Jordan Sustainability Issues

The critical environmental and sustainability issues of Jordan:

  1. Unemployment

Unemployment in Jordan reached 19 percent during the first quarter of 2019, up by 0.6 per cent from 2018. Jordan has one of the highest unemployment rates in the MENA region – young people are disproportionately affected by both un- and underemployment. Almost one third (27.2%) of the youth is unemployed, while informal and unpaid family work is pervasive. GDP growth was 1.9 percent in 2018, marginally lower than in 2017, and stood at 1.8 percent during the second quarter of 2019, compared to 2.1 percent for the same period last year. Prolonged weak economic growth is reflected in elevated unemployment indicators and a declining labor force participation rate. 


  1. Water Scarcity

Jordan suffers from a severe water scarcity problem. According to the Water Strategy for the period of 2008-2022, the country is one of the four driest in the world.

Despite the Government efforts in managing the limited water resources and its relentless search for alternative supply, the available water resources per capita are falling as a result of population growth. Population growth is the root cause of water scarcity in Jordan.

The scarcity of water in Jordan is the single most important constraint to the country’s growth and development as water is not only considered a factor for food production but a very crucial factor of health, survival and social and economical Development. It is projected that the population will continue to grow from about 6.5 million in the year 2013 to over 7.8 million by the year 2022. Annual per capita water availability has declined from 3600 m3/year in the year 1946 to 145 m3/year in the year 2008; this is far below the international water poverty line of 500 m3/year.


  1. Energy

The Government of Jordan faces challenges in the energy sector. These include rising demand due to population growth, increased per capita consumption and electricity tariffs and cross-subsidies. Jordan has extremely limited primary energy resources and is forced to depend to a large extent on imported petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas from neighboring Arab countries. Due to economic growth and increasing population, energy demand is expected to rise by at least 50 percent over the next 20 years. Jordan imports 96% of its oil and gas, accounting for almost 20% of the GDP which makes the country completely reliable on and vulnerable to the global energy market. The energy strategy seeks to increase reliance on local energy sources, to 39% by 2020.


  1. Loss of Biodiversity 

Biodiversity in Jordan has been seriously threatened in recent years. Natural areas and wildlife has been severely affected due to rapid urban growth resulting from population growth, large-scale migration and rapid industrial expansion has led to depletion of natural ecosystems.  Agriculture, animal-grazing, construction and other human activities has led to soil erosion, desertification and fragmentation of the land and reduction or extinction of wildlife.


  1. Poverty

According to the World Bank, around 13 percent of the population in Jordan lives in poverty. This means that 13 percent of the population spends less than $2.60 U.S. a day. However, nearly a third of the population in Jordan live in what is known as transient poverty, which means that they live in poverty for a quarter of the year. Considering that even the types of poverty in Jordan are varied, the causes must also be complex and varied, depending on the household and the area of residence.                     

While Jordan has begun improving public education tremendously at the secondary level in past years, it still lags behind the prestige and high-priced private school system. Those in the higher-middle and upper classes are able to afford good education, while the middle and lower classes are not able to pay for such schooling. The result is an education gap between the middle and upper class.                                                                                                                                        

Another one of the causes of poverty in Jordan is the stagnant income. Many middle class families struggle with the difference between their salary and cost of living. While salaries have largely remained the same in recent years, the cost of living is steadily rising – particularly in larger cities like Amman. This, along with the above factor of education, have forced some members of the middle class into what would be considered poverty.