kjell: Inequality, Economic Growth, and Poverty in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Tunis 2013, p.14.

[63] Cf. Article: “Treaty of Peace between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the State of Israel”, at: King Hussein. The Library, http://www.kinghussein.gov.jo/peacetreaty.html (Date of Access: 15.12.2014).

[64] Ib.

[65] Sage Publications Inc./Given, Lisa M. (Ed.): The SAGE Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods. Volumes 1&2, Thousand Oaks 2008, p.780.

[66] Guba, Egon G.: Criteria for Assessing the Trustworthiness of Naturalistic Inquiries, in: Educational Communication and Technology, Vol. 29 1981, No. 2, pp. 75-91 (p.80).

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Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Jordan. Challenges and Obstacles
An Analysis Inspired by Grounded Theory
University of Frankfurt (Main)
Internationale Studien
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Jordan, Grounded Theory, Climate Change, NGOs, Qualitative Research
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Lukas Habib (Author), 2015, Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Jordan. Challenges and Obstacles, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/303592


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